Newport claim Shropshire spoils
It was a case of double delight for Newport as they took the Shropshire bragging rights and climbed back into the top two of the Midlands Premier.
The Forton Road men battled their way to a 22-13 success over Bridgnorth and then learned that promotion rivals Peterborough had slipped up at home to Sandbach.
Saturday’s Shropshire showdown provided plenty of passion and commitment with Newport having to overcome some pre-match disruption that left them without a specialist scrum-half with Henry Vaka moving from his usual berth at inside centre to take on the role.
But Vaka made light work of the switch to score two tries while Mony Maule also crossed the line for the hosts and Liam Holder added seven points with the boot. Bridgnorth’s tries came from Jimmy Gore and Joe Cave, with Llew Williams slotting over a penalty.
Newport coach Bob Adams was delighted to pick up the derby day spoils although he admitted his side were not at their best.
“It was pleasing to get a win in a local derby,” he said. “We didn’t perform to the the best of our abilities but defensively we are pretty solid and I don’t think they really troubled us bar starting strong and when we went down to 13 men.
“We turned round 17-3 up, and started the second half strong and scored in the first five minutes. But we started to lose a little bit of discipline and got into a little bit of a slog fest with them that distracted us from playing our rugby.
“We have to cut those things out when teams try and get under your skin and distract you from what you do well.
“We had two sin-bins and were down to 13 men and fair play to Bridgnorth they capitalised on that.
“It’s a lesson for us that you can’t play any team with 13 men and expect to batten the hatches down.”
It was Bridgnorth who struck first with a Williams penalty but Newport slowly gained the upper hand and hit back when a mazy run from fly-half Maule saw him touchdown with Holder converting.
A Holder penalty extended the lead before Vaka powered over, Holder adding the two points.
When Vaka struck early in the second half it looked like Newport were cruising to victory but the loss of Will Roach and Charlie Hill yellow cards saw Bridgnorth rally with Gore and Cave both scoring tries to make it 22-13.
But there was to be no dramatic comeback as Newport saw out the remainder of the game much to the disppapointment of scrn-half Gareth Bladen.
“It was a disappointing loss,” he said,. “We should have taken a few early chances and then we made a few mistakes which they capitalised on and from then onwards we were playing catch up.”
“We need to cut of a few of these mistakes as you just can’t afford it at this level.”