CROSS Keys crashed to a heavy defeat at reigning champions Merthyr as they failed to finish 2017 on a high.

Greg Woods' side struggled to deal with Merthyr’s physicality as they left The Wern empty-handed.

The visitors crossed for a try through scrum-half Owain Leonard with fly-half Josh Prosser adding a further five points with the boot.

Merthyr registered tries through Phil Rees (2), Kristian Phillips (2), Nathan Trevett (2) and Richard Wilkes, with Matthew Jarvis adding a further eight points with the boot.

Merthyr opened the scoring after just three minutes with Phil Rees dotting down after the hosts had mauled their way over the line from close range. Jarvis added the extras to make it 7-0.

Keys struck back with a penalty from Prosser after Merthyr were penalised on the floor.

Merthyr crossed for their second try through Phil Rees soon after to leave the score 12-3 after eleven minutes.

Merthyr’s third score came just before the 20-minute mark with Kristian Phillips executing a fine kick and collect to score under the posts and leave the score at 19-3 after the conversion from Jarvis.

Keys fought back and scored their first try of the game after 23 minutes with scrum-half Owain Leonard crossing after a break in midfield to make it 19-10 after the conversion from Prosser.

The lead could have been cut further but a Prosser penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time failed to dissect the posts.

Merthyr sealed their try bonus point just five minutes after the interval with Phillips crossing after good work from Rees.

Merthyr’s fifth try came soon after and courtesy of hooker Richard Wilkes as the home side mauled the visitors over to make it 33-10.

Keys continued to struggled against Merthyr in the tight and conceded a third rolling maul try to the hosts with Nathan Trevett crossing just after the hour to make it 38-10.

With Keys tiring, Merthyr crossed for their seventh try through Nathan Trevett to make the final score 43-10 on what proved to be a difficult afternoon for Greg Woods.

Merthyr: Kristian Phillips (G Davies 67), Kyle Evans, Tom Riley (G Dacey 52), Aaron Pinches, Richard Carter, Matthew Jarvis, Rhys Downes (J James 57), L Jones (N Trevett 52), Richard Wilkes (S Evans 57), Joe Rees (S Pocskai 63), Ben Murphy, Craig Locke (Evans 57), Nicholas White, Edward Siggery (O Davies 63), Phillip Rees

Scorers: Tries: P Rees (2), K Phillips (2), N Trevett (2), R Wilkes; Cons: M Jarvis (4)

Cross Keys: Corey Shepard, Mathew Powell (R Pritchard 68), Lewis Barnett, Barney Nightingale (P Williams 67), Joe Goodchild, Josh Prosser (B Snell 67), Owain Leonard (L Davies 68), Lewis Smout (G Carpenter 48), Will Griffiths (D Hughes 48), Scott Evans (R Cornock 52), Tom Lampard (D Mock 55), Josh Skinner, Taine Basham, Scott Matthews, Adam Powell

Scorers: Tries: O Leonard; Cons: J Prosser; Pens: Prosser.

Argus Star man: J Prosser