CARDINAL NEWMAN, the Roman Catholic school from Pontypridd, upset all the odds in the final of yesterday''s Welsh Schools Under-18 Cup final at the Millennium Stadium by beating hot favourites Neath College 23-20 with a try near the end of a hugely competitive game.
The deserved, albeit narrow victory, shattered the Neath dream of a cup and Lloyds TSB League double and in so doing, the non-league Pontypridd school claimed a fourth Division One scalp in their wonderful cup run. ""Victories over Gowerton, Llanhari, and Swansea College made us all proud,"" said coach Andy McCann, ""But for a small school like ours to beat the team of Neath''s predatory and cup history is something very special.
The Catholic school upset the Neath rhythm from the start with a ferocity and commitment epitomised by No. 8 Dan McGee and were good value for the 13-3 half-time lead. All the points came from Stuart Thomas with a try, conversion and two penalties.
Neath''s only score being a third minute penalty by Hook. The five times former winners had a good patch in the third quarter with tries by wing John Leyshon and flanker Darren David which, with two Hook conversions, took them 17-13 ahead, but Newman were made of the sternest stuff. Back they came for Thomas to chip over a penalty which was cancelled out by one from Hook. But with Stuart Thomas and McLoughlin for ever threatening the Neath defence was stretched to the limit five minutes from time for Chris Thomas to plunge over wide out and leave brother Stuart to kick a huge touchline conversion for a personal tally of 18 points.
İİ1999 Western Mail & Echo Ltd
After the match celebrating a magnificant win!!
" Cardinal Newman''s meticulous preparations, training three times a week during the Easter holidays and spending a night away on Monday at Sophia Gardens, paid dividends in a big way. McCann and assistant coach ex-Irish prop Ginger McLoughlin also pulled off a master stroke in moving McLoughlin junior, full-back Fionn to fly-half for the final. The big, raw-boned youngster formed a tough-tackling midfield alongside centres Ciaran Phillips and Stuart Thomas and kept Neath dangermen fly-half Michael Hook and centre Nathan Brew quiet for most of the game. For the Thomas brothers, sons of ex-Cardiff wing David Thomas, it was a marvellous day in front of 5,000 spectators at the Dragons Rugby Trust Schools Day. Stuart, in the centre rather than at fly-half as part of the tactical reshuffle, was easily man-of-the-match with his elusive running, good vision and tremendous goal-kicking, but it was younger brother and wing Chris who was the hero when he scored a corner try to snatch the decisive lead five minutes from time.
Cardinal Newman's excellent supporters.
Standing(left to right)
Edward Lewis, Martyn Seymour, Mark Tambini, Oliver Jennings, Howell Jones, Ciaran Phillips, David Bois, Gareth Lewis, Eirian Crabbe, Adam Kirby, Michael Jones, Daniel McGee, Stuart Thomas, Mark Dillon, Tom Nash, Andrew Newland, Mr McCann
.Kneeling(Left to right)
Ian Goldsworthy, Adam Spiller, Emmet Mc Loughlin, Matthew Wilson(Captain) Nicky Lancaster, Chris Thomas, Garrett Lawlor, Fionn Mc Loughlin, Sean Sullivan.
Post 16