Newport 16 New South Wales 24
Newport's hopes of adding another notable overseas scalp to their proud collection were dashed at the death last night when their Australian visitors conjured up two late tries in a powerful finale.
In freezing conditions at Rodney Parade, Newport at least raised the temperature with a wholehearted and committed display. Their biggest problem was the huge Australian pack.
Warwick Waugh and Tim Gavin towered above everyone in the home eight and possession was difficult to come by. Not that Newport stopped battling for it.
In fact, the promising Mark Workman broke clear for what he thought was a fair try, only to be called back for a knock-on, and the Newport scrum held firm when New South Wales attempted to push them over the line from two promising scrum-five positions.
The only try of the first half came between two penalties from Newport's Canadian goalkicker, Gareth Rees, and fell to the Eton schoolmaster's opposite number, Scott Bowen. It was the centre Graeme Bond who made the initial thrust, setting up a ruck in the home 22, and quick ball permitted Bowen to dance past Rees to score close enough to the posts for his fellow Wallaby Matt Burke to convert.
Newport may have enjoyed wins over all the major touring teams, yet they had to go back to 1969, and an 11-6 win over the Springboks, for their last. So when Rees's third penalty, two minutes after the interval, put the home side into the lead, the temperature suddenly began to rise. Burke's rapid response did little to cool things down and when the flanker Chris Brown charged down Bowen's clearance kick from behind his own line and pounced to score a try, the crowd went wild.
Rees converted to heighten the fervour, but incessant NSW pressure told and the wing Alistair Murdock popped up in the inside-centre role to stroll over for a try which Burke converted to regain the lead by a point.
A third try in injury time by the scrum-half Sam Payne, again converted by Burke, rounded off the evening nicely for the visitors, who now move on to face Pontypridd at the weekend.
Newport: Try Brown; Conversion G Rees; Penalties G Rees 3. NSW: Tries Bowen, Murdock, Payne; Conversions Burke 3; Penalty Burke.
Newport: S Davies; R Rees, D Hughes, D Edwards, A Arentsen; G Rees, J Hewlett; S Duggan, A Peacock, S Cronk, M Voyle, K Moseley, M Workman, C Brown, R Goodey (capt).
New South Wales: M Burke; A Murdock, G Bond, R Tombs, C Pither; S Bowen, S Payne; R Harry, M Bell, A Heath, W Waugh, J Welborn, S Talbot, B Harrison, T Gavin (capt; S Domoni, 13-24)).
Referee: N Whitehouse (Swansea).