Cross Keys let a comfortable early lead slip and were left to rue several basic, unforced errors as Swansea were gifted a last ditch victory at Pandy Park last Saturday.
The Keys started superbly and were rewarded with the opening score when following a powerful scrum, Keys number 8 Izaak Duffy powered his way forward from the base of the scrum and off loaded to centre Dylan Fidler, who on his first competitive start for Keys went over for his first try in Keys colours after just 5 minutes of play. Outside half Jason Tovey added the conversion.
Keys were almost immediately back on the front foot from the restart and after a number of close range drives when winger Wes Cunliffe almost crashed over from close range in front of the posts. He was bought down just short but the ball was recycled quickly and found the hands of skipper Damian Welch who bounced off a would be tackler and stretched out to score his side’s second try with a little under 10 minutes played. Jason Tovey added the extras to maintain Keys perfect start to the game.
It continued to be one way traffic as Keys, playing toward the clubhouse piled on the pressure. Keys won a penalty around the 22 and Jason Tovey was successful with the resulting kick to further Keys’ comfortable early lead, with almost 15 minutes played.
Gradually the Whites got themselves in to the game as it entered the second quarter and launched a first real attack in to Keys’ territory. The visitors grabbed their first points of the day when full back Luke Griffiths kicked a penalty with around 22 minutes on the clock.
Keys seemed to be panicked when in possession of the ball in their own territory and the Whites capitalised on a Keys error to win back possession. The visitors set up camp on the Keys try line and hooker Paul John who was involved in the build-up then found himself in ghosting through some weak Keys defence to cross for his side’s opening try with around 25 minutes on the clock. Full back Luke Griffiths added the conversion from in front of the posts.
Keys responded to the setback well and from the restart they attacked from deep when Leon Andrews gathered a loose kick forward by the Whites around his own 22. He fed the ball to centre Srdan Majkic who made an excellent break through the scrambling Whites’ defence to take the ball forward in to the Whites’ half before offloading out to supporting outside half Jason Tovey who did the rest to cross for Keys’ 3rd try in the scoreboard corner, but Tovey couldn’t add the conversion of his own try.
A comedy of errors led to the Whites staying touch with half time approaching. Keys again seemed to panic when in possession and after looking to attack from deep the Keys lost the ball when a loose pass inside was picked up by White’s winger Andrew Claypole who will probably not score an easier try after picking up the loose ball and crossing unopposed for a try which Luke Griffiths converted with 39 minutes played.
The Whites tails were up and with virtually the last play of the half they kicked another penalty via Luke Griffiths to reduce the gap to one score at the break.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 22 Swansea 20
The Whites started the second half brightly and gave Keys plenty to think about early on. The Whites were rewarded for a good opening spell in the second half when hooker Paul John was on hand to cross for his second try after the Whites pressurised on the Keys try line following yet another unforced error from Keys in defence. Luke Griffiths added the conversion as Swansea led for the first time with around 8 minutes of the second half played.
The second half proved to be low on quality as time went on with large periods of the half being spent around the middle of the half, and with both side’s making numerous changes but despite the changes very few chances came either side’s way until the closing 15 minutes. The Whites’ were reduced to 14 men with around 15 miunutes to play when centre Gareth Rees was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball as Keys looked to attack around the Whites 22. The resulting penalty saw Keys go for broke and attempt the driving lineout despite looking in good position to score, the Whites halted the attack and won the turnover to clear their lines following a scrum.
Keys came back at the visitors but their defence remained tight and once again forced the turnover despite Keys again attempting another driving lineout from close range. The visitors couldn’t clear their line effectively this time though and with play moving back in field a break from replacement Owain Leonard put Keys on the front foot. The ball was worked free from the tackle area and Wes Cunliffe delivered a scoring pass to full back Leon Andrews who went over for Keys bonus point try with a little over 5 minutes remaining to level the scores. Jason Tovey’s conversion meant that Keys led once again and now had to set about closing the game out for the final 5 minutes.
That final 5 minutes was arguably all in Keys’ control and they looked like they may have scored a 5th try just 2 minutes from time, as a clever grubber kick through from Tovey led to Wes Cunliffe setting off in pursuit of the ball but he was just beaten to the ball by the Whites defence. From the resulting scrum 5, Keys just had to patiently keep the ball and as they went out wide the ball was spilled and Whites’ full back Luke Griffiths pounced from his own try line to secure the ball and race away from the chasing Keys defence to go the length of the field to win it for his side. Griffiths rubbed salt in to Keys’ wounds by adding the conversion and close out the game.
Overall a bitterly disappointing defeat for Keys who didn’t seem to be streetwise enough when it mattered. A case of too many basic individual errors proving costly as The Whites took the chances that came their way to win the game but Keys will have to be happy with the 2 bonus points picked up in defeat!
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Dylan Fidler, Damian Welch, Jason Tovey & Leon Andrews
Conversions: Jason Tovey (x3)
Penalty: Jason Tovey
Tries: Paul John (x2), Andrew Claypole & Luke Griffiths
Conversions: Luke Griffiths (x4)
Penalties: Luke Griffiths (x2)
Keys Man of the Match: Leon Andrews