Cross Keys 29 Llandovery 13 – match report
CROSS Keys got their season back on track after a bonus point win over Llandovery at Pandy Park did much to bolster their confidence.
There had been much soul searching after last week’s disappointing 28-11 setback at home to league and cup champions Pontypridd at Pandy Park.
But Keys dispelled any lingering doubts with a victory that was far more comfortable than the hosts could have reasonably expected.
The Drovers had opened their Principality Premiership campaign well with two league wins out of two.
They had even spoken of their real desire to end their away hoodoo, the visitors not having won at their Pandy Park graveyard for ten years.
But they were never in the hunt, the home side’s triumph sealed in a first 40 minutes they completely dominated.
The Gwent side led 24-3 at the interval although they had to wait until the dying minutes before the bonus point was in the bag.
And, as Keys’ director of rugby Jonathan Westwood explained, the win may have come at a price, although the three injuries they suffered to key men are not expected to be serious ones.
“I was happy with the bonus point win and our first half performance but we had a difficult start to the second half – we had to make three substitutions due to injury which did knock us a little bit,” he said.
“Leon Andrews (centre and captain) has an ankle issue, Gerwyn Price (hooker) has a dead leg and Aled James (centre) has pulled a hamstring.
“Hopefully they aren’t serious and we do have a fair bit of cover in all those positions.
“Luke Williams (centre and wing) should be back fit next week and Kristian Baller (wing) is weeks away, so we not too bad in some of those areas.”
He added: “I thought throughout our defence was excellent and our discipline was good.
“We had an opportunity to score a bonus point try just after half-time but we bombed that chance which was key because it would have given us more breathing space.
“We were disappointed with the second half in all honesty, but we did the job after dominating in the first half and it showed to me again why you need such a big squad.
“Llandovery were always going to come back into it, they’ve got too many good players for us to steamroller them for 80 minutes.”
Keys opened their account with a sparkling try after a devastating break by full back Rhys Jones, over his old club, the ball kept alive through slick hands before lock Tom Lampard crossed in the corner.
Rhys Jones added the extras with a beautiful touchline conversion to put the hosts 7-0 up after nine minutes and he was soon on target with a penalty to extend their lead.
The home side were rampant in the early stages, scoring a point a minute when Dan Hodge kept up with his second row partner to get Keys’ second try, converted by Jones to rattle up a 17-0 advantage.
The Drovers battled to get back into the game after their shaky start, outside-half Ian Brooks slotting over a 26th minute penalty.
But any hopes they had of mounting a recovery were dashed when Keys’ openside flanker Scott Matthews crashed over from a driving lineout, the excellent Jones again nailing a difficult touchline conversion.
The home side threatened to extend their lead even further but the half ended with them good value for their 24-3 lead.
Drovers fly-half Brooks slotted a simple three points as the visitors looked to make a game of it early in the second half.
But Keys should have had the bonus point wrapped up by the 50th minute only for their backs to butcher a huge overlap.
The second half was a disappointment after the free-flowing first and there was no scoring until the 75th minute when Llandovery full back Matthew Jacobs crossed for a try, his try converted by replacement fly half James Garland.
Llandovery spirit was finally broken three minutes from time when wing Nathan Trowbridge crossed in the corner after they did successfully exploit an overlap.
Cross Keys: R Jones, E Jones, L Andrews (capt) (A O’Brien 46) , A James (P Williams 40), N Trowbridge, D Jones, R Dyer (R James 68), R Cornock (L Garrett 62), G Price (D Hughes 40), N Buck (C Gould 54), D Hodge, T Lampard, R Tucker (O Hodge 77), A Powell, S Matthews (R Peebles 62).
Cross Keys scorers: Tries – Tom Lampard, Dan Hodge, Scott Matthews, Nathan Trowbridge, Conversions – Rhys Jones (3), Penalty – R Jones.
Llandovery: M Jacobs, J Randall, A Warren, C Woodall (R Davies 66), A Warren, I Brooks (J Garland 52), L Rees, W Jones, L Lewis, A Jones, B Griffith, S Miller (L Jones 52), P Day (captain), R Bloomfield (L Kendall 52), S Miles.
Replacements: G Cunniffe, D Williams, T Ball, L Reynolds.
Llandover scorers: Try – Matthew Jacobs, Conversion – J Garland, Penalties – Ian Brooks (2)
Referee: Kelvin Shorte (WRU)
Argus star man: Dan Hodge
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