2:15pm Wednesday 5th February 2014
By Chris Kirwan
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons openside Nic Cudd is free to play following his red card for a tip tackle against Newcastle – but full-back Dan Evans has been slapped with a five-week ban for his part in the incident.
Flanker Cudd was sent off early in the second half of the LV= Cup defeat to the Falcons at Kingston Park last Friday after home number eight Adam Powell was sent smashing into the sodden turf.
However, it was a case of the wrong man getting punished as it was Evans that flipped the Newcastle man up in the air in the two-man tackle.
The incident was similar to one last year when Leicester's Toby Flood was cleared of a dangerous tackle on Worcester's Andy Goode because the panel said they could not find the fly-half solely responsible.
The law has since been tightened up and Evans, who is joining the Ospreys next season because the Dragons have signed Wales full-back Lee Byrne, will be out of action until March 12.
That rules him out of a key month in the RaboDirect Pro12 that pits the region against Edinburgh on Sunday and then a trio of title hopefuls in Leinster, Glasgow and Ulster.
"We had a disciplinary meeting on Tuesday night and Nic Cudd was exonerated but Dan Evans was banned," said director of rugby Lyn Jones.
"It's a blow. You have a plan and it's not easy to deal with when one of your key players is taken out of the equation, but we have to deal with it and move on."
The suspension leaves the Dragons down to their last fit specialist full-back in Hallam Amos although Tom Prydie's ankle injury, which was expected to rule him out until the final few matches of the campaign, is not as severe as was first feared.
In the meantime fly-halves Jason Tovey and Steffan Jones could be potential options as Amos' back-up, as could Cross Keys' Rhys Jones.
The 26-year-old, who is currently with Wales Sevens in New Zealand, put in an assured display at full-back in the Dragons' LV= Cup win against Wasps in November.
The Dragons will be without Evans, centre Jack Dixon (foot), scrum-half Jonathan Evans (knee) and Wales pair Toby Faletau and Andrew Coombs for Sunday's clash with Edinburgh at Rodney Parade.
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