Cardiff RFC v Newport RFC 27th October 2017 by John Evans
After a two week break from Principality Premiership action, to enable the British & Irish Cup to stage its first two rounds, it was back with a bang as Newport travelled the short distance to our good friends, and keenest rivals, Cardiff RFC.
After the hard-earned but fully deserved victory at Cross Keys, Craig Warlow decided to stick with Haydn Simons at outside half after a powerful display controlling the game at Pandy Park while Haydn Palmer was selected on the wing after an equally courageous and dogged performance. It was also good to see the first of the returning long-term injured make a reappearance as Arwel Robson took his place on the bench after six months out. Sadly, John Lavender failed to appear having broken his hand whilst playing for the Dragons Premiership Select XV in said tournament.
Haydn Simons lofted the ball high into the still Cardiff night to start the game but it was the Blue and Blacks that made most of the early running. The hosts had ample possession but Newport were harrying and harassing them into making mistakes and, essentially, living off scraps. Cardiff were almost through in the fifth minute when a Dan Marino pass from scrum half Lewis Jones to Will Rees-Hole went unpunished but Chay Smith and Haydn Palmer were on hand to shut that particular attack down.
The Cardiff midfield players felt that they had room and time enough to showboat a bit with trick passes and the like, usually via centre Dafydd Smith but, luckily for Newport, his fourteen mates were on a different page and most of the flamboyancy ended up on the deck for the back rows to scrap over. Newport’s Haydn Simons sought inspiration from this when he made a eighth minute break. His run took up a blue and black alley but the pass from behind his back ended up at head height for Geraint O’Driscoll and the knock-on was inevitable.
Cardiff scored their first try of the evening via the impressive Dan Fish at full back. The big Cardiff forwards were knocking away at the Newport defence but were usually met with a ‘double-team’ hit, denying the tackled player the opportunity to release the ball, however, prop Rhys Carre did manage to slip the ball out to the supporting Fish who skipped through the backline to score comfortably. Outside half Gareth Thompson converted the try to make the score Cardiff 7 Newport 0 on ten minutes.
Cardiff fumbled Haydn Simons’ restart and it was Morgan Burgess who was in amongst them first, causing confusion in the home pack. Newport battled hard to make ground but it was a Cardiff player not releasing in the tackle that conceded the penalty. Simons’ attempt was good, making the score Cardiff 7 Newport 3 on 13 minutes.
Cardiff restored the seven point gap just minutes later when Newport wing Harri Lang was penalised for holding on to the ball in the tackle. Cardiff’s Gareth Thompson slotted the three-pointer to make it Cardiff 10 Newport 3 on 16 minutes.
Newport put together their first really telling attack on nineteen minutes after Morgan Burgess took the line out ball, Owen Davies at scrum half moved it to his right quickly on to Kyle Tayler who made a break like a centre around the Cardiff defence. Tom Pascoe in support took the ball on his hip while hitting a defender but kept Newport driving forward. The ball then worked back left to Henry Palmer, pirouetting along the touchline, who, somehow, got a pass away back infield to Harri Lang who was high tackled. From the restart Newport bludgeoned away again, prop Garin Harris going closest, before the ball was spilled and the Blue and Blacks could clear their lines.
Cardiff extended their lead on 28 minutes when Garin Harris was penalised for pulling the scrum down, Gareth Thompson sweetly putting Cardiff 13-3 ahead.
The hosts very nearly added a second try on the half-hour when speed and almost lightning fast ball handling saw them within metres of the Newport line, but the handling was possibly a little too fast for wing Ceri Young who simply deflected the ball into touch. Another let off for the Black and Ambers.
The last ten minutes of the first half was all Cardiff. A series of drives which went close was only undone when second row James Murphy fumbled the ball while a 39th minute attack saw scrum half Lewis Jones and Gareth Thompson at ten run an arc around Tom Pascoe and pass to wing James Beal. Harri Lang brought his opposite number down but full-back Dan Fish was judged to have been bottled up illegally and it was down to Thompson to score a third penalty goal to make the score Cardiff 16 Newport 3 as the half ended.
