Cardiff RFC v Newport RFC 11th November 2023 by John Evans
A trip to the Arms Park always gets the senses tingling for Black and Amber supporters. No matter how well Newport may be playing, or Cardiff for that matter, the results are never a foregone conclusion.
The weather was perfect for watching rugby, bright and clear, a welcome gap between the downpours of rain that seem to have lasted for weeks now. Thankfully, Cardiff’s excellent playing surface allowed the game not to get bogged down ankle-deep in mud.
Ty Morris named a particularly strong looking XV, the late change of Elliot Frewen for Oli Andrew made little difference, such is the talent at the coaches disposal at the moment.
Newport were led out by the Ninja Warrior, Jonny Morris, on his 150th game in Black and Amber. That’s a terrific achievement by a genuine fan-favourite at the club. Congratulations, Jon!
There was a minutes silence, impeccably observed of course, not just for Remembrance Day, but also former Cardiff RFC player Tony Pender, who passed away recently.
Carwyn Penny got the game underway, with Newport attacking the ‘City’ end. Cardiff flanker Mackenzie Martin caught the ball, set up the ruck, before Cardiff kicked long. However, they managed to catch themselves offside following up, so Matt O’Brien returned the ball from whence it came. Unfortunately for Newport, the lineout was over-complicated, earning Cardiff a free kick to relieve the pressure.
Referee Mike English awarded the most obvious penalty that he’s ever likely to give when Mackenzie Martin patted the ball back through the scrum. Matt O’Brien pumped Newport to the corner again. Ben Roach rose high to take the catch as the power come into the maul. Jonny Morris straightened the line before Matt O’Brien switched direction and found Lloyd Lewis, who chipped the defence but was beaten by the dead ball line. Newport were playing with a penalty advantage, so the lineout reset, Josh Skinner taking the ball this time, but the maul was collapsed. Mr English pointed out Cardiff captain Morgan Allen as being the culprit and sent him to the naughty step to think about his actions. Matt O’Brien went to the corner again, but all this pressure came to nought when they conceded a free kick.
Sadly, young second row Barney Langton-Cryer picked up a knock at this juncture and was ably replaced by George Young.
Che Hope spurred the next Newport attack as his deft chip ahead caused alarm in the Cardiff ranks. With a scrum complete, Oli Andrew sprinted in off his wing, Josh Skinner biffed the ball forward before prop Tom Workman slammed across the line, but to no avail as he was held up and Cardiff were able to restart and clear.
The Black & Ambers were playing high-tempo rugby, Lloyd Lewis setting off on a Frewen-esque run through midfield, Carwyn Penny was able to find support runners before Cardiff’s Martin was penalised for no release in the tackle. Carwyn Penny lined up the kick to nudge Newport 0-3 ahead on 15 minutes.
Newport were penalised for the first time during this game on 18 minutes when a Cardiff runner was deliberately blocked. Harrison James, the home 10, lined up a kick at goal, but it sailed right of the posts and Matt O’Brien was on hand to belt the ball downfield.
There was a real snap and snarl about Newport in defence, pressing Cardiff hard and forcing them into rushed passes. A solid hit by Messrs. Roach and Tayler dislodged the ball from Morgan Allen’s grasp, but the evident superiority wasn’t being reflected on the scoreboard.
A 31st minute scrum was wheeled, which didn’t please Mr English at all. Harrison James was offered the simplest of penalty kicks which equalised the scores at 3 points apiece.
Suddenly, the hosts had something about them and looked more like the team that knocked Newport out of the cup in September. The ball spun away from a lineout, along the attacking backs, before centre Luke Pollock ghosted through a gap in the Black & Amber defensive wall. He wrong-footed the corner-flagging Lloyd Lewis before cantering under the posts for a well taken score. The conversion was a formality for Harrison James and now, after all that territory and possession, Newport found themselves 10-3 adrift.
Newport elbowed their way level just minutes later when Cardiff conceded a penalty. Matt O’Brien kicked the ball to the left corner. George Young took the lineout ball at the front before the rolling maul began. Cardiff managed to halt the move, but Che Hope took it upon himself to go ‘Full Matt O’Brien’ and put in a speculative cross-field kick. It worked, too! Ioan Davies jumped to palm the ball backwards, away from the two defenders covering him and towards Lloyd Lewis. The speedy winger still had work to do, gathering the ball, evading the last gasp cover, and sprinting for the line. Carwyn Penny added the two-pointer to make the score Cardiff 10 Newport 10 at half time.
Half Time Cardiff RFC 10 Newport RFC 10
Harrison James restarted the game as the temperature took a notable dip as the shadows grew longer. Newport continued in a similar vein as Oli Andrew pressured wing Matty Young with a dogged chase. Young was nailed by the supporting loose forwards who won a penalty as Young clung to the ball. Carwyn Penny’s penalty shot swung just right of the posts.
