This was a very good game and one in which Llanelli could have come away with a ‘W’ but defensive lapses proved crucial to the outcome. As in recent games the visitors dominated the first quarter and were unlucky not to be more than 10pts up. An early penalty goal from Ioan Hughes was followed by a concerted period of play which saw wing Ashley Evans go close to scoring in the corner and hooker Craig Thomas was held up over the line. But, the visitors got the first try on 20 mins when a good blind side move saw wing Matthew Jenkins cross wide out, Ioan slotted the goal to emphasise the visitors dominance. Then from the restart, Llanelli failed to gather the ball, Alex Everett Newport’s No8 simply gathered the ball and run unopposed to score the home sides 1st try. That score changed the complexion of the match. Newport seemed to raise their game while Llanelli simply went off the boil. Two further defensive lapses in the space of 2 mins saw the home side run in two converted tries to turn the game on its head. Centre Clay Smith crossed between the posts and Everett got his second try of the game which meant that at HT Newport led 19-10.
Newport got their fourth and bonus point try after good some back work on 45mins, this time fullback Geraint O’Driscoll got on the score sheet and with Haydn Simons adding the extras a 16 Point gap opened up and the home side must have thought that they would go on and win the game comfortably. But, it the visitors that upped their game and created numerous opportunities to reduce the deficit. On the hour Leon Randell finished off a nice move to score Llanelli’s second try and with Ioan once again slotting the goal it was game on. Llanelli we’re now the dominant team and had two excellent chances to score but failed to come way from the red zone with points on the board. Ioan reduced the deficit to a single score when he kicked his second penalty and with still a good period of time to play Llanelli had every chance to secure the win. They continued to press and once again got turned over whilst in the opposition 5 metre zone. With time running out and the visitors looking to run the ball out of defence, there was a clear foul play incident which none of the officials pick up on. Had they seen it, instead of a scrum 22 metres out, it could very well have been a straight red for the Newport player and possible good field position for Llanelli. But, from the ensuing scrum, Newport won a penalty and replacement Matt O’Brien calmly converted the goal to secure the home win.
So, some really good stuff at times by Llanelli, but they will have to cut out the defensive lapses if they’re to claim their first win in the Premiership 2nd phase.