Howard Evans (Newport Programme Notes)

Welcome to Newport with its players and supporters and most importantly to Craig Warlow, who we all remember here at Aberavon for his spell as backs coach.

Craig is one of the nicest of blokes and has done a remarkable job in his time at Rodney Parade, so much so that he was the Premiership Coach of last season – very well earned, as I also would have voted for him.

Tonight is so important because we are seventh and two points above us are Newport (though they have played one more match than us). So it promises to be an absolute nail-biter.

Last season we had the pleasure of having that wonderful centre/fly half Brian Jones (and his wife) sitting in the grandstand.

Brian not only played, skippered and coached the Black and Ambers, but played in sides that defeated South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – the first player ever to do so in GB.

We have seen so many great Newport players in the past, including Bryn Meredith (the best-ever British hooker), David Watkins (who I played against once in Youth rugby), Ken Jones (whose house I went to on several occasions), Brian Price and a superb uncapped wing John Lane. And let us not forget Roger Powell, a tough as teak back-rower who came to coach here.

Now to Aberavon, who turned in an amazing win over Merthyr here last time out. Absolutely top-notch performance by all. Rhodri Cole stunned us all, not only for his scrum half display, but by suddenly becoming a fine goal-kicker.

Great to see Allan Martin, our most-capped international, putting up the ‘old’ photos on Facebook lately and I am turning the Aberavon History into i-Book form shortly. It is also good to record that Cliff David, our former prop and treasurer is recovering well from a recent fall.

Referee tonight is Dewi Phillips, whose father, the Reverend Eldon, once told me he played ‘God’ in a Christmas play.

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 21 17 0 4 612 340 86
Cardiff 21 16 1 4 647 430 81
Pontypridd 20 16 0 4 714 357 78
Ebbw Vale 21 15 1 5 474 348 71
Llandovery 21 13 1 7 572 381 66
Aberavon 20 13 2 5 440 382 63
Newport 21 12 2 7 526 489 63
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 19 10 0 9 496 410 56
Carmarthen Quins 22 10 0 12 456 420 53
Swansea 20 10 0 10 467 416 51
Llanelli 21 6 1 14 411 546 34
Bridgend Ravens 19 6 0 13 362 472 33
Cross Keys 20 5 1 14 432 648 33
Bedwas 21 5 1 15 441 614 30
Bargoed 20 3 0 17 361 683 18
Neath 19 1 0 18 287 762 3