Cross Keys were left under no illusions of just how tough their National Championship season is going to be as Bedwas cruised to victory at Bridge Field in the season opener on Sunday afternoon.
The Keys enjoyed the better opening with their pack in particular getting on top of the hosts early on. It was thanks to this early forward dominance that Keys claimed their first points of the 2019/20 campaign when outside half Kieran Hill kicked a penalty from the halfway line after Keys dominated a scrum in midfield with just over 5 minutes played. The Keys’ lead was doubled shortly after after Hill kicked his second penalty of the afternoon with around 15 minutes on the clock.
Bedwas replied almost immediately after their flanker, Owen Jones charged down an attempted clearance kick from Keys just outside their own 22. Jones picked up the loose ball and did really well with excellent athleticism to finish off for the game’s opening try, which went unconverted by Dion McIntosh for Keys to keep the tightest of leads. The home side took the lead for the first time with around 25 minutes played when they found space out wide and pretty much set the pattern for the rest of the game as Keys fell apart defensively to allow winger Alec Jones to cross in the corner for another try which went uncoverted.
With Bedwas on the attack once more, the Keys were reduced to 14 men when prop Richard Cornock was sent to the sin bin with 30 minutes played after an offence at a breakdown with Bedwas camped on the Keys try line. The one man advantage nearly paid off shortly after yet more poor decision making and defence from Keys allowed Bedwas scrum half Rory Harries to break free up the touch line from halfway and he had support inside from centre Matthew Williams who looked almost certain to score, only to be denied after an excellent cover tackle from Keys’ open side Joe Thomas forced Williams to lose the ball as he dived in for the try.
Bedwas kept up the pressure but it was in fact Keys who scored next when another long range penalty effort from Kieran Hill was successful and bought Keys back to within a single score with just a minute of the first half remaining. With the final play of the half and with Keys still down to 14 men Bedwas crossed for a 3rd try with Alec Jones again finding space too easily out wide and crossing once more, McIntosh again failing to add the conversion.
Half Time Score Bedwas 15 Cross Keys 9
The Bedwas lead was extended early in the second half when Dion McIntosh found the target for the first time when he kicked a penalty from in front of the posts. It got even better for the home side just a couple of minutes later when, with 8 minutes of the second half played, Craig Hudd benefitted from more defensive problems in the Keys ranks as he crossed for his side’s bonus point try which was unconverted.
Keys now had a mountain to climb with around 30 minutes remaining as Bedwas’ tails were up and Keys looked down in the dumps with little to smile about as time went on. The home side crossed for their 5th try with 52 minutes on the clock after once again finding plenty of space out wide which winger Jordan Rees exploited and was able to cross in the corner for another unconverted try (28-9).
With both side’s making host of changes the game became scrappy for the next 15 minutes or so until Bedwas full back James Hallett added a pair of penalties, one in the 71st minute and one with around 5 minutes remaining, the latter of which came just after Keys were again reduced to 14 men with replacement prop Scott Hoskins sent to the sin bin for his part in a spot of handbags which involved almost every player on the pitch but Hoskins was the only player singled out by the referee.
The afternoon was completed as the game entered added time as Bedwas claimed a converted penalty try after Keys offended at a scrum just 5 metres from their own line.
Overall The Keys frankly made Bedwas look good with such a disappointing display. Keys didn’t really create anything in attack, particularly in the second half, and the defensive display will need a massive improvement if Keys are to be competitive this season.
Tries: Alec Jones (x2), Owen Jones, Craig Hudd, Jordan Rees & Penalty Try
Conversion: Penalty Try
Penalties: James Hallett (x2) & Dion McIntosh
Cross Keys Scorer:-
Penalty: Kieran Hill (x3)