The Cardiff Blues' growing reputation as European rugby's unluckiest side was boosted last night as the Newport-Gwent Dragons sneaked home in a hard-fought match at Rodney Parade.
David Young's struggling side had the majority of possession, especially in the first half, but the Blues have upset the rugby gods this season and they fell to another, almost inevitable, unlucky defeat.
A fluke try to Dragons winger Kevin Morgan handed the injury-hit Blues their fourth straight Celtic League defeat and ensured an uphill struggle to earn a Heineken Cup spot next season.
The Blues captain, Martyn Williams, produced another superb all-round performance, but the Dragons' superior cutting edge out wide - particularly through their full-back Percy Montgomery and inside centre Sione Tuipulotu - carried the home side through.
The Arms Park side went into the match without their Test backs Tom Shanklin, Jamie Robinson and Nicky Robinson, but drew first blood when full-back Rhys Williams ran on to a grubber kick from fly-half Nick Macleod to score in the corner.
A well-struck Macleod penalty extended the lead to 8-0 before a piece of luck brought the Dragons back into the match in the 25th minute. Scrum-half Gareth Baber kicked ahead in loose play, the ball struck a Blues player and lock Peter Sidoli found himself in legal possession 40 metres up the pitch. Quick ball to the left gave Morgan a free run to the try-line for his side's first points.
The Dragons fly-half, Ceri Sweeney, butchered a certain try when he over-ran a charged-down kick, but Tuipulotu scored from close range within 60 seconds to give the home side a 12-8 half-time lead.
Macleod and Sweeney traded penalty goals, but the Blues' lack of firepower out wide was starting to tell. They opted to keep the ball in hand and drive up the middle, but the Dragons' defence held firm.
Macleod and Sweeney continued their duel with another penalty goal each, before a second try to Morgan sealed the victory five minutes from the end. The replacement Blues winger, Jonny Vaughton, whose pace should have been on the field from the kick-off, scored a late consolation for the visitors to bag a losing bonus point.
Newport Gwent Dragons: Tries Morgan 2, Tuipulotu; PenaltiesSweeney 2; ConversionsSweeney 2. Cardiff Blues: Tries R Williams, Vaughton; Penalties Macleod 3; Conversion Macleod.
Newport Gwent Dragons: P Montgomery; N Brew, H Luscombe, S Tuipulotu, K Morgan; C Sweeney, G Baber; A Black, S Jones (J Richards 72), R Thomas, L Charteris, P Sidoli, I Gough, M Owen (capt), J Ringer.
Cardiff Blues: R Williams; D Dewdney, S James, T Davies, C Morgan (J Vaughton 72); N Macleod, R Powell; J Yapp, R Thomas, G Jenkins, D Jones, R Sidoli, K Schubert, J Malpas (N Thomas 68), M Williams (capt).
Referee: N Owens (WRU).
¿ Hugo Southwell inspired Edinburgh to an 18-12 win against Glasgow at Murrayfield. Southwell surged over for the first try then set up Craig Joiner's winning score with a clever kick to deceive the Warriors' defence.