Keys unlock Wanderers defence with last play of the game
Cross Keys 22
“Yes we’re gutted to have lost but this week has been a massive learning curve and this group of players should realise that they are good enough to compete at this level” commented manager John Lyons after the narrow cup defeat to Cross Keys. “We’ve been able to look at new combinations and yesterday certainly added to selection headaches going forward”
On a glorious afternoon at Pandy Park the Wanderers returned to Cross keys after a gap of several seasons. The home side started brightly going through the phases and looking to find weaknesses in the Wanderers defence. Moving the ball left and right they looked for a breakthrough but as they moved the ball wide Rob Evans spotted a chance, intercepted and fed Ray Bishop who raced away to score under the posts. Paul Short converted 0-7. The game continued at a pace with both sides willing to keep the ball in play. Keys reduced the arrears after the visitors conceded a penalty at a ruck 3-7 and the home side were started to warm to their task dominating field position but finding the Wanderers defence resolute in its work. Forays into the home side 22 were few and far between but eventually the Wanderers gained a foothold and took full advantage. After good work by Short at a scrum, a penalty helped gain the visitors the chance. Off the top ball from a lineout was moved wide and after a neat run around Will Adams Jones had some space out wide. He rounded the covering defence and raced away to score the Wanderers second try. Short converted 3-14. Back came Cross Keys once again establishing pressure in the visitor’s half and before long they were back in the game. A Wanderers lineout was executed poorly and the loose ball provided a chance. For once the visitors defence fell off tackles and a side such as Keys need no second invitation as they crossed for their first try 10-14. The game remained at a high pace but the constant defending brought about by the home side pressure started to take its toll and it was no surprise that the Keys crossed for their second try to put themselves ahead 15-14 after about 32 minutes. The Wanderers were forced into a reshuffle with Bishop being replaced by Phil Pariyo and Luke Kendall leaving the field for a blood replacement but the visitors rallied and managed to see out the half without conceding any more and the sides went into the break with Keys narrowly ahead 15-14.
Cross Keys had an early second half chance to increase their lead but a penalty shot went just wide. The Wanderers launched an attack with Evans making a break downfield and after several carries he stabbed a ball through to take play deep into the home side 22. The home side defence was for the first time tested for a period of time but, as one would expect from a quality team, they scrambled well and kept the Wanderers at bay. Evans made another break soon afterwards but once again as play reached the red zone the Keys defence responded and cleared the danger. The game ebbed and flowed with everything all to play for James Loxton was finding himself busy fielding kicks deep but neither side looked like breaking the deadlock. Eventually something gave way. From an attack into the home side 22 the Keys defence tried to run out of their territory. They were turned over at a ruck and Cameron Gibbon scythed through a gap to put Pariyo over in the corner. Short converted and the Wanderers were back in front 15-21. The game entered its final quarter and both sides sent for some fresh legs. The Wanderers had a chance to extend the lead with a Short penalty but his shot went wide and the Keys were awarded a scrum from the place the penalty was taken from much to the bemusement of everyone in the ground. The home side started to mount a final assault on the visitor’s line and the dye was set for injury time. Time and time again the home side probed the defence as the Wanderers tacklers doggedly held out. On three occasions the Wanderers thought that they had held out for the win but there was always one more play to contend with. Finally, the defence could cope no more and Keys crossed out wide to leave the score at 20-21 with a touchline conversion to come. With plenty of players and supporters hiding their gaze Kieran Hill stepped up and coolly landed the kick to put Cross Keys through to the next round of the cup.
Tries: Ray Bishop, Will Adams Jones, Phil Pariyo.
Cons: Paul Short (3)
Wanderers Management Man of the match: James Loxton
Massive Man of the match: James Loxton