Cross Keys kick started their Principality Premiership campaign with their first victory of the season at the third attempt when they saw off Ebbw Vale at Pandy Park last Saturday.
Playing toward the clubhouse Keys probably had the better of the opening exchanges but failed to take any chances that came their way early on. Keys best chance came after around 15 minutes when wing Nathan Trowbridge found himself in field to intercept a stray ball but he was bought down in front of the posts just shy of the line. The Steelmen were guilty of killing the ball at the resulting breakdown and Keys had to settle for 3 points with outside half Josh Prosser kicking the resulting penalty from in front of the sticks. Vale had their skipper Ronnie Kynes sent to the sin bin as he was adjudged to have committed the offence that led to the penalty.
With just under 30 minutes played Keys got their first try of the game when initially it looked as though nothing was on. An impressive break from scrum half James Leadbeater from the halfway line put Keys firmly on the front foot with Vale struggling defensively. Leadbeater’s burst bought Keys to the Vale 10 metre before he passed the ball out to supporting second row Josh Skinner who carried excellently to the Steelmen’s 22 before feeding the ball to Nathan Trowbridge who wasn’t going to stopped this time and raced through to cross unopposed under the posts. Josh Prosser added the simple conversion from in front of the posts.
Keys first half dominance was confirmed with around 35 minutes played when Josh Prosser kicked his second penalty of the day from the 22 just to left of the posts. The Steelmen had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard when they won a penalty from a scrum but their outside half Lewis Dennett sent his attempt wide from a relatively straight forward position.
Half time Score Cross Keys 13 Ebbw Vale 0
The visitors started the second half well but despite their best efforts they couldn’t force their way through Keys’ resilient defence that had to deal with all that Ebbw threw at it.
As the second half went on, Vale were able to build even more ground as Keys scrum started to creak and concede numerous penalties as a result of their shaky scrum.
Despite this period of domination it was in fact Keys that scored the first points of the second half when on 55 minutes they won the ball from a lineout, a rare occurrence during the second half for Keys it must be said and Keys launched a driving lineout from the Vale 22. This driving lineout set up good field position in the visitors 22 and from the base of the maul James Leadbeater secured the ball and with a superb sidestep and burst combined with a perfectly executed dummy pass Leadbeater opened up the Steelmen’s defence for a wonderful individual try, which was converted by Josh Prosser to give Keys a healthy lead.
Despite Keys putting themselves further in front it was the Steelmen that continued to create the better opportunities as the half went on. They got their just rewards with 65 minutes on the clock when following another scrum penalty, Vale kicked to the corner and looked to launch a driving lineout of their own, something which the Steelmen have been quite effective at in recent years. This proved to be the case against Keys as skipper and flanker Ronnie Kynes had the ball in his grasp when his pack marched forward and Kynes pounced to score his side’s first points of the day, making up for his first half yellow card. The try was unconverted but perhaps buoyed by Keys struggling in the closing quarters of their previous 2 games the visitors didn’t panic.
Keys were really struggling for any meaningful territory and possession as the half went on but combined some more excellent defensive work from Keys, Ebbw perhaps lacked a cutting edge despite their best efforts.
Ebbw made sure of a tense finale when they crossed for their second try of the game as centre Srdan Majkic was worked into space and managed to squeeze in at the corner in front of the scoreboard. The conversion from former Keys outside half Dai Langdon was successful although initially there did appear to be a difference of opinion from the referee’s assistants as to whether the conversion was successful or not.
Keys managed to see the game out in the final 5 minutes when they had control thanks to keeping possession and frustrating the visitors who did their best to interrupt Keys who were well disciplined in closing the game out.
Overall there is still plenty to work on for Keys particularly within the scrum and lineout areas but Keys are up and running so hopefully things can only get better.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Nathan Trowbridge & James Leadbeater
Conversions: Josh Prosser (x2)
Penalties: Josh Prosser (x2)
Ebbw Vale Scorers:-
Tries: Ronnie Kynes & Srdan Majkic
Conversion: Dai Langdon
Keys Man of the Match: Liam Davies