The 2018/19 Principality Premiership has gotten off to a losing start for Bedwas RFC and Bargoed RFC, who both find themselves without a win after two matches. Cross Keys managed better with a win and a loss.
On Saturday, September 8, reigning champions Merthyr downed Bedwas 27-7 on home soil at The Wern.
The Ironmen were indebted to a superb first-half performance from star man and wing Lewis Williams who scored a stunning first-half hat-trick.
Merthyr hooker Rhys Williams also scored before the break with full-back Joshua Martin kicking seven points.
Bedwas struggled to get going despite a James Richards try and the only surprise was that Merthyr couldn’t push further clear when the game resumed in the second half.
A penalty goal from Martin resembled the only points after the break.
Things were no better at the Bridge Field a week earlier with Bedwas losing against Pontypridd 23 – 33.
Bedwas took an early lead courtesy of two Joseph Scrivens penalties in the first 14 minutes, before Ceri Sweeney kicked a penalty after for Pontypridd to narrow the gap.
After another penalty for Bedwas, winger Jordan Rees got a break from the halfway line to cross for a fine try – brushing off would-be tacklers on the way. The conversion saw Bedwas lead at the break 16-3.
However Pontypridd turned on the power in the second half with four tries, two conversions and two penalties sealing a bonus point winning performance.
Bargoed were left to rue a string of handling errors and missed tackles in a sub-standard performance for their opening home match against Llandovery.
The eventual score was 22-62, although Bargoed took heart from the amount of territory and possession they had throughout the game.
A week later on Sunday, September 9, Bargoed visited Newport and on an immaculate surface at Rodney Parade, made a promising start.
Bargoed’s scrum was dominant and Newport conceded a few penalties meaning a 6-3 lead for the visitors. It didn’t last long with a penalty against Bargoed for holding on.
An interception by wing Jonny Morris then saw Newport get the first try which was converted.
Yet another penalty saw Newport take a 16-6 lead.
Newport now had real momentum and Morris again penetrated the Bargoed defence.
The score at half-time was 23-9 after a further converted try for Newport and a penalty for Bargoed.
The second half saw Bargoed mount pressure with good territory, but a couple errors at the lineout allowed the home side to relieve that pressure.
Bargoed again got into a good position and after a couple of effective driving lineouts prop John Lavender burrowed over with Prosser converting to make it 23- 16.
It looked like Bargoed were battling their way back into the game, but prop Nicky Thomas was yellow carded for a scrum infringement and Bargoed were down to 13 men when Jordan Howells was also sin binned. Adam Powell was also yellow-carded later on in the game meaning Bargoed were still down two players.
Bargoed shipped 21 points with players in the sin bin, and that allowed Newport to capitalise and take the game away from them.
Bargoed managed to get two late tries from Lewys Lippiett and Adam Powell both converted by Prosser for a final score of 44-30.
Head Coach David Lynch said: “There were some positives through our strong scrum and driving line out but ultimately there were too many errors in attack.
“Coupled with this we had a heavy penalty count against us and lost three players through yellow card offences.
“We’re not going to win games when we put ourselves in those positions, so we’ll focus on that this week, work hard, and look to improve in the areas we’ve identified.”
Cross Keys got their campaign off to a better start at Bridgend on Saturday, September 1 with a 32-35 bonus point win.
Former professionals Damien Welch and Jason Tovey got their new careers at Cross Keys off to a flying start and there was also a try for Dragons flanker Nic Cudd.
Tovey weighed in with 12 points with his boot to go with the four tries, while Bridgend hit back with four tries of their own from Nathan Edwards, two in four minutes from Aaron Grabham and an 80th minute effort from Chris John.
However the team’s winning start to the season faltered a week later in Carmarthen.
Cross Keys were soundly beaten by Quins at the Park on September 8, although a late second half comeback meant Keys didn’t leave empty-handed and picked up a four-try bonus point for their late efforts – something that in a relegation season may prove vital as the weeks go on.
The Quins made a rampant start to the game and flew out of the blocks with Keys looking like they were still sat on the bus, and were unable to park it during the opening 20 minutes. The Quins opening score came with around three minutes on the clock when Keys failed to deal with the opening kick-off and put themselves under pressure.
Four tries in the first half saw Carmarthen take a 28-7 lead at the break with a solitary converted try from Cross Keys.
A further two tries in the second half and a penalty saw the Quins win the game 41-28.
But Cross Keys did fight back however with three tries.
They were pushing hard for another gain a losing bonus point.
Despite their best efforts that wasn’t to be and Keys settled for a single bonus point after a tough day at the office such was Quins dominance for the opening 60 minutes.
After the opening two rounds, Cross Keys lie seventh in the Principality Premiership while Bargoed are 14th and Bedwas 15th.
Cross Keys face Neath at Pandy Park on September 15 and Bargoed on September 22 at Bargoed Park.
Bargoed face Carmarthen Quins on September 15 at home.
Bedwas host Llandovery on September 15 and travel to Newport on Sunday, September 23.
• Match reports provided by Bedwas RFC, Bargoed RFC, and Cross Keys RFC.