Tries by Joel Mahoney (3), Duan Thomas (2) and Matthew Jarvis.
Conversions by Matthew Jarvis (6).
Penalties by Matthew Jarvis (2).
Patient Pooler hit Keys for six!
Cross Keys versus Pontypool derby matches have always been full-blooded, physical encounters and this, the 196th meeting between these two old rivals since the first match back in April 1904, was no exception, writes Ray Ruddick. Both teams meant business in this Admiral WRU National Championship game as the first half was a tense struggle but in the second period Pooler ran away with the game, scoring some good tries in the process, crossing the whitewash no less than six times in total. Loose head prop Richard Cornock was making his 350th appearance for Cross Keys – a great servant to his club.
It was a lovely sunny afternoon at Pandy Park on Easter Saturday and, in front of a sizeable crowd, Cross Keys kicked off attacking the clubhouse end of the ground. In the second minute Pooler were penalised for playing ball off the ground near their 10-metre line in midfield but the attempt at goal went wide. Three minutes later the visitors were guilty of an offence at a scrum, 30 metres from their goal line to the right of the posts but, again, the penalty shot was off target.
In the 18th minute Keys strayed offside on their 22 in front of the posts and visiting outside half Matthew Jarvis made no mistake with a relatively easy 3-pointer (0-3). After 25 minutes Pooler were on the attack inside the home 22 and a skirmish ensued which resulted in Keys hooker Connah Vaughan and the Pooler pair of wing Pat Lewis and No 8 Ieuan Jones all shown the yellow card. Four minutes later Keys were caught offside 30 metres from their line in midfield and Matthew Jarvis doubled his side’s advantage with a successful shot at goal (0-6). With eight minutes remaining of a close first half, Pooler captain Scott Matthews kicked ahead and the ball went out near the left corner. From the lineout Pooler initially tried to drive their opponents over but the ball was released to scrum half Aaron Quick who made a half break and passed to the supporting Joel Mahoney for the centre to crash over for the game’s opening try. Matthew Jarvis added the extras (0-13). Then, in the 37th minute Pooler were again on the attack and a well-worked move resulted in a try by young centre Duan Thomas who touched down 15 metres in from the left corner and Matthew Jarvis converted, however leading up to this try, another skirmish broke out with Scott Matthews and Keys flanker Corey Nicholls both sent to the sin bin. Half time score – Cross Keys 0 Pontypool 20.
In the 42nd minute visiting tight head prop Peter Lloyd left the field and was replaced by Craig Price. Four minutes later Ieuan Jones made a break in midfield inside the home 22. He offloaded to Joel Mahoney who dived over under the posts for his second try of the afternoon. Matthew Jarvis added another two points (0-27). Then Pooler made a couple more changes with flanker Cameron Regan and loose head prop Corey Hewlett being replaced by Mike Herbert ad Sam Cochrane respectively. In the 50th minute great handling by Sam Cochrane and second row Garin Price created a lovely try for Matthew Jarvis, for the bonus point, near the posts and he duly converted (0-34). Visiting scrum half Aaron Quick was then replaced by Owain Leonard. Later Pooler skipper Scott Matthews returned to the field in place of Ieuan Jones.
In the 73rd minute a great break by wing Amosa Nove along the left flank took play deep into the Keys half and he made the scoring pass to the impressive Joel Mahoney who sprinted 30 metres for his hat trick try in the corner. Matthew Jarvis kicked a fine conversion (0-41). In the fourth minute of injury time Pooler were on the attack inside the home 22 and a determined run by Duan Thomas took him over the line for his brace of tries, 7 metres in from the corner. Matthew Jarvis converted with the last kick of the game as he put in another superb performance with the boot slotting all 8 kicks at goal as well as scoring a try for a match haul of 23 points. Final score – Cross Keys 0 Pontypool 48.
This was a patient performance by Pontypool and the players grew in confidence as the game went on. After a tight first half, the visitors started to spread the ball and found several cracks in the Cross Keys defence, with the backs scoring all the points. Pooler’s next two games are also on the road when next Saturday they visit Ynysydarren Ground to face Ystalyfera then on Saturday 30 April Pontypool take on Cardiff Metropolitan University at Cyncoed Campus. Both matches kick-off at 2.30pm.
Cross Keys: Curtis Powey, Clayton Gullis, Adam Tetley, Rhys Jones, Dan Hitchings, Ben Murphy, Rhys Meredith, Richard Cornock, Connah Vaughan, Jordan Rogers, Josh Wall, Brian Feeney, Corey Nicholls, Tom Lampard (captain) and Francisco Souto. Replacements: Louis Tovey, Aaron Dowse, Finlay Cooke, Osian Evans and Zach Bartlett.
Pontypool: Marcus Jones, Pat Lewis, Duan Thomas, Joel Mahoney, Amosa Nove, Matthew Jarvis, Aaron Quick (replaced by Owain Leonard), Corey Hewlett (replaced by Sam Cochrane), Sam Scarfe, Peter Lloyd (replaced by Craig Price), Garin Price, Ashley Sweet, Scott Matthews (replaced by Adam Stratton), Cameron Regan (replaced by Mike Herbert) and Ieuan Jones (replaced by the returning Scott Matthews).