Cross Keys produced some scintillating, attacking rugby to see off visiting Swansea at Pandy Park on Saturday.
The Keys started the first half as they meant to go on when, with a first real attack in to the Swansea half Keys scored a superb team try when the ball was worked through a number of pairs of ends, with Leon Andrews, Mathew Powell and Josh Prosser prominent in the attack and number 8 Ieuan Jones was on hand to finish brilliantly in front of the scoreboard with less than 2 minutes played. Full back Ethan Davies failed to add the extras from out wide.
It was Keys who were playing all the rugby early on and they almost went further ahead just moments later when Ethan Davies couldn’t quite release what would have surely been a scoring pass to flying winger Mathew Powell out wide. However, with just 6 minutes played the lead was extended when a break forward by Ieuan Jones caused panic in the Swansea defence and as Jones entered the Whites’ 22 he had skipper Scott Matthews backing him up and his offload found Matthews who showed a quick turn of pace to race through to cross for his 1st try of the day. Davies was this time able to add the conversion and Keys were full value for their early 12-0 lead.
To their credit, the Whites’ heads didn’t drop despite the early onslaught from Keys and for the next 10 minutes it was the visitors who looked most threatening in attack. During their 10 minute purple patch the Whites missed what looked like a relatively simple penalty kick at goal. Keys defensive line stayed strong and any danger was soon cleared with relative calm. Despite a good attacking period for the visitors it was Keys who scored next when they scored a gem of try when a strong run by Nathan Williams made the initial yards and then the ball was worked through the hands of both Jones and Matthews who found Tom Lampard in support and his burst forward saw the ball worked out wide and it was Mathew Powell who went over in the corner for another excellent try. The awkward conversion struck the post from the boot of Ethan Davies with Keys in a commanding position with around 20 minutes played.
The bonus point was secured after just over 25 minutes when more outstanding work from Tom Lampard saw another burst in to the Whites 22 and he returned the favour to find Nathan Williams who held off an attempted tackle to pass inside to Danny Hodge who almost had the legs to cross but the ball was fed to the supporting Owain Leonard and it was the scrum half who crashed over the whitewash for Keys’ 4th try to secure the bonus point. Ethan Davies added the conversion, and frankly with Keys now being far superior to the visitors you would be forgiven for thinking that it was game over even though there was over 50 minutes of the game remaining.
Skipper Scott Matthews completed an outstanding first half performance for Keys when he went over for his 2nd and his sides 5th try with a couple of minutes of the half remaining when Keys secured ball from a lineout just inside the Whites’ 22 and the ball was worked quickly in field and Matthews again broke free before crossing for the try whilst lying on his back. Davies added another conversion as Keys passed the 30 point mark.
Half Time Score Cross Keys 31 Swansea 0
Determined to right the wrongs of the first half it was the Whites who started the second half brighter than the Keys and they crossed for their first points of the day when outside half, Phil Jones opened up a gap in the Keys’ defensive line following a couple of poor tackle attempts to cross for a try with around 5 minutes of the second half played. Jones converted his own try.
The Whites were reduced to 14 men after 49 minutes when former Keys flanker Jack Perkins was sent to the sin bin after he killed the ball at a ruck as Keys looked to launch another attack from midway in to the Swansea half. The Keys almost made their numerical advantage tell from the resulting penalty but they lost the ball out wide as they made their way toward the Whites try line. As it was, Keys had their chances against the 14 men but they were unable to break through a resolute Whites defence for the 10 minute period.
Almost immediately after being restored to 15 men the visitors crossed for an excellent 2nd try when centre Ryan Evans tore through a gap and raced home from the half way line with a little over an hour played. The conversion was missed. The Keys came back strongly and with just over 10 minutes remaining super skipper Scott Matthews completed his hat-trick when following a driving lineout he crashed over the line to claim the match ball. Ethan Davies added the conversion.
The 7th Keys try came just a few minutes from the end when Mathew Powell almost crossed in the corner for his second try after decent sweeping play across the back line saw replacement Dorian Jones almost crossing just before he released Powell who couldn’t quite stretch to score in the corner but he was able to pass inside to Josh Skinner who touched down out wide. Davies was just off target with the conversion attempt.
With the game deep in to stoppage time the Whites were deep in Keys territory in search of their 3rd try and after a series of scrums were impeded illegally, Keys replacement prop Gwesyn Price-Jones was sent to the sin bin. He was closely followed by fellow replacement front rower Darren Hughes who went to the bin for an offence at the tackle area. With Keys now down to 13 men the Whites worked the ball out wide and with Keys simply out of numbers in defence Whites winger Richard Williams went over for a final consolation try which was converted with the final kick of the game by replacement Julian Mogg.
Overall Keys were well worth this bonus point win with some of the rugby in the first half in particular a pleasure to witness. Keys dominated all aspects of the game and it is really hard to single out individuals after such a dominating performance from numbers 1 to 23, although the Keys back row and second rows could easily have shared the man of the match between them such was their influence on this performance. That said Swansea should be commended for their second half performance in particular as it certainly proved they are not going to throw the towel in at any stage.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Scott Matthews (x3), Ieuan Jones, Mathew Powell, Owain Leonard & Josh Skinner
Conversions: Ethan Davies (x4)
Tries: Phil Jones, Ryan Evans & Richard Williams
Conversions: Phil Jones (x1) & Julian Mogg (x1)
Keys Man of the Match: Josh Skinner