Newport 48 Neath 10

NEWPORT made it three wins on the bounce with a routine victory over Principality Premiership strugglers Neath at Rodney Parade, writes Jay Bayford.

The Black and Ambers weren’t at their free-flowing best but didn’t need to be as they still ran in eight tries to claim maximum points.

Henry Palmer gave them the perfect start as he forced his way over the whitewash on four minutes. Haydn Simons added the conversion confidently in the absence of Matt O’Brien.

The hosts would have been expected to kick on from there but frequent handling errors saw them fail to build any momentum, and gave some encouragement to the Welsh All Blacks.

However, a moment of brilliance from makeshift full-back Elliot Frewen saw him catch a pass from Simons, turn his marker and send winger Harri Lang clean through to the try line to extend Newport’s advantage. Frewen almost set up Lang again on the half-hour mark but this time the winger couldn’t keep hold of his pass.

The Black and Ambers were struggling to assert their authority but a slip in the Neath backline opened up a gap of space for scrum-half Tom Lucas to exploit, just evading a last-ditch tackle to score. Simons added the extras.

If Newport thought that would be enough to seal the victory they were mistaken as Neath clawed their way back in the game with a late first-half try from flanker Lee Evans that was converted by Callum Hall.

A Hall penalty minutes after the restart continued Neath’s revival but flanker Morgan Burgess and centre Chay Smith handed control back to the hosts as they both crossed over within minutes of each other to deliver the bonus point. Simons added a conversion.

The excellent Frewen got his name on the scoresheet with a brilliant counter attack either side of tries from Chris Williams and Duan Thomas, who came off the bench to seal a resounding victory for the Gwent side.

Newport: E Frewen; H Lang (R Cresswell 57), C Smith (A Evans 80), S Williams, J Morris; H Simons, T Lucas (R James 57); L Smout (W Evans 50), H Palmer (D Preece 50), G Harris (T Piper 50), A Mann, J Skinner, M Burgess, R Jenkins (capt) (D Thomas 57), M Reed (C Williams 41).

Scorers: Tries: H Palmer, H Lang, T Lucas, M Burgess, C Smith, C Williams, E Frewen, D Thomas; Cons: H Simons (4).

Neath: A Bramwell (capt); J Roberts, Jarrad Rees, L Klim, G Hopkins; C Hall, N Griffiths (S Crocker 49); S Jones (C Woolerton 11), G Lloyd, T Murvai, S Davies, I Jones (R Morgan 37), L Evans, J Blackmore, L Ward.

Scorers: Try: L Evans; Con: C Hall; Pen: C Hall.

Star man: Elliot Frewen.

Merthyr 34 Ebbw Vale 26

EBBW Vale managed to stay in contention for most of the first hour of this crunch game, even leading for brief moments, before a string of yellow cards saw them reduced to 12 players enabling Merthyr to put the game out of the Gwent side’s reach, writes Peter Hughes.

The Steelmen made a bright start to the game, outside half Rhys Jones getting them on the scoreboard with a ninth minute drop goal. The home side quickly struck back, however. From a line out 25 metres out, centre Terry Gee found a hole in the Ebbw Vale defensive line to go through and touch down under the posts, Matthew Jarvis adding the extra points.

The visitors narrowed the gap with a Rhys Jones penalty in the 18th minute. When an Ebbw Vale drop out went directly into touch, the Steelmen conceded a penalty at the ensuing scrum and Merthyr full back Matthew Jarvis claimed the three points. They followed it up with a second try for Terry Gee following a line out 35 metres out while Rhys Jones claimed a second penalty for Ebbw Vale from the restart.

The Ironmen then lost flanker Jake Thomas to the sin bin for 10 minutes following a high tackle and Jones added a further three points. Ebbw Vale claimed the lead in the 37th minute, second row Kristian Parker forcing his way over the line and Rhys Jones converting.

Their advantage was short lived, however, as they were penalised just outside their 22 for wheeling the scrum, Jarvis giving his side a single point advantage that they retained to the interval.

It took Merthyr 10 minutes following the restart to extend their lead. From a lineout 30m out they drove their way to the try line before Ebbw Vale conceded a penalty try, flanker Lloyd Evans seeing yellow in the process.

That try seemed to inject new life into the Merthyr pack and when Ebbw Vale conceded another penalty at the scrum Ebbw Vale prop Luke Garrett joined his colleague in the sin bin. As the match approached the hour mark the Steelmen found themselves down to 12 men as tighthead Rob Sevenoaks was also consigned to the bin.

The Merthyr pack had little trouble forcing their way over from five metres out to secure their bonus point try, No 8 Phil Rees claiming the points.

An injury time try for skipper Ashley Sweet left Ebbw Vale just a single point short of claiming the losing bonus point.

Merthyr: M Jarvis, J Baker, T Morgan Gee (A Thomas 68), A Pinches, T James, G Davies (R Powell 62), R Downes (J James 67), J Howe (C Phillips 67), R Williams (M Dwyer 67) , J Rees (L Jones 67), B Murphy, C Locke (capt), H Barnes (J Davies 74), J Thomas (A Murphy 74), P Rees.

Scorers: Try – T Gee (13, 25) Pen (50), P Rees (60); Con – M Jarvis (13, 25, 60); Pen – M Jarvis (22, 40) Ebbw Vale D Haymond (P King 77), S Thomas, D Franchi, D Langdon, T Fricker, R Jones, D Jones, L Garret (R Jones 60), R Francis (J Franchi 60), R Sevenoaks (M Davies 60), K Parker (L Young 77), R Sweet (O Young 77), A Clarke (capt), L Evans, C Regan.

Scorers: Try – K Parker (37) (A Sweet 80 + 5); Con – R Jones (37, 80 + 5); Pen – R Jones (18, 27, 31); DG – R Jones (9) Referee: Mr Dan Jones (WRU)

- The match between Cross Keys and Pontypridd was postponed because of the waterlogged Pandy Park pitch.