Newcastle crushed as Marinos impresses

Newport 53 Newcastle 17
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It was always going to be a difficult week for Newcastle. They had to play Leinster in Leeds on Tuesday and then come to a buoyant Newport with nothing to gain. The writing was on the wall from the moment the Newcastle coach, Steve Bates, announced eight changes to the selected line-up before kick-off. No Jonny Wilkinson, a makeshift pack and an evening they could have done without.

Newport may have missed out on possible qualification for the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup with their defeat in Toulouse last weekend, but this game was all about preparing for next Friday's domestic shoot-out with Llanelli in the Welsh/Scottish league.

Six tries against the English Cup holders was nothing less than they deserved and the watching Wales coach, Graham Henry, will no doubt have been particularly pleased with the performances of Andy Marinos in the centre and the up-and-coming No 8 Andrew Powell.

Jason Strange began the onslaught with a penalty after five minutes. He converted six of the seven tries and added a second penalty. Jason Forster grabbed the first try when he sprinted past a stunned Newcastle full-back Dave Richardson. Marinos grabbed the second after some neat work from Forster and there was a third home try before the break when Matthew Watkins was worked over in the corner. Strange's conversion made it 27-3.

The tries continued to flow in the second half and Powell got the next one three minutes after the break. To their credit, Newcastle knuckled down to the task to escape ridicule and a typical close-range try from Gary Armstrong got them back on the straight and narrow. From there, though, it became increasingly difficult for the makeshift English side and Watkins went on to complete his hat-trick and replacement back-row man Joe Powell also went over.

Newport will now turn their sights to the Welsh/Scottish league and if they can carry on in this vein then it will take a good team to beat them. In Europe next season maybe they will be able to find a way to reach the knock-out stages. As for Newcastle, it is back to the drawing board.

Newport: S Howarth; M Mostyn, A Marinos (B Breeze, 75), J Pritchard, M Watkins; J Strange, O Tonu'u (D Burn, 69); R Snow, J Richards (P Young, 69), C Anthony (D Pattison, 66), S Raiwalui (capt), I Gough, P Buxton, J Forster (J Powell, 56), A Powell (M Voyle, 65).

Newcastle: D Richardson; L Botham (S Richardson, 40), G Maclure, V Tuigamala, M Stephenson; D Walder, G Armstrong; I Peel, N Makin (M Thompson, 68), M Hurter, C Hamilton, D Weir, R Arnold (P Dowson, 45), R Devonshire, P Lam (capt; M Holmes, 61).

Referee: D Mene (France).