Cross Keys left it (very) late to secure their place in Round 2 of this season’s Specsavers WRU National Cup after overcoming Glamorgan Wanderers at a sun-drenched Pandy Park last Saturday for a first competitive victory since January, ending a miserable run of 14 straight defeats.
It was Keys who looked liveliest early on but it was in fact the visitors from Ely who crossed for the game’s opening score when a stray pass from Keys was plucked out of mid-air and intercepted by the Wanderers and the ball was shipped out to flying winger Ray Bishop who raced home from his own 22 to score the try after the unexpected gift of a pass from Keys. Wanderers scrum half Paul Short adding the straight forward conversion from the right of the posts with a little over 5 minutes on the clock.
The gap was closed slightly with Keys’ outside half Kieran Hill adding a penalty with just over 10 minutes on the clock. Despite Keys continuing to look threatening the Wanderers’ defence was in no mood for favours and continued to soak up everything Keys threw at them. The defence soon turned in to attack when, with around 20 minutes played and after securing possession from a lineout around the Keys’ 22 the Wanderers played the ball out the opposite flank and worked winger Will Adams-Jones in to space and he broke free of a last ditch tackle to score in front of the scoreboard which moved to read 14 – 3 in Wanderers favour as a result of Short’s conversion.
Despite falling further behind Keys kept up the pressure and the pressure eventually told as after a number of big carries in the middle of the park, centre Corey Nicholls was on hand and was able to crash over for the Keys’ first try of the match and the season for that matter with just under 30 minutes played. Outside Half Kieran Hill adding the straight forward conversion from in front of the posts.
At this point Keys looked much more settled going forward and scored their second try with 33 minutes played. An excellent run forward by Keys’ winger Josh Adams from inside his own half looked like it may result in a senstational solo try after Adams broke free of a number of tackle attempts before cutting in field and eventually being hauled down just a couple of metres shy of the Wanderers try line. The ball was recycled out wide quickly following the tackle on Adams and Corey Nicholls was on hand to cross for his second try of the game in the far corne. Kieran Hill was this time off target with the conversion but Keys had moved in to the lead for the first time.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 15 Glamorgan Wanderers 14
The Wanderers enjoyed the better opening to the second half with Keys’ defence tested on several occasions but to their credit the Keys defence was much improved from its last outing at Bedwas and kept the dangerous Wanderers back line at bay.
Keeping Keys under pressure, the Wanderers eventually moved back in front mid-way through the second half when, after Keys opted to run out of their own territory the visitors forced the turnover and spread the ball out quickly which saw Wanderers replacement Phil Pariyo worked in to space and he had a relatively simple task of finishing off for the try which scrum half Paul Short bettered with the conversion from just right of the posts.
Despite playing down slope toward the club house the Keys now faced an uphill task as the Wanderers played territory well and kept Keys pegged back in to their own half for most of the remainder of the game, with scrum half Short looking to take the game out of Keys reach with 10 minutes to go as he attempted a long range penalty from just inside the Keys’ half. Fortunately for Keys this attempt fell well short so Keys were still within a converted score.
Finally Keys were able to get some good field position and benefitted from some poor Wanderers discipline which meant Keys kept play in or around the Wanderers own 22 was the game entered the closing 5 minutes or so. Keys upped the pressure with a mixture of good lineout ball as well as several big scrums deep in Wanderers’ territory and that pressure finally told when after keeping play tight they put width on their play and replacement Ian Newbury squeezed in at the corner in front of the youth club with the game now well in to stoppage time. Up stepped outside half Kieran Hill who showed nerves of steel to calmly kick the touch line conversion and win the game for his side with the last play of a pulsating cup tie.
Overall a vastly improved performance by Keys who showed glimpses of what can be expected from this new look squad as the season goes on.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Corey Nicholls (x2) & Ian Newbury
Conversions: Kieran Hill (x2)
Penalty: Kieran Hill
Glamorgan Wanderers Scorers:-
Tries: Ray Bishop, Will Adams-Jones & Phil Pariyo
Conversions: Paul Short (x3)
Keys Man of the Match: Max George