Cross Keys suffered a second successive defeat in the British and Irish cup as Newport emerged victorious 24-20 at Pandy Park.
The Keys ultimately paid the price for a poor opening 20 minutes or so when they conceded 12 points without ever really threatening the Newport defence. Black and Ambers' skipper Craig Atwell opened the scoring with a try after just 3 minutes, former Keys outside half Scott Sneddon failing with the conversion. After 12 minutes Newport extended their lead as Keys retreated under a dominent Newport scrummage and English referee Ross Campbell had enough and went under the sticks to award the visitors a penalty try which Sneddon this time duly converted.
After this Keys slowly began to turn the screw and after starting to take the game to the visitors Keys got on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty by Dorian Jones in the 20th minute Sneddon restored the visitors 12 point lead with a 23rd minute penalty. Keys once again really started to turn on the pressure with Dorian Jones adding his second penalty of the afternoon. When Newport's Rhodri Jones was sent to the sin bin for consistent offences at the breakdown Keys chose scrum after scrum as the Black & Ambers simply could not stop Keys domination in this area. The pressure paid off as ref' Ross Campbell awarded a second penalty try of the afternoon this time as Newport illegally halted a Keys scrum that looked set to crash over the line, Dorian Jones adding the easiest of conversions.
Half time score Cross Keys 13 Newport 15
Newport enjoyed the better opening to the second half and Sneddon got his second penalty of the afternoon in the 48th minute. Then Keys once again came back into it and a moment of brilliance from Gareth David whose delicate precision kick was gathered by flying winger Elliot Jones who did the rest to score an excellent try, largely thanks to both David and Nathan Williams. Dorian Jones adding the extras to give Keys the lead for the first time.
From there Keys could not quite find a cutting edge to further their lead and gradually the pendulum started to swing back in Newport's favour. Sneddon kicking a further 2 penalties to put his side back in control. Keys pressed in the closing moments but it came to nothing as Newport closed the game out for a deserved victory.
Overall a disappointing result for Keys but a deserved win for the visitors. It can seem too easy to blame injuries and suspension but there is no doubt that Keys' squad is stretched to the max at the moment with at least 12 players missing at present. This means there are better times ahead in the forthcoming weeks as the squad slowly but surely gets stronger.
Cross keys scorers:-
Tries: Elliot Jones & Penalty try
Conversions: Dorian Jones (x2)
Penalties: Dorian Jones (x2)
Tries: Craig Atwell & Penalty try
Conversion: Scott Sneddon
Penalties: Scott Sneddon (x4)
Keys Rugby Committee man of the match: Adam Powell