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Sport


Keys held in derby scorcher


Principality Welsh Premiership


Cross Keys’ Steffan Jones, left, and Newport’sScott Williams fall out during Saturday’sderby clash


Cross Keys ...23 Newport .....23


ATHRILLING Gwent derbysaw the spoils shared between Cross Keysand Newport at PandyPark on Saturday. Both coaches found things to please them after afull-


blooded clash thatsent the fans home thoroughlyenter- tained, though KeyscoachGregWoods wasthe more disap- pointed after seeing his side squander a23-9 lead with just 12 minutes to go. The game opened up in the closing stages,due largelyto


the fact outstanding Keyscaptain JevonGroves had been yellow-carded. Canadian centre Matt Evans’ superb individ- ual try,scorching home from the halfway line after 68 min- utes,brought Newport backinto the game when they looked dead and buried. And Rhys Jones’ superb touchline conver- sion meant they were just aconverted try behind. Just four minutes later Evans scored again with the Keys


well and trulyrocked and asimple conversion made it all square and set up an exciting finale. Adrawwas probably afair result, although Keyscould probably put for- wardamore convincing case thatthey deserved to win. After the previous week’s highlydis-


appointing defeattothe same oppo- nents at Rodney Parade,they had alot to proveonSaturday. And they showed they are aforce to


be reckoned with in aperformance knee-deepinguts and commitment. Young skipper and No 8Groves led


from the front, mixing ahard edge with the skills of Michael Owen at his best. It wasn’t agame forthe faint-heart-


ed butthere wasnothing too unsavoury in agame well marshalled by referee Wayne Davies. Ill-discipline sawfiveplayers receive cards –Keys’ hooker Richard Emms, flanker Rhys Peebles and Groves plus Newport lockAdam Brownand blind- side Adam Frampton. Manyofthe players can be proud of their performances,aswell as Rhys Jones,Evans and Groves. Keysoutside-half SteffanJones had


an excellent day, scoring 18 points. It washis fine try thatopened the scoring after just three minutes. Keysjust about had the edge in the


first half, going in 14-6 up thanks to a Peebles try just before the interval. SteffanJones’ twoconversions added to their tally, twoRhysJones penaltiesfor Newport in reply. Keysdominated early in the second


half and built up a23-9 lead before Newport’s spectacular finish. Cross Keys:


tries –Steffan Jones,Rhys Peebles; con- versions –S Jones


(2);


penalties –S Jones (3). Ne wport:


tries –Matt Evans (2); con- versions –Rhys Jones


(2);


penalties –R Jones (3).


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Runaway leaders move further ahead of pack


DESPITE conceding atry forthe first time in eight league games,Newbridge increased their lead at the top of Division One East to 18 points with a35-16 suc- cess at Bargoed. Should Newbridge main-


tain first position, they will almost


certainlybe


matched with Division One West leaders Bridgend in a play-offtodetermine who gets promoted to the Welsh Premiership. Ebbw Vale moved into sec-


ond position with a28-12 win at rock-bottom Ystrad Rhondda and still have three matches in hand over their county rivals. If the situation remains


the same after Vale’s home game against third-placed GilfachGochonSaturday (1pm), then Newbridge’s visit to Eugene Cross Park on Wednesday, March 16 (7.15pm), will be seen by manyasatitle- decider. ForNewbridge,winning


forthe 14th time in 17 league games,tries were scored by winger David


SWALEC League Division 1East


James (2), scrum-half Tom Edwards,propMike Hutchings and hooker Darren Hughes while out- side-half Richard Powell landed five conversions. The last time anyone scored aleague try against Newbridge wasway backon October


30 when


Blackwood managed two. Bargoed touched down


after 15 minutes,meaning Newbridge had gone close to 580 minutes without allowing opponents to cross their line. Blackwood moved up a place to fifth following a24- 17 success over visiting Llanharran, their ninth league win of the campaign. Tries were scored by sec- ond-row MarcWilliams and scrum-half Mark Birkby, centre Gareth Price adding the rest of the points via four penalties and aconver- sion.


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