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Newport 16 vs Pontypridd 27

Tue 8th May, 19:15, Rodney Parade

From the kick off Pontypridd conceded back to back penalties, the second of which home outside half Matt O’Brien launched between the posts from near the half way line.

Ponty hit back almost immediately when some sublime soccer skills by outside half Diggy Bird saw him dribble through the Newport defence to then gather the bouncing ball and send full back Lloyd Rowlands racing clear for an excellent try. Bird the creator then converted the try.

The high tempo start to the match continued with the visitors again getting the wrong side of the referee’s decisions allowing Matt O’Brien to kick another penalty.

An Alex Knott break from deep inside his own half set Ponty up in an excellent attacking position. Patience and composure then paid off when a pick and go from lock Hemi Barnes close to the line saw him barge through the Newport defence for a try which Bird converted in the shadow of the posts.

The visitors’ most effective ploy in their search for the next try seemed to be countering from deep when they had turned over the ball but on several occasions the crucial last pass going forward. In a tight half of rugby there would be no further scores with Ponty going in at the break 6pts to 14 ahead.

With the Black and Ambers’ first attack of the second half, Ponty flanker Ross Morgan was sin-binned for a no arms chop tackle. From the ensuing penalty Matt O’Brien easily slotted the ball between the posts.

From the restart it was Newport’s turn to concede a penalty and from close to the touchline Diggy Bird expertly guided the ball between the posts. Again it would be a long range Diggy Bird penalty that kept the scoreboard ticking over as Newport continued to infringe at the breakdown.

The home side always posed a threat attacking from deep and it was from one such break that Ponty full back Lloyd Rowlands was sin-binned for deliberately knocking the ball out of play to prevent a score.

With Ponty down to fourteen men for the second time in the match, home full back Geraint O’Driscoll went in under the posts for an easy try which O’Brien converted.

Despite being a man down Ponty still looked threatening and a break by replacement prop Joe Popple put them in the shadow of the posts only to lose the ball in contact. All was not lost for the visitors as from the ensuing scrum their pack shoved Newport off the ball allowing Diggy Bird to power through a gap to score out-wide. The outside half then got up to convert his own try.

Ponty were now in the hunt for a bonus point try and with the last play of the match centre Gary Williams burst through in front of the posts but crucially lost control of the ball, the referee calling time out with the visitors having ground out a seventh successive win by 16pts to 27.

Newport:

15.Geraint O’Driscoll. 14.Harri Lang (Jon Morris). 13.Haydn Palmer. 12.Tom Pascoe. 11.Elliott Frewen. 10.Matt O’Brien – cpt. 9.Morgan Evans (Ryan James).

1.Nicky Boyce (Matt Prosser). 2.Will Evans (Evan Whitson). 3.Tom Piper (Garin Harris). 4.Connor Shefford. 5.Dan Partridge (Joe Bartlett). 6.Aaron Atkins (Dudley Stead). 7.Josh Reid. 8.Chris Williams.

Try: O’Driscoll (68)

Con: O’Brien (68)

Pens: O’Brien (2, 8, 47)

Pontypridd:

15.Lloyd Rowlands. 14.Geraint Walsh (Rhys Morgan). 13.Alex Knott. 12.Gary Williams. 11.Dale Stuckey. 10.Diggy Bird. 9.Dai Francis (Joel Raikes).

1.Ian George (Huw Owen). 2.Huw Dowden (Joe Page). 3.Tom Mably (Joe Popple). 4.Hemi Barnes. 5.Chris Dicomidis – cpt. 6.Morgan Sieniawski. 7.Ross Morgan (Shay Smallman). 8.Jake Thomas (Sion Edwards).

Tries: Rowlands (7); Barnes (25); Bird (70)

Cons: Bird (7, 25, 70)

Pens: Bird (48, 50)

WRU man of the match: Alex Knott

Referee: Simon Rees

Attendance:  495