NEWPORT took the spoils in a thrilling Gwent derby at Pandy Park on Saturday after seeing off Cross Keys 45-19, writes Ian Golden.

It was an even first half but Newport had a stronger bench and used this to their advantage as they built scored 24 unanswered second half points to secured a bonus point win.

Keys took the lead in under two minutes after the former Newport winger Llywarch Ap Myrddin, making his first appearance for the club on permit from Cardiff, slipped through to dive over in the corner. Jacob Botica’s conversion went wide.

The lead was doubled four minutes later when Garin Price went over from a maul with Botica taking his time to land the conversion this time.

Newport hit back on 19 minutes after Chay Smith made a clean break to outrun his markers and place the ball under the sticks. Matt O’Brien easily converted.

Five minutes later, the Black and Ambers took the lead. After a few infringements in the scrum, the referee had enough and awarded them a penalty try to put them 14-12 up.

They weren’t in the ascendency for long as this exciting see-saw half continued. Keys were awarded two successive penalties, and choosing to kick both into touch ended up being the correct decision, as from the second, Ellis Shipp dived over and Botica converted.

However Newport went into the lead at the break after Elliot Frewen sprinted down the wing for his side’s third try. O’Brien converted in the final action of the first half, to put them 21-19 up.

They extended their lead early in the second period after Frewen dived on an inch-perfect O’Brien grubber for the bonus point try. O’Brien converted well.

The same player then added a penalty goal before an extremely well-worked move ended in Geraint O’Driscoll placing the ball under the sticks for Newport’s fifth try of the game. O’Brien’s kick sent the score up to an unassailable 38-19.

It didn’t help Keys’ afternoon when Dylan Fidler saw yellow with a little over 10 minutes to go. Just before he returned to the field, Chris Williams put the icing on the Christmas cake for Newport by scoring their sixth try that Haydn Simons improved.

Cross Keys: W Kelly (R Budina 60); L Ap Myrddin, S Majkic (C Penny 75), D Fidler (C Nicholls 80), W Cunliffe; J Botica, O Leonard; C Hewlett (G Carpenter 55), E Shipp, R Cornock (S Evans 55); S Andrews (W Griffiths 70), H Reader, D Welch, T Lampard (J Thomas 52), G Price.

Tries: L Ap Myrddin, G Price, E Shipp. Conversions : J Botica (2)

Star Man: Ellis Shipp.

Newport: D Richards (H Palmer 62), H Lang, C Smith, G O'Driscoll, E Frewen; M O'Brien (H Simons 62), G Watkin (R James 65); D Preece (L Smout 57), W Evans (H Palmer 50), T Piper (N Thomas 50); J Bartlett, J Skinner (C Williams 62), R Jenkins (H Taylor 50), K Tayler, M Reed.

Tries: C Smith, Penalty, E Frewen (2), G O’Driscoll, C Williams. Conversions: M O’Brien (4), H Simons. Penalties: O’Brien.

Star Man : Elliot Frewen