Cross Keys were soundly beaten by local rivals Newport at Pandy Park last Saturday, although an encouraging first half performance means that Keys should be hopeful of turning things around, as long as they start performing for the full 80 minutes.
The Keys, attacking the club house end in the first half went ahead with a little under 2 minutes played when Newport failed to deal with Keys’ kick off and spilled the ball in to touch 10 metres outside their own 22. The Keys won the resulting lineout and a powerful drive forward took them in to the black and ambers’ 22 before Keys skipper Damian Welch broke free from the maul and carried further forward to just 10 metres from the Newport try line. The ball was moved through the hands quickly and Keys eventually found space out wide where Srdan Majkic and Garin Price made good ground and Price delivered a pass out to Llywarch Ap Myrddin and with his first touch in a Keys shirt the wing, on permit from Cardiff stepped inside and broke through a number of tackle attempts to cross for the game’s first try against his former side. Jacob Botica failed to add the extras from the right of the posts as the wind pulled the ball wide.
From the restart Keys won a scrum on the halfway line which was quickly followed by a penalty after Newport collapsed the scrum. This allowed Keys to kick themselves deep in to Newport territory and after securing possession at the lineout they again launched a powerful driving maul forward. This maul led to number 8 Garin Price breaking free and powering his way over the line for the second try with just over 5 minutes played. From a similar position to his first attempt Jacob Botica was this time on target with the conversion.
The frantic opening minutes saw Keys race in to a 12 – 0 lead and they almost scored again almost immediately from the restart when they won another scrum this from their own 10 metre line and scrum half Owain Leonard broke from the scrum to race clear only to be hauled down just 15 metres shy of the black and ambers’ try-line. Leonard’s pass out found centre Dylan Fidler but he was tackled just a couple of metres short of the line and Newport were able to clear their lines with 10 minutes on the clock.
The game settled somewhat over the next 10 minutes before Newport grabbed their first points of the day when an impressive break from the halfway line by full back David Richards, who was on Keys’ books last season put them firmly on the front foot. He timed his pass to perfection as he entered the Keys 22 to offload to centre Chay Smith and he did the rest to score under the posts for a try which was converted by Matt O’Brien with 20 minutes on the clock.
The score gave the visitors momentum and they made their intentions clear as they ran almost everything with ball in hand. Despite running almost everything their second score came from a converted penalty try which gave them the lead for the first time after Keys offended at a scrum on their own try line with 24 minutes played .
The Keys reclaimed the lead with almost 30 minutes on the clock when from a penalty awarded just 5 metres from the visitor’s try line Keys opted for a kick to the corner. The driving lineout again functioned well, just as it had in the build up to the opening pair of tries and this time hooker Ellis Shipp was the benefactor as he crashed over in front of the scoreboard for Keys’ 3rd try of the game. Jacob Botica’s conversion was successful from out wide to extend Keys’ lead.
The black and ambers went back ahead with the last play of the half when Keys lost possession on the visitor’s 22 and the black and amber’s number 8 was able to power forward and burst through a number of tackle attempts. He off loaded to supporting winger Elliot Frewen and he did the rest to race home from the halfway line as Keys chased shadows. Matt O’Brien’s conversion from the left of the posts ensured that the visitors went in to half time with the lead back in their hands.
Half time Score Cross Keys 19 Newport 21
The visitor’s secured their try scoring bonus point just 2 minutes in to the second half when after a period of pressure inside the Keys’ 22 a speculative chip kick through from Matt O’Brien found winger Elliot Frewen out wide and the winger pounced for his second try of the game which O’Brien converted from the touchline.
The next score came with around 58 minutes on the clock when Matt O’Brien added a penalty for the visitors after they won a penalty at a scrum midway in to the Keys half. From here the momentum stayed with the visitors and they went further ahead with an hour played when a loose up and under kick by Keys was gathered by full back David Richards in his own half and the space opened up in front of him to race clear. He off loaded to another former Keys player in the Newport ranks, Josh Skinner who carried the ball in to the 22 and probably could have scored himself but he passed to Geraint O’Driscoll who had the simple task of finishing off the move with a try next to the posts which was duly converted by O’Brien with 20 minutes to go.
With 13 minutes to go Keys were reduced to 14 men when centre Dylan Fidler was sent to the sin bin for a tackle off the ball with Newport looking to attack around the halfway line.
The visitors wrapped up their win with around 4 minutes remaining when replacement Chris Williams barged his way over from close range for a try after a long period of pressure on the Keys line which was converted by his fellow replacement Haydn Simons.
Overall a valiant effort by Keys in the opening half was no near enough as the black and ambers moved up a gear in the second half to pull away from Keys to deliver a convincing victory with Keys perhaps showing a lack of fitness that saw the visitors cruise to victory in the closing 20 minutes or so.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Llywarch Ap Myrddin, Garin Price & Ellis Shipp
Conversions: Jacob Botica (x2)
Tries: Elliot Frewen (x2), Chay Smith, Geraint O’Driscoll, Chris Williams & Penalty Try
Conversions: Matt O’Brien (x4), Haydn Simons & Penalty Try Conversion
Penalty: Matt O’Brien
Keys Man of the Match: Ellis Shipp