Newport Lift Their Game as Pack Turn on the Power

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Wallace South Wales Echo

Newport defied some difficult conditions at Rodney Parade on Saturday to complete their first Welsh Premiership double of the season.

Coach Ian Hembrow had called for the New Year to bring a fresh attitude from his Newport side following their meek surrender at Bedwas last week, and he was happy with the immediate response from his players.

"There was a huge change in attitude - we had an honest, frank exchange of views on Thursday and today, and full credit to the boys, they've put that onto the field and got a result," he said.

Heavy rain in the lead-up to the match meant this was always going to be a contest decided up front, and while both sides huffed and puffed at ruck and maul, the quality of ball presented was often slow and scrappy.

With field position crucial to provide the big men with a position to work from, both sides were guilty of some errant kicking out of hand early on.

Dan Connolly's try for Bridgend was a rare highlight of a forgettable first period. Jonny Hooper's quick free-kick catching the Black & Ambers napping on halfway and some slick handling put the winger over in the corner.

Gareth David's fine conversion completed the first-half scoring after Daniel Griffiths had converted two penalties for the home side.

The opening to the second half proved to be a sign of things to come as the Newport pack began to take the ascendancy, forcing a penalty try early on after the Bridgend scrummage disintegrated as it pedaled backwards.

The conversion from Griffiths took him past 1,100 points for the Black & Ambers, second only to Paul Turner in the club's history. …