Rugby Union: Jones knocks down Newport

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The Independent Online
Newport. . .20

Swansea. . .44

DAVID WATKINS turned his back on the chance to commentate on the rugby league World Cup final at Wembley in order to set the right kind of example to the Newport team he now manages.

For almost an hour, they matched his commitment to the cause and answered his call for greater pride and passion in their play. At times it was primitive, but throughout the first half it was extremely effective.

Returning to the ground where six months earlier they had captured the First Division title, Swansea found themselves struggling to stay on terms. They fell 10 points in arrears early on, rallied to level the scores, yet still changed ends 17-15 down.

Just how much effort they had been forced to expend was demonstrated by the individual tackle counts collected by the Swansea players. In the final analysis it may have been the five tries - and 19 points from the boot of Aled Williams - that guided the visitors through their troubled times, but it was the 28 tackles put in by Robert Jones, the Wales scrum-half, that really did the trick.

That was not only one of the many fascinating match facts thrown up these days by the rugby statisticians, but also a club record. It was not only in defence, either, that Jones's excellent work had positive results.

Three tackles in the space of a minute created the platform for Ian Davies to launch a three-try salvo in the closing 10 minutes that put a gloss on the champions' workmanlike performance.

The first was on the No 8, Gavin Pugh, as Jones chased a clever kick ahead into space, and the next on the full-back, Richard Jones, forced a home scrum deep in their 22. Seconds later, Jones was forcing Mike Boyes to touch down behind his own line to concede a scrum and the Davies try quickly followed.

More of the same tenacious tackling will be needed from every Swansea player if the All Whites are to achieve their dream of beating the Wallabies next week. They will have to improve on this performance. But at home, and with history on their side, they are certain to provide formidable opposition.

Newport: Tries George, Richard Jones; Conversions Westwood 2; Penalties Westwood 2. Swansea: Tries Robert Jones, Clement, I Davies, Simon Davies, Gibbs; Conversions Williams 2; Penalties Williams 3; Drop goals Williams 2.

Newport: R Jones; J Westwood, K Orrell, M Yendle, A Lewis; M Boyes, K Lee; M Davis, A Peacock, S Duggan, K Moseley, D Waters, G George (capt, A Carter, 77), G Pugh, K Withey.

Swansea: A Clement; Simon Davies, S Gibbs, K Hopkins, B Taylor; A Williams, R Jones; C Clark, G Jenkins, K Colclough, P Arnold, R Moriarty, I Davies, Stuart Davies (capt), R Webster (A Reynolds, 76).

Referee: R Yeman (Taibach).