Bridgend 21 Cross Keys 6

A ‘DAMB squib’ was how Cross Keys head coach Greg Woods described this disappointing clash after his side’s lifeless performance saw a gritty Bridgend emerge as more than worthy winners.

It’s true the Pandy Park outfit obviously had their minds on Sunday’s Swalec Cup final against Pontypridd at the Millennium Stadium.

The Gwent Valleys side went into this game with remote hopes of securing a Principality Premiership home play-off tie against Carmarthen Quins next month.

But the West Walians’ away victory over Aberavon meant that this result was ultimately academic, but Keys, nonetheless, looked jaded.

Make no mistake, this was a terrible match, the dreadful weather, the encounter played for the large part in horrible driving rain, a significant mitigating factor.

A comedy of errors of a first half actually saw Keys take a 6-0 lead through fly-half Angus O’Brien who kicked two penalties.

But that was as good as it got for the visitors after Bridgend took a lead they would never relinquish when centre Nathan Edwards scored a well-taken try, helped in no small part by some egregious Keys defending, outside-half James Dixon converting.

It was the No 10 who extended their advantage with a well struck penalty as the hosts proceeded to take a grip on the game.

Keys’ cause wasn’t helped when wing Nathan Trowbridge was yellow carded just before half-time after he knocked down a pass when the Ravens mounted a promising attack in their opponents’ 22.

Bridgend then made the Gwent Valleys side pay when hooker Ashleigh James finished well to power over for an unconverted try.

The first 40 came to an end with the home side fully deserving their 15-6 lead.

A shocking game scarcely improved in the second half although Keys did start to put their house in order only to rarely, if ever, threaten to breach the stout Bridgend defenders.

The managed little of any consequence other than a superb phase of play when his chip ahead was gathered by O’Brien, the promising youngster ultimately knocking on after he and his teammates had managed to move their way deep into the home side’s half.

It looked as though we might have a scoreless second 40 only for Bridgend full-back Jamie Murphy to nail two late penalties to give his side the convincing victory they richly deserved.

“It was a flat performance and the match was a bit of a damp squib,” Woods admitted after the game.

“About the best I can say is that we didn’t pick up any injuries ahead of the cup final.

“We have to go away to Quins for the semi-final play-off, which will be tough, and we’ve got two more huge clashes (in the league) to come.

“There’s not much more I can say.”

Bridgend: Jamie Murphy, Rhys Ward Jones (Owen Howe 79), Nathan Edwards, Adam Williams (Chay Smith 79), Adam Field (Michael Kennedy 79), James Dixon, Chris Williams, Mitchell Auger (Gary Carpenter 73), Ashleigh James (Greg George 68), Cai Lewis (Jon Thomas 68), Kyle Evans, Ben Jones, Jon Vaughan, Arthur Ellis (capt) (Sam Treharne 74), David Barry (Adam O’Driscoll 48).

Bridgend scorers: Tries – Nathan Edwards (22), Ashleigh James (37), Conversions – James Dixon (22), Penalties – James Dixon (33), Jamie Murphy (77, 79).

Cross Keys: Steffan Jones, Nathan Williams, Aled James (Ryan Lee 50), Phil Williams, Nathan Trowbridge, Angus O'Brien, Owen Jones (capt), Luke Garrett, Henry Palmer, Nathan Buck (Anthony Lott 71), Danny Hodge (Reuben Tucker 43), Ollie Hodge, Tom Lampard, Jack Perkins, Ieuan Jones.

Replacements: Richard Cornock, Darren Hughes, Adam Powell, Rhys Dyer, Dorian Jones, Cross Keys scorer: Penalties – Angus O’Brien (2, 18)

Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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