After Newport’s successful trip to Bedwas last week their next opponents in the Fosters Challenge Cup, Cross Keys, came to Rodney Parade. The local derby always provides a tight game and this encounter was no different.
Cross Keys started off the better team putting some good phases together although Newport were defending well and setting the tone for the game ahead. Keys pressure paid off when Newport were guilty of coming into the side of the ruck and giving the Keys fly half James Thomas the first points of the game with a successful penalty kick. Minutes later Rhys Jenkins on his return from injury was penalised for not rolling away and Keys decided to go for the posts again. James Thomas was once again successful to make it 0-6 to the visitors.
Newport then started to build pressure themselves. A great break from hooker Henry Palmer took them up to the keys 22. The opportunity was there to press home the attack but sadly the ball was spilt in the offload. Llywarch Ap Myrddyn was then penalised for taking the man out in the air. Keys kicked for the touch line and started their trademark driving maul. Newport managed to disarm that threat but Keys moved the ball wide and Nathan Williams was over in the corner. Thomas missed the conversion but Keys were now leading by eleven points.
Newport were becoming dominant in the scrum and at one such set piece won a penalty. O’Brien kicked for the corner and from the line out the ball went through the backs before a nice cutting line break from Chay Smith opened up the defense and he danced through a gap before touching down under the sticks of a well deserved try. The conversion was made by Matt O’Brien to make the score 7-11.
The game went through a period when possession switched back and fore between the two sides. On 32 minutes Newport started to put some phases together and it was once again Chay Smith who broke the Keys defensive line. He managed to make ground and draw the defense before he put Wesley Cunliffe through in the corner for Newport’s second try that was again converted by Matt O’Brien. Newport were now leading 14-11.
Coming to the end of the first half Newport were stringing some nice plays together and after earning a penalty decided to go for the corner but were held up short of the line. Soon after strong running from Haydn Palmer and Henri Williams saw Newport get another penalty 10 yards out. Newport decided to go for the quick tap but after going through the phases Newport spilt the ball. Keys then went for the counter attack and looked dangerous until Polo Uhi also spilt the ball running out of the 22 when there was plenty of space for attacking options. Newport would have been happy with the lead of 14-11 at the break and coach Ty Morris no doubt had some half time advice to give on how to close out the game and be more clinical.
At the start of a second half the visitors went down to 14 men as Max George son of Newport legend and Hall of Famer Glenn George was sent to the sin bin. For the majority of the second-half the game was played between the 22's the only score was a penalty slotted by Matt O’Brien after Keys were guilty of holding on at a ruck to make the score 17-11.
In the last 20 minutes Cross Keys threw everything at Newport and it was a great defensive effort to keep them out. Man of the match Kyle Tayler kept turning the ball over to stop them gaining any momentum. In the 72nd minute there was a long stoppage in play due to an injury to Haydn Palmer who was sadly stretchered off and we wish him the best for a speedy recovery.
In the dying moments of the game keys broke the Newport defence until a last gasp tackle by man of the match Tayler saw Keys spill the ball meters in front of the line. Newport were then pushed off the resulting scrum. Keys were on their way to the line when the referee sent Keys second row Simon Williams to the sin bin for not allowing the Newport player to roll away.
Newport managed to hold on to victory winning 17-11. Many players have put their hands up for selection for our next game against Bridgend on Saturday 29th October at Rodney Parade kick off at 14:30.
Full Time Score: Newport 17 – 11 Cross Keys
Man of the Match: Kyle Tayler