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Whites Come Good As Thomas Stars

Whites Come Good As Thomas Stars

Arwel Thomas scored 32 points to steer Swansea to their best win of the season and leave Newport’s Welsh/Scottish League title hopes hanging by a thread.
After losing their grip on the Principality Cup at Cardiff, and then being beaten by Neath at Rodney Parade in the midweek, this was a third successive defeat for Simon Raiwalui’s men.
If they fail to beat Cardiff at home on Friday night then they may even finish outside the top two having led the way for so much of the season.
If Newport were looking for an improvement on that Neath defeat, then they ran into Swansea on exactly the wrong day.
Having been formally introduced to their new coach John Connolly the previous day, the Whites played with the conviction and purpose that has been missing from their game all season.
For once they relished the challenge and nobody stepped up to the plate more than their Tongan scrum half Silio Martens.
Whether it was the recent news that former Wallaby No 9 Sam Cordingly is joining next season, or the rumours linking him with a move to Bridgend, something got him going.
Martens’ lead was eagerly followed by his half-back partner Arwel Thomas. Oozing confidence, the former Wales No 10 helped himself to 32 points as he rewarded Swansea’s hard edged approach with the points that have been so sadly lacking for much of the season.
By their own admission this has been a poor season at St Helen’s. The reigning league champions, they failed to reach the knock-out stage of either the Celtic League or the Heineken Cup and were dumped out of the Principality Cup by Pontypool.
This victory will have put them back in the hunt for a Heineken Cup spot next season but, more importantly, it will have convinced Connolly, the players and the fans that there is considerable hope for the future.
As for Newport, they will have to pick up the pieces before they host Cardiff. Victory there could give them an outside chance of taking the title, but they looked like a team shot to pieces.
In two games in four days they have made more handling errors, turned over more ball and missed more tackles than in the rest of the season.
Two Martens tries in a seven minute purple patch at the end of the first-half should have sounded the warning for Newport fans. And when they failed to converted a five metre line-out just before the break it was obvious that Swansea had taken their best shots.
The second half started with Newport dropping the ball and black and ambers coach Ian McIntosh showed his concern by chaning his entire front row. Swansea had the bit between their teeth and they were in no mood to show any mercy.
Instead they piled on the agony, and the points, with Thomas extending the 12 points interval lead with a penalty and a drop goal. Then Mark Taylor raced home from 60 metres, for Thomas to convert, and the outside half added another penalty and drop goal.
It became one-way traffic and Thomas continued his one-man demoliton with his fifth penalty before he decided to get in on the try scoring act.
Brian Lima had showed him the way when he punished a wayward pass from Jason Strange with a run in from near half-way, but Thomas was not about to do it the easy way.
Snapping up another loose ball, the Swansea star kicked past the first line of defence, showed a clean pair of heels to everyone and just reached the ball over the line for his side’s fifth try. That brought up the half century and made it the biggest defeat in two seasons for Newport.
Just as they had done against Neath, Newport snapped up a try at the death through their Wales Under 21 No 8 Andrew Powell. Strange added the conversion, but not even that score could hide their embarrassment.
Swansea: Tries: S Martens 2, M Taylor, B Lima, A Thomas; Cons: A Thomas 3; Pens: A Thomas 5; DGs: A Thomas 2. Newport: Try: A Powell; Con: J Strange; Pens: J Strange 2.

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Yellow Cards: Swansea: B Lima 19. Newport: J Forster 24; P Buxton 54.


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