Cross Keys qualified for a 4th successive semi final in the Welsh Cup thanks to comfortable victory over Pontypool in front of the S4C cameras on Saturday afternoon.
It was clear that Pontypool fancied their chances of adding another Premiership scalp to their list, following victories at Llanelli and Cardiff in the previous 2 rounds but in truth Keys were always in control of their own destiny and didn’t really look like losing this game after such a professional, streetwise performance.
It took around 10 minutes for Keys to open the scoring when Outside Half Josh Prosser kicked a penalty over from the 22 metre line after Pooler’s former Keys skipper Rob Nash had committed an offence at a ruck with Keys in a good position to launch an attack.
The visitors responded well but despite their best efforts Pooler were unable to make a decent spell count with Keys’ defence firmly on top for the next 10 minutes or so. As Keys began to get more possession following a long defensive spell they looked to move up the park.
On 25 minutes Keys won a penalty following a collapsed scrum just inside the Pooler half and from the resulting penalty Prosser kicked to touch and took play to around 7metres from the Pooler try line. Keys secured possession at the resulting throw and their driving lineout proved to be unstoppable, and Poolers defence folded so hooker Darren Hughes emerged with the ball as Keys crossed for the first try of the day. Prosser failed to add the extras but Keys were now once again in complete control.
Just before halftime Rob Nash conceded for this time using no arms in a tackle in an almost identical position to the first. Josh Prosser again made no mistake with the resulting penalty to further punish Pooler’s ill-discipline as half time approached.
Half Time Score: Cross Keys 11 Pontypool 0
Keys started the second half on the front foot and they had a good opportunity to extend their lead after 5 minutes of the second half when a James Leadbeater kick over the top around the halfway line was gathered by centre Phil Williams who pulled clear of the chasing defence but he bought eventually hauled down as he attacked deep into the Pooler 22. Keys attempted to put width on their play as they remained camped in Pooler territory. This proved to be a good option as Keys won a penalty in the 49th minute for yet another offence at a ruck by Pooler, around 10 metres from their own tryline, to the right of the posts. Josh Prosser went for goal and was successful with the kick to extend Keys’ lead under increasingly trying conditions.
As the second half went on the game turned in to a pretty even showing from both sides, with Keys in control and Pooler throwing everything they had at the hosts but Keys’ defence remained well organised and disciplined to keep Pontypool at bay.
Pooler finally got on the scoreboard after almost an hour of play when Keys committed an offence in the tackle area midway into their own half. They were then marched back 10 metres for contesting the penalty decision with the referee. That extra 10 metres took the penalty to just outside the Keys 22, just to the right of the posts and Pooler outside half opted for the kick at goal and was successful with the penalty to grab his sides first and only points of the day with just under an hour played.
Play remained around the half way line for the next 10 minutes with Pooler edging the possession but Keys again producing the goods with some excellent defensive work which no doubt frustrated the visitors whose heads appeared to drop as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
The result of the game was perhaps sealed in the 66th minutes when after Keys won a penalty at a scrum around the halfway line they were able to move in to Pooler territory after securing possession from their own throw. A charge forward from the base of the lineout by outstanding number 8 Ieuan Jones put Keys on the front foot. This field position bought Keys in to the Pontypool 22 and some excellent handling to work the ball out wide almost saw Keys work themselves clear to score but Pooler’s defence stood firm. The ball was kept alive by Keys and after going through the phases they were able to work themselves back toward the other flank this saw the ball worked back to Ieuan Jones and his perfectly weighted chip through was chased by Keys winger Nathan Trowbridge, whose superb pick up saw him cross unopposed in front of the score board with 10 minutes remaining to seal another semi-final appearance for Keys. The conversion by Prosser was wide.
The final 10 minutes again saw Keys defence deal with everything that was thrown at them which closed the game out and enabled Keys to celebrate another semi-final appearance after a thoroughly professional, well-disciplined and organised performance.
Cross Keys Scorers:-
Tries: Darren Hughes & Nathan Trowbridge
Penalties: Josh Prosser (x3)
Penalty: Matthew Jones
Keys Man of the Match: Adam Powell