McIntosh finally in winning mode

Neath 11 Newport 19
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The Independent Online

At last some success for big-spending Newport. Perhaps now their season can really begin and new coach Ian McIntosh will be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

It's been a difficult start to the season for the principality cup winners. First there was the blow of losing out on the signing of Joost van der Westhuizen and then there were defeats at the hands of Cardiff, Munster and, almost inexplicably, at home to Connacht.

To say things could only get better would be an understatement, but this was a significant triumph for the black and ambers that not only clinched a quarter-final place in the Celtic league, but earned them an away victory in the Welsh/Scottish League.

As for Neath, they suffered more than just a defeat as they lost their Wales wing Shane Williams with a hip muscle injury two minutes from time.

To add insult to injury, Williams collapsed in agony shortly after kicking the ball ahead. He was unable to give chase and Newport launched a counter-attack that ended with Emyr Lewis crossing in the right corner for a try that clinched the game.

Shane Howarth, who had not enjoyed the best of evenings with the boot, converted off the touchline and Newport were in the lead for the first time.

The introduction of former Somoa and New Zealand scrum-half Ofisa "Junior" Tonu'u did much to add new impetus to the Newport effort. His speedy and lengthy service gave Howarth extra room in which to move and once he gets fitter Tonu'u could become a key figure.

But while the 31-year-old international is in the twilight of his career, Newport No 8 Andrew Powell is at the start of his. He once again showed what a fine talent he is with a magnificent display.

Neath started well enough and a try from their 37-year-old Wales centre Allan Bateman gave them a deserved lead. Shaun Connor added two penalties, while Howarth responded with the first two of his four penalties.

It looked as though time might run out for Newport until Lewis struck in the 72nd minute, but after that the visitors stood resolute in defence as they repeated their victory over Neath in the principality cup final in May.

Neath: Try Bateman; penalties Connor (2).

Newport: Try Lewis; conversion Howarth. penalties Howarth (4).

Neath: S Connor; D Tuieti, A Bateman, J Storey, S Williams (K James, 73); P Horgan (G Morris, 37), A Moore; D Jones, B Williams, A Millward (A Howell, 34), J Slade (S Martin, 70), G Llewellyn (Capt), R Francis, N Bonner-Evans, B Sinkinson.

Newport: M Pini; M Watkins, A Marinos (N Brew, 41), J Pritchard, E Lewis; S Howarth, O Tonu'u (D Burn, 71); R Snow, J Richards, A Garvey (C Anthony, 79), S Raiwalui (Capt), M Boyle, P Buxton (G Grevell, 48-59), A Powell, J Forster.

Referee: G Simmonds (Cardiff).