Cross Keys RFC 28 Bedwas RFC 31
Principality Welsh Premiership, Saturday 28 October 2012.
Match report by John Meredith, photography by Ian Lovell.
Within the sport of Rugby Union it is a widely held tenet that one does not openly criticise match officials; this scribe will try and abide by that tenet. However, some time in the future someone, somewhere will look at the statistics for this game and see six yellow cards and one red card. They will think this must have been a ‘dirty’ game. In truth it simply wasn’t; for a derby match it was played in great spirit with none of the ‘niggle’ that occasionally comes to the surface in such games.
It was a bright, sunny day with a strong chilly wind that greeted Bedwas to Pandy Park. Last season Bedwas lost twice here and also at home to a Keys side who went onto become Principality Cup winners, so all knew it would be a tough challenge.
Bedwas kicked with the wind at their backs and were straight into their stride. Keys were penalised for side entry from a ruck and from Powell’s long touch finder were adjudged offside at the line out. Powell stepped up to confidently land his kick.
Three minutes later Keys were adjudged to be killing the ball at a ruck and once again Powell added the goal this time from 40 metres out.
Keys were struggling to get into the game. Ian George made a twenty metre drive from a scrum which again saw Keys penalised for offside resulting in Powell’s third successful penalty goal. Keys got on the board shortly afterwards, Dean Gunter slotting a penalty after Bedwas were adjudged offside.
Better was to come for Bedwas. The restart went out on the full and from the resulting scrum Budina broke down the right before slipping the ball inside to Stuart Thomas who crossed for a try; Powell stroked the conversion to put Bedwas 16-3 ahead.
Keys seemed to wake from their slow start and from an attack from the restart one of their first forays into Bedwas territory Matthew John was sin binned for a ruck offence and Bedwas were up against it. The remaining Bedwas fourteen men dug deep and repelled Keys attacks and then extended their lead via the boot of Powell after Keys were penalised at a ruck and a Keys Garry Horrigan was given a yellow card.
Keys attacked with vigour but a further penalty to Bedwas saw a second Keys yellow card this time lock Dan Hodge for a ruck offence, Powell again adding the extras. Bedwas ran the next play deep into the Keys 22 and Keys continued to incur the wrath of the referee who adjudged a Keys player to be killing the ball at a ruck and Aled James became the third Keys player to trudge off to the sin bin to howls of protest from the home faithful.
Keys called on all their resolve and with the half time clock ticking down good forward play saw Ollie Hodge driven over for a try; Gareth David adding the conversion.
Early in the half a quickly taken Keys line out was adjudged to be deliberately knocked on by Bedwas scrum half Tom Rowlands but bizarrely no yellow card appeared. Bedwas won the resulting scrum ‘against the head’ and the ball was cleared to touch. Bedwas drove up field before a break by Scott Williams earnt Bedwas a scrum which was penalised by the referee resulting in Powell’s seventh successful penalty of the afternoon. Keys reduced the arrears shortly afterwards via the boot of Dean Gunter
Then came the most controversial incident of all. Bedwas second row James Richards was shown a straight red card for a high tackle, and although there appeared no injury to the Keys player Bedwas were down to fourteen men for the last 30 minutes. Gunter kicked the resulting penalty to reduce the arrears to 28-16. Suddenly it was Bedwas’s turn to suffer the referee’s ire and another Keys penalty narrowed the gap further before back rower Tom Organ was sin binned to reduce Bedwas to thirteen men; Gunter added the penalty to reduce the arrears to six points.
Bedwas were not to be denied and dug deep and Nash’s high tackle gave Bedwas a penalty chance which was missed by Powell, Bedwas fans wondered if this was to prove ultimately costly as Keys were on top at this stage. Given the previous events of the afternoon it was somewhat mystifying that Nash was only yellow carded but that only added to the farce the game had become.
Keys continued to dominate and added two more Dean Gunter penalty goals to claw their way back to 28-all as Bedwas were constantly penalised.
More drama was to follow, with 30 seconds left on the clock Bedwas earnt a penalty from a ruck offence and Powell found the target to clinch the win with the last kick of the game.
Bedwas man of the match: Rhys Hutcherson.