Cross Keys now have the advantage over Carmarthen Quins in the battle for the end of season play offs after they defeated the Quins and leapfrogged them in the Principality Premiership table after a hugely entertaining clash in front of the S4C cameras on Sunday afternoon.
It was clear from the off that the 2 sides were evenly matched across the park, with Keys fairing better in the scrum and dominating the breakdown, but Quins looking sharper behind and also having the better lineout at times. Keys squandered 2 early try scoring opportunities when Phil Williams and Ethan Davies went within just metres of crossing for the games opening score when the game was just over 5 minutes old. Those chances came to nothing and despite Keys starting brighter than the Quins, it was the Quins who opened the scoring when Keys halted a rolling maul illegally after 18 minutes meaning the referee awarded a penalty try to Quins which was converted by Craig Evans.
Keys came back well and shortly after Quins had taken the lead Ethan Davies kicked Keys first points of the afternoon with a penalty goal with 24 minutes played. Davies had the chance to double his tally on 30 minutes with another penalty attempt from a similar position to his opening penalty, but his second attempt went wide.
Quins extended their lead just before half time when full back Dion Jones crossed for a lovely try, thanks largely to his own good foot work and a dangerous run forward from centre Jason Harries. The conversion was unsuccessful. Keys bounced back almost immediately from the restart, another area that caused Quins problems throughout the game. The restart wasn't claimed by Quins and the lose ball found it's way back in to Keys hands before eventually being worked across the line and after Danny Hodge went close, the ball went out wide to Phil Williams who picked out Polu Uhi who found a lovely angle to cross for an excellent try, which Davies converted to pull Keys to within a score at the break.
Half Time Score Carmarthen Quins 12 Cross Keys 10
Keys took the game to Quins early in the second half and were rewarded for their early period of dominance when they set up camp inside the Quins 22 for the opening 5 minutes of the half. This caused Quins to try anything to stop Keys from creating chances and they did so illegally after 5 minutes of the second half when flanker Sion Bennett was sent to the sin bin for killing the ball at a ruck. Keys opted for a scrum from the resulting penalty and drove forward which led to impressive number 8 Jack Condy breaking from the scrum and reaching out to score the second Keys try, after confirmation from the video ref. Ethan Davies added the extras as Keys took the lead for the first time.
The Keys pushed on from here and it took just 5 minutes for Keys to score again when some lovely slick handling and passing led to the ball going through a number of pairs of hands before being worked through to Jack Condy who crossed in an identical position as he had done just moments earlier for another try which Davies again converted. Keys were looking good at this point with Quins struggling to live up to Keys physical approach.
The Quins gradually came back in to things as the game entered the closing quarter and they ensured a tense ending when Jason Harries again set up Dion Jones for another try with a little over 10 minutes to go. The try was converted by Craig Evans as the gap was closed.
Keys produced another dominant scrum in the closing 5 minutes, which won them another penalty but instead of going for the corner they decided to go for goal from just inside the Quins half. If successful the penalty would have denied Quins the losing bonus point they currently held, which may have proved crucial in the closing weeks of the regular season. The penalty shot from Davies fell short so Quins held on to the losing bonus point but Keys had done enough to win an excellent game of rugby and continue their fine run which has now seen them win 7 games in a row, as they head to the business end of the season, starting with the upcoming Swalec Cup quarter final against Bedwas at Pandy Park on Saturday. Keys now have 4 league games left this season and are now clear in the chase for one of the top three places for the end of season play offs.
Carmarthen Quins Scorers:-
Tries:Dion Jones (x2) & Penalty Try
Conversions:Craig Evans (x2)
Cross Keys Scorers:
Tries:Jack Condy (x2) & Polu Uhi
Conversions:Ethan Davies (x3)