24 Jan Newport 45-17 Bridgend
Bridgend Ravens were dumped out of the Indigo Premiership Cup at the Quarter Final Stage by a rampant Newport.
The game was all but over at half time as the hosts raced into a 35pts to 3 lead. Bridgend’s only score of the first half was a penalty from Matthew Jones, and Newport crossed for five scores to put the game beyond the Ravens in the first forty.
There was an improvement in the second half; Bridgend crossing for tries through Lee Murphy and Carrick McDonough, converted by Matthew Jones and Paul Short, but Newport scored two of their own to cement victory and book a place in the semi final.
Both teams were returning to action after a few weeks off due to COVID, but Newport looked like they hadn’t been away as they knocked Bridgend out of the cup.
Newport had qualified for the play-offs after a remarkable group stage campaign finishing top of the Premiership Cup East table with only two losses. On the other hand, Bridgend snuck into to the quarterfinals on the final game week of the group stages thanks to a rather unusual last-minute winning try from fullback Edd Howley.
Bridgend had been able to call on a couple of their Ospreys contingent including back-rower Morgan Strong. However, Strong was forced off within ten minutes after receiving a not so friendly Newport welcome as he carried into the Black & Ambers pack.
Wales u20 wing Carrick McDonough made his debut for the Ravens on permit from the Dragons after a stint on permit for Ebbw Vale at the start of the season.
In the Newport ranks, an experienced pack was supported by some exciting young backs including Will Reed on permit from the Dragons, whose performances in black & amber this season had earnt him a call up for the Dragons in their Challenge Cup game against Benetton last week.
Bridgend started the game on the front foot and after an arm wrestle of an opening ten minutes and it was the Ravens who took the lead thanks to fly-half Matthew Jones’ 40-metre penalty.
This is as good as it got for Bridgend in the first half at least. Newport ran in five unanswered tries as Bridgend struggled to match the intensity and skill execution they were up against.
Newport thanks to some slick hands from Will Reed, Matt O’Brien and Dai Richards setting Mathew Powell down the wing stepping Bridgend wing McDonough to score. Converted by Will Reed.
Newport scored their second in the 25th minute through their opposite wing Oli Andrew who gathered a perfectly placed cross field kick from Reed to score. Reed converted his second touch line kick of the game.
Matt O’Brien added another 5-pointer shortly after and Reed added his third conversion.
Newport’s Will Griffiths was the next black & amber over the whitewash, crossing on the back of a driving maul and Will Reed took his record of the day to 4/4.
Just before halftime Newport scored a great effort involving nearly all the back line. Oli Andrew took a high ball under pressure and the black & ambers swung it wide through Reed and O’Brien. Powell switched with Cameron Lewis running back inside and he fed scrum-half Luke Crane running an inside support line to cross. Reed converted.
HT: Newport 35-3 Bridgend Ravens
The feeling around Newport Stadium was that Newport could already start planning for the semi-final after only 40 minutes of rugby.
Bridgend started the second half brightly with a try from hooker Lee Murphy, converted by Matthew Jones.
However, Newport extended their lead in the 49th minute as Cameron Lewis crashed over. Skipper O’Brien took over kicking duties but missed from in front of the posts much to his amusement and of the fans in the stand. I’m not sure Will Reed was quite as amused.
Bridgend added their second of the game through McDonough after some neat work from Germany international Jamie Murphy, who stepped inside the blitz defence and chipped for McDonough to gather. Scrum-half Paul Short added the extras as Matthew Jones had been replaced.
Dai Richards scored Newport’s 7th try to round off the scoring. Taking back over kicking duties, Reed missed his first kick of the day, but was rightfully awarded ‘Seren Y Gem’ as the match ended.