A DOUR 80 minutes, not helped by the poor pitch conditions, evidenced why both these sides languish in the wrong half of the league table, writes Peter Hughes.

In taking victory by a single point, however, Cross Keys not only avenged their early season defeat at Bargoed Park but also secured them the bulk of the all-important Premiership points. Bargoed meanwhile, as the only side to score a try, may feel their single Premiership point is scant reward for their efforts.

It was the hosts who opened the scoring with a third minute penalty from the boot of stand off Jacob Botica. The Dragons squad member doubled his side’s advantage on the quarter hour mark after Keys hooker Ellis Shipp was adjudged to have been the victim of a high tackle.

The English born New Zealander’s third successful penalty kick, early in the second quarter of the game, was made easier when the visitors conceded an extra 10 metres for dissent.

Bargoed had a kicking opportunity of their own soon afterwards but opted to kick for touch. The strategy paid off as, from the ensuing lineout, the pack drove to the line for prop and skipper Rhys Morgan to touch down with outside half Josh Prosser adding the extra points.

A fourth successful Botica kick in the 37th minute extended the Cross Keys lead but Bargoed struck straight back with a penalty of their own, kicked by Prosser, to make the score at the interval 12 – 10 to Cross Keys.

A half time change of jerseys for both sides was a consequence of the muddy conditions which had ensured that this game would be dominated by forward play and kicking.

Bargoed missed an opportunity to take the lead when a 48th minute penalty attempt by Josh Prosser bounced back off the upright. That situation was remedied quarter of an hour into the half when, after Cross Keys conceded a series of penalties, referee Jason Morris awarded Bargoed a penalty try.

With a little under 20 minutes of the game remaining, a fifth Botica penalty reduced the home side’s deficit to two points. Most of the remainder of the game was played in the Bargoed half and Keys got within inches of their line on more than one occasion but, almost inevitably, it was the boot of Botica that settled matters with an injury time penalty.

Cross Keys: L Andrews, C Penny, A Jones, D Fidler, W Cunliffe, J Botica, I Burgwin (J Guy 49), R Cornock (G Carpenter 55), E Shipp, S Evans, S Andrews, T Lampard, D Welch (capt), G Price, I Jones.

Scorers – Pens: J Botica (3, 15, 24, 37, 63, 80+5).

Bargoed: C Jones, D Dyer, D Humphries, B Nightingale, A Norton, J Prosser, J Leadbeater, R Morgan (capt), R Buckley, A Gardener-Key, G Edmunds, B Morgan, L Blacker (C Davies 80+5), G Rogers, A Powell (A Gibson 78).

Scorers – Tries: R Morgan (28) Pen (55). Con: J Prosser (28). Pen: J Prosser (40).

Referee: Mr Jason Morris (WRU).

Player of the game: Jacob Botica (Cross Keys).