Traffic chaos on the M4 nearly saw this fixture have to be re re-arranged. Luckily players, officials and supporters arrived safely and a 25-minute delay in the kick-off time was all that was required.
It was Cross Keys who dealt better with the delay. From the kick off they pressurised the visitors at every opportunity. This pressure leading to the game’s first score. From a short line out the Keys pack pounded the line eventually driving back row Colin Bridges over for an unconverted try after just 4 minutes.
This seemed to wake the Blue & Blacks up, with skipper Ruttley snipping around rucks and mauls the home defence was eventually penalised for offside, Gareth Davies adding the three points. This pattern of play continued and no surprises when another penalty was conceded, Davies again landing the kick for a lead which Cardiff never surrendered.
The pressure was all coming from the visitors and even when the home side did get any possession they gave it away, Craig Morgan nearly scoring from an interception. Then came the first candidate for try of the season. A lineout in mid-field was taken up by Darren Ryan, quick ball was moved left where a few probes down the blind side brought no reward, the ball was moved to the open side of the field where Damien Welch found some space. A show of the ball and a side step sent the Keys defence the wrong way and he had the pace to race under the posts from 40 metres out. The try being converted by Gareth Davies.
Cross Keys though were producing opportunities of their own, and one raid into the Cardiff half saw Welch yellow carded, the penalty attempt drifting wide. Then came the second candidate for try of the season. A Keys lineout in the Blue & Blacks 22 landed in Rhys Shellard’s arms, he set off down field at pace, gaining 40 metres before finding support from Darren Ryan, he continued the speed of the move before releasing the ball back to Shellard who raced home between the Keys defence to score under the posts. Davies converting.
The home side though weren’t about to lie down and surrender. On one occasion clever work from Gareth Davies avoided several defenders near his own line to clear following a kick and chase. Just before half time a series of driving mauls nearly saw the Keys nearly add to their tally. Only bodies on the line defence kept them out, and with the ball held up over the line referee Huw Watkins blew for halftime with Cardiff 20-5 ahead.
The second half started as the first had finished. Darren Allison, playing at full back nearly got through the home defence, but was tap tackled 20 metres out and the ball was lost. Keys must have had a serious talking to by Mark Ring at half time because their second half performance was much improved. They gained several penalties in the early stages. Out of the five kickable penalties only two were converted, both by Joe Deacon. Keys were now starting to get the upper hand and brave defence from the Blue & Blacks kept them out.
Another raid saw the Keys press towards the visitors line, but Gareth Chapman was alert to the danger, picking off the pass to race under the posts from his own 22. Davies converted and the game was all but done. Cardiff were pressing hard for the bonus point try, but it wasn’t to be. Keys got a consolation try scored by Marcus Johnstone, which Deacon converted.
At the full time whistle Cardiff had secured a ninth consecutive league win, and jumped to second in the Premiership for the time being at least.