Rugby Union: Sun rises on bright new Newport era: Newport 18 Cardiff 13

Cardiff's blues lifted by magical attacking talent of teenage Welsh wizard Williams

TONY BROWN is a hands-on kind of club owner, a touchy-feely sporting patriarch who not only flashes sufficient quantities of the folding stuff to lure the Gary Teichmanns and Shane Howarths of this world to the banks of the Usk, but puts in a full working week as chief executive, helps erect the advertising hoardings on match day, sells programmes on street corners, and sweet-talks paying customers into the nearest beer tent. He could not conceivably contribute more to Newport RFC, short of filling in at hooker during an injury crisis. When Gwent rugby went in search of a saviour, they found one of biblical stature.

And the miracles keep on coming. Close to 7,000 people watched Newport beat their nearest and not-so-dearest from Cardiff on Saturday - the biggest Rodney Parade audience since Wayne Shelford's All Blacks scared the living daylights out of the Black and Ambers in 1989 - and there would have been more, but for live television and its 5.30 kick-off. There was even some sunshine for the bewildered townsfolk, who are so unused to the big yellow thing in the sky that they think photosynthesis is a make of camera.

Unsurprisingly, given the amount of physical and emotional energy he had just contributed to his pet cause, Brown cut an exhausted figure as he held court outside a jubilant home dressing-room. "I suppose I sound like a silly old bugger, but I'm quite overcome," he sighed. "You talk of a return on my investment? The only return I'm interested in is getting the local people behind their team. This town has been good to my company [Brown made his money, close on pounds 50m of it, in the office equipment business] and I have a huge regard for those who live and work here. That's all I can say, really. I don't express these things very well."

Actually, he talked a good deal of sense, particularly when casting a knowing commercial eye over the shell-scarred trenches of Britain's professional rugby landscape. "We can make things happen here in Newport because the wider population has a huge rugby awareness. You can set up in, say, Newcastle with the best team in the United Kingdom, but unless your locals know their rugby, it's a hell of a job getting them along to watch you play. People here want to turn up, they want a team to support. I'm confident that we can achieve locally what Graham Henry has achieved nationally. I want to see Newport back where it was 20 years ago."

In a sense, he has achieved that already. On Saturday, Newport played a style of rugby last seen in the days of Bill Beaumont, Sir Keith Joseph and the Sex Pistols. They kicked for position from outside-half, challenged manfully for Cardiff's own line-out ball (real dark age stuff, that) and set out their stall to accumulate points through penalties rather than tries. Graham Cull, the former Bridgend full-back asked to fill in for Howarth until the end of the World Cup, proved himself comfortably up to the task by slotting six goals from seven attempts, one of them a magisterial effort from half-way.

It was not thrilling, but, then, the thrill merchants have yet to ride into town. Howarth, Franco Smith and Andy Marinos will add a certain something to the Black and Amber back division when they finally arrive, while Peter Rogers and Rod Snow should stop the Newport scrummage creaking as loudly as it did at the weekend. And then there is Teichmann. Assuming the erstwhile Springbok captain still has some drive and desire to go with his undoubted technical mastery, his back-row partnership with Jason Forster and the high-class teenager Alix Popham will be the most combustible in Wales.

Forster worked his way deep under Cardiff's collective skin on Saturday, both in attack and defence. Whenever the visitors launched drives up the middle through Emyr Lewis or the even more mountainous Greg Kacala, he repeatedly cut them off in their prime. Whenever there was some driving to be done by his own side, the recently appointed skipper was the man who drove. At Bedford last season, Forster performed magnificently in the face of financial chaos - all too often, indeed, in the absence of a wage packet. This season, he should at least get his money on time.

For all the heroic huffing and puffing dispensed by the captain, Cardiff might easily have prevailed. They had the scrummagers, they had the possession, they had the territory and, in Rhys Williams, they had at their disposal the most natural attacking talent to surface in Wales - or anywhere else in Britain for that matter - for aeons.

He looks very much like the teenager he is; fresh-faced, spindly-legged and worryingly slight of build, he is not so much a cog as a sprog in the Cardiff machine. But my, how the boy can run. It is far too soon to label him the Christian Cullen of Wales, but what the hell. He's the Christian Cullen of Wales.

One blast of the turbocharger earned him the first of his side's two tries after 34 minutes of rough and tumble, and he would have claimed a second just after the interval had Cull not ended a 60-metre rampage with the most desperate of straw-clutching cover tackles.

Had Williams come off his left foot at the crucial moment, he would have been in under the posts for sure. But, in fairness, the sidestep is not the easiest of manoeuvres when you are running like a biriani-propelled Maurice Greene.

"He's quite a prospect, young Rhys," agreed Lyn Howells, the Cardiff coach. "Apart from anything else, he hung on to the ball out there. I wish everyone else had." Howells was justified in his criticism after watching his side concede 16 turnovers, but it is the forthcoming turnover of staff that will encourage him.

From Rob Howley to Craig Quinnell, Cardiff had a dozen World Cup men missing on Saturday. When the showpiece tournament is done and dusted and everyone is back on Arms Park duty, they will take an awful lot of beating.

Newport: Penalties Cull 6. Cardiff: Tries Williams, Geraghty; Penalty Botham.

Newport: G Cull; J Thomas, M Watkins, J Pritchard, M Llewellyn; S Mitchell, S Moore; C Jones, D Cummins, L Fortey (C Donahue, 79), G Taylor, P Jones (M Workman, 79), J Powell, A Popham, J Forster (capt).

Cardiff: R Williams; L Botham, G Esterhuizen, M Wintle, S Hill; M Rayer (capt), K Ellis; S John, D Geraghty (K Dunn, 76), A Yates (G Powell, 59), S Williams, M Morgan (B Barrett, 78), G Kacala, E Lewis (O Williams, 70), J Ringer.

Referee: C Thomas (Neath).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?