THERE was whisky galore at Pandy Park as Cross Keys gave Ealing more than a run for their money with a comprehensive bonus point victory in a one-sided British and Irish Cup clash.
While the Newport Gwent Dragons were being battered by Bath down the road at Newport, conceding a shower of points in the Amlin Challenge Cup, Keys were restoring Welsh pride against English opposition.
The black comedy witnessed at Rodney Parade was alleviated by a more serious approach by Greg Woods’ men who took apart the hapless Championship side from across the border.
Boosted by an unexpected win away over Nottingham last week, the Londoners had arrived in the valleys looking for a similar smash and grab (Lavender Hill Mob) Robin Hood act.
But they were given a rude awakening by a Keys side who had the grunt up front and a ruthless streak that would have made the Sheriff smile.
A lively opening had seen Ealing take the lead with a penalty through their No 10 Andy Hall after three minutes only for his opposite number Dorian Jones to cancel it out.
Keys took the lead in the 11th minute when Dragons scrum-half Jonathan Evans, looking sharp after his comeback from a shoulder injury, crossed for a well-taken try from a lineout.
They went into a 11-3 lead when the impressive Jones banged over a long range penalty after quarter of an hour but Ealing clawed themselves back to within a point just minutes later.
Weak tackling in midfield allowed centre Tom Bedford to saunter home under the posts, Hall getting the extras.
Keys were the next to score when they were awarded a penalty try from a Dorian Jones up-and-under, Ealing wing Owen Bruynseels yellow carded for playing the ball just before his try-line after a teammate had knocked the ball on.
The conversion gave the hosts an 18-10 lead with nearly half an hour played and it remained the score when the teams changed ends.
The early moments of the second half saw referee Matthew O’Grady controversially give a yellow card to Ealing full-back Andrew Henderson for an innocuous tackle he deemed dangerous.
The switched on Keys soon had their second penalty try when they had the Ealing scrum in all sorts of bother from five metres out.
Replacement wing, the old boy recently signed from Swalec Championship side Newbridge, Ryan Lee secured the bonus point with Keys’ fourth try with nearly a quarter of the match still to go.
With the five points in the bag, the game sagged toward the end.
Only the man in the white suit would rule out Keys getting their hands on some silverware this season.
The British and Irish Cup might be out of the grasp of the 2012 finalists this season, but they look a good bet for some honours this year.
Well-drilled, superbly coached and talented, they could well go far.
Cross Keys: Rhys Jones, Kristian Baller, James Cordy-Redden (Ryan Lee 40), Phil Williams, Nathan Williams, Dorian Jones, Jonathan Evans (Owen Jones 64), Nathan Williams (Anthony Lott 60), Gerwyn Price (Henry Palmer 60), Craig Gould (Richard Cornock 60), Danny Hodge, Ollie Hodge (Tom Lampard 69), Phil Sargent (Reuben Tucker 45), Scott Matthews, Adam Powell (captain).
Cross Keys scorers: Tries – Jonathan Evans (11) Penalty try (28) (53), Ryan Lee (63), Conversions – Dorian Jones (28) (53) , Penalties – Dorian Jones (8) (15)
Ealing: Andrew Henderson, Owen Bruynseels, Tom Bedford, Tom Wheatcroft, Sam Wardingley, Andy Hall, Stuart Commins (Tom Parker 58), Darryl Marfo (Steve Neville 54), Andrei Radoi (Cody Blackhurst 69), Tim Brockett (Kyle Sinckler 54), Gavin Curry, George Merrick, Sam Hocking, Anders Nilsson, TJ Anderson (captain).
Replacements: Dan Collier, Alex Bradley, Phil Chesters.
Ealing scorers: Try– Tom Bedford (17), Conversion – Andy Hall (17) , Penalty – Andy Hall (3).
Referee: Matthew O’Grady (RFU)
Star men: Adam Powell, Scott Matthews and Phil Sargent