CRAIG Warlow ended his tenure at Newport with a battling victory over Llandovery in an entertaining encounter, writes Jay Bayford.

The former Dragons fly half will step down from his role as head coach but managed to bow out on a high in an eight-try thriller.

Newport were playing catch-up almost instantly as Llandovery played in winger Aaron Warren from the kick off for the opening try.

But the hosts were determined to give the departing Warlow a fond farewell and drew level minutes later through influential fly-half Matt O’Brien, which saw him move up to 750 points for the Black and Ambers.

The fast start continued as the visiting Drovers took the lead for a second time, this time prop Jamie Hughes was the man to go over.

But just like with the previous two tries, the conversion was missed.

The two teams cancelled each other out in the middle of the park with neither defence troubled too much until the latter stages when Richard Williams almost snuck in at the right corner but last-ditch defending kept him out.

Both teams emerged from the break determined to secure the win and that saw emotions get the better of the players with home prop Dan Preece and Llandovery’s Richard Brooks sent to the sin-bin following a mini brawl.

Newport then decided to let their hands do the talking with Chay Smith shocking the Drovers with a quick-fire double, finishing off free-flowing moves to put the Black and Ambers in control. O’Brien added both conversions.

The visitors responded well, when restored back to 15, and hauled themselves back in the game with Brooks grounding the ball following a strong driving maul. Jack Maynard’s conversion closed the deficit to two points.

But Jon Morris, making his 100th appearance, and Tom Lucas ended any doubt of the result with late tries, sandwiched between a Dino Dallavalle effort for Llandovery, to ensure Newport took maximum points.

Newport: G O’Driscoll, J Morris, C Smith, J Wright, E Frewen, M O’Brien, G Watkin (T Lucas 71), D Preece, E Whitson, G Harris (H Seward 57), J Bartlett (J Reid 75), D Partridge, A Mann (L Smout 55), K Tayler (capt), M Reed.

Tries: M O’Brien, C Smith (2), J Morris, T Lucas; Cons: M O’Brien (4).

Llandovery: G Thomas, R Williams, R Evans, K Jones, A Warren, J Maynard (C Evans 78), D Land, J Hughes (L Green 64), M Moore (D Dallavalle 64), B Watkins, R Jones, J Jones (capt), L Ellis-Jones, S Worrall, E Price (R Brooks 41).

Tries: A Warren, J Hughes, R Brooks, D Dallavalle; Con: J Maynard.

Star man: Chay Smith (Newport)