Cross Keys defeated Llandovery to secure a place in the Swalec Cup Final for the second time in three years.
The Keys started in the best possible fashion when wing James Cordy-Redden finished off a flowing move in the corner after just 2 minutes of play thanks to excellent build up play which saw the Drovers run out of numbers in defence. Dorian Jones narrowly missed the touchline conversion.
Keys came back strongly from the restart and used there powerful pack to gain good field position which eventually resulted in a penalty attempt for Dorian Jones which was successful and Keys looked in superb form taking a 8-0 lead after 14 minutes of play. The Drovers got themselves on to the scoreboard for the first time when their outside half James Garland kicked a penalty in the 20th minute.
The Drovers seemed to find a bit of confidence from here and were soon in front for the first time when their skipper Phil Day finished off a fine move which seemed to involve almost every Drovers player with a try after 26 minutes which was converted by James Garland. That lead lasted just 4 minutes as Dorian Jones kicked a second penalty for Keys with half an hour on the clock to pull Keys back in front.
With just a minute left of the half The Drovers chose to try and run the ball out of their own 22 and it was a decision which proved costly as they were turned over by a fine steal from man of the match Keys' Scott Matthews who stole the ball then fed his captain Leon Andrews who did the rest to score an excellent try racing home and evading a number of attempted tackles to score a try which was converted by Dorian Jones giving Keys a bit of breathing space and restoring their 8 point lead heading in to the break.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 18 Llandovery 10
It was the Drovers who started the second half brighter and they were soon right back in to things when centre Craig Woodall crossed for a try 3 minutes in to the half which went unconverted.
Keys came back well and went close to crossing the line once more when Rhys Dyer went close, but it was Dorian Jones that got Keys' first points of the half when he kicked his 3rd penalty 10 minutes in to the half and that lead was extended once more when he kicked his 4th penalty just before the hour mark.
The Drovers then enjoyed their best period of the entire game in the closing 20 minutes or so to ensure a tense climax to this enthralling semi final tie. Their territorial dominance was rewarded with 14 minutes remaining when their hooker Luke Lewis found himself under a pile of bodies to score following a driving lineout from 5 yards out, the conversion was missed
The Keys defence stood firm despite the Drovers best efforts and the win was all but sealed with just 2 minutes remaining when replacement wing Elliot Jones chipped ahead and sprinted away in rapid fashion to gather his own kick and score a try which took Keys more than a converted try clear of the Drovers, despite the conversion going wide.
The Drovers did manage to grab a consolation try with the last play when James Garland grabbed a try which he converted but time was up and it was too little too late for the Drovers and an absolutely enthralling cup tie was brought to an end and Keys celebrated claiming their place in the Swalec Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium on 4th May 2014 where they will face Pontypridd in a rematch of the 2012 Cup Final. Here's hoping it's the same result!!
Overall a match that was an excellent advert for top flight rugby in Wales and was more than worthy of a place in the semi finals of Wales' premier knockout cup competition. The Keys back row of Reuben Tucker, Adam Powell and man of the match Scott Matthews were simply superb but this was a whole squad effort, together with the coaching team and back room staff as everyone played their part. A special mention must also go to the superb Keys supporters who were magnificent throughout and although as a club we may often be ridiculed by others for our support base being small we have two things that lots of clubs would love to have amongst their support, those things are honesty and loyalty!!
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: James Cordy-Redden, Leon Andrews & Elliot Jones
Conversion: Dorian Jones
Penalties: Dorian Jones (x4)
Tries: Phil Day, Craig Goodall, Luke Lewis & James Garland
Conversions: James Garland (x2)
Penalty: James Garland
Swalec Man of the Match: Scott Matthews (Cross Keys)