Newport come from behind to book Semi-final

Newport came from behind to beat Cardiff Blues 25-21 at Rodney Parade and book a place in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals.

Hallam Amos and Nic Cudd crossed either side of half-time before Lloyd Williams conceded a costly penalty try.

Williams, the tournament’s top try-scorer, had given Cardiff an early lead that was extended by Gareth Anscombe’s try.

But a late effort by Josh Navidi was not enough to deny local rivals Dragons a place in the last four of Europe for the first time in eight years.

Blues suffered a blow before kick-off when Argentina international Juaquin Tuculet was ruled out with a hand injury.

And with Wales centre Cory Hill already out, scrum-half Tavis Knoyle was used as a makeshift midfielder.

However the ploy looked to have worked when Knoyle’s kick and chase set up a Blues scrum close to the Dragons line from where Williams crossed for the opening try.

Josh Navidi probed the blindside, Alex Cuthbert surged through the middle and Williams followed over the line inside four minutes.

Prydie responded with a penalty but Dragons suffered a major blow with injury to second-row talisman Andrew Coombs.

That saw the arrival of Taulupe Faletau but the British Lions star was unable to stem the Blue tide.

Cuthbert threatened in an open and entertaining encounter while Williams went close to a second.

Cuthbert was held up over the line but Blues scored directly from a scrum again as Anscombe stepped past Dorian Jones to touch down.

Anscombe converted his own try and Blues looked comfortable at 14-3.

But Dragons wing Amos picked his angle to score a crucial try four minutes before half-time and it was the home side who turned the game on its head.

That was despite losing flanker James Thomas to a head injury inside the first minute of the second half.

Replacement Cudd stepped off the bench and spun over for his team’s second try just moment later after Cardiff looked to have kept the Dragons at bay.

The lead was just a point, 15-14, after Prydie struck the post with his conversion.

But he was stepping up once again after Cardiff’s try-scorer Williams conceded a penalty try.

Williams saw his clearance blocked by Jonathan Evans and then pulled back his opposite number to deny the Dragons scrum-half touching down.

Referee JP Doyle awarded the penalty try, converted by Prydie, and sent Williams to the sin bin.

However Prydie was off-target again at goal after Anscombe was penalised and Dragons fans feared his three missed could prove costly.

Dorian Jones took over and slotted his first effort that gave Dragons enough of a cushion to survive a late Blues surge.

Navidi profited when the Dragons scrum finally buckled. Anscombe’s conversion set up a thrilling climax but the hosts held out for a well-earned win.

Final Score Newport 25 (10) Blues 21 (14)

Scorers

Newport
Tries – Amos, Cudd, penalty try
Pen – Prydie, D Jones
Con – Prydie 2
Drop –
Cards –

Blues
Tries – L Williams, Anscombe, Navidi
Pen –
Con – Anscombe 3
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: JP Doyle (England),
Assistant ref: Greg Garner (England),
Assistant ref: Matthew Carley (England),
TMO: Graham Hughes (England),
Citing Commissioner: Shaun Gallagher (England)

Teams

Newport Gwent Dragons

Jason Tovey; Tom Prydie, Patrick Leach, Jack Dixon, Hallam Amos; Dorian Jones, Jonathan Evans; Phil Price, T Rhys Thomas (c), Brok Harris, Andrew Coombs, Cory Hill, James Thomas, James Benjamin, Nick Crosswell

Replacements: Hugh Gustafson, Lloyd Fairbrother, Dan Way, Toby Faletau, Nic Cudd, Luc Jones, Tyler Morgan, Rhys Jones

Cardiff Blues

Dan Fish; Alex Cuthbert, Joaquin Tuculet, Gavin Evans, Richard Smith; Gareth Anscombe, Lloyd Williams; Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees (c), Scott Andrews, Jarrad Hoeata, Lou Reed, Josh Turnbull, Sam Warburton, Josh Navidi

Replacements: Kristian Dacey, Sam Hobbs, Adam Jones, Macauley Cook, Ellis Jenkins, Tavis Knoyle, Simon Humberstone, Gareth Davies

With thanks to ERCRugby.

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