DESPITE a valiant effort, Cross Keys were no match for a dominant Ebbw Vale side set on putting last week’s defeat at Swansea behind them, writes Peter Hughes.

After spurning an earlier kickable penalty opportunity, Ebbw Vale got on the board in the eighth minute with three points form the boot of outside half Rhys Jones.

Their first try came in the 12th minute when Cross Keys failed to gather the ball from a line-out near their 10-metre line. The Steelmen used the full width of the field to set up wing Toby Fricker for the touchdown.

On the quarter hour mark, the visitors used their trademark driving maul to secure try number two courtesy of hooker Joe Franchi.

The second quarter saw the Keys beginning to make forays into their opponents' half, only for handling errors to deny them more than one scoring opportunity.

As the game approached the half hour mark the visitors extended their lead when outside half Jones gathered his own beautifully weighted chip ahead, getting to within inches of the try line before flanker Owen Young completed the task.

They went on to secure their bonus point before the interval, a run by flanker Young setting up scrum half Dai Jones for try number four and a 29 – 0 half-time lead.

It was also Young who scored his side’s fifth try, seven minutes into the second half.

Keys finally got on the scoreboard quarter of an hour into the half when scrum half Josh Guy dropped the ball backwards after crossing the line but managed to touch down. Try number two for the hosts came soon afterwards when replacement wing Rory Budina intercepted a pass in his own half and ran it back for the five points.

A great offload by wing Dafydd Howells enabled flanker Rhys Clarke to claim Ebbw Vale’s sixth try, while, with the Keys’ replacement second row Ellis Hopkins in the sin bin, it was replacement centre Paul King who scored the visitors’ seventh.

The closing moments of regular time saw full back Carwyn Penny score a third try for his side, but despite getting to within five metres of their opponents’ line in the closing moments of the game they were unable to get the bonus point try.

Cross Keys: C Penny, W Cunliffe (D Fiddler 47), L Andrews, T Loots, S Majkic (R Budina 43), I Burgwin, J Guy (O Young 66), R Cornock (G Carpenter 55), R Jenkins, N Thomas (S Hoskins 70), S Andrews, T Lampard (E Hopkins 58), D Welch (capt}, G Price, I Jones.

Scorers – Try: J Guy (54), R Budina (62); Con: I Burgwin (54)

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond (S Thomas 73), D Howells, D Franchi, D Langdon (P King 57), T Fricker, Rhys Jones, D Jones (M Flanagan 51), Ross Jones (L Garrett 57), J Franchi, R Sevenoaks (M Davies 80), K Parker (C Regan 63), A Sweet (capt), R Clarke, O Young (L Evans 63), L Young.

Scorers – Try: T Fricker (12), J Franchi (15), O Young (30, 47), D Jones (40), R Clarke (68), P King (72); Con: R Jones (12, 15, 40, 68, 72); Pen: R Jones (8)

Referee: Mr Gwyn Morris (WRU)

Star man: Owen Young (Ebbw Vale)