Cross Keys won an entertaining Fosters Challenge Cup clash with Bedwas on Wednesday evening. The bonus point win saw Keys go top of the group but Keys’ chances of qualification to the knockout stages seem impossible thanks to Bedwas claiming a pair of bonus points meaning they face a winner takes all clash with Newport at Rodney Parade next week with Keys no longer having any say on who qualifies out of the 3 team group.
The Keys made a perfect start when with just a minute played a neat grubber kick through from young full back James McCarthy was weighted perfectly for Mathew Powell to win a foot race to the ball and finish well for the game’s opening score. James Thomas added the tricky conversion.
Bedwas responded well and crossed for a try of their own with just over 5 minutes on the clock when centre James S Dixon found a gap in the Keys’ defence to power his way over. His namesake, outside half James Dixon failed to add the conversion.
Keys moved further ahead on 15 minutes when a super break through the middle of the park by centre Leon Andrews gave Keys perfect field position in to the Bedwas 22. Andrews off-loaded at the perfect time to his fellow centre Phil Williams and the skipper did the rest to cross under the posts for his side’s 2nd try. James Thomas once again added the conversion.
The game was really opening up and turning in to a fine spectacle played between 2 sides that were always willing to mix their game up throughout. Bedwas were next to score when after a series of scrums and drives close to the Keys tryline eventually led to number 8 Dan Crimmins forcing his way over close to the posts at the clubhouse end of the ground. James Dixon added the conversion with 30 minutes on the clock.
Keys responded almost immediately and good, patient build up play combined with another good break by Leon Andrews saw full back James McCarthy on hand and able to squeeze in the corner for Keys 3rd try of the evening with around 5 minutes of the first half remaining. James Thomas this time failing to add the conversion from out wide.
Half time score: Cross Keys 19 Bedwas 12
The Keys all but wrapped the game up early in the second half when hooker Rob Jones, on permit from Treorchy went over for Keys’ bonus point try, after Keys built decent field position in the Bedwas 22 with just 2 minutes of the second half played. James Thomas added the conversion.
If Keys weren’t already in a good position to win the game their hopes of a win were boosted further when after a number of penalties close to the Bedwas line saw the visitors hooker Rhys Hutchinson sent to the sin bin for a breakdown offence. From the resulting penalty Keys went to the corner and following a good lineout drive, a gap was exploited by Keys scrum half Ross Pritchard who pounced over for Keys 5th try with 55 minutes played. James Thomas failed to add the conversion.
With both sides making a host of changes the game broke up somewhat and got a little scrappy. The visitors looked to mount a comeback as the game entered the closing quarter and a try outwide by replacement Matthew John, following a driving lineout close to Keys’ line, gave the visitors hope of rescuing something from the game. The conversion from the touchline fell short. The visitors gave themselves a pair of bonus points with 10 minutes left when replacement Tom Bell went over for his side’s 4th try which was converted by Dixon.
Within the final 5 minutes Keys looked to move the ball wide after spotting a mismatch in the Bedwas defensive line but despite Keys quickly shifting down the field, play was called back with Keys on the attack and Bedwas number 8 Dan Crimmins was shown a yellow card for a late, dangerous tackle on Keys captain Phil Williams.
Overall a job well done by Keys but the fact that Bedwas won 2 bonus points means that the winner of Newport v Bedwas at Rodney Parade next week is likely to qualify for the knockout stages despite Keys moving top with this victory.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Mathew Powell, Phil Williams, James McCarthy, Rob Jones & Ross Pritchard
Conversions: James Thomas (x3)
Tries: James S Dixon, Dan Crimmins, Matthew John & Tom Bell
Conversions: James Dixon (x2)