2009/2010 SWALEC Cup
Newport 20 v 22 Cardiff
20 February 2010 - Rodney Parade, Newport

Match Report

Newport 20 Cardiff 22

Now is the time to salute great deeds. After a game not so much of two halves as three quarters and a final 20 minutes of heroic never-say-die comeback, Cardiff stunned Newport to secure a significant Swalec Cup victory.

Trailing 3-20 after an hour's play, at which point no one would have given a bean for their prospects, the Jekyll and Hyde Blue & Blacks manufactured three startling tries and 19 unanswered points inside the final 14 minutes, the third try with the last play of the match, to send themselves into the quarter-finals next month.

Newport had led from the 12th minute until deep into second half injury time and looked in control until they discovered that their opponents' fingers and thumbs, speculative kicking and schoolboy errors were infectious. Worse still for them, they had no answer to a suddenly resurgent Cardiff directness in open play in which Dan Godfrey took a lead from his captain Rhys Shellard and was irresistible in the closing stages.

All through that often nightmarish, if not ghoulish, first hour Shellard had refused to hoist the white flag, aided by Ian George whose scrummaging counter-balanced the hapless lineout performance for too long, and often last ditch defence behind where Tom Slater was again outstanding.

The early portents could hardly have been less promising. Miskick followed miskick – and Newport's play for all their possession and territorial advantage was equally undistinguished. The hosts' only reward was a 30-metre penalty goal by fly-half Chris Wannell. With Cardiff spending long periods on the back foot, the proverbial floodgates never quite opened with Newport's only other score before the interval coming from a 26th minute try by Adam Hughes to which Wannell added the extras.

If anything, Cardiff finished the half the stronger, with a touchline burst from Jimmy Norris at last asking questions of the home defence. They were again well-placed near the opposition goal-line when the interval arrived. On the restart it looked, depressingly, like business as usual. A high punt into the 22 was 'lost' in the low sunlight and Newport regained the loose ball for Hughes to score again.

As the hardy travelling faithful pondered another possible whitewash, that ignominy was at least avoided when Gareth Davies slotted a 30-metre penalty goal in the 51st minute. There seemed little hope of anything more substantial especially when old adversary Scott Williams went looking for space on the right from turnover ball and, when stopped in his tracks, the ball was moved to the openside left and Mike Poole crossed for the touchdown near the corner flag.

Just as Cardiff looked doomed for a painfully long final 20 minutes or so, the script took a new turn.

Godfrey cut through in midfield and quick recycling gave Gareth Davies the half gap he needed to dart over on the left. His wide-angled conversion went over off the far upright – and no one at that stage could have realised just how significant it would be.

Four minutes later, with Newport now taking their turn to botch lineout throw-ins, the Blue & Blacks forced a five-metre scrum near the right corner, Godfrey burst off the back and towards the posts and Slater finished off the clinical execution with a dummy and dart for Davies to convert.

A hopeless 3-20 had become a 'what's occurring here?' 17-20 scenario in seemingly no time. Cardiff still contrived to make it hard for themselves by conceding free-kicks at successive scrums but now it was the panic-stricken Black & Ambers proving incapable of camping in opposition territory. Crucially, the visitors established one final set-piece in the home half and when Godfrey again made the hard yards and Ryan Howells sniffed the try line the wing needed no second invitation to fly over near the left corner. Davies' failed conversion was irrelevant as it was immediately accompanied by the final whistle.

Great deeds, indeed – and, just think, the far from firing on all cylinders Cardiff 2010 Model had achieved the elusive victory at Rodney Parade that had proved beyond their predecessors (including themselves) in seven Premiership attempts since 2003. And achieving it in a sudden death Cup tie made it all the sweeter.



Attendance: 1178

Official : James Jones (Wales)

Newport Cardiff