Aberavon cruised to a comfortable bonus point victory over a Cross Keys side who were again outclassed in almost every aspect of the game on Friday evening.
The Wizards were ahead with just over 2 minutes on the clock when prop Rowan Jenkins eventually benefitted from a speculative cross field kick deep in to Keys’ 22 which found winger Steffen Williams who passed the ball inside to the supporting Jenkins who was awarded the try after referee Gareth Newman initially judged the ball as being held up before changing his mind after a consultation with one of his assistants and awarding the try which was converted from the right hand side of the posts by full back Chris Banfield.
The Wizards had a chance to go further ahead with 10 minutes on the clock when Chris Banfield lined up a relatively simple shot at goal from a penalty but the kick went wide and Keys were able to clear any danger. The Keys had a chance to get on the scoreboard with 15 minutes played but a long range penalty effort from Declan Williams was missed.
The visitors did further their lead on 18 minutes when they won a scrum against the head on the half way line and number 8 Andrew Waite (ably assisted with a clever ‘block’ from his back row colleagues) exploited a huge gap in the Keys defence to gallop home from some 50 metres to cross for the Wizards second try of the evening which was converted by Banfield.
With 26 minutes played the Wizards were further ahead when a combination of slick handling and clever movement saw the Wizards turn defence in to attack and the ball was worked through the hands and out wide to winger John Phillips who finished well in the scoreboard corner to further his side’s lead, Chris Banfield’s conversion attempt fell just short from out wide.
The visitors secured their 4 try bonus point with around 32 minutes on the clock when the referee awarded them a penalty try after Keys, who were simply being starved of possession halted a rolling maul illegally following a driving lineout from the Wizards. Their next score came just a minute later when a kick forward following the restart wasn’t spilled forward by Keys and then a cross field kick was sent deep in to the Keys’ 22 and Keys failed to clear up the scraps which meant that Wizards’ scrum half Jacob Flynn pounced down the blind side to squeeze in the corner for his side’s 5th try with barely 34 minutes played, Banfield’s conversion from the touch line was on target to extend the visitor’s big lead, which they took in to the break.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 0 Aberavon 33
The Keys looked a much more organised outfit after the break and showed more desire and had more possession in the opening 15 minutes of the second half than they probably did for the entire first half.
A number of big carries put Keys on the front foot and set up good field position and their patience was finally rewarded when after 15 minutes of the second half Keys got their first points of the match. Keys won a penalty at a ruck just 5 metres from the Wizards’ tryline and from the penalty replacement scrum half Dan Babos acted quickly to take a tap and go and he darted over for the try which was converted by Declan Williams, from the left hand side of the posts.
Just 2 minutes and with a first real attack in to Keys territory the Wizards grabbed their 6th try of the game when after Keys once again spilled the ball when looking to exit their own 22 the Wizards were quick to react and sweep the ball through the hand to replacement Rhys Henry who crossed under the posts for the try which was converted by Chris Banfield.
It didn’t take long for the Wizards to score a 7th try when they broke free all too easily and benefitted from some woeful Keys’ defending and a burst forward then chip and chase from the halfway line was followed up by winger Steffen Williams who was hauled down just shy of the line but he had support on his shoulder from Joe Tomalin-Reeves and he crashed over to score under the posts for the try which was converted by James Garland.
With 9 minutes remaining The Keys grabbed their second try of the game as they won a penalty on the halfway line. The ball was kicked in to touch around the Wizards 22 metre line. Keys secured possession at the lineout and a series of drives forward took them in to the Wizards 22, the Keys moved the ball out wide to the opposite wing where Rory Budina went close to crossing but as he was tackled he offloaded inside to replacement Will Kelly who did the rest to score. Declan Williams wasn’t able to add the extras from the touchline.
The Keys enjoyed most of the possession and territorial advantage in the closing 8 minutes or so but although it was too late to change the result of the game they did try to move toward the Wizards’ try line in search of a 4 try bonus point, if they were able to cross the line twice in the closing stages.
With 2 minutes remaining Keys clinched a 3rd try when following a well-executed driving lineout from the 22 metre line they marched forward only for the maul to be stopped illegally leaving the referee with little choice but to award Keys a penalty try. The Keys via Dan Babos did break quickly up field following the restart but with the clock against Keys the Wizards were able to force a turnover close to their own try-line and closed the game out to leave Keys with nothing.
Overall another disappointing performance from Keys who look like a team low on confidence and need to start picking up wins from somewhere if they are to turn a corner going in to the second half of this crucial campaign. The Keys seem too soft defensively but are occasionally showing glimpses of what they are capable of in attack, they need to toughen up in defence and stop conceding soft tries as well as making so many basic, unforced errors which have been a big problem in the last few games.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Dan Babos, Will Kelly & Penalty Try
Conversions: Declan Williams (x1) & Penalty Try Conversion
Tries: Rowan Jenkins, Andrew Waite, John Phillips, Jacob Flynn, Rhys Henry, Jacob Tomalin-Reeves & Penalty Try
Conversions: Chris Banfield (x4), James Garland (x1) & Penalty Try Conversion
Keys Man of the Match: Wes Cunliffe