NEWPORT rounded off their pre-season campaign with an unbeaten record, but were pushed all the way by Dings in front of a packed Shaftesbury Park. The home side had the better of the early exchanges and opened the scoring with a penalty from fly-half Ollie Milner.
Crusaders extended their lead with a superb 70 metre effort rounded off by wing Ian Clark - Milner again on target with the extras to open up a 10-0 lead. But the visitors were back within three points at the break after Andrew Mann collected a cross kick to touchdown. Hayden Symonds converted.
Newport had the better of the second-half, though, and added further tries from David Richards and a brace from Jack Wright. Matt O’Brien added the extras to all three tries.
Crusaders ended the game in the ascendency, with a try from replacement hooker Joe Hawkesby, converted by Luke Arscott and a penalty try in the 80th minute.
Director of rugby Stean Williams, though disappointed with the result, was pleased with his teams performance over all. He said: "We did a lot of very good things out there today against a quality side. I thought we defended very well, and asked plenty of questions of them when we had possession. We had a little blip midway through the second-half, but we finished very strongly. We would have like to have won the game, but the main objective was to build on our recent performances and to prepare for what will undoubtedly be a very tough fixture against Westcliff next weekend."