Cardiff RFC stretched the winning run at the start of the season to 11 and extended the lead at the top of the Indigo Group Premiership table to 13 points with a battling win over Newport.
At the end of a week in which the first game between these two historic sides was celebrated, the 143rd anniversary of that match, the 427th game started in typically fiery fashion with a large brawl breaking out inside the first minute of the game.
After a week in which the Black and Ambers have seen their future at their historic home of Rodney Parade threatened, the hosts flew out of the blocks and seemed pumped up by the early handbags.
A dangerous attack saw them make ground through an unusually passive Cardiff defence before Elliot Frewen broke free on the left wing and crossed for the opening score of the game, with Matt O’Brien adding the extras.
Unfortunately that bit of edge to the Newport game seemed to get the better of loosehead prop Dan Preece as he saw a yellow card for an infringement against Lewis Jones at a breakdown, and the away side immediately struck.
The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner and the driving maul which has been such a Cardiff weapon for 18 months now went to work, with James Thomas in possession as the set piece crossed the line. Edd Howley added the extras.
Howley missed a penalty shortly after but the extra man still saw more points scored as Dan Fish put Brynley Toms through a big gap, Howley and Sam Beard linked the play well and James Beal went over for a try on his first game for six weeks.
As Newport returned to a full complement of players they went through the phases in our territory again, but this time the defence held strong, before the Black and Ambers were penalised three times in quick succession.
That put Cardiff back into the corner, and although the driving maul didn’t work this time, two phases later Sam Pailor was on hand to cross the line, his first try for the club on his 37th appearance.
Howley kicked this conversion having missed the chance to add the extras after Beal’s try, and the Blue and Blacks went in 7-19 to the good at the break without really putting a dominant stamp on the game.
As the rain came down at the start of the second half it was Cardiff who made the early running, taking control of possession and territory with the home side lucky to escape a second yellow card of the game for a deliberate knock on.
From that though we were back into the corner and the driving maul was successful once again as Evan Yardley crossed the line with ball in hand to get on the scoreboard and secure the bonus point.
As it turned out that would be the final score of the game, as the remaining 30 minutes was played out in a scrappy point-less draw.
Newport largely dominated possession but struggled to create anything against a suffocating Cardiff defence, with one defensive set on our own line particularly memorable in ensuring that the hosts would not add to their tally of seven points.
A strong scrum kept us in the game, despite the Black and Ambers largely winning the kicking battle, and we were able to secure the 7-24 victory in increasingly poor conditions at Rodney Parade.
The start of a tough month for Cardiff was started by putting five points in the bag and once again coming out of a tough battle with the spoils as Steve Law’s men continued the unbeaten streak and stayed top of the league.
Next up is Merthyr at the Arms Park next week, with supporters not travelling to Pau urged to get down and support the Blue and Blacks in this season defining run of fixtures.