Newport won the North Midlands Cup for the third time with a hat-trick of tries from centre Henry Vaka setting up their 40-16 win over plucky Bromsgrove in today’s final at Dudley Kingswinford.
Vaka was a constant menace to Bromsgrove’s defence and his eye for a scoring opportunity proved decisive in an entertaining final which went the way of the form book.
Newport, a division above Bromsgrove, had narrowly missed out on a promotion play-off place in Midlands Premier and were determined to end their season with the county cup as consolation.
Bromsgrove led twice in the first half with two penalties from fly-half Richard Mahony but in between Vaka hinted at what was to come when he snaffled a stray pass from Sam Knott in his own half, and after clever interplay was on hand to take the scoring pass.
Vaka then turned provider for full-back Liam Holder who juggled the ball but managed to hold on to score the second try which he also converted before Mahony stroked over his third penalty to trim the deficit to three points.
But Vaka struck again just before half-time when he powered through for his second try and Holder’s conversion gave Newport a 10 points cushion at the break.
Vaka completed his hat-trick 10 minutes into the second half when he kicked long for his wing Billy Wara. Bromsgrove wing Josh Holt scrambled back but succeeded only in popping the ball up to the alert Vaka who dotted down with Holder again converting.
Bromsgrove, who played their part in a free-flowing final, hit back with a well-worked try for right wing Ollie Bache which Mahony converted but Newport finished strongly and maintained their record of averaging 40 points a match through the season.
Rhys Harrhy darted through for an individual try which Holder again converted. Holder then scuffed a long range penalty attempt but Newport were not to be denied and scrum-half Jake Leonard burst through for the final try in injury time which Monty Maule converted.
Bridgnorth made it a Shropshire double by retaining the North Midlands Cup Plate with a 47-7 win over Old Halesonians.
A try from wing Rich Addison and a Llew Williams conversion gave Bridgnorth a narrow lead at half time but Old Halesonians pulled level early in the second half.
The sides were level 7-7 at 60 minutes but Addison’s second try began an avalanche of points in the final quarter which swept Bridgnorth to victory.
Dale Smallman, in his last match in charge as Bridgnorth’s director of rugby, was given the honour of collecting the trophy.