CROSS Keys head coach Greg Woods has called on his side to bounce back from their bitterly disappointing Swalec Cup final defeat to Pontypridd for their Principality Premiership semi-final playoff clash against Carmarthen Quins, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
The Pandy Park side travel to West Wales on Sunday with their league title dream still alive but needing to pick themselves up after the weekend’s 21-8 setback at the Millennium Stadium.
Keys had outsmarted Ponty to lift the cup in 2012 but this time around they didn’t play to their potential against clinical opponents who took their chances while the Gwent Valleys side failed to convert considerable pressure and territory into points.
Woods admitted Ponty – who Keys will face again in the Premiership final should they beat Quins – had been too good on the day and revealed how some of his players had simply been overawed by the occasion of playing in such a high stakes game.
“They bullied us in the contact area, which is an aspect of the game that is usually one of Keys’ strengths,” he said.
“Fair play to them. They battered us and played with such ferocity. The occasion was just too much for some of the boys.
“Ponty looked hungrier after they’d lost out on a trophy to Leinster A in the British and Irish Cup semi-final the week before.”
But Woods and his troops will look to turn things around as they hunt for their first league title.
“The season is still on and we’ve got another semi-final against the Quins on the weekend and we’ll be looking to bounce back,” he said.
“Ponty caught us cold and we only started playing in the last 30 minutes.
“There were some positives for us and our bench made a big impact – Nathan Trowbridge scored a beautiful try – and we made a game of it.”
Keys had trailed 21-3 with just 15 minutes to go before a smartly executed try touched down by wing Trowbridge gave them hope.
And when other wing James Cordy-Redden looked to have scored soon after with ten minutes still on the clock and with the possibility Keys clawing the score back to 21-15, it looked as though a remarkable comeback might be on the cards.
But it was ruled out by the television match official who adjudged the ball had gone forward from centre and captain Leon Andrews.
He believes had the score being given, Keys would have gone on to win the game.
“I looked at the television replays and it looked from one angle as if the ball had gone forward and from another like it bounced back,” he said.
“I definitely think we could have gone on to win it had the try been given. It was a big turning point but we just didn’t get the rub of the green.”