PONTYPOOL added another Premiership scalp to their recent record as they battled their way to victory over Cross Keys in the WRU National Cup, writes Jay Bayford.

Lloyd Lewis proved to be the match winner against his former team, adding to Martin Luckwell’s first-half score.

Jacob Botica bagged all of Keys’ points from the tee but he couldn't prevent joining Llanelli, Cardiff and Carmarthen Quins as recent cup victims of Pooler.

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Cross Keys drew first blood with the reliable Botica kicking them into an early lead with a well-taken penalty.

But Pooler’s response was emphatic. Keys lost possession from a line-out, centre Clayton Gullis picked up the loose ball to launch a counter attack that ended with scrum-half Luckwell reaching his kick forward to crash over.

You could have been forgiven for mistaking this as a game at Pontypool Park with the visiting fans in fine voice celebrating the try and the conversion that Matthew Lewis added.

The heavens then opened to add another layer of intrigue to the Gwent derby.

Pooler’s tails were up but their momentum was halted when prop Aaron Coundley was sent to the sin-bin, handing Keys a numerical advantage.

However, the hosts failed to make it count and once Pontypool returned to full strength, they tested Keys with ambitious and enthusiastic attacking play but resolute defending kept them at bay.

And that proved crucial as Keys closed the gap to just one point on the stroke of half time. Geraint Walsh looked to have cleared the danger when Botica’s disguised pass played Leon Andrews through but referee Mike English pulled play back for a penalty, which Botica fired through the posts.

With the weather not suited to free-flowing rugby, the two sides had to play the conditions as well as the opposition and Keys seemed to adapt better with Botica edging them into the lead with a close-range penalty.

Pooler had the opportunity to regain the lead but Keys were left thanking the post after Kieran Meek’s penalty struck the woodwork.

But that was enough for a shift in momentum and minutes later wing wizard Lloyd Lewis skipped past a few challenges to touch down and seal victory.

Cross Keys: L Andrews; W Cunliffe, C Nichols (R Budina 73), D Fidler, S Majkic; J Botica, J Guy; G Carpenter (T Hansen 78), E Shipp, R Cornock (S Hoskins 78), D Welch (capt), T Lampard, E Hopkins, J Carlin (I Jones 50), G Price.

Scorers: Pens: J Botica (3).

Pontypool: G Walsh; L Lewis, C Gullis, K Meek, J Thomas; M Lewis (J Mahoney 73), M Luckwell (A Quick 58); A Coundley, D Hughes, C Price (O Drake 50), D Hodge, C Gregory (B Lampitt 36), S Matthews, R Nash (capt) (J Jeune 19-28), B Sparks.

Scorers: Tries: M Luckwell, L Lewis; Con: M Lewis.

Star man: Martin Luckwell (Pontypool)