Newport know that they would need their strongest 8 for the challenge of the Keys but having already lost back-rows Sam Waldron (broken arm), Ross Coombs (knee), Carl Townsend (knee) and Hywel Stoddart they then lost 2nd rows Rhodri Jones and Dafydd Rosser as late withdrawals. This left the B&A's with a 2nd row made up of walking wounded Adam Frampton and Academy Lance Randall who celebrated his 19th birthday on Christmas Day and to add to Newport's problems back-row Craig Everett was also struggling. The bench cover was 19yr old debutant 2nd row Jamie Sullivan on permit from Machen and 17yr old Academy back row Ollie Griffiths. The surprise was that Newport were only 7-6 down at HT and in fact could have gone in leading 9-7 had Scott Sneddon put over a 40 min penalty. Keys had scored a try from No 10 Dorian Jones who danced over evading some poor tackling on 12 mins. In the 2nd half Newport conceded 3 more tries - 2 from their pack going backwards and the other from and interception on halfway. The B&A's have now gone 3 matches without scoring a try with their last try against Newcastle Falcons in 42nd minute by Craig Everett.
Newport back in Oct / Nov were on a winning run of 5 matches with victories over Connacht Eagles, Cross Keys, Pontypridd, Swansea and Neath but since then they have gone 5 matches without a win.
Photos courtesy of Simon Latham :
Iwan Davies, SWA writes :
Cross Keys avenged Newport’s British and Irish Cup win at Pandy Park in October with a comprehensive bonus point Premiership victory which puts them fourth. The excellent hosts dominated the game, the Valleys side head and shoulders better than their disappointing city Gwent rivals. A long range penalty by Keys old boy Scott Sneddon had given the Black and Ambers an early lead. But Keys should have been on level terms at the very least after skipper and open-side Rob Nash knocked the ball on from a lineout with the try-line at his mercy before outside half Dorian Jones missed a very kickable penalty. They were not to be denied, however, when the No 10 scored a lovely solo try, wrong-footing the Black and Ambers with what the late Bill McLaren would have called his ‘twinkle toes’. He converted it to give them a 7-3 advantage with nearly a quarter of an hour gone. It looked as though the hosts would start to dominate but Newport battled their way back into a game where both sides tried to play open rugby, wing Elliot Frewen and scrum half James Leadbeater both looking lively for the visitors. An excellent break by Black and Ambers centre Dan Robinson took his side deep into enemy territory and they were awarded a penalty which Sneddon slotted over after 31 mins. They were not to be denied, however, when the No 10 scored a lovely solo try, wrong-footing the Black and Ambers with what the late Bill McLaren would have called his ‘twinkle toes’. He converted it to give them a 7-3 advantage with nearly a quarter of an hour gone. A superb run by Keys lock Dan Hodge, who was the game’s outstanding player, saw him find Leon Andrews in support but the centre failed to see replacement wing Nathan Trowbridge unmarked outside him. Hodge made another fine break just seconds later but his pass was knocked on by tighthead prop Anthony Lott. The Pandy Park side probably should have been further ahead than 7-6 at half-time but Sneddon could have nosed Newport ahead only for his penalty attempt to just fail.
Keys drew first blood seven minutes after the interval when Andrews intercepted a Sneddon pass on half way and raced away before passing to wing Luke Williams for a try that was converted by Dorian Jones. The home side’s dominant scrum saw them awarded a penalty in the 50th min which was kicked by Dorian Jones to give them a 17-6 lead, the fly half soon replaced by Newport Gwent Dragons’ Steffan Jones. Sneddon gave the visitors hope with his third penalty on 64 mins to reduce the gap to eight points. But any hopes Newport had of a comeback were dashed when the outstanding Nash was driven over the visitors’ try-line by his forwards from a lineout, Steffan Jones converting to give them a 24-9 advantage. Keys were still well on top in the closing stages and went on the hunt for a bonus point try. It came when replacement scrum half Rhys Dyer just beat No 8 Adam Powell to the ball with a pushover touchdown in the dying seconds. It was joy for Keys but it’s back to the drawing board for a Newport side who haven’t scored a try in their last three matches.
Cross Keys scorers: Tries – Dorian Jones, Luke Williams, Rob Nash, Rhys Dyer and Dorian Jones 2c, 1p, Steffan Jones 1c.
Newport scorers: S Sneddon 3p. Referee: James Jones (WRU)
Argus star man: Dan Hodge