Che Hope and Kyle Tayler combined well to carry Newport upfield before Matt O’Brien booted the ball ahead. Good harrying by Che Hope forced the Cardiff scrumhalf, Tom Habberfield, to ground the ball behind his own line and give Newport a strong attacking position. Newport powered on, Ben Roach going close, Che Hope directing operations as the big lads in the Newport pack punched holes around the fringes, before the ball was released wide allowing Ioan Davies to close in on the line, unfurl his right arm and touch the ball down over the line. Carwyn Penny’s conversion was sound, making the score Cardiff 10 Newport 17 on 46 minutes.
There was a setback for Newport on 51 minutes when Jonny Morris was shown a yellow card for deliberate knock-on, despite being near the halfway line with cover behind him. Regardless, Newport shrugged off the disappointment and cracked on.
Cardiff’s Sean Moore was a tad over-eager in contact, so felt Mr English. Carwyn Penny took advantage, kicking the penalty from 48 metres out, straight in front of the posts, taking the score to Cardiff 10 Newport 20 on 55 minutes.
Harry Fry replaced Tom Workman in the front row as Cardiff’s restart went out on the full. Newport couldn’t capitalise here, but Mr English did seem to find a new and curious way to penalise Newport; it would seem that trying to tackle a player that has jumped into a tackle is a penalty against the tackler. Hey ho. Harrison James banged his team into the corner, probing and pressing the Newport defence with little reward, until an intervention by second row Craig Hudd, formerly of this parish, showing off his back row tendencies, made a tidy pivot for Harrison James to loop around and dash in for a try out wide on the left. The conversion was missed, so the score now was Cardiff 15 Newport 20.
With Jonny Morris back on the field, and Ioan Davies replaced by Jac Lloyd, it was time to knuckle down and cement the win. Cardiff helped tremendously in that respect, being pinged offside on 65 minutes. Carwyn Penny’s nerveless penalty shot sailed through, making the score Cardiff 15 Newport 23.
Josh Reid came on for Rhys Jenkins at an alarming point in the Newport defence. Cardiff’s Habberfield spotted a gap, which he hared through, but the door was slammed shut on him pretty quickly as the loose forwards snaffled him up, before Che Hope put in a crunching tackle on big Morgan Allen, dislodging the ball in the process.
Newport stepped up their efforts on 73 minutes as Che Hope got the backs running from a free kick, Carwyn Penny kicked long, but Cardiff made a hash of gathering the ball. Newport powered into the contact area, winning a penalty which Carwyn Penny turned into points, making the score Cardiff 15 Newport 26.
Newport were penalised at a 78th minute scrum. Cardiff looked to gain a losing bonus point, and they were close in doing so. The rolling maul from the lineout looked ominous, but it was repelled by the visiting pack. Harrison James tried spreading the ball around, but the Newport defence was terrific, two or three players hitting each Cardiff ball-carrier every time. Newport buzzed like angry Hornets as Cardiff inched closer and closer. Leading the defensive charge, was number 13, Jonny Morris, a grim look of determination on his face, making the tackle, and back on his feet. Make the tackle. Back on your feet. And repeat. Tremendous commitment from him, and every one of them.
Newport conceded an 82nd minute penalty. Cardiff, with a last roll on the dice, kicked to the corner, but lazily low. Showing superb determination, Lloyd Lewis leapt, palmed the ball infield, and watched it roll over the dead ball line. There were a few seconds before brains could process what had just taken place, but that was the end of the game and Newport came home with four league points in their back pocket.
Newport RFC are back in action next Saturday, at Newport Stadium, when Ebbw Vale RFC visit us. This will be a tough game, Ebbw are showing some real form at the moment, and, under Jason Strange’s direction, are back to being a tough outfit. It will take some effort to win this one! However, with a large, loud home support, we can give the boys a better chance. Come along, bring your mates, and support the Black and Ambers! Our home game after that is on Saturday December 2nd, when Neath RFC visit. This will be the Welsh All Blacks first visit to our new home and we’re looking forward to welcoming them. Also, as it’s December, it’ll be a good opportunity to get hold of some Newport RFC goodies for Christmas gifts for any Black and Ambers in your life!
These two Indigo Premiership games are part of a sandwich with an away trip to Llandovery RFC providing a very tasty filling. The current league champions are formidable and are top of the league for a very good reason. All three games should be a fascinating challenge for our players and management.
Come on, Newport!
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Final Score – Cardiff RFC 15 Newport RFC 26
Newport RFC Player of the Match – Kyle Tayler