Cross Keys produced one of their best performances of the season so far when they defeated Cardiff in the Principality Premiership at a sun-drenched Pandy Park last Saturday.
The Keys looked to be in good form from the start as they pinned Cardiff back deep in to their own territory throughout the first half. The Keys went ahead after 7 minutes when Josh Prosser slotted over a penalty from around 20 metres out just to the left of the posts. The Blue and Blacks responded well and with a first real foray in to Keys territory they levelled the scores thanks to a penalty kicked by outside half and captain Gareth Thompson with 10 minutes on the clock.
Keys continued to pile on the pressure as the half went on, with Cardiff struggling to get any meaningful possession and Keys pinning them back with some resolute defence. Keys reclaimed the lead with just over 20 minutes played when Josh Prosser kicked his second penalty of the game to give Keys a 6 – 3 lead. That lead was extended 10 minutes later when Prosser added a 3rd penalty as a result of Keys beginning to dominate up front, although they couldn’t get any consistency with their driving lineout from close range which led to Prosser going for goal.
The Keys got the game’s opening try 5 minutes before the break when a superb break up the blindside of a ruck by impressive open-side flanker Joe Thomas, who chipped through and gathered his own kick before offloading inside to Garin Price and the 18 year old number 8 did the rest to touchdown under the posts as Keys took a deserved lead toward the interval. Prosser kicked the straight forward conversion.
The Blue and Blacks then enjoyed their best period of the game as they launched an attack and spent several minutes camped on the Keys line trying to break through the Keys defence. The visitors cause was helped when Keys’ centre Jarryd Sage was sent to the sin bin for tackling a player without the ball as a Cardiff try looked to be on the cards. Cardiff kept up the pressure and on the stroke of half time they found a gap in the Keys defence to enable centre Will Rees-Hole to crash over under the posts for his side to close the gap. Gareth Thompson adding the conversion with the final play of the first half.
Half time score Cross Keys 16 Cardiff 10
The Keys began the second half well and again kept Cardiff pinned back deep in their own territory. Given Keys early dominance it was no surprise when they furthered lead after around 10 minutes of the second half when following a driving lineout, Joe Thomas found himself in possession and broke free of the resulting ruck to score Keys’ second try. Josh Prosser failed to add the extras from out wide.
Almost straight from the restart Keys went further ahead when scrum half James Leadbeater broke from a ruck formed on the Keys 22. He released flying winger Mathew Powell who put a perfectly weighted kick through to the halfway line. Powell gathered his own kick and continued his run forward to the Cardiff 22 before passing back inside to Leadbeater who was in support and who finished off a wonderfully created try with 55 minutes on the clock. Josh Prosser was back on target with the conversion attempt as Keys had all but secured the win despite there being over 20 minutes remaining.
As if Cardiff’s day was not tough enough they were reduced to 14 men with just over 10 minutes remaining when the blue and blacks centre Adam Jones was shown a straight red card for foul play after dropping his knee straight in to the face of Keys captain Darren Hughes straight in front of one of the referee’s assistants who immediately bought it to the attention of referee Dan Jones, who was left with no option but to show the red card to Adam Jones.
From the resulting penalty (after tempers had flared) Keys went to the corner and Darren Hughes certainly had the last laugh as he controlled the resulting driving maul from the lineout before crashing over for Keys bonus point try in front of the scoreboard with just under 10 minutes played. Prosser once again added the conversion (35-10).
With the result now inevitable Cardiff were looking to put width on the ball as play entered the closing minutes but as they looked to put play out wide, Keys winger Mathew Powell read a loose pass to perfection and intercepted on the halfway line and raced away to cross for Keys’ 5th try and bring up the 40 points, Prosser’s conversion was successful as Keys completed a fine all round performance and were full value for their bonus point win.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Garin Price, Joe Thomas, James Leadbeater, Darren Hughes & Mathew Powell
Conversions: Josh Prosser (x4)
Penalties: Josh Prosser (x3)
Try: Will Rees-Hole
Conversion: Gareth Thompson
Penalty: Gareth Thompson
Keys Man of the Match: Joe Thomas