Ebbw Vale cruised to a comfortable bonus point victory over Cross Keys last Saturday as the Steelmen wrapped up their bonus point inside the opening 40 minutes, with Keys having no answer to a dominant attacking display by the visitors.
The Steelmen went ahead after a little over 6 minutes when former Keys outside half Rhys Jones slotted over a penalty from in front of the posts after Keys were offside just outside their own 22, with Ebbw dominating possession and territory early on. The visitor’s went further ahead with around 12 minutes on the clock when they created space out wide, after Keys had lost the ball on their own throw at a lineout. Ebbw moved the ball quickly across the line out to Wales winger Dafydd Howells. He took the ball into the Keys 22 and had support inside from Toby Fricker who had come across field from his own wing and he was able to break free to score the game’s first try in front of the youth club. Rhys Jones’ conversion from out wide went over after initially striking the upright.
Keys fell further behind just moments later when Ebbw crossed for their second try with 15 minutes on the clock. The Steelmen set up a driving lineout, just 5 metres from Keys’ try line and the lineout resulted in a score for hooker Joe Franchi in front of the scoreboard, Rhys Jones adding the extras to further his side’s lead. Keys enjoyed a good spell for the next 10 minutes with Tiaan Loots, Scott Andrews and Ieuan Jones each going close to crossing for Keys first points of the afternoon, but Ebbw’s defence stood firm and they were able to exit their own territory with their line remaining intact.
No sooner had Ebbw cleared their own line than they went further ahead with a third try with 28 minutes on the clock. Rhys Jones launched a chip and chase of his own kick to put Ebbw on the front foot around the halfway line. Jones gathered his own kick and was hauled down just short of the Keys try line but Ebbw flanker Owen Young was in support and crashed over for the try again in front of the scoreboard. Jones was this time unable to add the extras from the conversion but the Steelmen’s lead was now a commanding one approaching the final 10 minutes of a frustrating first half from a Keys point of view.
Another lost ball from their own lineout by Keys saw Ebbw Vale secure their bonus point with their 4th try. Owen Young gathered a loose ball following a Keys lineout on the Steelmen’s 22, before showing good pace as he made his way down field. He was tackled around 10 metres short of the try line but had plenty of support and found scrum half Dai Jones who did the rest to cross for the try on the stroke of half time, again in front of the score board. Rhys Jones added the extras from out wide.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 0 Ebbw Vale 29
Ebbw Vale took just over 3 minutes of the second half to score again after Keys failed to cleared their own line and Ebbw took full advantage after winning the ball from their own throw just 5 metres shy of the Keys try line, second row Kristian Parker claimed the try after Keys couldn’t deal with Ebbw’s power at a maul following the lineout, Rhys Jones conversion attempt from the touchline drifted wide.
The Keys finally got themselves on to the scoreboard 10 minutes in to the second half when, from a driving lineout scrum half Josh Guy pounced to cross for his first try in Keys shirt after good work by hooker Rhydian Jenkins at the base of the rolling maul allowed Keys to cross in front of the scoreboard. Outside half Iwan Burgwin was successful with the conversion attempt.
The Keys scored again on the hour mark when replacement Rory Budina intercepted a stray pass from Ebbw who were looking to attack from the half way line. Budina read the play and gathered the ball before racing away to cross for Keys second try which Burgwin failed to convert.
Any hope of the most unlikely of comebacks was ended with 12 minutes to go when Ebbw winger Dafydd Howells cut through some weak Keys tackle attempts only to be hauled down just short but again Ebbw’s support play was impressive and flanker Rhys Clarke received the scoring pass to cross for his side’s 6th try of the game which was converted by Rhys Jones from the right hand side of the posts. Keys were reduced to 14 men immediately from the restart as replacement Elis Hopkins was sent to the sin bin for a ruck offence as Ebbw received the kick off.
The Steelmen crossed for their 7th try with 10 minutes to go when more excellent support play saw replacement Paul King race through for a try after good work from centre Dominic Franchi put the visitors on the front foot and with Keys’ defence opened up King was in support to race through for the try which Rhys Jones converted from the left of the posts.
With Keys trying to rescue something from the game in the closing stages they looked dangerous in attack as they began to enjoy some meaningful possession for almost the first time of the match. Big carries by Ieuan Jones, Garin Price and Leon Andrews put Keys within sight of the try line and some clever handling across the line saw Rory Budina worked in to space and he delivered a scoring pass out to Carwyn Penny who crossed in the corner for Keys’ 3rd try. Keys tried again from the restart with a 4 try bonus point now the target but despite some good running rugby which saw Keys go through countless phases before carries by Price, Owain Leonard and Joe Thomas saw them go close to crossing, Keys weren’t able to deliver the killer blow and the game drew to a close with Keys first half performance in particular making sure they were left with nothing.
Overall days to forget for Keys although Ebbw Vale played some excellent rugby at times with their support play key to their game plan. Keys lacked a lot of penetration and at time they looked disorganised going forward at least until they had a fair amount of possession during the closing 5 minutes. Keys overall game will need to drastically improve over the coming weeks with Keys now occupying one of the relegation places due to this result and other going against them.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Josh Guy, Rory Budina & Carwyn Penny
Conversion: Iwan Burgwin
Ebbw Vale Scorers:-
Tries: Toby Fricker, Joe Franchi, Owen Young, Dai Jones, Kristian Parker, Rhys Clarke & Paul King
Conversions: Rhys Jones (x5)
Penalty: Rhys Jones
Keys Man of the Match: Iwan Burgwin