In what certainly was a game of two halves Cross Keys suffered a 30 points to 20 defeat at Llandovery in the season opener on Saturday afternoon.
Keys started brilliantly and quickly won the ball back after an excellent kick off from impressive outside half Ethan Davies. The ball was patiently worked through the hands before Keys were awarded a penalty deep inside the Drovers own half. With the rewards for tries now being 6 points Keys opted to kick to the corner, instead of taking a relatively easy penalty kick to goal, which now only sees 2 points awarded.
The resulting close range lineout was won by Simon Williams and a driving maul towards the try line was unstoppable and Williams’ second row partner Danny Hodge emerged with the ball after scoring a first ever 6 point try for The Keys. Ethan Davies added the conversion and Keys were fully worth their early 8 – 0 lead, with Llandovery still waiting their first touch of the season with 6 minutes on the clock.
It got better for Keys when they continued to dominate both possession and territory and their endeavour was rewarded when Davies kicked a penalty to give Keys a 10 – 0 lead with barely 10 minutes played. Just minutes later The Drovers showed what they can do when, with a first attack in to the Keys 22 they kicked a penalty goal from in front of the sticks to close the gap thanks to their outside half Jack Maynard. The scoreboard now had a really unfamiliar look about it when it read Llandovery 2 – Cross Keys 10.
Keys came back almost immediately from the restart when a lose kick from Llandovery was gathered by Ethan Davies back in his own 22. He raced forward and found Nathan Trowbridge in support who showed an excellent turn of pace over the halfway line beating several would be tackles before feeding the ball back inside to the supporting Davies and the number 10 showed a clean pair heels to race over to score an excellent try to extend Keys’ lead, with just over 15 minutes played. Davies converted his own try and Keys at this point were looking unstoppable.
Gradually, however the home side clawed their way back in to the game when a pair of Maynard penalties, in the 18th and 30th minute closed the gap. Keys spent the final 5 minutes or so of the half camped on the Drovers line but despite Keys having a man advantage, due to Llandovery second row Bryn Griffiths being sent to the sin bin, Keys were unable to better their lead and given the Drovers second half performance this failure to score after so long spent on the Drovers line no doubt proved vital to the outcome.
Half Time Score Llandovery 6 – Cross Keys 18
It took just 5 minutes of the second half for Llandovery to add to their total when Number 8 Richard Brooks crossed all to easily for the home side when Keys fell off one too many tackles after good build up play from the Drovers. Jack Maynard struck the post with the conversion attempt, but Llandovery’s intentions were clear.
Ethan Davies pulled Keys clear after 50 minutes when he added his second penalty of the game for Keys. It was however Llandovery who pushed on from here and it was no surprise when they grabbed their second try of the game thanks to openside Shaun Miles crossing with 55 minutes played. Maynard again struck the post but this time the ball did go over to add the extras and tie the scores at 20 – 20 with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
Keys had flanker Ieuan Jones sent to the sin bin for killing the ball in the 65th minute and from the resulting penalty the Drovers took the lead for the first time thanks to Maynard’s 4th penalty of the game. It didn’t really get much better for Keys as Llandovery continued to enjoy more possession and restricted Keys from building anything as the game entered the closing moments.
The Drovers all but wrapped up the victory when they crossed for a try out wide just 2 minutes from the end by centre Matthew Jacobs. Despite the assistant referee seemingly indicating that it was no try due to the ball going dead, he was over-ruled by the man in the middle and the try was awarded. Maynard kicked the touchline conversion and the Drovers were home and dry.
For Keys it shows just how easily a game can slip away from you and how you must take every chance particularly against dangerous attacking sides such as Llandovery.
Tries: Richard Brooks, Shaun Miles & Matthew Jacobs
Conversions: Jack Maynard (x2)
Penalties: Jack Maynard (x4)
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Danny Hodge & Ethan Davies
Conversions: Ethan Davies (x2)
Penalties: Ethan Davies (x2)