Despite a largely improved performance Cross Keys were comfortably defeated by Merthyr at Pandy Park last Saturday.
The opening exchanges saw Keys in control and they went ahead after around 5 minutes of play when an impressive burst in to the 22 by centre Lewis Barnett eventually led to full back Leon Andrews crossing under the posts for the game’s first try. Barnett was able to get an excellent pass away to feed Andrews, who did the rest. Josh Prosser added the simplest of conversions as Keys took an early lead.
It took just 2 minutes for the visitors to close the gap when after some stern defensive work from Keys, the Ironmen were forced to settle for a Matthew Jarvis penalty. From here Merthyr began to up the ante and were rewarded with their opening try after around 15 minutes when a driving lineout from around the Keys 22 proved unstoppable and saw prop Nathan Trevett emerge with the ball as the Ironmen took the lead for the first time. Jarvis kicked the conversion from the right of the posts.
Keys were reduced to 14 men after a little over 20 minutes when number 8 Adam Powell was sent to the sin bin after originally being penalised for a deliberate knock on then on the advice of his assistant, referee Elgan Williams called Powell back and showed the yellow card to reduce Keys to 14 men. It didn’t take the champions long to make their advantage tell when their former Ospreys hooker Matthew Dwyer pounced from close range for his side’s second try with almost 25 minutes on the clock. Matthew Jarvis was again on target with the conversion.
Keys task became all the more difficult just shy of half time when despite Merthyr being down to 14 men, with Aaron Pinches in the sin bin following a high tackle they clinched their 3rd try when a clever chip forward from scrum half Justin James was pounced upon by winger Kristian Phillips as the ball went over the try line. Jarvis again on target with the conversion as the half drew to a close.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 7 Merthyr 24
If Keys were going to make any sort of comeback then they would surely need to get out of the blocks quickly in the second half. Unfortunately for Keys it was in fact the Ironmen who made the perfect start to the second half when Kristian Phillips grabbed his second try of the game, to secure a bonus point for his side just 2 minutes in to the second half as he crossed in the corner despite what looked to be a clear forward pass in the build up to the try. Matthew Jarvis this time failing with the conversion from the touchline.
To their credit Keys didn’t throw the towel in and were rewarded with a try by skipper Scott Matthews who crashed over in the far corner following a good period of pressure by the home side with around 15 minutes remaining. Josh Prosser failed to add the extras from the touchline.
Any hope of an unlikely Keys comeback was ended soon after the restart when Merthyr replacement Kyle Evans benefitted from some slick handling and quickly recycled possession by his team-mates to cross for his side’s 5th and final try with just over 10 minutes remaining. The conversion attempt falling short.
With the game entering the closing stages Keys grabbed a 3rd try when Nathan Trowbridge intercepted a wayward pass to race home from around 40 metres out to cross under the posts with just under 5 minutes remaining. Josh Prosser quickly taking the conversion as Keys set about grabbing their 4th try from the restart. That 4th try didn’t really look like coming as Merthyr kept Keys plunged back in their own 22 for the remainder of the game.
Overall another disappointing defeat, which ultimately moves Keys to the bottom of the East conference although there were certainly some signs of improvement in Keys’ performance as they move in to the second quarter of the season.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Leon Andrews, Scott Matthews & Nathan Trowbridge
Conversions: Josh Prosser (x2)
Tries: Kristian Phillips (x2), Nathan Trevett, Matthew Dwyer & Kyle Evans
Conversions: Matthew Jarvis (x3)
Penalty: Matthew Jarvis
Keys Man of the Match: Tom Lampard