Cross Keys took revenge for their Welsh Cup defeat by Llandovery with a bonus point league win at Pandy Park writes Tom Hughes
The Drovers had edged the cup-tie 14-13 a month ago but this time found Keys far tougher opponents and the defeat means that it will now be a miracle for the Tywi Valley club to be involved in the race to be Premiership champions.
They still have seven games left to play - and one, two, or even three games in hand over those above them - but are all of 19 points adrift from the top.
The Drovers record at Pandy Park has generally been very poor and despite taking a 10-7 lead in the first half, they failed to trouble the scoreboard after the break.
They are seventh in the table and face a tricky visit to the Gnoll on Saturday to face an improving Neath.
“It was always going to be a difficult night in the very muddy conditions which Cross Keys revel in” said Team Manager Andrew Jones.
“It’s disappointing because we played well in the first half with scrum half Lee Rees changing play cleverly between backs and forwards and Aaron Warren caused a lot of problems when coming into the line off his wing.”
“The forwards had the edge with Scarlets duo Tom Price at lock and Dafydd Hughes at hooker prominent as well as skipper Richard Brooks”
After home lock Tom Lampard had been yellow carded, driving line outs fashioned tries for Brooks and Price and Cross Keys were on the back foot.
Keys rarely threatened but they crucially got two converted tries against the run of play through flanker Garin Price and wing Lloyd Lewis and were fortunate to lead 14-10 at the break.
Llandovery should have had more points on the board because of the amount of territory and possession so the second half was going to be tough with the home side playing down the slope towards their favoured club house end.
Half backs James Leadbeater and Josh Prosser controlled things well using wind and slope to good advantage and tries from Tom Lampard, a Prosser penalty plus a try from replacement Scott Matthews took away the chance of a losing bonus point.
“Hopefully the weather will be kinder at the Gnoll on Saturday, where there's always a good track to play attacking rugby on” said Jones.
“But we are up against a Neath side that have had improved performances lately.”
Coach Euros Evans was disappointed to get nothing out of the game whilst still being realistic in his views.
“A wet and windy Tuesday night in Cross Keys was never going to be easy but the performance wasn’t good enough.”
“Defensively we lacked the energy that’s been there in abundance all season.”
“After Keys scored first in the second half we started to overplay in the wrong areas of the field and that in turn played into their hands.”
“We live to fight another day!”