Keys lift Swalec Cup


Keys lift Swalec Cup

FOOTBALL star Gareth Bale was among a record crowd of 15,308 for community finals day at the Millennium Stadium to watch Cross Keys celebrate their first Swalec Cup triumph.

The Wales and Spurs ace witnessed a classic match of two halves with four-times winners Pontypridd in charge of the first to lead 13-6.

But it was a different story in the second as Keys took charge and ran away with it in the final 11 minutes to remove Ponty's grip on the trophy.

After becoming the first Welsh team to reach the final of the British and Irish Cup - they were beaten by Munster A in the final - the Gwent village deserved to pick up the first piece of silverware in their 127-year history.

Keys, with captain Rob Nash and fellow back-row forward Rhys Peebles both outstanding, had the better of the breakdown.

Lock Danny Hodge was a nuisance, replacement scrum-half Owen Jones was a livewire, outside-half Dean Gunter composed and right-wing Kristian Baller a handful.

Rhys Williams started at No 8 despite suffering from a broken bone in a foot and managed to last until half-time.

Keys coach Greg Woods said: "Rhys couldn't lift his foot. He's in bits and has gone to hospital. He missed the presentation of the cup."

"It was a fantastic achievement to win it because Ponty are a class team. But, now we've won one trophy, I'm sure we can go on and pick up more because we have got a great core of players.

"Everybody knows we gave up on the league six weeks ago because we have such a small squad and were in the British and Irish Cup but, as far as I'm concerned, the two best club teams in Wales were facing each other."

Athletic hooker and Blues target Gerwyn Price scored a brilliant try to reinforce his credentials to step up to regional level.

But Woods blasted Gwent region Dragons for being too slow to act.

"I think every region is interested in Gerwyn. He should be playing professional rugby.

"We, at Keys, pride ourselves on being a good stable for Gwent rugby. Gerwyn and Lewis Rawlins are the next two ready for regional level.

"But Lewis has already signed for the Scarlets. The sad thing is Gwent will have to pay big money to bring them back in a few years time. It's baffling."

Pontypridd didn't have any complaints with coach Dale McIntosh saying: "I don't think we played our A game.

"You don't win cups by playing well, you win them by playing very well. We didn't."

Keys fell behind 3-0 to a penalty from Ponty outside-half Lewis Williams in the 16th minute after offending at a scrum.

Williams hit an upright with a second attempt but his failure worked in their favour when they recovered the ball.

A sustained build-up culminated in hooker Huw Dowden providing go-forward and Williams bursting through a gap before combining with skipper Chris Dicomidis to put left-wing Matthew Nuthall over in the corner.

Williams splendidly converted but Keys pulled reduced the 10-point deficit to seven with a penalty from outside-half Gunter in the 23rd minute.

Williams and Gunter exchanged penalites but only firm defence kept Ponty at bay as the first-half drew to a close, Woods pointing out: "That's when we won it.

"If Ponty had scored then the flood-gates might have opened. We needed to get off and regroup.

"We told the boys to keep hold of the ball because we could sense Ponty were tiring.

"You need a special moment to win a final and Gerwyn supplied it. It was unbelievable."

Woods and assistant Mark Ring had demanded a big start to the second-half and got it. They were awarded a penalty deep in the Ponty 22 and Jones took a quick tap.

His gamble paid off when prop Richard Cornock and Nash drove forward for Hodge to lunge for the try.

Gunter converted to make it 13-13 and put them ahead for the first time with a penalty.

Williams edged Ponty back in front with a brace of penalites but Gunter drew Keys level.

And the Pandy Park out-fit went five points up with 11 minutes remaining when Price sprinted in at the corner for an unconverted try despite the attention of substitute scrum-half Rhys Downes.

They made the game safe when winger Nathan Trowbridge scrambled over in the corner and Gunter added a penalty. > News > Noticeboard > Keys lift Swalec Cup