WRU Championship: Narberth 20-19 Cross Keys 

A penalty under intense pressure from literally the last kick of the match by outside half Ianto Griffiths gave Narberth a dramatic one-point victory over former top-class club Cross Keys.

Even the most ardent of Narberth supporters would have to say it was their ‘get out of jail’ card because for much of the match the visitors who ruled the roost.

The visitors used the strong wind in the first half to hold a 19-interval lead but The Otters reduced that deficit straight after the oranges when Griffiths landed a penalty from half way.

But from there until the 76th minute Cross Keys used their well-organised pack to prevent Narberth from ever really challenging in attack so that a visitors’ win seemed a certainty.

But then a superb catch by talented young full back Llew Jones helped establish a late platform from which Jake Jenkins ran out of defence and then support – until Tom Powell, Roy Osborn and Alex Jenkins set up a strong drive and winger Daf Pritchard maintained his good try-scoring form to cross the whitewash and get close enough to the posts for Griffiths to convert.

Suddenly The Otters were just two points adrift and a huge downfield punt by replacement Jonathan Rogers set up a burst by centre Josh Davies, only for Cross Keys to be awarded a penalty which they kicked to touch on their own 22.

They seemed safe as O-Brien sent the ball into touch but from the ensuing line-out they conceded a penalty – and Griffiths coolly slotted the ball between the sticks for victory.

With the wind at their backs in the first half Cross Keys benefited from a careless kick off to the match which went straight into touch – and for the next five minutes they pounded The Otters’ line until centre Corey Nicholls crossed in the corner and O’Brien did well to add the extras.

Narberth did show character as they used the drive of Tom Slater, Rhodri Owens, Brad Davies and Steff Phillips to establish an attack from which Griffiths kicked a penalty to the corner, Alex Jenkins won the line-out and scrum half Rhys Lane’s flat pass allowed Jake Jenkins to cut an angle and race to the posts for Griffiths to convert.

But Cross Keys held the edge for the rest of the half, prompted by half backs Rhys Meredith and O’Brien.

They added two further tries via winger Dan Hitchings and No 10 O’Brien; the latter converted from in front of the posts.

A 12-point deficit was within Narberth’s scope but after that early three-pointer they seemed to lose their way and Cross Keys had big performances from locks Scott Andrews and skipper Tom Lampard.

Indeed, Cross Keys looked to have scored a try in the clubhouse corner but their touch-judge sportingly raised his flag for a foot on the touch-line.

Then came the dramatic finale when The Otters showed real spirit to snatch victory out of the fire – and coach Sean Gale was delighted afterwards with a win he must have thought unlikely with four minutes left!

  • Before the match there was a minute’s silence for three Narberth stalwarts in Bill Phillips, a former club captain, Glyn Williams, and Ralph Jones.
  • The Narberth committee had showed solidarity for Cross Keys’ plight with regard to their flooded pitch and so a bucket collection was presented by Otters’ chairman Dorian Phillips to Cross Keys’ Hon Treasurer Sophie Wilkins after the match.

Narberth: Llew Jones: Daf Pritchard; Josh Davies; Jake Jenkins; Ashley Sutton: Ianto Griffiths; Rhys Lane: Bradley Davies; Rhodri Owens; Tom Slater: Jake Baker; Alex Jenkins: Richie Rees (Capt); Tom Powell; Steff Phillips. Replacements: Lewys Gibby; Dan Smith; Roy Osborn; Jonathan Rogers, Adam Thomas.

Cross Keys: Curtis Povey: Dan Hitchings; Adam Tetley; Corey Nicholls; Alex Upton: Loui O’Brien; Rhys Meredith: Owen Peddle; Zac Hewlett; Jordan Richards: Tom Lampard (Capt); Scott Andrews: Chris Johnsey; Joe Thomas; Gwion Jones. Replacements: Connor Vaughan; Chris John; Callum Hague; Lewis Allwood; Zach Bartlett.

Referee: Jason Bessant.