Cross Keys defeated Newport on Saturday afternoon but there was no over
the top celebrations to be found at Pandy Park as this is essentially
half time in the play off to determine which club takes the Dragons'
region's place in this season's British & Irish Cup. Keys win means
they will now face Bedwas on Saturday 7th September at the Bridge Field
and the winner of the game versus Bedwas will then qualify for the
British & Irish Cup.
Cross Keys were deserved winners over Newport although the performance was typical early season stuff from both sides where rustiness was perhaps more apparent than it will be at any other stage this season. Keys dominated the opening half where a penalty by Dorian Jones saw them in to a 3-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes. This penalty was shortly followed by a try on debut by impressive flanker Reuben Tucker who benefited from a superb turn over won by Scott Matthews and following a short spell of Keys pressure on the visitors try line Tucker crashed over under a pile of bodies. Dorian Jones kicking the straight forward conversion.
Another Dorian Jones penalty pulled Keys further ahead with Newport down to 14 when Dafydd Rosser was sin-binned, but this Jones penalty was soon cancelled out by Newport's Ethan Davies kicking his side's first points of the afternoon. Dorian Jones then added his 3rd penalty of the afternoon after around 30 minutes and Newport were really beginning to feel the pressure that Keys were inflicting on them. Just before half time a burst of action saw Ethan Davies kick his second penalty of the afternoon for the black and ambers but only after a break in play of around 10 minutes as Newport's Josh Skinner was carried off on a stretcher with a dislocated ankle. Keys' Tom Lampard was himself binned as Skinner received treatment although the binning was not linked to the injury in any way.
Half Time Score: Cross Keys 16 Newport 6
Newport claimed an early penalty in the second half again through Ethan Davies to come back to within a converted try and the black and ambers were creating better opportunities than Keys but could not take these chances so when Dorian Jones kicked his 4th penalty just before the hour mark Keys nerves were perhaps calmed once more.
But Newport were not going to let their heads drop and Ethan Davies kicked a 4th penalty after 65 minutes meaning the visitors were once again within a converted try of Keys at 19-12. Then when they were firmly on top it was no surprise that Newport's Ashton Hewitt crossed for his side's only try after a succession of needless penalties against Keys gave Newport field position. The conversion attempt went wide meaning Keys held on to the narrowest of leads at 19 - 17.
Keys enjoyed an excellent closing 15 minutes or so and they barely let Newport of their own half and Keys tried everything to pull comfortably clear. Dorian Jones, who had a fine game and missed just 1kick at goal all afternoon kicked a 5th penalty with less than 10 minutes of normal time remaining. Back came Keys for the final 10 minutes as the result was once again looking secure and they produced an excellent try with just a few minutes remaining to seal the victory as replacement Phil Williams found himself on the end of some slick running and passing particularly by his namesakes Nathan and Luke Williams together with several other members of the Keys team. Dorian Jones converting as Keys pulled away, Jones also added his 6th penalty just after this.
Then with the final move of the match a gift of a pass from Newport replacement Owen Broad, who was inside his own 22 straight in to the grateful arms of Keys' Elliot Jones who was clearing from the previous tackle area. Tom Lampard was on hand to claim the try scoring pass from Elliot Jones to cross unopposed and under the posts without Newport laying a hand on Lampard. Dorian Jones converting with the last kick of the game for an impressive personal tally of 24 points.
The scoreline did flatter Keys somewhat but they thoroughly deserved the win and take the honours in the first of the two play offs.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Reuben Tucker, Phil Williams & Tom Lampard
Conversions: Dorian Jones (x3)
Penalties: Dorian Jones (x6)
Try: Ashton Hewitt
Penalties: Ethan Davies (x4)