ONE of the many magic things about sport is its ability to produce the unexpected, and in more than 30 years of watching rugby this was a game like no other for me.
There can’t be many tussles which see just two tries scored in a 59-point match with no fewer than 15 penalties kicked.
In the end it was Bedwas’ Richard Powell who just shaded his opposite number, Dean Gunter, in the kicking duel of the No 10s, winning by eight penalties to seven.
It was almost apt that he slotted over his last one with the final kick of a quite remarkable match to seal victory and to end a contest that had seen Bedwas lead 28-10 at one stage early in the second half.
And Powell’s contribution was arguably overshadowed by that of the referee, this derby destined to be remembered as the ‘Martin Lewis Show’.
The game was dominated by the official’s whistle for an almost endless stream of penalties that saw him send four Keys players to the sin bin.
Garry Horrigan, Dan Hodge and Aled James went in the first half for breakdown offences and captain Rob Nash was dismissed with 12 minutes to go for a high tackle.
And as well as sending off Bedwas replacement lock James Richards after he’d only been on the field for six minutes, team-mates Matthew John and skipper Simon Grainger also saw yellow for committing offences in rucks.
I’m not criticising Lewis and he was certainly consistent when dishing the cards out, for he certainly didn’t tolerate any naughty business at the breakdown and stuck to his guns despite being subjected to the ire of the home fans.
Richards’ sending off was harsh, for although he did take out Keys wing Kristian Baller after he’d chipped ahead, it only merited a yellow card.
The referee certainly made a huge impression at Pandy Park and he was the topic of conversation as the supporters headed into the clubhouse after Keys nearly staged a remarkable comeback.
They had a chance to sneak into the lead in the dying minutes when Baller was well short with a penalty from the halfway line, that in hindsight, always a beautiful thing, Gunter should have taken because he had his kicking boots on and amassed 23 points.
It was Powell who kicked Bedwas into a 9-0 lead thanks to three penalties before Gunter got one back for the hosts.
But weak tackling allowed visiting full back Stuart Thomas in for a soft try, converted by Powell, for a 16-3 lead Bedwas had barely needed to sweat for after 14 minutes.
It was another lacklustre start after Keys shipped 12 points in 12 minutes in their 24-20 defeat to Newport the week before.
Their early performance led one home fan to bemoan that it was like “watching the Newport Gwent Dragons”, the region going through a desperate time.
It was a comment that struck a chord with the crowd, the gallows humour drawing plenty of hollow laughter.
As the referee kept penalising Keys, largely at the breakdown, Powell kept kicking his goals and Bedwas led 25-3 before Rhys Peebles burrowed over for a converted try on the stroke of half-time to give the home side hope.
The second 40 minutes was the inverse of the first as the flood of penalties poured in Keys’ favour, Gunter trying to show Powell that anything he could do, he could do better.
But it was the Bedwas man who had the last laugh, showing nerves of steel to kick the winning goal in the 80th minute to take the spoils, end with a 26-point haul and bring the curtain down on a memorable contest.
Cross Keys: G David, K Baller, L Ford, A James (N Williams 59), E Jones, D Gunter, R Dyer (O Jones 72), A Lott, G Horrigan (J Sollis 69), M Jones (C Gould 63), D Hodge, O Hodge (T Lampard 45), R Peebles, R Nash (capt), A Powell.
Scorers: Try – Rhys Peebles; conversion – Dean Gunter (40); penalties – Dean Gunter (7).
Bedwas: S Thomas, M John, R Wardle, S Williams, R Budina, R Powell, T Rowlands, I George (D Preece 61), R Hutcherson (M Petit 61), K Gay (B Roberts 75), P Rees (J Richards 47), J Thomas, T Organ, S Grainger (capt), S Feehan.
Scorers: Try – Stuart Thomas; conversion – Richard Powell; penalties – Richard Powell (8).
Referee: Martin Lewis (WRU).
Argus star man: Richard Powell.