CROSS KEYS 15 LLANELLI 10
CROSS Keys got their season back on track after their pack powered them to a hard-earned victory against Premiership playoff rivals Llanelli at Pandy Park, writes Chris Kirwan.
Fly-half Dorian Jones’ right boot may have done the damage in a 15-10 win but it was the forwards that provided him with the platform through their set piece, driving maul and sheer bloody mindedness.
It may have been no-frills rugby but the big units provided just what was needed on a cutting-up pitch in the wind and the rain.
The four points mean that fourth-placed Keys close the gap on those above them while stretching away from fifth-placed Llanelli.
Keys headed into the game on the back of defeats to Moseley and Bedwas where they had been under the pump up front.
That hasn’t happened often to the Pandy Park outfit over recent years and it was no surprise that head coach Greg Woods had issued a pre-match rallying call to the pack, urging them to get back to basics.
His forwards responded.
With the wind at their backs they certainly took it to the Llanelli pack early on but the visitors stood firm and it was level-pegging at 3-3 after a quarter, full-back Dion Jones nudging the west Walians in front with a penalty and fly-half Dorian Jones responding with a smart drop goal.
The number 10 put Keys in front from the tee following a strong scrum but that was all they could muster despite having the upper hand at the set piece and driving lineout.
There was one line break by full-back Ryan Lee but on the whole the first half consisted of Keys trying to apply pressure by getting their forwards within striking distance through the boot.
But Llanelli defended well and were content to play for time until the teams turned around and they would get use of the wind, albeit playing up the slope.
That didn’t make for the most engrossing half of rugby and it was a tactic that failed because of numbers 1 to 8.
Dorian Jones struck a penalty sweetly into the wind to make it 9-3 three minutes after the restart and the hosts, with lock Danny Hodge and number eight Adam Powell prominent, tried to keep building.
Llanelli looked dangerous on the counter but Keys’ pack was well on top and would have been delighted to see their fly-half bisect the posts with a second drop goal and a third penalty to reward their efforts.
The visitors were up against it at 15-3 but were given a lifeline with eight minutes left when flanker Duane Eager finished superbly with Dion Jones adding the extras.
But that was a close as they came with the Keys front row aptly securing the spoils by winning a scrum against the head when Llanelli were trying to strike from 25 metres out.
Cross Keys scorers: penalties – Dorian Jones (3); drop goals – Dorian Jones (2)
Llanelli scorers: try – D Eager; conversion – Dion Jones; penalty – Dion Jones
Referee: Ian Davies (WRU)
Argus star man: Adam Powell
Two tries by wing Rory Budina and another from prop Ian George helped Bedwas beat title hopefuls Llandovery 19-13 at Bridge Field.