HOLDERS Newport are out of the Principality Cup after being narrowly beaten 20-14 by Cardiff, their biggest rivals in a penalty-ridden quarter-final at the Arms Park last night.

It means Newport will have to wait an eighth year before they can try again to end their jinx of losing in Cardiff.

The match followed a highly predictable pattern, referee David Davies awarding a string of penalties with Shane Howarth missing his usual share and Cardiff striking out for match winning tries.

Cardiff were without lock John Tait because of back problems, replaced by younger brother Luke.

The match was a 13,200 sell-out, the final tickets going by mid-afternoon, and there was a huge Newport contingent on the far terrace.

Cardiff were first out of the blocks when Iestyn Harris kicked a second minute penalty after the Newport front row were pulled up at the scrum.

Tonu'u blasted Newport into the Cardiff 22 with a towering touchfinder and when the home scrum was also penalised, Howarth responded by putting Newport level.

From the restart, Tonu'u found another massive touch, but Cardiff hit back and Breeze was forced to carry over after a deft chip from Harris chipped for Anthony Sullivan.

Harris missed a long range penalty shot and Newport returned to the attack, Tonu'u probing and Howarth kicking deep.

Raiwalui drove into the heart of the Cardiff defence and when opposite number Adam Jones was caught offside, Howarth kicked Newport into a 15 minute lead.

But he was nowhere near with the penalty attempt from halfway, though Newport kept going forward, Raiwalui blasting holes up the middle, Appleyard needing treatment after clashing heads with captain Dai Young trying to stop the big Fijian.

The referee was living up to his whistle blowing reputation and he awarded his 11th penalty in half an hour, Harris putting the kick over to draw Cardiff level.

A 12th quickly followed, eight of them against Newport. Before Harris could take it, Snow was led off with a cut head complaining bitterly he had been stamped on.

Harris' penalty from halfway struck an upright and Adrian Garvey replaced Snow, Anthony switching to loose head.

Harris was hit by a double tackle from Newport flankers Forster and Buxton. Newport coach Ian McIntosh suddenly emerged from the tunnel, clearly furious and remonstrating heavily with the fourth official Ken Brackston.

Snow returned to the fray before the referee made it a 15th first-half penalty, this time to Newport, and Howarth landed the kick to give Newport a 9-6 interval lead and a welcome reward for their heavy pressure.

Newport opened up the second half promisingly when Buxton, Tonu'u and Mostyn attacked down the right touchline.

When Kenneth Fourie replaced Young he was immediately penalised for dropping the scrum, but Howarth kicked wide.

He missed again, badly this time, when Newport urgently needed their pressure to be rewarded.

Just as predictable as Howarth's misses was the Cardiff try which followed. Harris kicked downfield and with the Newport defence caught flat-footed, Robinson won the race for the try.

When Newport charged the kick illegally Harris took it again and this time put the ball over.

Cardiff lost Fourie, yellow-carded for not retreating 10 yards and Buxton charged over only to be held up when he had crossed the Cardiff line.

Instead of going for goal again when he had another penalty chance, Howarth kicked for touch and from the resultant line out Forster bull-dozed his way across to give Newport a one-point lead as fighting broke out between the rival packs.

Jason Strange came on at outside half for Newport, with Howarth moving to fullback instead of Pini.

Alix Popham replaced number eight Andrew Powell, but with four minutes left Cardiff struck with their second try.

British Lion Howley picked up in typical fashion and shot through a gap and over the line without a hand being laid on him, Harris converting to give Cardiff a six point advantage. Newport mounted one last effort with a line out five yards out, but Garvey was held up before in the final minute there was real drama when Fourie was sent off for another scrumaging offence.

Scrum followed scrum as a whole succession of them collapsed before Cardiff finally cleared and Newport were dumped out of the cup.

Cardiff: Tries - Robinson, Howley; Conversions - Harris (2); Penalties - Harris (2). Newport: Try - Forster; Penalties - Howarth (3).