NEWPORT beat title rivals Llandovery to overtake the champions and give themselves a shot at finishing top of the Premiership.

The Black and Ambers won their 12th game on the bounce to down the Drovers 24-6 at Spytty Park to go four points clear.

Llandovery do have three fixtures remaining to Newport's two, so they will reclaim top spot and home advantage throughout the play-offs should they beat Swansea, Aberavon and Bridgend with bonus points.

The champions, who play Merthyr in the Premiership Cup final next weekend, have no margin for error after a superb win by a Black and Ambers squad stretched by injury.

They led 7-6 after playing into the wind in the first half thanks to Matt O'Brien's converted try sparked by impressive young Dragons scrum-half Che Hope’s quick tap.

Fly-half O’Brien added a penalty after a restart and then Newport stretched away when Hope showed his pace to win the race to Iwan Pyrs Jones’ kick through.

The win was sealed in the 76th minute when hooker Henry Palmer was at the bottom of a driving lineout.

The Black and Ambers were unable to force their way over for a bonus-point fourth but could still reflect on a job well done.

“This was billed as two high-tempo, attacking sides and ended up as a bit of a slugfest in that weather,” said forwards coach Sam Hobbs to S4C.

“We are under no illusions that it was a bit of a phoney war and the real games will come in a month’s time but it was really good to get a home semi-final.

“Momentum into the end of the season is huge and you can’t underestimate the impact of our squad.

“We’ve rested, rotated and a few boys have gone into the Dragons squad in the last couple of weeks but the boys that have come in have really shown they are capable at this level. Selection for the play-offs will be tight.”

Newport now finish the regular season with a trip to bottom club Neath and a home encounter with Bridgend.

If they finish first then they will entertain the fourth-placed side, currently Cardiff with Pontypool, Pontypridd and Merthyr on the chase.

If the Drovers pip them to top spot then it will be a Gwent semi-final against Ebbw Vale in Newport.

“That’s the 12th game on the bounce now for us and we want to keep going and building,” said captain Ben Roach.

“Llandovery are a very good outfit and we will go into the play-offs with a boost in confidence that we have played the other three teams in there at the moment in the last month and have come away with the win on each occasion.”

Former Dragons captain Rynard Landman was named as man of the match for an influential performance against the Drovers.

“It’s 12 on the bounce – I’ve now than I did in three years with the Dragons before I left for France!” said the lock, although he has only played in seven of the wins. “I am very happy and this is why we play the game and work.”