Howard Evans (Newport Programme Notes)

Welcome to Newport with its players and supporters and most importantly to Craig Warlow, who we all remember here at Aberavon for his spell as backs coach.

Craig is one of the nicest of blokes and has done a remarkable job in his time at Rodney Parade, so much so that he was the Premiership Coach of last season – very well earned, as I also would have voted for him.

Tonight is so important because we are seventh and two points above us are Newport (though they have played one more match than us). So it promises to be an absolute nail-biter.

Last season we had the pleasure of having that wonderful centre/fly half Brian Jones (and his wife) sitting in the grandstand.

Brian not only played, skippered and coached the Black and Ambers, but played in sides that defeated South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – the first player ever to do so in GB.

We have seen so many great Newport players in the past, including Bryn Meredith (the best-ever British hooker), David Watkins (who I played against once in Youth rugby), Ken Jones (whose house I went to on several occasions), Brian Price and a superb uncapped wing John Lane. And let us not forget Roger Powell, a tough as teak back-rower who came to coach here.

Now to Aberavon, who turned in an amazing win over Merthyr here last time out. Absolutely top-notch performance by all. Rhodri Cole stunned us all, not only for his scrum half display, but by suddenly becoming a fine goal-kicker.

Great to see Allan Martin, our most-capped international, putting up the ‘old’ photos on Facebook lately and I am turning the Aberavon History into i-Book form shortly. It is also good to record that Cliff David, our former prop and treasurer is recovering well from a recent fall.

Referee tonight is Dewi Phillips, whose father, the Reverend Eldon, once told me he played ‘God’ in a Christmas play.

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3