Injury hit and woeful - Newport crash to their 4th defeat in just 15 days and their heaviest of the season. With stand-in full-back Dan Griffiths, outside-half Mike Schropfer and back row Richard Dale not fully fit and the only back replacements being coach Jon Bryant and permit player Rhys Hallett, it was always going to be difficult against local rivals Cross Keys and so it proved. They held out to HT and led 12-10 due to 4 penalties by Dan Griffiths against a continually infringing Cross Keys team. Newport even had a "try" disallowed and ironically it was Newport's Scott Williams who got the first yellow card. He was followed by Cross Keys' Ryan James.
A chip ahead from Ryan James caught the Newport defence napping and wing Marcus Johnstone got the perfect bounce to score on 3 mins. Full-back James Leadbeater kicked two first half penalties.
On 44 mins Leadbeater kicked penalty awarded apparently due to 2nd row mark Workman not binding. Wing Johnstone then completed his hat-trick with tries on 52 and 55 mins helped by fortunate bounces and appalling Newport defence. There then followed a magnificent individual try by No 8 Tom Stoppard who ran in from around the half-way line. Newport had a consolation try after a determined run from hooker Andrew Brown which replacement kicker Poole just failed to convert.
Newport head coach Sven Cronk said "It’s been a tough few weeks and the games and injuries have taken their toll, but I don’t expect a tired performance at Llandovery. Cross Keys was just a game too far, but they were excellent and fully deserved their win. I think the Ponty match took a lot out of us emotionally as well as physically. We put in a huge effort only to lose in the last few minutes. It is tough for semi-pros to have so many games, the guys have to work the next day rather than heading to the pool. We have run short of backs and, although the same happened last season, I think that situation is just down to bad luck. Dan Griffiths shouldn’t really have taken the field last weekend and (Keys coach) Greg Woods said they noticed that he couldn’t cover the ground straight away so really put him under pressure."
Photos courtesy of Ron Sutcliffe :