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Rugby Union: Newport are nudged out by Cardiff

Newport 30 Cardiff 44
Scott Young, the Australian referee scheduled to take charge of Saturday's international between Wales and Ireland, was the first casualty of an amazing sixth-round tie at Rodney Parade yesterday that ended with Cardiff battling their way through to the last 16 of the Swalec Cup.

Young, knocked over as Cardiff scored the first of their seven tries after just three minutes, soldiered on briefly with his dodgy knee before making way for his countryman Peter Marshall to take over.

It was that sort of match, Young's misfortune setting the tone for an amazing 11-try contest between these fierce rivals, played out before a bumper Sunday crowd basking in glorious sunshine.

It had not started promisingly for Newport, Jonathan Davies putting in a long kick downfield and then lobbing out a pass to Cardiff wing Nigel Walker for one of the easier tries of his career.

Although Davies missed the conversion he was on target with a penalty and then scampered over for Cardiff's second try when Newport simply ran out of defenders. Those scores sandwiched the first of wing Martyn Llewellyn's two tries for Newport, stand-off Shaun Connor heavily involved in the build-up just five days before making his debut for Emerging Wales against Ireland A.

Before half-time, however, Cardiff could and should have settled the issue, Leigh Davies and No 8 Emyr Lewis going over for tries. But at the same time they were proving to be generous visitors, repeatedly allowing Newport back into contention, scrum-half Nicky Lloyd and Llewellyn taking full advantage and the excellent Connor making them pay with his boot.

Further tries by Cardiff fullback Justin Thomas and home wing Tony Hurford meant the sides still could not be separated until former Wales captain Mike Hall and then replacement wing Lee Jarvis went over in the closing minutes.

Mr Young, meanwhile, is optimistic that he will be fit to handle his first major international next Saturday. "I will see an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow morning and probably have a scan on my knee," he said. "It is a question of getting it looked at. But they will have to drag me away kicking and screaming from Cardiff next Saturday. It is the pinnacle of my career."

Newport: Tries M Llewellyn 2, N Lloyd, T Hurford; Conversions S Connor 2; Penalty S Connor; Drop goal S Connor. Cardiff: Tries N Walker, J Davies, L Davies, E Lewis, J Thomas, M Hall, L Jarvis; Conversions J Davies 2, L Jarvis; Penalty J Davies.

Newport: A Lawson; T Hurford, A Palfrey, J Colderley, M Llewellyn; S Connor, N Lloyd; R Snow, I Jones, S Cronk, R Goodey (capt; I Gough, 50), M Workman, G Taylor, J Machacek (G Hicks, 78), V Davies (R Parks, 68).

Cardiff: J Thomas; N Walker (O Williams, 75), M Hall, L Davies, S Ford (L Jarvis, 68); J Davies, J Huwlett; L Mustoe, J Humphreys (P Young, 58), D Young (A Lewis, 63), J Wakeford, D Jones, H Taylor (capt), E Lewis, G Jones (J Merrett, 79).

Referee: S Young (Aus). Replacement: P Marshall (Aus), 12.