NEWENT produced their most complete performance of the season to claim a bonus point victory in this first league meeting between the clubs, writes Simon Roberts.
Hereford enjoyed long periods of possession in Newent territory and the home side’s win owed as much to an outstanding defensive effort as it did to a clinical attack.
Hereford started brightly, moving the ball crisply and probing the Newent defence in multi-phased attacks.
Newent relieved the pressure with Tom Webb clearing to halfway, where the home pack won a scrum penalty on the Hereford put-in – setting the pattern for the game – to allow Webb to launch a kick deep into the visitors 22.
Matt Henry secured the lineout ball and passed back inside to Jack Devries, who burst through a gap to touch down unopposed.
Tom Webb’s conversion attempt from wide on the right clipped the top of the left-hand upright, removing its cap in the process.
Another scrum on halfway gave Newent the platform to construct a second try, one of the highest quality.
Kyle Towers came off his wing to make a break though midfield and quick ruck ball fed Will Hartland.
Newent’s outside centre’s quick feet put him into space and he drew the last defender before a perfectly timed pass found Doug Long steaming up on his inside for a clear run to the posts.
Webb added the conversion nd Newent were 12-0 the back of two incursions.
Newent were penalised from the restart to signal another long period of Hereford pressure.
The host’s defence was excellent again, on one occasion holding up a drive over the line but they couldn’t break the siege and deep into stoppage time Hereford got onto the scoreboard with a well-constructed try.
Newent reclaimed the initiative from the second half restart. Tom Webb fielded a kick downfield and launched a spiral bomb which was well chased by Doug Long to regain possession.
Several phases later hooker Rich Townsend crossed from close range for Newent’s third try, converted by Webb.
Another steepling kick from Webb soon had Newent back on attack but the Hereford defence held firm.
When they were penalised for being offside in their 22 Newent opted to go for goal and Webb made no mistake to extend the lead to 22-7.
With the game entering its final quarter, a break from Iwan Holder took play deep into Newent territory.
The hosts infringed at the breakdown and the ball was kicked to touch 5m out. Hereford secured their lineout ball, as they did all afternoon, and the pack mauled over for their second try.
Iwan Holder added a good conversion and the visitors were back in the game with the score at 22-14.
A tense last 15 minutes seemed in prospect, but Newent responded by stepping up and taking the game away from their opponents in some style.
The bonus point try came on the half-hour mark, Ben Vincent barrelling over by the posts to complete a multi-phased attack sparked by breaks from Doug Long and Will Hartland. Tom Webb converted.
Hereford’s deep restart was taken by Ben Vincent inside his own 22.
To this point he had been tightly marked by Hereford’s competitive back row, but here he had a bit of space to work in and it was all he needed to hit his stride and embark on an exhilarating run which took him to the opposition 22, where he was brought to ground by a high tackle which sparked a minor melee.
When the dust had settled referee Chris Thomas awarded a penalty to Newent and showed a yellow card to Hereford’s inside centre Josh Wright.
Tom Webb kicked to the corner and Phil Middlemiss peeled round the tail of the resultant lineout and drove for the line.
He was stopped just short but the pack battered away through a few more phases until Rich Townsend burrowed over for his second try. Tom Webb’s conversion extended Newent’s lead to 36-14.
Ben Vincent’s strong carry from the back of a scrum on Newent’s 10m line put Nathan Brooks away in a bit of space on the left-wing.
He hit the afterburners, but with three defenders closing him down his route to the try line looked well and truly blocked.
But somehow he managed to break their attempted tackles, keep his balance and sprint clear to touch down in ‘cauldron corner’ for a memorable solo try.
Tom Webb added the extras from close to the touchline for 43-14.
The game was now into stoppage time but there was time for Hereford to launch a final attack, so that the game ended as it began – with the visitors pressing hard and Newent defending with total commitment.
The Hereford pack mauled over from a 5m lineout again, but this time they were held up and eventually they lost possession as a result of a knock-on to bring an entertaining game to a close.