Cross Keys came to the Park on Saturday determined to end their recent losing streak and maintain their top-four position. The game ultimately, however, was to be determined by the atrocious weather conditions. Although the playing surface stood up well considering the teams warmed up and played through hail, heavy rain and the occasional glint of sunlight.
In the first half the Quins were perhaps guilty of trying to play too much rugby and Cross Keys were generally more “savvy” at the breakdowns. This combined with judicious kicking put the home side on the back foot time and time again after running at the opposition and the wet ball making passing, handling and off-loading difficult.
Scoring was always going to be problematic. James Dixon hit the cross bar with an early penalty attempt and the only score approaching the interval was from a Dorian Jones penalty. There was an audible groan from the crowd, therefore, when the Quins opted to turn down a penalty attempt in front of the posts just before half time in favour of going for touch. The option came to nothing and the half-time score remained 0 – 3.
Carmarthen attacked from the restart and the score was soon levelled with a Dixon penalty. From then on the Quins tended to be the better side although the visitors were still frustrating them at the breakdown and set pieces. Lee Williams, always looking for action off his wing, made a couple of good breaks and then Jason Harries made a decisive break before passing to Alex Pickersgill. He was brought down short but the resulting penalty gave the home side a narrow lead.
Both sides now tried to play a territorial game but the conditions were taking their toll causing missed opportunities and many stoppages for injury. It was on 80 min. but probably with 12 min. left to play due to injury that Carmarthen pulled further away with another Dixon penalty. It was then five minutes later that Cross Keys kicked deep into the Quins half, Darren Daniel fielded the ball, knocking off would be tacklers, before off-loading to Jason Harries. He then made 30m. to touch down in the corner for a well-deserved but unconverted try.
The final score was Carmarthen Quins 14 Cross Keys 3. The home side deserved their win but I am also sure that the poor weather conditions masked their true superiority somewhat.
Next Match ~ Friday 9th. November away to Llanelli (evening kick off)
Reporter ~ Keith Bond