Cross Keys secured their place in the end of season Principality
Premiership play offs with this hard-fought Gwent Derby victory over
arch rivals Newport. The win, coupled with Llandovery's defeat at
Carmarthen means that Keys, in third place are 5 points ahead of the
Drovers in 4th place and with just one game of the regular season
remaining, Keys will still finish in 3rd place as they have won more
games than Llandovery which is how the teams would be separated if they
finish level on 69 points each. The Keys would still need a victory at
Bridgend next week and hope that Carmarthen Quins get nothing from their
trip to Aberavon to secure a home play off against the Quins in May.
The game against Newport saw Keys go ahead after 10 minutes when Dorian Jones kicked a penalty after a level opening that saw both sides trying to create opportunities but finding themselves up against firm defensive lines that were working well.
Newport found themselves down to 14 men when centre Dan Robinson was sent to the sin bin just minutes after Dorian Jones had given Keys the lead. Keys responded well to the sin-binning and doubled their lead when Dorian Jones kicked his 2nd penalty after 16 minutes of play. With the visitors back up to 15 men they grabbed their first points of the afternoon when Geraint O'Driscoll pulled a penalty back after 24 minutes as the black and ambers looked to get back in to things.
Keys themselves were down to 14 men just before the half an hour mark when scrum half Rhys Dyer was sent to the bin for diving off his feet at a ruck, although it looked as if the ball was clearly out of the ruck area. The resulting penalty saw Geraint O'Driscoll level the scores at 6-6 with 30 minutes played.
Keys, attacking the clubhouse end of the ground came back strong despite being down to 14 and they scored the opening try of the game when that man, Danny Hodge let his rugby do the talking, despite the oppositions best efforts to wind him up when he cantered home to score his 12th try of the season in the scoreboard corner. Dorian Jones added the extras as Keys took the lead once more.
The black and ambers responded immediately to score their first try when winger Owen Broad gathered a poor clearance from Keys to score an try which saw him jink his way around several attempted Keys tackles to score a fine try. Geraint O'Driscoll once more levelled the scores with the conversion.
As the half drew to a close Keys produced some excellent build play through a sequence of rucks and mauls which eventually saw Dorian Jones go around the Newport defence to score an excellent try in the corner after Ryan Lee had gone close to scoring. Dorian failed to add the extras to his own try and thats how it stayed for the remainder of a breathless first half.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 18 Newport 13
Newport grabbed the first points of the second half when there dominant opening was rewarded when Geraint O'Driscoll kicked his third penalty of the day after 3 minutes of the second half. Keys then used their forwards to great effect when, from a driving lineout they marched their way from the 22 metre line to the try line with replacement Anthony 'Vinnie' Lott always in control of the ball and it was Vinnie who wriggled away from the back of the maul to score by the corner flag. Dorian Jones was off target with the conversion as Keys restored their 7 point lead.
Newport were next to score in this yo-yo contest when second row Adam Frampton scored his sides second try just after one of his team mates had dropped the call almost on the try line. When Newport secured possession once more Frampton was on hand to score the try after 52 minutes. Geraint O'Driscoll once more levelliing the scores in a match that was proving more and more difficult to predict as time went on.
It took just 5 minutes for Keys to once more go ahead when replacement fly half Angus O'Brien, now directly facing his brother Matt O'Brien at number 10 for the black and ambers kicked a penalty to put Keys ahead once more. Keys were again reduced to 14 men as the game entered the closing quarter when replacement Jack Perkins was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle Newport took full advantage as O'Driscoll levelled the scores with a fourth penalty of the the game with 66 minutes played.
Geraint O'Driscoll kicked his 5th penalty to put his side in to the lead for the first and only time with under 10 minutes remaining. Crucially, and perhaps against the run of play Keys produced an opportunity after James Cordy-Redden's dangerous run caused panic in the visitors defence and the ball was worked to captain Leon Andrews who scored his fourth try in seven matches since his return from injury to give Keys the lead again with just 8 minutes remaining. Angus O'Brien kicked the conversion. Keys were forced to hold on for the remainder of the game as Newport looked to snatch victory but it wasn't to be for the visitors and Keys held on for another Derby win and a 3rd win in the space of a week despite once more not performing to the best of their abilities.
A special mention for stalwart prop Craig Gould, who lead out the Keys on his 200th league appearance for the black and whites and to skipper Leon Andrews who was celebrating his 150th appearance in a Keys jersey.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Danny Hodge, Dorian Jones, Anthony Lott & Leon Andrews
Conversions: Dorian Jones (x1) & Angus O'Brien (x1)
Penalties: Dorian Jones (x2) & Angus O'Brien (x1)
Tries: Owen Broad & Adam Frampton
Conversions: Geraint O'Driscoll (x2)
Penalties: Geraint O'Driscoll (x5)
Keys man of the match: Adam Powell
Report Author: David Glastonbury