Mostyn's last-gasp effort thwarts Bridgend revival

Bridgend 26 Newport 35
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The Independent Online

With Newport strong in the scrum and Bridgend surprisingly dominant in the line-out, this tie was only sealed seven minutes into injury time when the home side, camped on Newport's try-line, lost possession. The winger Matt Mostyn chased Andy Marinos' speculative punt up field to claim Newport's fourth and decisive try.

While on-field battles between these two Welsh clubs are legend, in recent times the main competition has been centred on the spending prowess of the respective principals of both. Tony Brown of Newport and Leighton Samuel of Bridgend embarked on their philanthropic crusade a couple of years ago in trying to propel their clubs into the higher echelons of the domestic and European scene. Both are in this season's Heineken Cup, Bridgend for the first time, and Newport are eager to improve on some mediocre outings last season.

Despite all the money made available, Newport have been slow to function consistently well, although they did claim the Principality Cup in Wales last May, and Bridgend, while recruiting big-name backs, have somehow forgotten that they need powerful forwards to win quality ball for those threequarters to function.

A glut of injuries forced Bridgend to select their two current Welsh wingers, Gareth Thomas and Davydd James, in the centre, and it was uncertainty in midfield that led to Newport's opening try. The fly-half Paul Williams' loose pass after 10 minutes found no takers, apart from the opposing captain, Simon Raiwalui, who made the yardage and created the space for the centre John Pritchard to dive over at the posts. Shane Howarth converted and added a penalty in response to a couple of similar efforts from the Bridgend full back Adrian Durston.

The score remained at 10-6 to the visitors until the closing seconds of the first half, a reflection of the predictability of the play, not anything to do with superbly marshalled defences. The centre Pritchard cut the first line of defence and the scrum-half Ofisa Tonu'u provided the link for the flanker Jason Forster to scamper over for the second converted try.

The half-time talk for Bridgend must have had some pep, as the home team were ahead within eight minutes of the restart. Two Durston penalties were followed by an explosive burst from the wing Gareth Jones popping up in midfield. He raced clear and fed on to the flying Gareth Thomas who sprinted clear from half-way for a converted try.

The lead was short-lived as Howarth slotted his second penalty for a high tackle by Maama Molitika, and Raiwalui, Newport's excellent captain crashed over following another Tonu'u break.

Plucky Bridgend ensured a barnstorming finish by snatching their second converted try seven minutes from full-time. Another Jones break in midfield set up the attacking position for the captain Huw Harries, putting the impressive and speedy Ringer through the gap to score.

Hard as Bridgend rallied, and they persistently found gaps in the Newport midfield, their desperate attempts were thwarted with Mostyn's final clincher.

Bridgend: A Durston; D Jones, D James, G Thomas, G Jones; P Williams, H Harries (capt); C Loader, G Williams, C Noon, P Clapham (K Stewart, 66), C Stephens, M Molitika, J Ringer, R Bryan.

Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn, A Marinos, J Pritchard, B Breeze; S Howarth, O Tonu'u (D Burn, 80); R Snow (C Jones, 65), J Richards, A Garvey (C Anthony, 76), S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, P Buxton, J Forster (J Powell, 67), A Powell.

Referee: H Watkins (WRU).