Snow ploughs through Ystrad

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DREAM on Ystradgynlais. Two years ago at Ynyscedwyn Park - their one prime, level site which in other, less devout valleys might have been occupied by a Tesco - they beat Newport in the Cup by a single point and the only try. But for Ystrad, if you'll pardon the familiarity, Rodney Parade was another and sterner matter. Newport's embarrassing lapse was massively avenged.

Ystrad may be in the bottom half of the Second Division, but nearly half their players had seen service with First Division Aberavon, and they were not intimidated. They ran at opponents, scattered the ball about, looked the part. But in under a quarter of an hour they were 10 points behind as Newport'sstrength and efficiency wore them down.

Gareth Rees, Newport's Oxford blue and Canadian international stand-off, thumped a penalty from only eight metres inside Ystrad's half. Then, after a scrum much closer to the line, they put their prop Rod Snow over near the posts for a try which Rees converted. Ystrad's decline might have been even more rapid. Within moments Andy Arentsen made a fine run down the right, kicked on and caught the ball on the bounce, but was stopped less than a metre out.

He had better luck on the half-hour, after the burly Rees had punched a hole through the centre. Snow, a purposeful lurker, then scored a second try. Rees converted twice, dropped a goal and kicked a second penalty, scoring half the 30 points by which Newport led at half-time.

Newport have a reputation as slow starters, a fault that recently cost them dearly against Newbridge and Pontypridd. Tommy David, their director of rugby, said before the game that he was sick of seeing them play catch- up. All the more so, presumably, when they failed to catch up.

Two heavy training sessions had gone a long way to eradicate that, and to drum into Newport that Ystrad were not to be regarded as a soft touch. The result was an explosive start which left Ystrad to do the catching- up. It was an impossible task but they attempted it, Darren Griffiths going over for a try on the right. But David Smith soon replied with a try for Newport, which Rees converted before he left the field having scored 17 points.

The game disintegrated later on, with one bout of mayhem, the sending- off of Ystrad lock Russ McDonald, and, after the exchange of injuries, another half a dozen substitutions. This did not stop Newport adding two more tries, from Duncan Hughes and Jason Hewlett, who drop-kicked his own conversion.

Newport: Tries Snow 2, Arentsen, Hewlett, D Hughes, Smith. Cons G Rees 4, Hewlett. Pens G Rees 2. Drop G Rees. Ystradgynlais: Tries Griffiths.

Newport: D Smith; O Thomas, D Hughes, D Edwards, A Arentsen; G Rees, J Hewlett; R Snow, I Jones, S Cronk, M Voyle, K Moseley, M Workman, D Gray, R Goodey (capt).

Ystradgynlais: J Hopkins; D Griffiths, A Williams, J Donavon, B Howells; M Nottingham, A Davies; M Harris (capt), H Daniels, R Woodley, A Howells, R McDonald, J Morgan, C Thomas, S Roberts.

Referee: H Wilson (Swansea).