Halftime – Cardiff RFC 16 Newport RFC 3
Gareth Thompson restarted the game for Cardiff and the Blue and Blacks were turning the screw from the outset. Flanker Reuben Tucker, a summer recruit from the Black and Ambers, made a pass out to Lewis Jones but Kyle Tayler snuffed him out. Number 8 Dan Crimmins, wearing jersey 18, crossed the line but was judged by referee Simon Mills to have been held up. Cardiff had a five metre scrum and, after a few phases, flanker Ben White joined the line at pace and crashed over under the crossbar. Gareth Thompson added the extras to make the score Cardiff 23-3 on 42 minutes.
Newport responded with a well worked try of their own. Excellent handling by the Black and Amber backs worked them up field where the free-running props Matt Prosser and Garin Harris could run with the ball. Henry Palmer was lurking out wide and squeezed between defenders to dot down. Haydn Simons added the two to make the score Cardiff 23 Newport 10.
Sadly, a seeming unwillingness to tackle Cardiff’s Rhys Carre let him get too far into the Newport 22 just three minutes later. Carre set the ruck up perfectly and the ball went right to Will Rees-Hole who put in a perfectly weighted kick off the outside of his left foot for centre partner Dafydd Smith to score the try. Thompson again added the easy points to make the score Cardiff 30 Newport 10.
Haydn Simons made way for Arwel Robson on 56 minutes and, in true Robson fashion, the ball zipped and zinged around the field as Newport progressed forward. Momentum built until an unfortunate knock-on by replacement prop Phil Price scuppered the attack.
Cardiff continued to press, the margins between scoring and not scoring being particularly fine at times. Kyle Tayler was outstanding in defence and, at times, was that margin.
Wholesale replacements were undertaken by both teams as the game began to peter out. Cardiff appeared to lose interest in going for the bonus point try which was, seemingly, there for the taking. It took until the 75 minute for that to come and then in seemingly bizarre circumstances. Cardiff’s fresh outside half, Ben Thomas, kicked the ball towards Newport’s corner, the ball apparently rolling into touch without a Newport hand being laid on it. It was Cardiff, however, who were awarded the line out and hooker Ian Jenkins coupled himself onto the rear of the advancing rolling maul and shunted himself over the line. Ben Thomas added the two to take the score to Cardiff 37 Newport 10.
Things became even more confusing on 80 minutes when Cardiff wing Ceri Young was yellow carded by Mr Mills for an unseen offence. Young himself seemed unaware of his what he had done. Then Mr Mills found ten, count ‘em, ten minutes of injury time. Newport called a scrum for the Young offence but the already underpowered scrummage was virtually howitzered as the Blue and Blacks sought to keep Newport’s score down. The scrum was reset and Arwel Robson skated off to the right but was captured and stripped of the ball. Mr Mills kept finding fault in Cardiff’s play and Newport called the scrum again, much, much more successfully this time. Robson put in a good across-field kick for Harri Lang to catch, which he accomplished and commando-rolled in to score Newport’s second try. Robson added the conversion to make it Cardiff 37 Newport 17.
Deep into stoppage time, Haydn Simons, now operating at full back, capitalised on the idiosyncratic bounce of the pitch at the Arms Park and raced towards the Cardiff line. Mr Mills penalised Cardiff again and, once more, Newport opted to scrummage. The ball went left from the scrum and Newport actually crossed the line but it was left to Ryan James to salvage the ball and then thrust himself downwards to score the try. Arwel Robson added the conversion to give the final score an unlikely gloss at Cardiff 37 Newport 22.
Newport RFC’s next outing in the Principality Premiership is next Friday, 3rd November, when Bedwas RFC visit Rodney Parade. Bedwas are having a terrific season so far and, hopefully, the fireworks will be on the pitch when Newport face up to our friends from the other end of the A468.
A club is only as good as the people in it and nobody is more important to a rugby club than the medical team. One of those has had their last game with Newport RFC and the club will be sorry to see her leave but delighted for the opportunity presented to her. Jess Evans has been an integral part of our backroom staff for some years now but a full-time position with the Strakka Racing auto-racing team was too good to turn down. The club wish her well for the future and would like to remind her that she is always welcome at Newport RFC.
Onwards and upwards, Newport, onwards and upwards.
Come on the ‘Port! #cotp
Man Of The Match – Chay Smith
FINAL SCORE _ Cardiff RFC 37 Newport RFC 22
Match Pics from Simon Latham: https://simonlatham.smugmug.com/17-10-27-Cardiff-v-Newport/