IF Cross Keys are to lift the Swalec Cup for a second time they will have done it the hard way, as their delighted head coach Greg Woods pointed out.
Their convincing victory at Cardiff on the weekend followed away wins in the competition over Neath and Bedwas.
So if they are to add to their glorious 32-19 Swalec Cup final triumph of 2012 over Pontypridd, it would mean Keys securing the trophy without having played a single game at home.
They go into the hat for tomorrow’s draw with holders Pontypridd and Aberavon and Llandovery, with those two semi-final clashes being played on a neutral ground before the big showdown at the Millennium Stadium in May.
Just a mile or so down the road on Saturday, the capital city’s football side were being hammered in the Premier League by Liverpool at the Cardiff City Stadium.
And while it was the Reds’ Luis Suárez who was the tormentor-in-chief as his side battered the Bluebirds 6-3, it was Keys’ outside-half Dorian Jones who again proved to be the big difference between the two sides.
It was his quick-thinking from a tap penalty which created a fine first half try for the visitors, well finished by captain and centre Leon Andrews, their skipper playing in his first game since dislocating his elbow just before Christmas in a win over Aberavon.
Jones ended up with 20 points after slotting a tricky conversion and six penalties, some of them towering kicks in difficult windy conditions, to steer his side home.
In truth, the result was never really in doubt although the Blue and Blacks did claw themselves back into the match early in the second half when former Ebbw Vale man, wing Shaun Powell pounced after a fly hack through when Keys had tried to launch a suicidal counter attack from their own 22, his try converted by former Pandy Park old boy Dean Gunter.
That saw the visitors’ 16-3 interval lead frittered away to just a six-point advantage but that was about as good as it got for a rather poor and insipid Cardiff side who rarely looked interested.
This was Keys third thumping of the season over the famous old club after beating them 38-10 in a league encounter at Cardiff Arms Park marred by violence in late November and a 45-13 hammering in the Principality Premiership last week – that’s an overall aggregate of 108-33.
Keys controlled almost the entire game and should have won by far more, hooker Darren Hughes and openside flanker Reuben Tucker both losing the ball over the Cardiff try-line in the opening 40 minutes.
The visitors’ scrum was also dominant and the result, despite a few jitters, never really in doubt.
Woods was pleased with another big win over a club where he was a promising hooker between 1999 and 2003 in pre-regional rugby days before injury cut short his playing career.
“We certainly are on one hell of a cup run, winning away after victories at Neath and Bedwas and we’ll be battle hardened come our semi-final encounter which again won’t be at home,” he said.
“We thoroughly deserved to win and it was a real squad effort – I think we are proving we are one of the top three sides in Wales and brought a strong bench on in the second half.
“We have a fantastic set piece and again showed we can play some rugby as well.”
Cardiff: Joe Griffin (Jack Maynard 60), James Loxton, Will Rees Hole, Tom Pascoe, Shaun Powell, Dean Gunter, Tom Slater (Garyn Lucas 70), Lewis Smout (Leon Crump 60), Alun Rees (Aaron Fowler 60), Ryan Harford, Miles Normandale (Sam Feehan 64), James Murphy, Alwyn Lee, Ben Roach (Nick White 60), Luke Hamilton (capt)
Replacements: Rhys James, Mike Stephens
Try – Shaun Powell, Conversion – Dean Gunter, Penalty – D Gunter
Cross Keys: Ryan Lee (James Cordy-Redden 40), Elliot Jones (Kristian Baller 40), Leon Andrews (capt), Aled James, Nathan Trowbridge, Dorian Jones, Ryan James (Owen Jones 79), Anthony Lott (Richard Cornock 45), Darren Hughes (Henry Palmer 79), Craig Gould (Nathan Buck 45), Tom Lampard (Danny Hodge 45), Ollie Hodge, Jevon Groves, Reuben Tucker (Jack Perkins 79), Adam Powell (capt)
Try – Leon Andrews, Conversion – Dorian Jones, Penalties – D Jones (6)
Referee: Sean Brickell (WRU)
Argus star man: Dorian Jones