Despite a brave performance which showed plenty of heart and character, Cross Keys were left with nothing as RGC1404 took the honours on a blustery evening at Stadiwm Zipworld in Colwyn Bay in front of the S4C cameras.
It was the home side that enjoyed the most possession early on but Keys produced some excellent defensive work to keep RGC at bay until a penalty from Billy McBryde from outside the 22 to the right of the posts, in the 8th minute gave the home side the lead.
The next 5 minutes or so saw the game level out as much of the game was spent in the middle third with both sides having their fair share of possession but with little chances coming their way. The Keys then began to make their way in to the RGC 22 and were awarded a penalty after the Gogs were penalised at a breakdown following good work by Keys prop Scott Evans. Outside half Will Kelly opted for a kick at goal and the kick was successful as Keys levelled the scores with 16 minutes on the clock.
The Keys seemed to gain momentum following Kelly’s penalty kick and enjoyed a good spell which then led to the game’s first try. An impressive break from his own half by Keys’ full back Leon Andrews put Keys firmly on the front foot as he broke in to the RGC 22. Keys recycled possession quickly to look for opportunities out wide. Bursts forward from Tom Lampard, Owain Leonard and Joe Thomas set up field position around 10 metres from the Gog’s try line in front of the posts and with options either side Leonard opted to go left where the ball found its way to the arms of prop Gary Carpenter who powered his way over out wide for the try with 22 minutes played. Will Kelly failed to add the extras from the touchline with his conversion attempt striking the post.
The home side were next to score when a clever pass following a lineout just 5 metres from the Keys’ tryline saw winger Karl Martin pick an excellent running line to cross for the try which went unconverted for the scores to stay at 8 all with 30 minutes played. Keys’ heads didn’t drop and they again spent a good period in RGC’s territory with some strong carries and quick ball keeping them on the front foot.
Keys were firstly awarded a penalty after RGC had gone in at the side of a ruck formed around 20 metres from the Keys tryline. However the home side were soon reduced to 14 men when at the same ruck the Television Match Official intervened after he had spotted a tip tackle/clearout that took Keys’ Will Kelly beyond the horizontal angle and saw him driven down on to the neck and shoulder area. Fortunately Kelly was able to walk away and perhaps, luckily for him RGC number 8 Tim Grey was only going to be walking away for 10 minutes after he was shown a yellow card for the dangerous play, when he could on another day with a different official so easily have been shown a red card.
Keys kicked the resulting penalty to touch, which proved to be the correct decision when the lineout was won by Keys and they set up a driving lineout which proved unstoppable as Ellis Shipp emerged from under the pile of bodies with the ball for the try with around 5 minutes of the half remaining. Will Kelly again failed to add the conversion from out wide with the swirling wind taking affect.
The home side had the final say of an all action first half when outside half Billy McBryde slotted over a penalty from in front of the posts with the final kick of the half.
Half Time Score: RGC 1404 11 Cross Keys 13
RGC, still down to 14 men took the lead just 2 minutes in to the second half when McBryde slotted over another penalty from in front of the posts.
The home side were back to 15 men shortly after the penalty as Tim Grey returned following his spell in the sin bin. Grey’s return initially didn’t deter Keys and they again spent some time in RGC territory but couldn’t find the killer blow to score despite numerous chances.
The Gogs’ used their bench frequently and this proved crucial as they appeared to have more about them as time went on with Keys tiring going in to the closing 30 minutes. RGC crossed for a try with 54 minutes on the clock when replacement Dan Cross exploited a huge gap in the Keys defensive line to cross all too easily for his side’s second try of the game, which wasn’t converted from the left hand side of the posts.
The Keys battled hard and might have fancied their chances of taking control once more when Ieuan Jones almost scored in the corner after good work from Wes Cunliffe took Keys forward toward the Gogs’ tryline but an excellent last ditch tackle from RGC’s Sam Jones kept Keys out with 20 minutes to go.
The momentum swung back in the home side’s favour as they continued to bring on fresh legs and they went further ahead with around 12 minutes to go when Keys missed a crucial tackle in midfield which created space out wide for RGC and the ball was worked out to winger Sam Jones who raced through to score the try in the corner. Billy McBride this time working the wind well from the to add the conversion.
The home side secured the bonus point with their 4th try with 7 minutes to go when they again created space out wide as Keys ran out of numbers in defence and Sam Jones crossed in the corner for his second try of the game which was again converted by McBride from the touchline.
Overall a good effort from Keys but RGC used their bench well which was crucial to their comeback having trailed at half time.
Tries: Sam Jones (x2), Karl Martin & Dan Cross
Conversions: Billy McBryde (x2)
Penalties: Billy McBryde (x3)
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Gary Carpenter & Ellis Shipp
Penalty: Will Kelly