Cross Keys gave coach Greg Woods the perfect send-off after 15 years in charge at Pandy Park with a memorable 21-16 victory over Pontypridd in the WRU National Cup.
Woods is set to join Ebbw Vale this week and will be hoping that his new club doesn’t draw Cross Keys when the draw for Round 2 is made. The players formed a guard of honour for Woods at the end of an emotional game, but it was the result that made it.
“It was a good old-fashioned cup tie where the underdogs came good. It was pretty emotional and there were a few tears from me at the end,” admitted Woods.
“Some of the players have been with me for 10 or 12 years. We’ve been through the good moments and the bad moments together.
“I told them I was emotional because of the effort they put in, as much as anything. Our physicality and intensity were tremendous and, even though we haven’t been going that well in the league, we really fancied it being at home.”
A try in each half from rampaging back row man Josh Skinner were at the heart of the Keys mighty effort. His first effort was an interception from half-way and helped edge his side into a 13-0 lead.
Outside half Josh Prosser converted the first of Skinner’s brace and kicked three penalties to complete the scoring as Keys notched their first cup win over the visitors since the 2012 final. Lock Chris Dicomidis and hooker Joe Page scored tries for Ponty, both of which were converted.
WRU National Cup Round 1 Results
Aberavon 71, Skewen 3
Bargoed 38, Trebanos 27
Cardiff Met 15, Llanelli 56
Cross Keys 21, Pontypridd 16
Ebbw Vale 16, RGC 1404 14
Glynneath 0, Bridgend 48
Narberth 0, Bedwas 43
Neath 13, Cardiff 15
Newcastle Emlyn 0, Merthyr 59
Pontypool 55, Tata Steel 14
Rhydyfelin 13, Newbridge 0
Swansea 20, Newport 24
Byes: Beddau, Bedlinog, Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery
Runners-up last year in the cup, Ponty were joined in being dumped out at the first attempt by reigning champions RGC 1404, who were beaten 16-14 at Ebbw Vale. Even though they led 14-7 at the break, the Gogs were undone at Eugene Cross Park by the boot of Dorian Jones.
His last minute penalty hauled his side over the line and into the next round. The Dragons star kicked three crucial second half penalties to go with a conversion of Toby Fricker’s first half try.
Two tries in two minutes at the end of the first half from Evan Yardley and Jordan Scott, both converted by Jacob Botica, put the visitors ahead. But they couldn’t cope with the power of the home scrum and the deadly accuracy of Jones’ boot did the rest.
Llanelli ran in seven ties to see of the students of Cardiff Met in Cyncoed. Sing Matthew Jenkins ran in two in the first half in the 56-15 triumph. Ioan Hughes, William Bassett. Ashleigh Hyndman, Christian Long and outstanding No 8 Jack Condy got the others.
Centre Lewis Williams added six conversions and three penalties for a match tally of 21 points. The students grabbed a try in each half through centre Luke Northmore and back row man Aled Evans, and Tom Morgan converted one and kicked a penalty.
Cardiff had outside half Gareth Thompson to thank for their great escape at The Gnoll. Trailing 13-12 with time running out, the Blue & Blacks were thrown a lifeline when Neath prop Ben Uphill was sent-off after receiving a second yellow card for taking out Will Rees-Hole in the 87th minute.
Thompson had moments earlier struck the upright with a penalty, but kept his nerve to hit the spot from 45 metres with what proved to be the last kick of the match. Hooker Ian Jenkins scored a try for the visitors, who were also awarded a penalty try from a scrum, while Scott Gibson crossed for a Neath try and Ed Howley kicked eight points.
There were no tries for Champions sides Skewen, Narberth, Newcastle Emlyn or Glynneath in their games against Premiership opposition. Skewen conceded 11 tries in their 71-3 defeat at Aberavon, three of which came from replacement scrum half Jacob Flynn in the second half, while Narberth and Newcastle Emlyn failed to score a point at home.
The Otters went down 43-0 against Bedwas, who had two tries from Aaron Bramwell in their seven touchdowns, while Newcastle Emlyn were blitzed 59-0 by reigning Premiership champions Merthyr in a game marred by the sending-off of home prop Dai Jones and the Ironmen’s Rhys James. Wing Alex Howman grabbed a hat-trick for the visitors.
Glynneath also failed to trouble the scorers in their 48-0 home defeat by Bridgend. There were eight tries for the Premiership side at Abernant Park, with full back Jonny Phillips picking up two of them on his full debut and scrum half Ryan Griffiths marking his 50th game for the club with a brace.
The nearest to an upset came at Bargoed, where Trebanos led 27-24 at half-time before two late forward tries saved the day for the home side. Baroed got off to a flying start with two tries in the opening six minutes from Darren Humphries and Ashley Norton, and Geraint Clarke and Jordan Howells also crossed in the first half.
Iain Smerdon converted two of them, but the Premiership outfit were still trailing at the break. Trebanos hit back with tries from scrum half Morgan Evans, full back Matthew Edwards and hooker Chris Forshaw.
Edwards converted them all and Luke Griffiths fired over two penalties. But a push over try from No 8 Ieuan Jones on the hour, and then a second from Clarke four minutes from time, both of which Smerdon improved, saved Bargoed’s blushes and denied the Trebanos terriers.
Newport were forced to stave off a late, late fightback from Swanea at St Helen’s, where the home side conjured up two tries in two minutes in the dying embers of the game to cut the gap to four points in a 24-20 defeat. It was the second successive season that the Black & Ambers had dumped Swansea out of the cup.
Tries from Elliot Frewen, Geraint O’Driscoll and Jon Morris were all converted by Matt O’Brien, who also kicked a penalty for the visitors. Swansea’s late revival featured tries from centre Rhys Williams and replacement Jedd Evans.
Championship leaders Pontypool had no problem in beating league rivals Tata Steel 55-14, while in the other all Championship clash, two tries from Jordan Rees and a Dai Gratton penalty steered Rhydyfelin to a 13-0 home win over Newbridge.