Now Keys eye place in knockout stages
By Chris Kirwan | 22/11/2011
AYR 7 CROSS KEYS 32
CROSS Keys have a golden shot at making the knockout stages of the British and Irish Cup after a stunning 32-7 win at Ayr.
The Pandy Park outfit crossed for four tries at Millbrae to stretch their lead at the top of Pool Two.
They are now in a shootout with Munster for top spot after the Irish province beat Neath (without a bonus point) at the Gnoll.
Keys’ home fixture with Neath on December 10 will be pivotal when they will attempt to ensure that they are not left needing victory at Cornish Pirates the following Sunday.
But for now they can toast another terrific performance in the cross-border competition.
A Scottish scalp was claimed to go along with the English one of Moseley thanks to a combination of forward power and guile behind.
Keys knew it wasn’t going to be as easy as the 42-3 drubbing of the West Midlanders at Pandy Park, and their hosts didn’t disappoint.
“Ayr had a strong side with (Scotland tighthead prop) Moray Low in their pack and they came at us really hard,” said head coach Greg Woods.
“They were really physical in the first 20 minutes but we stood firm with (lock) Dan Hodge and (flanker) Rhys Peebles putting in massive performances. We dug in and then blew them away.”
Keys led 8-0 at half-time thanks to a try by centre Leon Andrews and a penalty by fly-half Steffan Jones.
The number 10, an unused replacement in Newport Gwent Dragons’ Amlin Challenge Cup win against Perpignan last Thursday, then jinked under the sticks for a second try after the break.
Then Low, capped 15 times by Scotland, couldn’t prevent the Ayr pack being shoved over their line for number eight Jevon Groves to add a third.
And Keys were in dreamland when replacement scrum-half Owen Jones’ box-kick was gathered by wing Kristian Baller for the bonus point.
“To come away with a win like that was unbelievable – it’s our best ever away performance,” said Woods.
“Ayr were really fired up for this and it was meant to be their big homecoming after they had beaten Plymouth the week before.
“They came at us 100 per cent and without doubt it was our hardest game of the season, but we came through.
“The boys deserve this after all the hard work they have put in. To take 10 points from two games is fantastic and it sets things up nicely for Neath next month.”
Ayr scorers: Try – M Doneghan; penalty _ R Ferguson.
Cross Keys scorers: Tries – L Andrews, S Jones, J Groves, K Baller; conversions – S Jones (3); penalties – S Jones (2),