CROSS Keys failed to build on their fine win over Bedwas last week after being overpowered by a dominant Pontypridd at Sardis Road, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.

But the visitors should be applauded for battling so courageously against hosts who were so rampant at times and will no doubt be kicking themselves for not wrapping a bonus point victory.

Keys, containing a number of youngsters, never surrendered and were remarkably even within a shout of a losing bonus point at the end.

It took a while for Ponty to get going but they took the lead after 15 minutes when outside-half Diggy Bird’s put blindside flanker Rhys Shellard away for an unconverted try.

The hosts then went 8-0 up after 24 minutes through a Bird penalty.

And they added to Keys’ agony from the re-start, centre and captain Dafydd Lockyer tearing through the middle before offloading to Bird who crossed for a try under the posts before adding the extras.

Keys enjoyed a purple patch around the half-hour mark but could make little headway.

The Pandy Park side’s woes worsened after 34 minutes when their skipper and number eight Adam Powell was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on in his own 22.

It was only some heroic defence by Keys and poor execution at times but Ponty that was keeping the score down.

The first half ended 15-0 with only one team in it.

Bird put the hosts further ahead in the second half with a long-range penalty.

Ponty scored another beautiful try soon after when wing Dale Stuckey made a tremendous run before some slick passing saw openside Morgan Sieniawski go over for an unconverted score.

Keys refused to throw in the towel and were rewarded for their bravery with an unconverted try scored by their fine blindside flanker, Dragons prospect Taine Basham who is just 17.

The visitors lost another man to the sin bin with 14 minutes to go when another young talent, No 10 Corey Shephard, was yellow carded for infringing at the breakdown in front of his posts.

To the utter bafflement of Ponty’s fans, they opted to kick the penalty rather than wrap up a four-try bonus, replacement outside-half Ceri Sweeney slotting over the easy three points.

The gutsy Keys got on the scoreboard again when centre Leon Andrews finished well for a converted try in the dying minutes.

There was still time for Sweeney to be yellow carded for what looked like back chat to the referee before the visitors vainly hunted for a losing bonus point.

Pontypridd: G Walsh (L Rowlands 50), A Summerhill, G Smith. D Lockyer (capt), D Stuckey, D Bird (C Sweeney 67), J Raikes, C Phillips (H Owen 63), H Dowden (J Page 59), W Davies-King (J Elley 59), S Moore, C Dicomidis, R Shellard (T Jevons 76), M Sieniawski, H Barnes (L Evans 59).

Cross Keys: J Prosser, M Powell, L Andrews, B Nightingale (P Williams 62), L Lewis, C Shephard, J Leadbeater (R Pritchard 62), L Smout (C Hewlett 52), R Jones (W Griffiths 57), R Cornock, T Lampard, J Skinner, T Basham (L Davies 66), J Thomas (S Matthews 45), A Powell (capt)

Pontypridd scorers: Tries: R Shellard 15, D Bird 25, M Sieniawski 50, Cons: D Bird, Pens: D Bird 24, 42, C Sweeney 67.

Cross Keys scorers: Tries: T Basham 66, L Andrews 76, Con: J Prosser 76.

Referee: Mike English (WRU) Argus star man: Taine Basham