INJURY-HIT Newport pulled off a stunning victory against Principality Premiership leaders Merthyr in a lively game in which the lead changed hands on several occasions, writes Geoff Champion.

Full back Elliot Frewen scored the winning try for the Black and Ambers in the 75th minute and then they held on grimly for a deserved win. Centre Chay Smith and wing Harri Lang also cross for touchdowns while outside half Haydn Simons capped an impressive display by kicking three penaLanlties and three conversions for a personal points tally of 15.

Merthyr looked out of sorts and they could not overcome the enthusiastic play of their opponents in attack or defence.

Newport were hoping to bounce back to form after their 43-25 defeat at Pontypridd on 23 November which ended their impressive run of five consecutive Principality Premiership victories.

Unfortunately, a string of injuries picked up in the Sardis Road match meant the Black and Ambers had to completely reshuffle their side for the visit to The Wern which made an already formidable task against the top-of-the-table Ironmen even tougher. One of the few rays of hope for the visitors was that they beat league and cup winners Merthyr 19-18 on their last visit to the ground on 10 March.

The teams observed a minute’s silence before the kick-off as a mark of respect to former Merthyr committee man Mr. Peter Gill who died earlier in the week.

The Black and Ambers found themselves under heavy pressure in the opening minutes and only brave defence kept the Ironmen at bay. But Merthyr eventually broke the visitors’ resolve when hooker Dwyer was driven over the line for a try which Jarvis converted. Simons cut the lead with a 20 metres penalty goal and Newport went 10-7 ahead midway through the first half when a glittering bout of passing led to centre Chay dancing over for a touchdown which Simons converted.

Both Dwyer and his opposite number Rhys Lawrence incurred the referee’s wrath for persistently collapsing the scrum and they were promptly despatched to the sin bin. Play became scrappy but Simons added another penalty goal to put Newport 13-7 after 26 minutes. Back came Merthyr to edge in front again with a fine break by replacement front row man Louis Jones tearing apart the visitors’ defence for supporting inside half Hoskins to cross for the home team’s second try which Jarvis converted.

It was Lang and Frewen’s touchdowns which sealed the splendid win for the visitors.

Merthyr: Tries: M Dwyer (2), A Hoskins, L Jones Cons: M Jarvis (4)

Newport: Tries: C Smith, H Lang, E Frewen Pens: H Simons (3) Cons: H Simons (3)

Merthyr: M Jarvis; K Evans, A Thomas (J Martin 62), A Pinches, L Williams; G Davies ( R Powell 62), A Hoskins (J James 62); S Hobbs (N Trevett 20), M Dwyer (I Morris 68) B Warren (L Jones 26), P McBride, C Locke, capt, N White, J Perkins (J Thomas 68) and H Barnes ( P Rees 55).

Newport: E Frewen; A Evans, C Smith, G O’Driscoll, capt. H Lang; H Simons, R Bates; L Smout, R Lawrence, J Williams, H Taylor, D Partridge ( J Bartlett 75), M Burgess, J Reid (M Reed 40) and L Greggains

Referee: Mr Ian Davies (WRU)

Newport star man: Haydn Simons