CROSS Keys gave the visiting fans an early Christmas present as they edged to victory in a festive derby against Newport at Rodney Parade, writes Jay Bayford.

Newport held the advantage at half time but Keys took control early in the second half and held off a brave Newport fightback to claim a bonus-point victory.

The hosts recovered from a shaky start and, after some nice build-up play, eventually took the lead.

Henry Palmer was the man that grounded the ball after a strong driving lineout and Haydn Simons, who moved from full back to fly half as part of a late change to the Newport line-up, slotted the resulting conversion through the posts.

The Black and Ambers started to express themselves in attack as the half went on but just when it looked inevitable that they would add to their lead, Cross Keys struck on the counter.

With so many piling forward to help Newport’s attack, Keys were able to unlock the Newport defence with a couple of passes, which left Leon Andrews clean through to crash over and Josh Prosser added the extras with his boot.

Haydn Palmer was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Lewis Barnett but the 14 men of Newport still managed to edge ahead through a well-taken Simons penalty.

The hosts made the stronger start after the break but once again Keys caught them on the break.

Mathew Powell stole possession after a wayward pass and managed to keep the ball under control and outrun the chasing defenders to dive over and put the visitors ahead.

Prosser smashed the conversion onto the post but was on target with two quick-fire penalties to give Keys control.

However, Matt O’Brien came off the bench to convert Jon Morris’ try and haul Newport back into the game.

Barney Nightingale and Tom Piper traded late tries, which were both converted, before Keys skipper Scott Matthews sealed the win, and the bonus point, for the visitors at the death.

Newport: Tries: H Palmer, J Morris, T Piper; Cons: H Simons, M O’Brien (2); Pens: H Simons.

Cross Keys: Tries: L Andrews, M Powell, B Nightingale, S Matthews; Cons: J Prosser (3); Pens: J Prosser (2).