NEWPORT pushed Merthyr all the way but couldn’t prevent falling to a fourth consecutive defeat, writes Jay Bayford.

After losing their last three games Craig Warlow’s men were eager to turn their form around and made a perfect start.

They stopped Merthyr from playing in the opening seven minutes before Geraint O’Driscoll, in the absence of Matt O’Brien and Haydn Simons, booted them ahead with an expertly taken long-range penalty.

That only seemed to wake the sleeping giant of Merthyr, who then played through the phases to go over with winger Tom James getting the ball over the line. Full-back Matthew Jarvis added the resulting conversion.

O’Driscoll once again showcased his wonderful kicking ability with another well-taken penalty.

The fly half was enjoying himself in the sunshine at Rodney Parade and his joy soon rose as he capitalised on a Merthyr error to crash over. However, he failed to find the posts with the conversion.

The Black and Ambers sensed another victory against the Ironmen but they failed to add to their tally before Merthyr regained control of the game.

After huffing and puffing the visitors finally broke through Newport’s resistance from a trademark driving line-out, which saw Mathew Dwyer go over.

But the last word of the half went to the hosts with Garin Harris forcing himself over the whitewash after a period of sustained pressure and O’Driscoll’s kick gave them a slender six-point lead at the break.

However, that lead was cancelled out early in the second half as Merthyr started brightly with James helping himself to his second try of the afternoon within four minutes of the restart.

Jarvis added the conversion to nudge Merthyr back ahead.

The hosts continued to push forward in the search of another try and forced the Ironmen into desperate defending but they couldn’t force their way over the line.

The two sides cancelled each other out for the majority of the half but with just three minutes left to play, O’Driscoll was given the opportunity to win the game for Newport but his kick was off target.

His miss was then followed by a late James Howe try, which earned Merthyr a bonus-point win.

Newport: J Morris; S Summers, C Smith, J Wright, A Evans (D Thomas 64); G O’Driscoll, G Watkin (R Buckland 64); L Smout (D Preece 64), H Palmer (M Prosser 79), G Harris (T Piper 64), J Bartlett (capt), D Partridge, A Mann (R Jenkins 66), J Reid, J Skinner.

Scorers: Tries: G O’Driscoll, G Harris; Con: G O’Driscoll; Pens: G O’Driscoll (2).

Merthyr: M Jarvis; H Davies (A Thomas 41), T Gee, J Martin, T James; G Davies (L Owen 80), A Hoskins (J Soanes 73); C Phillips (J Howe 68), M Dwyer (R Williams 54), L Jones (J Davies 80), B Murphy, C Locke (capt), A Murphy, J Perkins, H Barnes (P Rees 54).

Scorers: Tries: T James (2), M Dwyer, J Howe; Cons: M Jarvis (3).

Star man: Geraint O’Driscoll (Newport).