Newport-Gwent 14 Cardiff Blues 13: Blair's late miss helps Dragons end long wait for retribution

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Newport-Gwent Dragons narrowly gained revenge for an ignominious defeat with a scrambled 14-13 Magners League victory over Cardiff Blues yesterday. This time last year the Blues shoved 41 points into their local rivals as the Dragons suffered an away defeat. The boot was on the other foot this time, with the Dragons taking the points thanks to the kicking of the Wales centre Ceri Sweeney.

The hosts had to endure a torrid opening, during which an understrength Blues side had the upper hand. But Sweeney kicked a sixth-minute penalty and, after 14 minutes, the scrum-half Gareth Cooper broke along the left flank, chipped ahead and duly punched the air with delight as Nathan Brew dived on the loose ball for a try Sweeney failed to convert.

Before half-time the Blues were back in contention when their captain, Xavier Rush, picked up close to the Dragons' line and muscled his way over for an unconverted try. Sweeney added a second penalty just before the interval and then a third 16 minutes into the second half to give the Dragons a 14-5 lead.

The Blues hinted at a comeback when Ben Blair reduced the deficit with a penalty 13 minutes from time, but the Dragons looked capable of holding on as the heavens opened on the Rodney Parade pitch.

However, with eight minutes remaining, Cardiff's replacement flanker Ben White crossed in the corner after a fine handling movement on the right, leaving Blair with a chance to edge the Blues in front for the first time in the contest.

But the former All Black pushed his kick wide of the uprights and with it handed the Dragons a much-needed victory.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: Try N Brew; Penalties Sweeney 3. Cardiff Blues: Tries Rush, White; Penalty Blair.

Newport-Gwent Dragons: Morgan; Wyatt, Emerick (Hercus, 35), Smith, N Brew (A Brew, 28); Sweeney, Cooper; Black, Daly (Crawford, 69), Harrison (Corsi, 75), Hall, Charteris (Sidoli, 65), Charvis, Ringer, Owen (Fitisemanu, 77).

Cardiff Blues: Macleod; Blair, J Robinson, Shanklin (Hewitt, 69), Czekaj; N Robinson, Evans (Fairhurst, 55); Yapp, G Williams (Goodfield, 73), Filise (G Powell, 61), Jones, Goode (Davies, 69), Morgan, Shellard (White, 63), Rush.

Referee: H Watkins (Wales).

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