Athletic have real grounds for hope
Dec 17 2007 by Our Correspondent, Western Mail
Carmarthen Athletic 3-25 Newport
THE Athletic may have been nowhere near winning this game but they were neither embarrassed nor outclassed in a rousing cup tie at their new out-of-town ground.
The Black and Ambers got through to the fourth round with little trouble, but cast envious eyes at the Athletic’s spanking new 2,400 square metre training barn – recently used by Wales before the game against South Africa.
The surface is receptive to falls and players need no attention for burns and abrasions, which is not the case with many indoor synthetic surfaces that were designed more for soccer than rugby.
Chairman Richard Lewis, who was one of the main movers in selling the lease of their old ground to Tesco and in planning the new development, explained the club’s vision for the future.
“We are now financially comfortable, but determined to provide top facilities for our players and put that ahead of any ambition to get Premiership membership.
“The WRU has intimated that the club will fulfil the Premiership criteria once the stand and clubhouse are ready by the end of the year.
“But we will certainly not be putting the cart before the horse.”
“We see the game as one for the players to enjoy and if in that enjoyment we can lift standards on and off the field, the committee will have done its job.”
Against Newport, the Athletic gave absolutely everything, but were short of the vital attributes of weight and strength that were needed to match semi-professional players, a number of who had regional experience.
Winning coach Ian Hembrow generously applauded the Athletic effort.
“They gave us a real challenge in the first half, but once we settled, we managed to produce some fluent rugby which will really set us up for tough derbies against Cross Keys and Bedwas over the Christmas period.”
Newport led by just 6-3 – two penalties by fly-half Dan Griffiths trumping one by opposite number David Evans, once on the books of Charlton Athletic – but, in the last movement of the first half, centre Scott Williams slipped through to send full-back Michael Hook into the corner.
And it was Williams again who dealt the west Walians a real hammer blow soon after the restart, when he scored a fine solo try, converted by Griffiths.
With locks Matthew Veater and Mike Workman outstanding in tight and loose, Newport had a firm hold on possession only to find themselves up against a firm defence
The best movement of the day then finished off the home effort.
Replacement full-back James Dixon attacked from deep, backs and forwards linked before replacement prop Ian Evans shimmied through for a third Newport try, converted by Griffiths.
The Athletic found time and energy to give it one more go in their search for a consolation score.
A great run by skipper and centre Steve Davies all but brought reward before referee Matthew Aplin ended the game three minutes early with the home side camped near the Newport line.
Carmarthen Athletic: Pen – D Evans
Newport: Tries– M Hook, S Williams, I Evans; cons – D Griffiths (2); pens – D Griffiths (2)