Cardiff brought back to reality

Rugby Union: Cardiff 18 Newport 22
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ROB COLE

Cardiff 18 Newport 22

In the same week that they rose to the heights of drawing with the leading team in France, Cardiff plumbed the depths as they fell to their first home Heineken League defeat.

To make matters worse they also lost the services of their midfield magician Mark Ring for tomorrow's European Cup tie against Ulster. Ring strained the lateral ligaments in his left ankle late in the second half and will be in plaster for 10 days.

It could have been a lot worse, though, as Ring's first thought was that he had broken the joint. He also had to survive a harrowing ordeal in the medical room when the table the stretcher bearers placed him on collapsed underneath him. "At first I thought I had broken my ankle and then I almost broke my back," he said.

It was Newport's second sucessive win at the Arms Park and the boot of Gareth Rees proved decisive as he landed five out of six penalties and added a touchline conversion of Owain Thomas's second-minute try.

The only good thing for Cardiff was that their nearest rivals at the top of the First Division, Pontypridd, also slipped to defeat at Treorchy. A last-minute drop goal from the home outside-half, Wayne Booth, earned the Rhondda Zebras an 11-9 success, and their first win of the season.

That game contained two sendings-off and left a bitter taste with Pontypridd. The dismissals of the lock Mark Rowley and the prop James Alvis will mean the Sardis Road club will have to appeal if they want either man to play against Leinster in their European Cup decider on 6 December.

Under the new disciplinary system in operation, whereby a dismissed player can continue playing until his hearing, appeals could mean the cases not being heard until 12 December.

"We will have a look at the video first, but we will almost certainly appeal, as we feel we have been hard done by," the Pontypridd team manager, Eddie Jones, said.

The Pontypridd coach, Dennis John, was similarly incensed. "I can't for the life of me see how we were the only ones to finish with 13 men when we didn't start the incidents. I believe Treorchy deliberately set out to provoke us and they should have had players sent off as well."

Cardiff: Penalties C John 6. Newport Try Thomas; Conversion G Rees; Penalties G Rees 5.

Cardiff: C John; S Hill, S John, M Hall (capt), N Walker; M Ring (M Rayer 69), A Booth; A Lewis, P Young, M Griffiths, J Wakeford, K Stewart, O Williams, E Lewis, C Mills.

Newport: S Davies; R Rees, D Hughes, D Edwards, O Thomas (A Palfrey 65); G Rees, J Hewlett; S Duggan, A Peacock, S Cronk, N Jones, K Moseley, M Workman (M Voyle 56), R Goodey (capt, C Brown 69), D Gray (C Brown 63- 64).

Referee: D R Davies (Llanbradach).

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