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Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 16:19 GMT
Newport keep hopes alive
Newport flanker Jason Forster goes over for the game's only try
Flanker Jason Forster scored Newport's decisive try
Heineken Cup - Pool 5
Newport 16-12 London Irish



Jason Forster's only try of the game for Newport proved the difference in a tight Heineken Cup encounter at Rodney Parade.

The win kept the Black and Ambers' slim quarter-final hopes alive, although Toulouse stretched their lead at the top of Pool 5 by winning in Edinburgh.

"Organisationally our defence was absolutely superb and reflects much of the hard work the squad has put into training," Newport coach Leigh Jones said.

Scoring details:
Newport (6) 16:
Try:
J Forster.
Con: Strange.
Pens: Strange 3.
London Irish (9) 12:
Pens:
Everitt 4.
Att: 6,435

"The break of four weeks has done us a great deal of good because we have come here today as if we are starting a new season.

"This is the foundation from which we should be able to springboard upwards. Home wins give a team confidence and we will not be travelling to London Irish just to make up the numbers."

Jones also had praise for returning duo Jason Jones-Hughes and Ian Gough.

The Welsh internationals have both suffered with long-term injuries, Jones-Hughes having two torrid years, but slotted happily back into action.

Fly-half Jason Strange opened the scoring for the home side with a penalty, but opposite number Barry Everitt replied in kind to keep it level at the end of the first quarter.

The tackling duel between Newport's Andy Marinos and Brendan Venter of London Irish gave the large crowd plenty to shout about.

But there was a great deal of body crunching going on around the rest of the field as well, as both teams strove to get on top.

It was Marinos who made the break that looked likely to produce the first try of the match, but a drift defence was up to it.

It was left to Strange to put Newport back into the lead with his second penalty, only for Everitt to again level.

Newport lost scrum-half Ofisa Tonu'u to the sin-bin just before half-time for hands at the bottom of a ruck.

Everitt fired Irish into the lead for the first time with the resulting penalty and Irish took a three-point lead into the interval.

The second half was three minutes old when Exiles hooker Naka Drotske was sin-binned for diving over a ruck.

Newport centre Jason Jones-Hughes returned to competitive action after a lengthy injury lay-off
Jason Jones-Hughes made a winning return

With Tonu'u now back on the park, the Black and Ambers pack rolled their way towards the try line, eventually shoving Forster over for the try.

Strange converted and Newport were in front by 13-9.

Irish kicked for possession rather than for goal on a number of occasions, but the Newport defence held firm.

But when the home side were penalised in front of the posts, Everitt put over his fourth penalty to reduce the lead to one point.

However, Newport held out and two minutes from the end Strange slotted his third penalty to make the match safe.

"We turned the ball over too often and lost momentum when we were starting to go well up front," London Irish coach Connor O'Shea said.

"It is massively disappointing for us to lose. We came here with plenty of confidence but failed to exploit the gaps, which just about sums up our season to date.

"Hats off to Newport on this occasion but we will give them a warm response when they come up to us next week."


Newport: Shane Howarth; Matt Mostyn, Jason Jones-Hughes, Andy Marinos, Hal Luscombe; Jason Strange, Ofisa Tonu'u; Rod Snow, James Richards, Adrian Garvey, Simon Raiwalui (capt), Ian Gough, Gareth Gravell, Jason Forster, Steve Ojomoh.
Reps: Chris Anthony, Paul Young, Matthew Veater, Joe Powell, Matt Pini, Luke Nabaro, Dale Burn.

London Irish: Michael Horak; Paul Sackey, Nick Burrows, Brendan Venter, Justin Bishop; Barry Everitt, Darren Edwards; Mike Worsley, Naka Drotske, Rob Hardwick, Ryan Strudwick (capt), Glenn Delaney, Paul Gustard, Declan Danaher, Chris Sheasby.
Reps: Kevin Barrett, Mark Mapletoft, James Cockle, Adrian Flavin, Kieron Dawson, Neal Hatley, Simon Halford.

Ref: Joel Dume (France).

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 ON THIS STORY
Newport's Jason Jones-Hughes
"It's good to be back in action"

Heineken Cup

Parker Pen Cup

EUROPEAN STATISTICS
Links to more European stories are at the foot of the page.


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