Cross Keys were comfortably defeated at Ebbw Vale in front of the S4C cameras on Saturday evening as the Steelmen continued an excellent opening to the season to remain unbeaten and sit at the top of the table.
With the driving wind and rain in their favour in the first half Ebbw kept Keys pinned deep in their own half for a majority of the opening 40 minutes.
It took around 13 minutes for the Steelmen to break the deadlock after a typical catch and drive rolling maul from Ebbw appeared to have given them lead with a try for skipper Ronnie Kynes. However as the conversion was being lined up from the right hand touchline by former Keys man Rhys Jones the Television Match Offical intervened and halted play as he reviewed the build up to the try. The review confirmed that the Steelmen had in fact caused an obstruction which prevented Keys from stopping the driving lineout so the try was then ruled out by referee Rhys Jones on the advice of the TMO.
The home side continued to pile on the pressure and certainly used the conditions to continue to keep Keys pinned to their own 22. With around 22 minutes played Keys had a scrum on their own 5 metre line and after a mix up at the base of that scrum the ball went loose in to the in goal area and Ebbw scrum half Dai Jones reacted the quickest to pounce up on the loose ball to open the scoring. Rhys Jones struck the post with the conversion attempt from the left of the posts.
The Steelmen went further ahead with around 30 minutes on the clockwhen from another scrum, this time with their own put in number 8 Lewis Young barged over from close range for the try, which was this time converted by Rhys Jones.
With 38 minutes played the Steelmen crossed for a third try when, following another TMO review after yet another driving lineout the home side’s skipper Ronnie Kynes wasn’t going to be denied his trademark try after he was in possession as the went over the whitewash, although from the replay there is no clear grounding as Keys’ Tom Lampard appears to have his hands under the ball but the try was awarded. Rhys Jones failing to add the conversion.
After being massively under the cosh for almost the entire opening half Keys would probably have considered themselves quite happy at being only 17 – 0 down at the break.
Half Time Score Ebbw Vale 17 Cross Keys 0
It appeared as if the strong wind and rain of the first half, which may have proved to be worth several points had died off slightly over the half time break meaning Keys couldn’t look to use it to their advantage too often in the second 40.
Some good patches from Keys saw them put the Steelmen under pressure early on but despite the small chances coming their way Keys were unable to force the scoreboard operator in to work early on.
Keys finally got on the scoreboard with around an hour played when full back Leon Andrews made a break up the middle of the park from his own 22. With several options available he off loaded on the halfway line to the supporting Wes Cunliffe and, against his former side the winger did the rest to power away for the try which Jason Tovey converted from the left of the posts.
That was about as good as it got for Keys as they found the Ebbw defence was in no mood for favours as the game entered the closing quarter. Keys struggled to maintain possession even though they again spent some time in the Ebbw 22 as the half went on.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes both side’s were reduced to 14 men when following a break from deep by Ebbw full back Dan Haymond the video referee intervened and after referee Rhys Jones consulted with the TMO Keys had second row Tom Lampard shown a straight red card for ‘striking the face’ as he reacted to be pulled back off the ball by the home side’s hooker Rhys Francis. Francis was immediately substituted as the TMO reviewed the footage but was then recalled to the pitch by the referee only to subsequently be shown a yellow card for the pull back which led to Lampard’s reaction. The negotiations for Brexit will probably be quicker than the confusion caused after the break in play where the officials made sure the correct players had been punished.
The Steelmen secured the bonus point with their 4th try 7 minutes from time when replacement Joel Harris went over from close range after Ebbw had secured possession from a lineout some 10 metres from the tryline. Rhys Jones was again off target with the conversion.
The game then drew to a close with Ebbw deservedly taking the honours to continue their unbeaten start.
Ebbw Vale Scorers:-
Tries: Dai Jones, Lewis Young, Ronnie Kynes & Joel Harris
Conversion: Rhys Jones
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Try: Wes Cunliffe
Conversion: Jason Tovey