"EDITORIAL .... by ROGER PANTING"
"Newport duly achieved the long awaited notable victory that made the rest of the Welsh clubs sit up and take notice that they mean business. At Stradey Park last Friday evening Newport pulled off a deserved victory, their first there for 21 years. Llanetli, last year's champions, had not been defeated at home since Leinster were successful there in a European Cup game in September 1998 and they had not been defeated in the league since Pontypridd won at Stradey in April 1998. Cardiff had crashed to a 60-18 defeat earlier in the season and the result certainly made it a happy homecoming for Newport's Director of Rugby, Allan Lewis, and former Llanelli players Justin Thomas, Andrew Gibbs and Paul Jones."
"Newport originally made it difficult for themselves by choosing to leave Robbie Kempson - their South African international prop - on the bench, and until his entry into the game Newport found themselves with problems in the set scrum. I'm not a huge fan of the theory of the impact player, and so let's have the best team on the field from the start. Andy Marinos should have started at Neath and it cost Newport dear, and at Llanelli the decision with regard to Kempson could have had disastrous consequences."
"It was a bruising encounter. . . Gareth Taylor flew head first into a ruck into the seventh minute and collided with Ian Boobyer, who left the field cut and dazed; Gary Teichmann was again in the wars with a cut head, but returned to marshal his troops to a famous victory and, finally, Damien Cummins departed with concussion after being on the receiving end of a swinging arm special from Salesi Finau, the Tongan centre, who got ten minutes in the sin bin. However, it seems that like most Tongans Finau can only tackle this way - Siua Taumalolo, the head hunting Ebbw Vale full back, picked up a three-match ban in the World Cup for a similar offence and it is about time some more severe punishments were handed out to these regular offenders."
"Another interesting question was posed on the night. . . how did the Newport supporters ever come to choose Matt Cardey as their Player of the Year last season? In my book there was only ever one winner - Matthew Watkins. The young lad appeared in ail the matches and in trying circumstances played splendidly throughout, being rewarded with a Welsh Tour place. Cardey certainly showed his true talents on Friday evening - he is unable to kick a ball, that's why he runs so often, but in so doing he normally slips and falls over. He runs around akin to a headless chicken, but no-one can deny his bravery in the tackle, as a result of which he frequently ends up concussed ... but there was not much danger of that on Friday evening as Ben Breeze went past him on a couple of occasions like a dose of salts. Breeze had a storming game, impressing with his determined running, and there were other notable performances from Gareth Cull, who kicked another 16 points to take his tally to 127 for the season, and centres Watkins and Pritchard, who combined cleverly for the opening try. For Llanelli, their only celebration was to record Wayne Proctor's 100th league try - a marvellous effort from a fine player, but there is no doubt that they missed on the night Rupert Moon, their injured scrum half, and the fire and determination of Ian Boobyer."
"In November 1972 I travelled with a weak Newport United side to Virginia Park, where we defeated Caerphilly 34-3. Six weeks later Newport 1st XV lost 20-15 to the New Zealand All Blacks. If somebody had said at that stage that in 1998-99 Caerphilly would beat a full strength Newport 1st XV - not once, but five times - he would have been certified as insane. However, we all know that is exactly what happened, and now is the time for Newport to put the record straight for that embarrassing statistic. Newport are already up to fourth in the league table and with Neath playing Llanelli this weekend, a win today would see Newport into the top three, with games against Glasgow and Dunvant to be played before the half-way stage."
"Today's Visitors .... Caerphilly R.F.C."
"With approximately one third of the league season completed, it already seems certain that Caerphilly and Dunvant will be competing to avoid the one relegation spot. It is evident that for all the endeavours of those two clubs they do not possess enough funds to obtain the players of sufficient quality to beat with any regularity the richer and better supported clubs in the league. To date Caerphilly have shown that they can compete, on occasions, with a notable victory at Bridgend and hard fought battles with Cardiff and Swansea, but on the two occasions I was at Virginia Park this season their defence was found badly wanting against the likes of Edinburgh and Llanelli. It can only get harder as the big guns in the league begin to parade their stars who have been absent through World Cup commitments. Their coach, the experienced Chris Davey, is now in his sixth season with the club, having guided them from the old Third Division to the Premier Division during his time at the helm. Like most at Caerphilly, he was delighted with fifth place last season and is looking for further progress. Prior to the commencement of the season he commented, "We should be looking to make an impression on the so-called top four. But everyone has seen the sort of money some clubs have been spending and we can't match that, but we will be well organised and very competitive." The Welsh Under-21 coach added, "I know the odds are stacked against Caerpnilly when it comes to a British League, but if we are good enough we should be part of it. We have come from nowhere and we can be proud of what we have achieved. I was approached by other clubs but I am happy at Caerphilly. The club lacks nothing when it comes to team spirit and attitude." Davey has not been helped by some poor attendances at Virginia Park. After a depressingly low opening day crowd against Edinburgh Reivers their president, Keith Hodge, warned the club that it was in danger of disappearing down a black hole unless it gains more support from the local community. The club have spent £500,000 on players and new facilities in the last two seasons but, if anything, the support is getting worse not better. Caerphilly have a £1.7 million plan over five years to develop Virginia Park and have already started work on a terrace at the North End of the ground. But the club has just one full time employee, a commercial manager, and relies on the voluntary work of officials to generate income. There is also a lack of funds to attract new players to Virginia Park, from where there were several key departures in the summer, none more than prolific points scoring full back Brett Davey, who joined Pontypridd. Welsh international centre Roger Bidgood and fellow backs Wayne Bray and Darren Starr went to Blackwood and veteran prop Bob Bilton went back to his roots by signing for Bedwas."
"Nathan Jones, the former Bridgend and Newport lock, has been appointed captain and included in his pack are two others with Newport connections in flankers Ben Watkins, son of former Newport favourite Jeff, and Chris Brown. Mike Wilson, formerly of Ebbw Vale, and Justin Hughes, last year's Aberavon captain, have brought solidity to the front row after the departures of Chris Ferris and Richard Jasper to Bridgend, with Danzi Niblo, the former Dunvant and Swansea lock, providing some fire in the lock position. Behind the scrum the Newport connection continues with former Cardiff, West Hartlepool and Neath player Chris John collecting the points at fly half and ex-Cambridge University and Neath centre Adam Palfrey providing some penetration. The powerful Sean Marshall, ex-Swansea and Cross Keys, has been in try scoring form this season, whilst on the other wing Chris Batsford has been signed from Bonymaen, where he scored a hatful of tries last season. David Hawkins, son of former Newport Youth captain and Newbridge full back Brian, has also joined from Bonymaen after a spell with Neath, and the much travelled Roddy Boobyer, brother of Ian and Neil, has been partnering him in the centre. In 6ft 6ins, 16st lOlbs full back Ed Griffiths, Caerphilly must lay claim to having the tallest full back in World Rugby, and at scrum half Chris Bridges, the former Welsh international, competes for the berth with Jonathan Hooper, a diminutive player recruited from Merthyr."