Newport 22 - 9 Aberavon
Posted by Gareth Gange on 28/01/2018
(by Jay Bayford of South Wales Argus)
Newport booked their place in the quarter-finals of the WRU National Cup with a battling display against Aberavon at Rodney Parade, writes Jay Bayford.
First-half tries from Tom Pascoe and Adam Sabri put the Black and Ambers in the driving seat and although the Wizards had their chances to close the gap the hosts held on to seal a place in the last eight.
Pascoe gave Newport an early lead as he kicked a loose ball forward, which caught out a static Aberavon defence and allowed the centre to run through and touch down. Fly-half Haydn Simons’ resulting conversion flew wide of the post.
The promising kicker was also off target a few minutes later with a penalty as the Black and Ambers continued to see more of the ball.
The hosts kept piling on the pressure and it finally told as Simons glided the ball between the posts from a close-range penalty.
That triggered a response from the Wizards who found their way into the game but they came up against a resolute Newport defence.
Aberavon struggled to turn their play into points until fly-half Steffen Williams took matters into his own hands to kick a drop goal and get the visitors on the board.
But Newport went straight up the other end and, after a number of scrums, the hosts worked it from right to left with wing Sabri going over right in the corner to extend his team's advantage. Simons was off target with the conversion with the clock ticking down to half time.
However, there was just enough time for Williams to boot a penalty to give Aberavon, who are yet to win the National Cup, a glimpse of hope ahead of the second half.
Centre Geraint O’Driscoll took over kicking duty for Newport in the second half and got the chance to show his talent early on when he curled a three pointer between the posts.
But Aberavon’s Williams hit back with a penalty of his own as the Wizards kept themselves in the tie.
O’Driscoll attempted to restore Newport’s 10-point advantage with a drop goal but he got his angles horribly wrong and the ball bounced harmlessly out of play. The centre also missed the target with a long-range penalty as Newport struggled to make their chances count.
However, in the dying minutes O’Driscoll was on target with two penalties to give Newport hope of a first cup triumph since 2001.
Newport: Tries: T Pascoe, A Sabri; Pens: H Simons, G O’Driscoll (3).
Aberavon: Pens: S Williams (2); Drop Goal: S Williams.
Newport 22 - 9 Aberavon
Chris Banfield; Stef Andrews, Will Price (capt), Rheon James, Shaun Pearce (rep Stuart Nicholas 78 min); Steffen Williams, Jacob Flynn (rep Iwan Temblett 81 min); Rhys Forse (rep Tomas Northey 83 min), Ieuan Davies (rep Luke Davies 54 min), Jon Thomas (rep Mike Burgess 56 min), Ben Thomas (rep Ben Davies 63 min), Ben Jones, Lee Purnell (rep Rob Dudley-Jones 81 min), Craig Price (rep Luke Joseph 63 min), Joe Tomalin-Reeves.
Stuart Nicholas appeared from Waunarlwydd RFC; Iwan Temblett appeared from Trebaons RFC; Tomas Northey appeared from Gowerton RFC.
PG - Steffen Williams (2)
DG - Steffen Williams
T - Tom Pascoe, Adam Sabri
PG - Geraint O'Driscoll (3), Haydn Simons
Man Of The Match:
1 - Lee Purnell
2 - Chris Banfield
3 - Joe Tomalin-Reeves
02 min: Newport - T - Tom Pascoe (5 - 0)
08 min: Newport - PG - Haydn Simons (8 - 0)
22 min: Aberavon - DG - Steffen Williams (8 - 3)
28 min: Newport - T - Adam Sabri (13 - 3)
38 min: Aberavon - PG - Steffen Williams (13 - 6)
40+5 min: Half Time
45 min: Newport - PG - Geraint O'Driscoll (16 - 6)
53 min: Aberavon - PG - Steffen Williams (16 - 9)
80+1 min: Newport - PG - Geraint O'Driscoll (19 - 9)
80+6 min: Newport - PG - Geraint O'Driscoll (22 - 9)
80+6 min: Full Time