Newport slumped to their first home league defeat to Cardiff in the semi-pro era which began 10 years ago when they went down three tries to one in a desperately disappointing match at Rodney Parade, writes Geoff Champion.

Unforced handling errors and poor decision-making, compounded in the closing stages by heavy rain, added to the gloom. Newport head coach Sven Cronk said after the final whistle: “The only crumbs of comfort we could take from the game is that our boys kept hammering away until the last minute when they were rewarded with a try but the game was poor.”

That unconverted touchdown was scored in the ninth minute of injury time and the last move of the game by wing Rory Budina, who was a lively first half replacement for Elliot Frewen, to add to the two penalty goals kicked by full back Geraint O’Driscoll in the 33rd and 46th minutes.

However, Cardiff had long since scuppered their opponents’ hopes of victory with full back Wil Thomas and hooker Ethan Lewis crossing for touchdowns before outstanding No. 8 Luke Hamilton – the Cardiff Blues man – sealed the win with a 67th minute try which gave the Arms Park men an unassailable 21-6 lead. Newport didn’t really have an answer to Hamilton who rampaged about the field in a classy display of dynamic back row play while Ceiron Thomas, who kicked three conversions, was an effective controller at outside half.

Newport were still in contention at the interval when the score stood at 7-3 in Cardiff’s favour but they crucially failed to take advantage of two 10-minute periods of play when the visitors’ were reduced to 14 men after a string of penalties eventually led to prop Lewis Smout (31 minutes) and captain and flanker Jonathon Edwards (45 minutes) being despatched to the sin bin.

There was precious little else for the small crowd to get excited about although home inside half James Leadbeater put in a sparky display while lock Adam Brown and backrow trio Sam Waldron, Craig Attwell and Lee Beach did their best to give their side a boost.

But Cardiff finally put that Rodney Parade league bogey to rest by recording the “double” having beaten Newport 32-17 at the Arms Park on 12 October.

Newport: Try: R. Budina (80+ 9 mins). Pens: G. O’Driscoll (33 and 46 mins).

Cardiff: Tries: W. Thomas (10 mins), E. Lewis (43 mins) and L. Hamilton (67 mins). Cons: C. Thomas (3)

Newport: G. O’Driscoll; T. James, D. Robinson, A. Hughes, E. Frewen (R. Budina 26); E. Davies (M. O’Brien 60), J. Leadbeater (A. Quick 73); D. Pattison (J. Greenfield 60), Andrew Brown (J. Jeune 43)(Andrew Brown 66), A. Jeffries ( G. Robinson 52), Adam Brown, A. Frampton (D. Rosser 51), S. Waldron, C. Attwell and L. Beach, capt. ( R. Jenkins 69).

Cardiff:W. Thomas; J. Loxton, D. Ryan (S. Powell 60), M. Stephens, J. Phillips; C. Thomas (J. Maynard 69), T. Slater; L. Smout (L. Crump 69), E. Lewis (A. Fowler 69), R. Harford (L. Elliot 40), M. Normandale, J. Murphy (D. Partridge 60), J. Sheekey (S. Feehan 60), J. Edwards, capt. and L. Hamilton.

Referee: Andrew Davies (Aberystwyth)

Newport Star Choice: James Leadbeater