As the scoreline suggests, the visit from the league leaders resulted in an emphatic defeat for Kenilworth but that does not tell the whole story, writes Ralph Murray.
Against such an organised and well-funded outfit, Ks kept it close until the interval but the professionalism of the visitors eventually told.
On a crisp, bright winter afternoon at Glasshouse, the faithful were bracing themselves for an onslaught from the pacesetters in Midlands One West but the early exchanges were fairly even.
Newport’s defence was well drilled and from an early turnover they made a clinical break, recycling to produce an overlap and the opening score.
Ks, to their credit, came straight back at Newport but, having made good field position, seemed to lose most of the collisions and the ball inevitably ended up on the visitors’ side. The counter-attack was swift and with the point of attack constantly changing, the Newport ten crashed over for the second score.
Ks again took the game to Newport and won a penalty for their efforts which Harry O’Brien nailed to get his side on the board.
The pressure was maintained as the next home attack got to within five metres of the line before the ball was switched left to find Joe Yeomanson who crossed to close the gap to four points.
Yeomanson continued to make a mark as he intercepted the next Newport attack and headed for the line. He was eventually hauled down and Ks were penalised at the ensuing ruck.
Newport were stung into greater effort and mounted a series of punishing surges close to the line but the Kenilworth defence repelled the threat.
But a feature of this game was the inability of Kenilworth to find touch from defensive penalties and this cost them dear.
Newport knew they were in an arm wrestle and when a penalty opportunity presented itself, they opted for a shot at goal to extend their lead.
A clever kick and chase from Dale Glover then caused indecision in the Newport defence. O’Brien sent a crossfield kick in the direction of Yeomanson but, in attempting to offload, the winger’s pass went astray and the chance to turn around all square was gone.
The final kick of the half was another successful three-pointer from Newport to make it 18-8 to the hosts at the break.
The second half was a different affair as a combination of Newport’s organisation and smart play combined with a tiring Kenilworth side conspired to see the visitors run in three tries in quick succession.
With the floodgates open, Kenilworth’s woes were added to when flanker Ed Holmes received a yellow card for a late tackle.
Newport wasted little time in using the advantage and scored again.
Rhys Jones was next to see yellow but Ks never threw in the towel and were rewarded with a defiant late try, Pete Nancarrow stepping the defenders to score after Ross Lowthian’s initial break.