Lacklustre Newport throw it away again

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The Independent Online

Newport are fast becoming a team where home is definitely where the heart is. Their only problem is that away days, both in Wales and further afield, are proving too much for them.

Newport are fast becoming a team where home is definitely where the heart is. Their only problem is that away days, both in Wales and further afield, are proving too much for them.

If the revolution at Rodney Parade is going to transform them into a top European side, they will have to learn from this chastening experience in Castres. A predictable defeat, some might say, considering that Castres boast one of the finest home records of any club in the top tier of European competition. But when you think back to the way Newport have disposed of Swansea, Ebbw Vale, Bridgend, Bath and Castres on home soil this term, it was a game they had every reason to believe they could win.

Unfortunately, one win away from home is all they have to show for their troubles this season. And to be honest, from the moment Thierry Bourdet scrambled over for the first of five tries for the home side, this was never going to be the game that bucked the trend. "I am not making any excuses because we have a side with plenty of experience. What's more I honestly thought we could come here and win the game," said the coach, Allan Lewis.

Bourdet's opening try followed a passage of play during which Newport showed a definite desire to use the ball. Sadly, when their pathways were blocked by a succession of Castres defenders, they were unable to switch the mode of attack.

While Castres kept it simple and used forwards and backs alike to transport the ball into Newport territory, Newport relied on adventure. But when Plan A failed, Plan B was conspicuous by its absence.

Ben Breeze did put the finishing touch to a wonderful move that started on half way and Shane Howarth kicked an early penalty to cancel out a third-minute score from Gregor Townsend, However, by half-time, the hooker Remy Vigneaux and centre Guillaime Delmotte had both crossed for tries with Newport chasing shadows.

Townsend, who had endured an indifferent day seven days earlier, prompted his side all afternoon and enjoyed the armchair ride presented by his pack.

Howarth kicked a brace of penalties at the beginning of the second half as Newport hinted at a comeback, but Castres added two more tries from Bourdet and then François Plisson in the final minute.

Ian Gough did manage a second consolation for the Black and Ambers, but by that time the game was over and another away-day chance had gone begging.

Castres: Tries: Bourdet (2), Vigneaux, Delmotte, Plisson Conversions: Townsend (3) Penalties: Townsend (4). Newport: Tries: Breeze, Gough Conversions: Howarth Penalties: Howarth (3).

Castres: U Mola; M Biboulet (P Garrigues 70mins), K Rolleston, G Delmotte, F Plisson; G Townsend, A Albuoy (F Segueir, 70); L Toussaint (G Benazet, 80), R Vigneaux, M Reggiardo (D Dima, 70), T Bourdet, J Davidson (capt), S Chinarro, 70), A Costes (G Taussac 55mins), I Lassissi, T Labrousse.

Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn (M Watkins, 42), J Pritchard, A Marinos, B Breeze; S Howarth, D Edwards; R Snow, J Richards (P Young, 58), A Garvey, S Raiwalui, I Gough (G Taylor, 75), P Buxton, J Forster, G Teichmann (capt) (A Popham, 55).

Referee: I Ramage (Scotland).

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