LOCK Chris Griffiths was brandished a straight red card as Worcester Wanderers suffered an agonising 20-18 defeat to Newport Salop in the final of the North Midlands Cup.
Wanderers looked to have gained control in the encounter at Dudley Kingswinford on Sunday after they battled back from a 13-3 down to level the tie at the start of the second half.
But a try from prop Tom Cowell proved to be the difference as Griffiths was sent off after allegedly headbutting an opponent.
The result meant disappointment for a second successive season for Worcester who were edged out by a point by Bournville in last year’s final.
Fly half Tom Biggs had given Wanderers the early lead from the tee, but a penalty try settled Newport’s nerves before Liam Holden added a penalty late on in the first half to give his side a ten point cushion at half time.
Wanderers refused to throw in the towel, though, as Biggs landed a penalty before converting Kieran Morris’ try to draw level at 13-13.
Newport responded with a pushover try from Cowell, which Holden converted, before Matt Marskell scored a superb solo try to leave Worcester trailing by two points.
But Stuart James’ men’s hopes of snatching victory in the latter stages were dealt a blow when Griffiths saw red.