Cross Keys secured an amazing victory at Bedford Blues on Saturday thanks to a remarkable passage of play and a last minute converted try which secured their first win in this season's British & Irish Cup.
Keys started well, forcing a mistake from the Blues immediately from the Kick Off and this eventually led to Keys winning a penalty in front of the posts which Dorian Jones slotted over to give his side the early advantage after just over 2 minutes of play. The Blues came back with a vengeance and started cutting a disorganised Keys defence apart all too easily. With their first meaningful attack Bedford went straight through the middle of the 22 when a huge driving maul caused problems and the ball was worked out wide to winger Dean Adamson who scored in the 7th minute. Canadian international Jamie Pritchard fooled almost everyone with his tricky conversion which looked well wide but caught the wind and went over.
The Blues were straight back on the front foot and they opted for a quick tap penalty which again saw the Keys defence in tatters and when the ball was taken on in to the 22 by Bedford's former Keys favourite Steffan Jones who delivered a killer pass which saw James Pritchard cross in the corner after 13 minutes. His own conversion attempt was wide but Bedford were firmly in control. Things went from bad to worse for Keys just 3 minutes later when their captain and number 8 Nick Fenton-Wells crossed for the Blues for a try which Jamie Pritchard converted. At this early stage it looked as if it was game over for Keys who could simply do nothing about the tempo that Bedford were playing with
Gradually Keys stemmed the flow and started to get some possession as well as good field position. A series of attacks for Keys initially came to nothing until Danny Hodge set off on a run along the touch line before stepping inside a few defenders then timing a pass to perfection back outside him to feed Polu Uhi who powered his way over in the corner to give Keys hope with just over 10 minutes of the half remaining. Dorian Jones just failed to add the touch line conversion.
Just 5 minutes later the home side were reduced to 14 men when their winger Darryl Dyer was sent to the sin bin for not rolling away from the tackle area and from the resulting penalty on the half way line Keys kicked to the corner and won the lineout which saw Rhys Buckley and Danny Hodge both go close to scoring before Simon Williams brilliantly reach over a pile of bodies beneath him to score his first try for the club, which Dorian Jones just failed to add the extras to. With half time up on us Keys had bought themselves right back in to the game thanks to a never say die attitude that was to prove crucial later on in the game
Half Time Score Bedford Blues 19 Cross Keys 13
The second half proved to be a real tussle with both sides creating very little opportunities. The Blues were again reduced to 14 men with 56 minutes on the clock when their hooker Charlie Clare saw yellow for playing the ball illegally at a ruck. Keys couldn't make the extra man count this time around and if anything it was Bedford that had the better chances over the next 10 minutes.
It was during this 10 minutes that a bizarre set of events deep inside the Keys 22 almost saw the Blues secure their bonus point when Akeys winger Polu Uhi knocked on and the Blues winger Darryl Dyer looked to have the simple task of scoring in the corner only to stumble before losing the ball and allowing the Keys to clear the danger.
With just over 10 minutes remaining the Blues kicked a penalty through Jamie Pritchard which would then deny Keys a losing bonus point if the score stayed the same for the closing 10 minutes. Keys weren't finished though and in the last minute Dorian Jones kicked another penalty which looked to have regained that losing bonus point with the scores at 22-16.
There was time for the restart, with Irish referee Stuart Giffikin stating that there was to be one final period of play in added time. With nothing to lose Keys secured the ball from the restart and kept the ball alive for at least 5 minutes going from one end of the field to the other, as well as keeping possession deep inside their own 22. Superb, patient build up with ball in hand and play kept tight saw them eventually break up field and camp on the home sides own tryline again with play moving from one side of the field to the other with the Bedford defence not breaking down until skipper Leon Andrews gathered the ball from a ruck to go through to score a try that seemed so long to create. Keys were now a point behind with the conversion being lined up. Despite the very unsporting sounds of boos and hisses ringing out around the ground from some sections of the home support Dorian Jones kept his nerve and slotted over the conversion from the left of the posts that won the game for the Keys.
Keys showed superb character and patience until the end to win an excellent game of rugby which ultimately could easily have gone either way, but it was Keys that celebrated a thrilling victory in style at the final whistle and certainly please the supporters that made the 350 mile round trip worth it!!
Bedford Blues Scorers:-
Tries: Dean Adamson, Jamie Pritchard & Nick Fenton-Wells
Conversions: Jamie Pritchard (x2)
Penalty: Jamie Pritchard
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Polu Uhi, Simon Williams & Leon Andrews
Conversion Dorian Jones
Penalties: Dorian Jones (x2)