CROSSKEYS 42 – MOSELEY 3
Report Chris Kirwan
THAT the referee ended the contest after 79 minutes showed just how dominant Cross Keys were in their stunning British and Irish Cup romp against Moseley.
Irish official Olly Hodges took pity on the West Midlanders by calling an early halt to proceedings, but there were no complaints of being short-changed from those of a Keys persuasion.
Few of them would have predicted that their first outing in the cross-border competition would be so one-sided when they turned up at Pandy Park.
Moseley made a host of changes to the side that beat Bristol in the Championship the previous weekend, but surely it would still be a tight, nervy affair?
No, Keys battered them. “The boys came out and played hard for the club,” said head coach Greg Woods. “I think it’s fair to say we introduced ourselves to the tournament pretty well.
“We had total dominance, which I didn’t think that we would have in the British and Irish Cup, but we are staying grounded and know that Ayr will be tough at the weekend.
“But the boys are flying and deserve this result after the hard work that they have put in.”
It has to be pointed out that Moseley were rank awful, an embarrassment for a Championship club.
However, Keys could only beat what was in front of them and it also turned into a drubbing because of the way that the hosts prowled over Pandy Park.
They tore into Moseley from the off and outmuscled the Midlanders with good, honest, hard running.
Flanker Rob Nash and number eight Rhys Williams carried frequently and not only won their initial collisions but kept driving their legs and making hard yards.
Targets were set over the gain line to keep the Keys pack on the front foot and slowly knock the stuffing out of Moseley.
It wasn’t all blood and thunder, winger Kristian Baller showed some lovely footballing skills and centre Leon Andrews’ quick feet stood out in the backs, but the pick of the Keys performers came in the boiler house.
Lock Dan Hodge has had a hard year but was magnificent against his fellow Englishmen on Saturday.
Not only did he carry for plenty of yards but he made numerous tackles around the park.
However, it was the visitors who started more sharply with Keys getting on the wrong side of the Irish official.
They were penalised six times in the opening 13 minutes, earning a yellow card for hooker Gerwyn Price and a penalty for visiting fly-half Ollie Thomas.
But that was as good as it got for Moseley and they fell behind to a pair of Gareth David penalties then conceded a flurry of points when wing Jamie Hearn was sin-binned after the visitors had tested the patience of Mr Hodges once too often.
Keys’ hard, direct approach paid off when the ball was spread wide for Baller to show lovely hands to put Andrews over on a lovely angle.
And the second try came on the stroke of the break when, after yet more hard yards by prop Richard Cornock and Rhys Williams, the ball was spread wide left for wing Nathan Trowbridge to finish expertly.
Keys killed the game off with another David penalty after the break before successfully chasing down their bonus point.
Woods can claim some credit in that the first touches of replacements Lewis Rawlins and Marc Popham were to combine to put flanker Jevon Groves over before Andrews jinked over for a second and Baller crossed for an embarrassingly easy try at the death.
Whisper it quietly, but this win and Munster’s loss to the Cornish Pirates leaves the Pandy Park outfit with a golden shot at the knockout stages. Yet far, far harder challenges lie ahead.