Cross Keys gained an early Christmas present as they secured an excellent 32 points to 24 victory over Newport at Rodney Parade on Wednesday evening.
High tempo was the name of the game from the start and both sides made it clear from the off that they were out to play fast expansive rugby on an unseasonably mild evening on the excellent, new Rodney Parade surface. Keys probably enjoyed the better opening, putting the hosts under early pressure but it was the black and ambers that eventually opened the scoring when a driving lineout by the home side proved unstoppable and saw former Keys hooker Henry Palmer cross for the game’s opening score with a little under 10 minutes of play. Newport outside half Haydn Simons adding the extras for his side.
Both sides continued to play an expansive game as the half went on but defences remained on top despite several good chances coming the way of both sides. Keys got themselves on to the scoreboard after 20 minutes of play when they won the ball at the tackle area which allowed Mathew Powell to break free from the halfway line. Powell timed his pass inside to Owain Leonard to perfection as he made his way toward the black and amber’s 22. Leonard then delivered the scoring pass out to Leon Andrews, who did the rest to cross for Keys’ opening score which was converted by Josh Prosser to level the scores midway through the first half.
Soon after that Keys looked set to launch another attack from the halfway line but the attack was halted by Newport as Keys’ centre Lewis Barnett looked to break free. Barnett was bought down by a dangerous high tackle around the black and ambers 22 which resulted in the home side’s centre Haydn Palmer being sent to the sin bin for the dangerous tackle with 25 minutes on the clock. The Keys opted to kick to the corner but failed to secure possession from the lineout and the black and amber’s were able to clear their lines.
Despite Keys having a one man advantage they couldn’t make it count over the course of the next 10 minutes and as it was, it was Newport who edged ahead with just over 30 minutes played when Simons kicked a straight forward penalty for his side.
Half time Score Newport 10 Cross Keys 7
The tempo of the game increased even more in to the second half, with both side’s again looking to run the ball from all areas of the pitch.
The Keys went ahead for the first time with around 8 minutes of the second half played when flying winger Mathew Powell manage to hack a loose ball forward from deep inside his own 22. Powell was first to the resulting bouncing ball and stormed away from his own half and despite the best efforts of the one Newport defender who looked like being able to keep up with Powell the Keys winger won the race and crashed over the try-line in the changing rooms corner to finish off an excellent individual try. Josh Prosser’s conversion attempt struck the woodwork but Keys were ahead for the first time.
With Keys now beginning to dominate, Prosser struck 2 penalties in quick succession as Keys looked to pull way with almost an hour played.
Newport ensured that Keys were not going to have it all their own way going in to the final quarter when winger Jonathan Morris came in from his wing and crossed for his side’s second try of the evening which was converted by replacement Matt O’Brien to reduce Keys’ lead to one point with 20 minutes still to go.
Keys struck back with just under 10 minutes remaining when patient build up saw play go through a number of phases and eventually led to replacement centre Barney Nightingale spinning out of a tackle to cross under the posts for Keys’ third try. Prosser was on target with the simple conversion.
The black and ambers responded immediately from the restart and with the Keys failing to secure possession from the restart Newport launched an attack which saw them move in to the Keys 22 and a series of carries led to replacement prop Tom Piper finding his way to the try line. Matt O’Brien’s conversion meant Keys again only held a one point lead as the game entered the final 5 minutes.
With the game in added time Keys secured the victory and the bonus point for their 4th try when skipper Scott Matthews scored. A huge Leon Andrews clearance kick from his own 22 line went out of play just 5 metres from the Newport try line. The resulting lineout throw was overthrown by Newport and Scott Matthews was the quickest to react to the over throw and had the relatively straight forward task of falling over the try line to claim the try. Josh Prosser’s conversion from out wide ensured that the home side would get nothing from the game.
Overall an excellent victory for Keys, who move on to the regular ‘non-geographical split’ Principality Premiership campaign which commences after Christmas in high spirits following this victory.
Tries: Henry Palmer, Jonathan Morris & Tom Piper
Conversions: Matt O’Brien (x2) & Haydn Simons
Penalty: Haydn Simons
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Leon Andrews, Mathew Powell, Barney Nightingale & Scott Matthews
Conversions: Josh Prosser (x3)
Penalties: Josh Prosser (x2)