Newport recorded their second away win of the season to remain unbeaten, with an absolute annihilation of South Leicester on Saturday and the posting of an all time record victory.
Unfortunately there is no room for mercy in league rugby, especially when you bear in mind that Newport have in recent years missed the play-offs by narrow margins, but this game, from the first exchanges, was a hopelessly embarrassing mismatch and I don't believe the players,management or supporters, enjoyed inflicting such a crushing defeat on their opponents.
Sadly, after being relegated from National 2 last season, South Leicester's entire first team squad, some thirty players, decided to abandon the club and seek game time elsewhere. It would seem that, to a man, they all considered that they didn't contribute to their team's demise and felt no compunction to support a fight-back. Their wholesale departure has forced the selection of inexperienced players, alongside others, who are not capable of competing at Midlands Premiership level. Huge respect to those who are donning the shirt and fulfilling the fixtures, in particular to a young captain, who didn't stop encouraging his team all game, despite the relentless onslaught his team were facing.
This sad situation is a lesson to all clubs who build a team solely around players with no loyalty to the club and says much about the fickle nature of the modern game. In total Newport recorded nineteen tries, with a momentary lapse of concentration allowing South Leicester an early hope of something other than a thumping, when they drew level at seven a piece. After that, it was one-way traffic and the scoreboard operator was kept fully occupied throughout the entire eighty minutes.
The only facet of the game which was anywhere near parity, was the set scrummage, where as too often happens nowadays, the referee had negated the contest with some early arbitrary decisions. Other than that, Newport's forwards were too physical for their opposite numbers at the breakdown, and their backs too fleet of foot, and too slick for the men in green to handle. It wasn't only Newport's impressive backline that made ground in open play, every single member of the pack contributed to the high-tempo expansive free-running display.
In such an impressive team performance, albeit against a totally outclassed opponent, it's difficult to heap praise on individuals, but Sam Evan's contribution of five tries, which would have been six, but for the awarding of a penalty try for a no arms tackle, as he grounded the ball, was particularly noteworthy and equalled a long-standing club record.
Others to cross the whitewash were, Benny Elliot (3), Alex Haselock (2), Will Roach (2), Sam Brown (2), Chris Perry, Luke Kendall, Jake Leonard, and Dec Hadley, It is clear that despite the Summer departure of some players who can rightfully be described as Newport legends, Vaka, Holder and Parker, all with over 100 appearances to their names, that Newport's team is not lacking in talent or depth. Eighteen year old Will Higgins is more than holding his own in the back-row, and Evans is a speed machine to match Haselock on the opposite wing. Nixon, absent this week through injury, adds strength alongside Veterans, Jack Wells and Craig Wilson and the mobile Jordan Grass. Roach and Kirk Robinson look fit, as does the slimmed down Kendall, who has impressed with his work rate in defence and support play in both games so far. Rhys Morgan, a man for all positions is fired up and there is cover in the back row from new recruit, Tom Stone and experienced returnee, Chris Taylor. The back line has the experience of Monty Maule, Brown, Elliot and Perry complimented by the exciting, carefree attitude of Leonard.
It is obvious that this squad are playing for each other. On several occasions on Saturday, passes were unselfishly given, ensuring the success of the team, rather than potential individual glory. The team can also sustain a high-tempo game for long periods, an absolute necessity if they wish to compete at the top end of this division.
Much tougher assignments than Saturdays fixture are on the horizon, of that there is no doubt, but Newport have started well and when playing anything like their best are a tough team to beat. Up next, Nuneaton, with whom honours were shared last season, at one game apiece.
Team: Grass, Cowell (C), Wells, Roach, Robinson, Higgins, Kendall, Morgan, Brown, Elliot, Haselock, Maule, Perry, Evans, Leonard, Wilson, Hadley, Stone.