Match reaction: Cross Keys 3-34 Newcastle Falcons

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Friday 1 February 2013 – 7.00pm
Pandy Park, Cross Keys
British & Irish Cup Pool 4 #6

They say that on the seventh day, God rested. I reckon that while He had His eye off the ball, the devil created Newcastle Brown Ale.

At full-time last night, a bloke in the clubhouse seemed to be nursing the same Dog he’d been drinking at half-time, and this morning I’m kind-of regretting not following his example.

Mind, on a night like last night it’s easy to forget about sensibilities. It was one of the best rugby nights I’ve had in years. From a chat with Smithy to start, to meeting new Wales-based Falcons and seeing one fan I hadn’t seen for years, and then making new friends with the home fans.

I wanted to swap shirts with one bloke who was wearing a home-made Cross Keys-Dragons shirt but he didn’t want to lose it, and said he’d meet me at the station this morning with something else.

In the end he very kindly gave me the two shirts above. Since I’m now Falcons-shirtless for Leeds, might have to see if the Cross Keys one fits.

I need a new pair of gloves though – a girl decided that my Falcons mittens would go well with the shirt she’ll hopefully get from Tom Catterick, so I gave them to her post-match.

The game itself was played in mud-bath – the forwards were covered within minutes. But, to their credit, both teams tried to play rugby.

The Falcons were dominant for almost all of the first and restricted Cross Keys to just a missed long-range penalty in terms of scoring chances.

We just couldn’t turn our pack’s dominance into more points, going into half-time 0-13 thanks to a try by new signing Ollie Stedman.

I had a chat with Stedman’s dad in the bar before the game, very nice bloke. He will have been happy to see a solid debut by our new number eight.

The second half was also mostly one-way traffic with Warren Fury sniping a try down the blindside and the referee lost patience with the home forwards, sending two to the bin and awarding two penalty tries.

So we got the full compliment of five points, which I think means a haul of 28 points from a possible 30 in the cup group. We now await the quarter-final draw, once all the postponed games have been played.

The game wasn’t pretty, indeed it was never likely to be on such a boggy pitch, but the Falcons did what they had to do. It was a professional job by the forwards in particular.

Behind the scrum, Jamie Helleur had another strong outing and I thought Fury had his best game for us.

Off the pitch, the welcome from Cross Keys for the nine (I think) away fans was warm and friendly. It’s a lovely club and going to places like this is what rugby is all about.

Otley next week should be another good experience.

(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)

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