Newport RFC v Cardiff RFC 9th March 2024 by John Evans


We were back at Newport RFC’s ancestral home of Rodney Parade for this Indigo Premiership fixture against our greatest rivals, the famous Cardiff RFC. Our friends from along the A48 have had a patchy season, but can still present a potent threat, when they put their minds to it.


Sadly, Jonny Morris pulled a hamstring during the warm-up, so was forced to sit out the game. A reshuffle by Ty Morris saw Jac Lloyd step from 15 to 12 and Carwyn Penny come off the bench to start at fullback. Dafydd Buckland filled the vacant bench slot.


Matt O’Brien kicked off for Newport, with the Black and Ambers attacking the North Terrace. Cardiff set the ruck, allowing scrum half Tom Habberfield to kick clear. Despite Newport winning the lineout, Cardiff went on the attack when a pass from Matt O’Brien was well read by wing Jason Harries. He picked the ball off and sprinted upfield as the Newport defence zeroed in on him. The ball went wide but cannoned off the chest of prop Freddie Barnes. Che Hope produced a neat kick ahead for Elliot Frewen to chase, but Cardiff were forced to knock the ball into touch. Josh Skinner took the ball at the tail of the line, Matt O’Brien launched Jac Lloyd who pirouetted through the onrushing defence before he released Chay Foster-Smith who darted over for a try near the posts. Matt O’Brien added the two-pointer to make the score Newport 7 Cardiff 0 with 4 minutes played.


Carwyn Penny boomed a penalty kick to touch allowing Newport to go through the phases as they hunted a second try. Josh Reid, Henry Palmer, and Nathan Evans were prominent as the Black and Ambers softened up the Cardiff defence. Matt O’Brien then went wide quickly, cross-kicking to Iestyn Galton on the wing, but Cardiff wing Harries managed to get the ball safely into touch just 6-metres from their line. However, Rynard Landman was wrapped up and the Blue and Blacks could regain possession.


Cardiff fought their way out of their half, but a knock on by wing James Beal soon undid all their good work. Elliot Frewen seized the loose ball and, following a short spell of ariel tennis, Josh Skinner was set to release Iestyn Galton, but the pass was unforgiving, and the opportunity was missed.


Cardiff went close on 20 minutes following a midfield ruck set by centre Luke Pollock. Dewi Cross, from full back, dodged through the Newport line, but the Blue and Blacks handling let them down following another fumble by James Beal. Josh Reid cleaned up the mess before Tom Habberfield conceded position by going off his feet at the ruck. Cardiff made it difficult for Newport, though, when Rynard Landman was, again, successfully isolated at the lineout and regained possession.


Newport nearly gained a second try when Tom Habberfield seemed out of options and Cardiff were guilty of shovelling poor ball around. Rynard Landman was on hand to intercept a pass and gallop to the line, but he was judged offside and the referee, Mr Keith David, awarded the Blue and Blacks a penalty.


Cardiff RFC again went close on 31 minutes following a smart pickup from a ruck by Evan Rees, the visiting number 8. Tom Habberfield was in close support, but Carwyn Penny was on hand to snuff out the move and force a knock on.


Mr David awarded Newport a penalty when Cardiff failed to retreat ten metres following a kick. Matt O’Brien missed touch with his penalty allowing Cardiff to kick return. Carwyn Penny thought quickly and took a lineout pass to Matt O’Brien who put in a towering kick. Che Hope and Josh Skinner gave chase, more in hope than expectation, but a monumental error between Tom Habberfield and his number 10, Jacob Lloyd, as they failed to communicate properly, spilling the ball forward as the collided. Che Hope took the loose ball and quickly passed right to Josh Skinner who loped in unopposed for Newport’s second try. Matt O’Brien added the conversion to make the score Newport 14 Cardiff 0 with 35 minutes played.


Newport were pinged offside at the restart for offside giving Cardiff the perfect opportunity to respond. The Black and Ambers got amongst the Cardiff pack at the lineout, but the visitors were playing with a penalty advantage. With nothing coming, Cardiff reset the lineout, but this time it was Ben Roach damaging Cardiff’s ambition. But still, Newport couldn’t quite shake their opponents off. A storming rolling maul from Cardiff was illegally sacked by Rynard Landman, according to Mr David. He was shown the yellow card and Newport would have to weather this particular storm with 14 players. It was typically Cardiff, then, that following second row Sean Moore’s lineout take, the ball was spilled forward, and Newport were off the hook. A late attack from the visitors also came to nought when Jacob Lloyd knocked on. As Mr David blew for halftime, Newport could reflect that, on this showing, Cardiff RFC were beating themselves.


Half Time   Newport RFC 14 Cardiff RFC 0


Teams coached by Steve Law do not roll over and wait to be beaten, so a furious response in the second half was expected. So it was, as Cardiff set about attacking their hosts as captain Joey Tomlinson and Freddie Barnes went in strongly against the Black and Ambers defence. However, their handling was their undoing again as Chay Foster-Smith picked off a pass as Cardiff tried to spread the ball. With 95 metres of field in front of him, one can imagine that Chay’s first thought was going to be “where is my support?!”, because as quick as the bustling centre is, he’s not a greyhound. Thankfully, Che Hope is, and he was quickly onto Foster-Smith’s shoulder and took the pass. He still had a lot of work to do, though, including evading his opposite number, Habberfield. Hope backed himself, arced his run toward the touch line before Habberfield visibly gave up as he realised that he was outpaced. With that terrific coast-to-coast try in the bag, and the audible delight of the crowd, Matt O’Brien added the conversion to make it Newport 21 Cardiff 0 with 42 minutes played.


