3:15pm Monday 19th May 2014
By Chris Kirwan
CROSS Keys may have been the bridesmaids on two occasions but head coach Greg Woods has hailed his charges for a super season.
The power of Pontypridd proved too much for the Pandy Park outfit, who lost both of Welsh club rugby's showpiece events to the men from Sardis Road.
They were beaten 21-8 in the Swalec Cup final at the start of the month and on Sunday they were outmuscled 38-17 in the grand final of the Principality Premiership.
There is no shame in coming second to Ponty, who have won the double double, and Woods was quick to tell his players that.
He said: "It feels like a failure after losing the last game of the season but I told them in the circle after the game on Sunday that they can be proud of their efforts.
"You can't say that getting to two finals is a disappointing season, although it hurts that we didn't win one.
"But this club has come a long way in a short space of time to be in with a shout of winning two pieces of silverware."
The game was gone by half-time when the champions led 21-0 but Keys, led superbly by centre Leon Andrews, showed oodles of spirit to at least cross the whitewash through scrum-half James Leadbeater (2) and wing Nathan Trowbridge.
"We have got to get used to playing in big-match environments and hopefully the more we play in them, the better we will get," said Woods.
"I was delighted that we showed real spirit to fight back and score some tries in the second half on Sunday but you aren't going to claw it back from 21-0 down at Sardis Road.
"We are not far off it but we came up against a very strong Ponty unit – they thoroughly deserved their double. They were more powerful than us in the finals, have strength in depth and their crowd certainly helps them."
Keys will now regroup over the summer before once again battling to be part of the British and Irish Cup before the Premiership kicks off .
The cross-border tournament is set to continue next season and once again will feature a representative from each region.
Keys, finalists in 2012, are set to host Ebbw Vale and Newport will head to Bedwas with the winners clashing for the right to represent Gwent.
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