Cross Keys let a decent lead slip and as a result are still searching for their first league points of the season after Bridgend staged a superb second half comeback to take a bonus point win at the Bridgend Ford Brewery Field on Saturday afternoon.
After a frantic, end to end opening 10 minutes it was the Ravens who took the lead when their outside half Joseph Scrivens put his side ahead with a penalty from in front of the posts with a little over 10 minutes played. Keys responded well and were level just 5 minutes later when Ethan Davies struck a penalty from just to the right of the posts to bring Keys level with 16 minutes on the clock.
Keys began to up the intensity from here and began to slowly but surely take control of the game playing deep in to the Ravens 22 on several occasions but the Ravens defence initially stood firm to keep Keys out. That defensive line was finally broken in the 25th minute when from a penalty close to the Ravens line, Keys opted for a scrum rather than take the straight forward 3 points that were on offer. The scrum decision proved to be the correct one as the ball was soon moved safely through the hands and from a ruck on the Ravens line close to the posts an initial dart and go from James Leadbeater was halted but Leadbeater had Josh Skinner in support and his drive forward saw him crash over for Keys’ first try of the campaign and saw Keys deservedly take the lead at this point. Full back Ethan Davies added the extras, with Keys being rewarded after a dominant spell.
Keys furthered their lead just 2 minutes before the break when Ethan Davies added his second straight forward penalty. Despite Keys continuing to be the better side as the half drew to a conclusion it was in fact the home side who finished the half stronger when a series of close range drives on the stroke of half time eventually saw the home side break through the Keys defence and Ravens number 8 Ashton Evans was bundled over in the corner for a try which no doubt lifted the Ravens spirits going in to the break. Joseph Scrivens added the tricky conversion from the touch line with the last play of the first half.
Half Time Score Bridgend 10 Cross Keys 13
The try on the stroke of half time no doubt gave the Ravens the boost they perhaps needed going in to the second half but it was in fact Keys who furthered their lead just 4 minutes in to the second half when Ethan Davies kicked his third penalty.
Perhaps the crucial moment came on 52 minutes when Keys were awarded a penalty close to the Ravens line try line but the decision was then reversed for dissent which allowed the Ravens to clear the pressure deep inside their own 22. From the resulting Ravens lineout, Keys had their try scorer Josh Skinner sent to the sin bin for an offence at the lineout in the Ravens half. During the 10 minutes that Skinner was watching from the side lines the home side completely turned the flow of the match on its head and as soon as the Ravens had crossed for their second try when centre Jamie Murphy went over for a try converted by Scrivens it looked as though Keys had basically thrown in the towel as the Ravens looked like clear favourites, despite their being 25 minutes left on the clock.
The home side were now dominating all aspects of the game and went further ahead on the hour when a burst through from wing Mike Powell saw him send full back Mark Bennett-Jones away for the Ravens third try, with Keys looking a shadow of their former selves. Outside half Scrivens put the relatively straight forward conversion wide to give Keys a glimmer of hope.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes and Keys running out of options they began to try and attack the Ravens from deep but the home side stayed strong and despite Keys doing their upmost to try and steal a victory from the jaws of defeat it was the Ravens that put the game to bed when a lose clearance kick by Keys was gathered by the Ravens and the home sides replacement Chris Williams made some ground before sending winger Ryan Griffiths racing away from the disorganised Keys defence to score the bonus point try for the Ravens with just 2 minutes remaining and the fully deserved win was sealed for the home side. Joseph Scrivens added the conversion. Scrivens was sin binned in the closing moments for a breakdown offence but at this stage it was too little too late for it to affect the outcome of the game.
There can be no doubt that on the evidence of this performance and last week’s performance against Merthyr that a lot of soul searching needs to be done amongst the Keys’ squad and management as a big turnaround is needed quickly to kick start the season, even at this early stage!
Tries: Ashton Evans, Jack Pope, Marc Bennett-Jones & Ryan Griffiths
Conversions: Joseph Scriven (x3)
Penalty: Joseph Scrivens
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Try: Josh Skinner
Conversion: Ethan Davies
Penalties: Ethan Davies (x3)