Rynard Landman rejoined the action on 46 minutes, just as Cardiff were pressing again. Centre Aaron Pinches was as combative as ever and a 49th minute incident had Newport supporters concerned. Mr David was speaking with Rynard Landman and thoughts of a second yellow card crossed the collective minds in the stand. Mr David consulted with his Assistant Referee and the decision was simply a scrum to Newport. The Black and Ambers, meanwhile had changed their entire front row, Messrs Davies, Palmer and Evans making way for Messrs. Workman, Langley and Harris. Typically, they then went on to win the scrum penalty. Matt O’Brien kicked Newport to just shy of halfway. Rynard Landman took the lineout crisply, the ball spun out to Josh Reid, who pivoted in a set move, but Aaron Pinches outstretched hand knocked the ball forward. Mr David judged that it was a deliberate knock on and invited the Cardiff number 12 to sit on the naughty step for ten minutes.


The Blue and Blacks had noticeably upped their physicality, but it was doing them no good without basic skills; a strong counter-ruck saw Cardiff gain an unguarded ball but even managed to knock that on.


Kyle Tayler relieved Josh Reid of duty on 57 minutes, just as Cardiff were threatening the Newport line again. Rynard Landman picked the pocket of Sean Moore, but it was the Cardiff man who had the last laugh as he charged down Che Hope’s clearing kick, chased the rolling ball and dotted down for a try. Harrison James added the conversion making the score Newport 21 Cardiff 7 on 58 minutes.


Lloyd Lewis has the ability to get a crowd excited. His catch on 65 minutes, before turning and evading two Cardiff pursuers before passing infield had those attending expecting a spectacular score. Sadly, Che Hope couldn’t quite take the pass and the opportunity went begging.


Following a terrific front row penalty, Matt O’Brien banged Newport forward. Lineout won, the rolling maul stalled before Chay Foster-Smith set up position in midfield. Che Hope worked hard digging the ball out of rucks to give Matt O’Brien options. Jac Lloyd was presented with the ball and, with some dexterity, jinked around three of four defenders and sprinted over to score the bonus point try. Matt O’Brien kicked the conversion to make the score Newport 28 Cardiff 7 on 69 minutes. It’s terrific to see the Jac playing with confidence, showing us his undoubted ability.


With time running out, Cardiff used the ‘funny’ lineout, passing the ball low to the first player in the line. Joey Tomlinson rushed forward but was soon swallowed up by the defence. Cardiff kept the pressure up, crossing right to left. Eventually, Elliot Frewen was tempted forward and couldn’t resist a nibble at a pass, knocking it forward in the process. The 75th minute yellow card was inevitable, to be fair.


Elliot Ferriman had replaced Josh Skinner in the second row and was soon in action, stealing Cardiff attacking lineout ball, popping to Kyle Tayler before the ball was booted clear.


Cardiff were rewarded with a second try with 82 minutes on the clock. Concerted pressure, just metres out, saw Rynard Landman knock on as he tried to intercept a pass. No cards, not intentional, just a Cardiff scrum. The ball went right, and the powerful Luke Pollock barged over for a try that the big Cardiff man deserved. Harrison James added the conversion to make it Newport 28 Cardiff 14.


There was one last chance for Newport to extend their lead. Iestyn Galton had the ball fall to him. Instinctively, he hared off, twisting the cover defence in and out, ensuring that the supporters in the main stand were on their feet. Having run 60-metres, Luke Crane, on for Che Hope, was up in support but was flattened. He still managed to make the ball available as the ball whipped across the field to Lloyd Lewis, but the move was petering out as the Cardiff defence streamed back. Matt O’Brien kicked for position, but Harrison James was well-placed to deal with it. He kicked into unguarded space, but the unlikely figure of Rynard Landman was back covering. He took great pleasure in putting his laces through the ball, kicking to touch, and bringing the game to a close.


That victory was made more pleasurable by the fact that this was the club’s ninth consecutive five-point win and sealed the club a place in the end of season play-offs.


Newport RFC are next in action this Friday night as they welcome Neath RFC to Newport Stadium for an Indigo Premiership game. Following that, they face a daunting double challenge. They go away to Eugene Cross Park on Saturday 23rd March to take on Ebbw Vale RFC, followed by another S4C date on Thursday 28th March, when league leaders Llandovery RFC visit us at Newport Stadium. The month of March could be pivotal for Newport’s ambitions this season; please come along and support the boys! Your support could make all the difference.


Come on, Newport!


Onwards and upwards Newport.


Your City. Your Colours. Your Club




Final Score – Newport RFC 28 Cardiff RFC 14



Newport RFC Player of the Match – Che Hope