Cross Keys came away from The Gnoll on Friday evening with a wonderful bonus point victory over Neath, who were once such a force to be reckoned with at this level but now appear to be a side low on belief and self confidence.
From the start it looked as though Keys would be the only winners with some great individual play and the Keys back line in particular dominating their hosts.
Luke Ford returned for to play his first game since October and also returned to haunt his old side as he crossed for a well worked try after just 7 minutes thanks to Rhys Dyer's break on the half way line. Dorian Jones adding a conversion. After a quarter of an hour Kristian Baller crossed for the first of his three tries thanks to a killer long pass from the excellent Leon Andrews with Baller applying a trade mark finish. Dorian Jones again adding the conversion.
The Welsh All Blacks finally began to launch some attacking play but a wayward pass was intercepted by Baller who stormed away and crossed for his second try after around 30 minutes, Dorian Jones who is really maturing with every performance again slotting over the conversion. Keys were in dream land and the result at this stage was heading only one way with Keys then set about securing the all important bonus point.
Half time score: Neath 0 Cross Keys 21
Keys began the second half in much the same fashion but then conceded some possession and field position from which Neath did look threatening. However on 56 minutes Baller once again read the play brilliantly and was able to pick up another stray Neath pass and showed great gas to cross after a 70 yard run to complete his hat-trick. Dorian Jones landing another conversion for Keys.
Neath did get on the scoreboard finally after 68 minutes with Ceri Jones crossing and Dai Langdon converting against his former side. But it was too little too late for the home side who knew they had too much to do to grasp anything from this game.
Keys had the last laugh with substitute Ryan James scoring an opportunist try with just 5 minutes remaining and fellow replacement Dean Gunter ensured a faultless kicking performance from the visitors by adding the conversion.
Overall a great result for Keys which completes a wonderful double over Neath. It also ensures that Keys are right up there at the business end of the table staying in the third place just 4 points behind second placed Bedwas with Keys visiting the Bridge Field in their next league fixture on Friday 22nd February for what promises to be a nail biting encounter. Neath, of course have a chance at redemption next Saturday when Keys return to the Gnoll in the Swalec Cup, but on Friday's evidence Keys will start as overwhelming favourites to begin their campaign to defend the cup.
Try: Ceri Jones
Conversion: Dai Langdon
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Kristian Baller (x3), Luke Ford & Ryan James
Conversions: Dorian Jones (x4) & Dean Gunter (x1)