CROSS Keys avenged Newport’s British and Irish Cup win at Pandy Park in October with a comprehensive bonus point Premiership victory which puts them fourth.
The excellent hosts dominated the game, the Valleys side head and shoulders better than their disappointing city Gwent rivals.
A long range penalty by Keys old boy Scott Sneddon had given the Black and Ambers an early lead.
But Keys should have been on level terms at the very least after skipper and openside Rob Nash knocked the ball on from a lineout with the try-line at his mercy before outside half Dorian Jones missed a very kickable penalty.
They were not to be denied, however, when the No 10 scored a lovely solo try, wrong-footing the Black and Ambers with what the late Bill McLaren would have called his ‘twinkle toes’.
He converted it to give them a 7-3 advantage with nearly a quarter of an hour gone.
It looked as though the hosts would start to dominate but Newport battled their way back into a game where both sides tried to play open rugby, wing Elliot Frewen and scrum half James Leadbeater both looking lively for the visitors.
An excellent break by Black and Ambers centre Dan Robinson took his side deep into enemy territory and they were awarded a penalty which Sneddon slotted over after 32 minutes.
A superb run by Keys lock Dan Hodge, who was the game’s outstanding player, saw him find Leon Andrews in support but the centre failed to see replacement wing Nathan Trowbridge unmarked outside him.
Hodge made another fine break just seconds later but his pass was knocked on by tighthead prop Anthony Lott.
The Pandy Park side probably should have been further ahead than 7-6 at half-time but Sneddon could have nosed Newport ahead only for his penalty attempt to just fail.
Keys drew first blood seven minutes after the interval when Andrews intercepted a Sneddon pass on half way and raced away before passing to wing Luke Williams for a try that was converted by Dorian Jones.
The home side’s dominant scrum saw them awarded a penalty in the 50th minute which was kicked by Dorian Jones to give them a 17-6 lead, the fly half soon replaced by Newport Gwent Dragons’ Steffan Jones.
Sneddon gave the visitors hope with his third penalty in the 61st minute to reduce the gap to eight points.
But any hopes Newport had of a comeback were dashed when the outstanding Nash was driven over the visitors’ try-line by his forwards from a lineout, Steffan Jones converting to give them a 24-9 advantage.
Keys were still well on top in the closing stages and went on the hunt for a bonus point try.
It came when replacement scrum half Rhys Dyer just beat number eight Adam Powell to the ball with a pushover touchdown in the dying seconds.
It was joy for Keys but it’s back to the drawing board for a Newport side who haven’t scored a try in their last three matches.
Cross Keys scorers: tries – Dorian Jones, Luke Williams, Rob Nash, Rhys Dyer; conversions – Dorian Jones (2), Steffan Jones; penalty – D Jones.
Newport scorers: penalties – S Sneddon (3).
Referee: James Jones (WRU)
Argus star man: Dan Hodge