The new Indigo Group Premiership campaign got off to a flying start with an opening weekend of drama – with Newport forced to survive a late scare against Gwent rivals Ebbw Vale at Eugene Cross Park.
Newport had swept to a 22-6 lead into the interval with scores from David Richards, Ryan Gardner and a penalty try.
But the Steelmen refused to throw in the towel and tries from Ashley Sweet and Stephen Ireland set-up a grandstand finish. In the end, though, Ebbw Vale had to make do with a losing bonus point in a 29-23 defeat.
Full back Dan Haymond, who ended with 13 points, gave the Steelmen an early lead with two penalties, but Newport hit back with a cracking try from Richards at the corner.
Ebbw self-destructed before half-time with Matthew Flanagan’s clearance kick charged down allowing Richards to touch down and score.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts when they conceded a penalty try for illegally bringing down a driving lineout which was galloping towards the try line with ease.Not only did they concede seven points, but hooker Joe Franchi was sent to the sin bin at the stroke of half-time.
Greg Woods’ side came out fighting in the early stages of the second-half and were given hope when Newport centre Adam Jones received a yellow card for taking out a man without the ball.
Sweet then crashed over from the resulting line-out. But their comeback was short lived as Richards sliced through their defence for his second try of the evening. Newport blindside Josh Skinner was sent to the sin bin for preventing Sam Ireland taking a quick tap.
Ebbw Vale lay siege to the Newport try line late on with scrum-half Ireland grabbing a late score but it was too little, too late.