Cross Keys are left with a mountain to climb in the hunt for a top 8 finishing spot when the Principality Premiership splits in 2 in January, as a result of a disappointing result at Llandovery on Saturday. Their 4th defeat in 6 games means Keys are now down to 10th place in the league table as the 1st block of Principality Premiership fixtures ended.
The Keys were slow out of the starting blocks as the Drovers attacked well from the Kick Off. Keys were forced to defend their line early on and only a last ditch tackle close to the try line and touch line ensured that the Drovers were not celebrating an opening try after just 3 minutes. The home side were handed a gift from Keys’ ball from the resulting defensive lineout, when an overthrow and mix-up in the Keys lineout meant that the ball found it’s way to the grateful arms of Drovers hooker Daffydd Hughes who had the relatively simple task of going over from the 5 metre line unopposed as the Drovers led with less than 5 minutes on the clock. Drovers outside half Jack Maynard added the coversion from out wide as the Drovers were well worth their early lead.
It didn’t get much better for Keys from the restart as the Drovers dangerous attacking game began to exploit some weak attempted tackles from Keys, as the home side looked to attack from all areas of the pitch, something they have become well known for over recent seasons. Fortunately for Keys some heroic individual tackling meant that the Drovers were unable to make their dominance show as the half went on.
After 20 minutes of play, and with a first meaningful attack in to the Drovers 22 Keys, despite being under the cosh for the opening period pulled themselves level when a big carry forward by Ieuan Jones setup good field position and skipper Scott Matthews pulled from the back of the ruck and powered his way through to score Keys’ first points of the day. Outside half Josh Prosser added the conversion to bring Keys level.
The Keys defence again seemed to be disorganised almost straight from the restart and after the Drovers won the ball back all to easily, only a last ditch tackle from Leon Andrews prevented the home side from crossing for a second try after a little under 25 minutes of play. Keys were punished shortly after this when they conceded a penalty midway in their own half which Drovers’ Jack Maynard duly converted to hand the lead back to the Drovers once more, with just under 30 minutes played.
Keys recovered well and for the next 5 minutes Keys were camped on the Llandovery try line but couldn’t deliver a killer blow despite Scott Matthews, Ieuan Jones and Danny Hodge all going close to crossing. In the end the home side cleared their lines after their defensive efforts. Just before half time the Drovers furthered their lead when Maynard added his second penalty of the game.
Half time Score Llandovery 13 Cross Keys 7
Early in the second half Keys were probably just on top but a couple of driving mauls close to the line each ended in the Drovers being able to win the ball and clear their lines without too much panic. The Drovers again were now starting to attack well but Keys seemed to up their efforts in defence and kept the Drovers at bay despite numerous chances.
Keys were awarded a penalty midway in to the Drovers half and outside half Josh Prosser was on target for Keys as they looked to plug away at the Drovers lead with 15 minutes of the second half played. That Prosser penalty was cancelled out after an hour of play when Maynard kicked his 3rd penalty of the day.
The Drovers had lock Bryn Griffiths sent to the sin bin after a little over an hour of play for foul play after a dust up with his old foe Danny Hodge. With a man’s advantage Keys now looked to wear the Drovers down as a series of attacks created good field position. As Keys attacked midway in to the Drovers half the ball and with options either side of a ruck which had formed the ball was lost all too softly and the Drovers, who were still down to 14 men, raced away from some 60+ metres through scrum half Rhodri Davies and Davies all but guaranteed the win for the home side with a try under the posts that Maynard converted with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Keys didn’t let their heads drop and when they won a penalty at scrum time again midway in to the Drovers half the quick thinking of Owain Leonard saw him take a quick tap and blitz through the Drovers defensive line to race home from 30 metres out. Josh Prosser’s conversion meant that with around 8 minutes remaining Keys had, at the very least earned themselves a losing point.
That losing bonus point was taken away from Keys when Jack Maynard kicked his 4th penalty of the game as Corey Hewlett was sent to the sin bin for playing the ball from an offside position with the home side threatening a 3rd try.
That was that for Keys after a scrappy game in which they made too many unforced errors and missed one to many first up tackles, to look like taking the spoils. A break now for a period of Fosters Challenge Cup fixtures means that Keys may look at some new combinations before the Principality Premiership resumes on 29th October with the visit of league leaders and unbeaten Aberavon to Pandy Park.
Tries: Dafydd Hughes & Rhodri Davies
Conversions: Jack Maynard (x2)
Penalties: Jack Maynard (x4)
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Scott Matthews & Owain Leonard
Conversions: Josh Prosser (x2)
Penalty: Josh Prosser