Newport Gwent Dragons 28-15 Cardiff Blues


Newport Gwent Dragons dented Cardiff blues chances of the playoffs after they played impressively throughout to win 28-15 at Rodney Parade. This setback for the Blues mean's they will go into the final round of Magners league fixtures next week knowing that they have to beat Llanelli Scarlet's to secure their place in the playoffs. The Dragon's made a solid comeback after their defeat last time out at the hands of Edinburgh although they are not in the hunt for the playoffs like Cardiff. They will still play a big part in who secures those top 4 places as the Dragon's next game is at home to third place Ulster.

In terms of the teams, Newport made no changes to the team that lost out to Edinburgh however they gave a Magners League debut to full back Steffan Jones who had been drafted in due to the Dragon's injury crisis as he had made some eye catching performances for Cross Key's. Meanwhile, the Blues had to deal with the loss of Leigh Halfpenny who picked up an ankle injury in Cardiff's win against Treviso last week. This meant Chris Czekaj replaced him with Dan Fish playing at full back. Last time out, it was the Blues who took the spoils in a high scoring game which ended 43-21 and the Rodney Parade crowd were expecting another high scoring encounter between the two.

First Half

The home side signalled their intent from the off as they forced the visitors into their 22 with good passing play and movement especially from Dragon's captain, Charteris, which almost resulted in an early try. However, the Blues can never be wrote off as their team boasts a vast amount of experience and they used this to good effect when they counter attacked from their own try line only to be denied by a good challenge on the half way line. From this, Cardiff managed to secure a penalty which saw Scotland fly half Dan Parks convert to put the visitors in front in the 5th minute. Dragons 0- 3 Blues. The scoreboard may have shown the home side behind but this spurred the Rodney Parade faithful on and this was shown in some exceptional rugby from Dragon's debutant Steffan Jones who managed to ground in the corner a minute after the Blues took the lead. Three good offloads worked Jones into a gap on the right and a clever dummy pass fooled the Cardiff defence which was enough for him to score the games first try. Jason Tovey put the conversion over to put the Dragon's in the lead in the 6th minute. Dragons 7- 3 Blues. A couple of minutes later and Cardiff were offered the chance of reducing the Dragon's lead to one point after the tackler failed to roll away resulting in a penalty to Cardiff, but Parks narrowly missed the opportunity and the scores remained the same.

Cardiff Blues were struggling to hold back a resurgent Newport as pinpoint kicking from fly half Tovey was pinning the Blues in their own half. His kicking came into good use as his cross field kick was collected well by Dragon's captain Charteris, who then passed back inside to home favourite Aled Brew to storm over for a well worked try and to increase the home sides advantage. Tovey failed with the conversion attempt. Dragons 12- 3 Blues. An Exceptional first 15 minutes from Newport had seen two very good tries and a deserved lead as the visitors couldn't handle a free flowing Dragon's side which looked in full confidence. Cardiff's frustrations began to show as punches were thrown between Gavin Williams and Xavier Rush which resulted in a penalty decision being overturned. The Blues lacked composure and any form of attacking intent as Tovey increased Newport's advantage from a penalty. Dragons 15- 3 Blues. The home side were dominating the territory game and possession as they were able to hold back against Cardiff attacks which were few and far between in the first 30 minutes. Park's bad day with the boot continued as he again missed a penalty which left the visitors with a daunting score line. However, in a complete change in fortunes, Adam Jones was sin binned in the 35th minute for the home side after he failed to roll away from the ruck despite being asked to by the referee and this left Newport a man down for the last five minutes of the half and first five of the second. This was Cardiff's chance to change the game and they made their extra man count, as Wales international Sam Warburton capitalised on Dragon's full back Jones's inexperience to reduce the gap to five points at half time after Park's converted. Will the blues exploit the home sides lack of numbers in the second half?

Second Half

The second half started as the first finished with Cardiff pressuring the home side. The strain finally took its toll on Newport as a powerful driving maul and a crumbling defence saw Xavier Rush score to bring the scores level in the 45th minute just before the re-emergence of Adam Jones from the bin, Parks missed the chance to put the Blues in front as he failed with the conversion attempt. Dragons 15- 15 Blues. The visitors looked a completely changed team compared to their first half performance as they were really getting a foot hold in the game but they were still making handling errors in the wrong places and this gave Newport a penalty which fell to the feet of Steffan Jones who's kick just swung wide of the posts. A bad day for Park's got worse when he was substituted in the 60th minute for Ceri Sweeney who was jeered at as he entered the field of play. Cardiff looked like they might push on in the game but they were brought back down to earth with a bump when their faltering defence allowed Dragon's sub, Andrew Coombs to power over to put the home side back in front in the 64th minute, only for the ref to call for the video referee to be introduced to the game. The try was awarded and Rodney Parade rejoiced with delight. Tovey continued a good day with the boot as he increased their lead further with a successful conversion. Dragons 22- 15 Blues.

Once again, the home crowd were being rewarded with some close fought battles especially between number 8, Xavier Rush and his opposite number in Toby Faletau as the Blues tried desperately to secure a vital win for their playoff hopes. But still, the visitors were being held back by numerous mistakes in the crucial moments and the Dragons made them pay for their sloppiness as Jones killed the game off for Cardiff as he scored an impressive penalty from 48 yards in the 78th minute. Dragons 25- 15 Blues. Tovey then gave Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland something to think about with the World Cup coming soon, as he show cased his attacking credentials dummying two players and was almost squeezing through only to be stopped. Right at the death, Scrum Half Wayne Evans finished off what was a brilliant performance for the home side throughout as he scored a drop goal in the dying seconds of the match. Dragons 28- 15 Blues.

Full Time

Newport Gwent Dragons played exceedingly well from start to finish as they look a team to watch come next season while Cardiff never really got started as they only came back into the game through bad discipline from their opponents resulting in a loss of a player.

Man of the Match

In my mind Jason Tovey gets it just, as his consistently good kicking was a powerful weapon in the Dragons inventory. He also masterminded Newport's second try.

Newport Gwent Dragons

Tries: Coombs, Brew, Jones

Conversions: Tovey (2)

Penalties: Tovey, Jones

Drop Goals: Evans

Cardiff Blues

Tries: Rush, Warburton

Conversions: Parks

Penalties: Parks


Newport Gwent Dragons can go into their last game of the season at home to Ulster in full confidence as they opened up a lacklustre Blues defence with well regimented training ground moves. Debutant Steffan Jones coped very well under pressure and looks a good talent for the future. Tovey has been consistent throughout the season and Warren Gatland will be keep a close eye on him with the World Cup fast approaching this summer to be a member of the Wales squad that travels to New Zealand. Toby Fatletau is another player to watch in the next coming years as his maturity and knowledge even for someone who is only twenty years old is evidently good.

Cardiff Blues need to regroup after a poor performance which resulted in defeat. The poor kicking of fly half Dan Parks didn't help their chances at all as their attacks were poorly conceived. The loss of Leigh Halfpenny was evident in the centre of their backline as Jamie Roberts and Casey Laulala couldn't work anything to really threaten Newport's defence. The Blues will need to improve dramatically in all areas if they are going to secure one of the three remaining playoff spots when they play their crunch match away to Llanelli Scarlet's next week.