Burn lights Newport's way

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The Independent Online

Newport, in an unobtrusive and understated manner, are very likely to finish runners-up in this year's Welsh/Scottish League. Many say they should following last summer's expensive recruitment drive, supported financially by their chief executive Tony Brown's heavy investment. Brown was publicly thanked by the chairman David Watkins during the interval for instigating Newport's long-awaited revival.

They have come good in the closing weeks of the season, not only in climbing the table, but more importantly gelling as a team and producing some sparkling and entertaining rugby.

While Shane Howarth, the erstwhile Wales full-back, has seen his international fortunes dwindle after being one of the central figures embroiled in the recent eligibility row, he has displayed great resolve and no shortage of talent at club level in sparking Newport's resurgence.

Howarth relinquished the captaincy in mid-season, as his then international commitments were hampering his club involvement, and the ex-Springbok skipper Gary Teichmann, a natural leader, took over to great effect. It has taken the arrival of a number of overseas players to improve Newport's fortunes, but their experience and presence has aided the development of local young players like Ben Breeze, Alex Popham and Dale Burn.

Burn starred in this match, claiming four tries and working well in harness with Howarth, and earned himself the man-of-the-match award.

Whilst the Scottish district team may have benefited from regular competitive rugby, the long trek south to Wales every other match has proved onerous and tiresome. At Newport they showed up well in patches and managed to score five tries but had no real firepower to seriously threaten an impressive home team. Rowen Shepherd and Tommy Hayes behind and Gareth Flockhart and Jon Petrie up front fought tirelessly but could not handle the Newport onslaught.

Another Newport import this year, the potent Andy Marinos at centre, was first on the score sheet 10 minutes in after a Glasgow attack broke down. The prop Rod Snow and full-back Franco Smith put Marinos in the clear, albeit 70 metres out, and he settled quickly into his stride to grab a thrilling try.

Snow then took the ball on the charge from Teichmann at a line-out five metres out and crossed at the posts for Howarth to score the first of his seven conversions.

Visiting fly-half Hayes then missed a penalty from point-blank range, but Newport re-grouped, sent flying winger Breeze down the left and Teichmann gave another scoring pass to scrum-half Burn.

There was no holding the home side as more sustained pressure let in second row Gareth Taylor for their fifth try of the first half. Glasgow opened their account close on half-time when Petrie's take at the back of a line-out allowed prop Alan Watts to charge over.

After the interval Burn claimed his hat-trick following great work by Jason Jones-Hughes and Newport added further tries through Smith, Burn inevitably, and a couple from replacement Ceri Jones and Glasgow's late rally was never going to be enough.

Newport: F Smith, M Llewellyn, J Jones-Hughes (M Watkins, 58), A Marinos (J Pritchard, 50), B Breeze, S Howarth, D Burn (J Gaunt, 78), P Rogers (C Jones, 65), P Young (D Cummins, 74), R Snow, S Raiwalui, G Taylor (M Wilkman, 76), A Popham, G Teichmann (capt)(J Powell, 58), J Forster.

Glasgow: Shepherd (capt); J Craig (R Reid, 40), J Stuart, I Jardine, A Bulloch; T Hayes, G Beveridge (F Stott, 72); A Watt, G Bulloch, G McIlwham, J White, S Campbell, G Flockhart (M Waite, 48), J Petrie, D Macfadyen.

Referee: Huw F Lewis (Pontypridd).