WHAT a difference a week can make. At the Brewery Field six days earlier Matt O’Brien had won the game with a last-play kick from almost 48 metres, writes Rob Cole.

Back on his own patch a week later, the Newport outside half was given a kick from 35 metres out in front of the posts with two and a half minutes left to play to once again win the game, but this time he pushed his effort wide to the left.

Having won at the death at Bridgend the home side were looking to build on their victory and move further away from the relegation zone at the bottom of the Premiership table. Aberavon, meanwhile, had their eyes firmly fixed on moving level with second place Carmarthen Quins.

Newport quickly found themselves under pressure and the first half was a tale of Aberavon domination in territory and possession, yet with no points to show for their efforts. On the other side of the coin, Newport’s defence was magnificent.

Learning from their second half implosion at Bridgend, where they conceded five second half tries that almost cost them the game, their tackling was sure, their aggression at the breakdown impressive and they kept themselves in the game despite being on the back foot.

It didn’t help the home effort that they lost in-form centre John Morris with a head knock early in the game, but there was still some joy for the Black & Amber fans when some more aggressive defence forced the Wizards to turn over ball on the 10 metre line in the home half.

The ball squirted to right wing Harri Lang, who picked up, pinned back his ears and showed a clean pair of heels to everyone as he sped to the line for a real bonus score for the home side. Matt O’Brien wasn’t able to convert, but he added a penalty in the 17th minute to make it 8-0 to the home side.

That kick took the Black & Ambers No 10 through 100 points for the season and hoisted his tally for the club to 859, making him the seventh highest scorer of all-time.

Conditions underfoot weren’t good and the scrums got progressively worse. The only surprise was that referee Ben Breakspear took until the 58th minute to brandish a yellow card.

By that time the Aberavon loose head prop Rowan Jenkins had done a number on Tom Piper and on his departure the game turned.

Aberavon missed three clear cut scoring chances in the second quarter, Kyle Tayler cutting down Ben Thomas with a wonder tackle to prevent a certain score, and Aled Thomas was wide with two kicks at goal.

Playing into the wind in the second half it was simply a question of how long Newport could hang onto their lead. Thomas made it third time lucky with a simple penalty three minutes into the second half and then came two fateful scrums for the home team.

A piece of luck as an aimless kick ahead by flanker Lloyd Evans was touched in flight by a Newport hand gifted Aberavon a scrum five metres out. When Piper buckled under pressure from Jenkins he saw yellow.

Three scrums later, Jenkins forced replacement prop Garin Harris to collapse and Mr Breakspear had had enough. He ran to the posts and that was game, set and match with 20 minutes to play.

Newport: Dai Richards, Harri lang, John Morris, Geraint O’Driscoll, Elliot Frewen, Matt O’Brien, Luke Crane, Lewis Smout, Matt Dwyer, Tom Piper, Hugh Taylor, Joe Bartlett, Andrew Mann, Kyle Tayler, Rhys Jenkins (captain)

Reps: Louis Jones, Jamie Jeune, Garin Harris, Josh Reid, Morgan Burgess, Geraint Watkin, Harri Griffiths, Connor Edwards

Scorers: Try: H Lang; Pen: M O’Brien.

Aberavon: Jonathan Phillips; Chris Banfield, Chay Smith, Rheon James, Stef Andrews; Aled Thomas, Rhodri Cole; Rowan Jenkins, Ieuan Davies, Geraint James, Ben Thomas, Rhodri Hughes, Lee Purnell (captain), Ashton Evans, Lloyd Evans

Reps: James Garland, Will Price, Joe Tomalin-Reeves, Cameron Lewis, Rhys Thomas, Andrew Waite, Shay Smallman, Chris Davies

Scorers: Pen Try; Pen: A Thomas

Referee: Ben Brakespear

Newport Star Man: Kyle Tayler