Montgomery proves his worth

Newport 32 Pontypridd 20

Newport's foreign legion came to the forefront as they poured more misery on Pontypridd at the end of a traumatic week for the 'Valley Commandos'.

Just when they thought things could not get any worse in the wake of David Moffett's decision to push through a plan for four professional franchised teams in Wales that will effectively wipe them out of the professional game, their depressingly long injury list condemned Ponty to take the field without nine first-choice players.

Newport may have been having problems this season but even they were not about to look such a gift horse in the mouth. They piled on the pressure, rode their luck and found a new goalkicker at last in Percy Montgomery.

The former pin-up boy of South African rugby has spent much of the past three months kicking his heels since arriving on a two-and-a-half year contract at Rodney Parade. Wales's autumn international series, and the fact that he was not qualified to play in the Heineken Cup, meant this was only Montgomery's fourth appearance for the Black and Ambers.

But he certainly made up for lost time as he took over the controversial goalkicking role from Shane Howarth and ended the game with a match haul of 17 points. He hit the mark with five out of seven goal kicks, only missing with two touchline conversions, and added a dropped goal for good measure.

How relieved Howarth must have been not to have been saddled with the duties that have so affected his game this season. On the other hand, replacement outside-half Jason Strange must have been cursing Montgomery for condemning him to what appears to be life on the bench for the rest of the season.

Montgomery's opening burst of two penalties and a 35-metre drop goal gave Newport a handy first-quarter lead and then Australian-born Irish wing Matt Mostyn raced in for two tries in the right-hand corner.

Those scores hoisted Newport into a 19-3 interval lead and set them up for a notable victory. Pontypridd kept playing right to the end, and even managed two tries in the second half, but the Parker Pen Challenge Cup semi-finalists' casualty list meant they lacked the direction and authority they have shown in European action this season.

All that was left was for Montgomery to seal his man-of-the-match title with a touchline conversion of Ofisa Tonu'u's close-range try to seal the victory and make it a triumphant afternoon for Newport's imports – two tries for their Australian, one for their New Zealander and 17 points from the boot of their Springbok star.

Newport: P Montgomery; M Mostyn (A Cadwallader, 41), H Luscombe, J Pritchard, L Nabaro (D Burn, 80); S Howarth, O Tonu'u; R Snow, J Richards, A Garvey (C Anthony, 59), S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, I Gough (R Jones, 73), J Forster, A Powell (S Ojomoh, 59).

Pontypridd: M Nuthall (B Davey, 54); G Wyatt, S James, J Lewis, E Lewis; C Sweeney, G Baber; N Hennessey, M Rees (M Davies, 54), D Bell, D McIntosh, R Sidoli (capt), N Kelly (B Davey, 28-32), W O'Connor (R Parks, 67), M Owen.

Referee: D Davies (Ystrad Mynach).

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