Cross Keys3

Glasgow Caley54

CALEY coach Richie Dixon couldn't make up his mind whether to celebrate or mope after watching his side emphatically pick up their first Celtic League victory of the season on Welsh soil.

At least this time he had a choice of emotions. While admitting his delight at the clinical display in dreadful conditions which yielded eight tries, he declared: ''It just made me wonder why on earth we haven't been able to play like that down here more regularly.

''The surface was like a quagmire - and all credit to the Cross Keys people for managing to get the game on - but we put together some tremendous passages of running rugby.

''When you saw what the guys could achieve in six inches of mud, it made some of their careless previous performances on decent pitches all the more frustrating.''

Dixon added, however: ''When all is said and done, the overriding feeling is one of relief and excitement at the fact that we have broken our duck in Wales and kept closely in touch with the teams at the top of the league.''

Predictably, there was a negative aspect to events at Pandy Park. Caley skipper Andy Nicol, making his first competitive start of the season, ended up in hospital to have stitches inserted in a deep mouth gash - sustained shortly after he had scored the second of his two tries.

Dixon said: ''It is hard to estimate at the moment whether he will be forced to miss Sunday's match against Llanelli at Perth. It was quite a bad cut and we will keep close tabs on the situation.''

Shaun Longstaff, the replacement left winger, also celebrated a return to action with two fine scores after coming off the bench. The last time he was due to play in the principality, he missed out entirely because his flight from Edinburgh was cancelled.

On this occasion he certainly didn't miss the boat, and he has put himself in the frame to face the Scarlets.

''The tries were just a bonus,'' said Longstaff. ''The important thing for me was that I got a chance to get back in the fray. Cross Keys may not be one of the best teams we'll face, but in terms of shaping the rest of our campaign, it was a huge result.''

It had taken Nicol precisely 54 seconds to make his presence felt, breaking the deadlock with a sniping effort in the wake of a line-out take by Colin Stewart.

The home side responded with a Chad Bushell penalty, but the Reds were in control for the rest of the afternoon.

Jon Petrie, Jon Stuart, Tommy Hayes, Stewart and Jon Steel all featured in the slick handling sequence which gave Nicol the time and space to cruise round behind the posts for his second score.

Hayes then displayed a remarkable combination of genius and carelessness as he wasted the opportunity to score a third touchdown. He looked certain to earn the glory after sprinting clear and bouncing off Bushell's challenge - but after reaching the line and with no Keys men anywhere near him, Hayes let the ball squirm from his grasp before he could get it to ground.

After the blip, Reds looked capable of adding to their tally every time they got the ball and it was hooker Gordon Bulloch who was next to get his name on the scoresheet.

James Craig, the left winger, inflicted the initial damage with a searing dash down the right flank. The ball was expertly recycled to reach Roly Reid, who was blocked close to the target - but Bulloch was ideally positioned on his shoulder to finish the move in the corner.

Reds manufactured their fourth try in 51 minutes as Graeme Beveridge - who had replaced Nicol - skipped over after good work by Stuart and Alan Bulloch. It turned into a rout as Longstaff, on for Craig, and Reid bagged long-range solo scores - with Longstaff completing a fast double and McLaren claiming the final one. Hayes converted them all.

Cross Keys-C Bushell; S Crane, G Bowen(R Davies, 3), M McCathey, S Reed; J Webb, T Walsh (C Ellis, 65), I Evans (G Stroud, 65), L Gardner (S Sherwood, 65), D Crimmins, D Davies, N Kelly (K Stewart, 65) A Gibbs, A Howarth(R Williams, 60), W Thomas (P Watkins,60).

Glasgow Caley - A Bulloch; J Steel, J McLaren, J Stuart, J Craig (S Longstaff, 53); T Hayes, A Nicol (G Beveridge, 30); D Hilton (A Watt, 68), G Bulloch, G McIlwham, S Campbell, C Stewart (S Griffiths, 68), D Macfadyen, J Petrie, R Reid.

Referee: N Williams (WRU).

Scorers: Cross Keys: Penalty - Bushell (4). Glasgow Caley: Tries - Nicol (1, 26), G Bulloch (40), Beveridge (51), Longstaff (56, 70), Reid (65), McLaren (80). Conversions - Hayes (1, 40, 56, 65, 70, 80), Nicol (26).

Scoring sequence: 0-7, 3-7, 3-14, 3-21 (half time); 3-26, 3-33, 3-40, 3-47, 3-54.

CELTIC League pacesetters Bridgend suffered a setback with a 30-27 defeat by Llanelli at Stradey Park - a controversial penalty try swaying the issue.

Pontypridd put a poor start to the campaign behind them with a convincing 54-0 home win over strugglers Ebbw Vale. Ponty took the lead in the opening minutes of the game with a try from hooker Feao Vunipola, with wing Lenny Woodard scoring soon after. Other touchdowns came from Sonny Parker, Ceri Sweeney, Gareth Wyatt and a second for Woodard.

Neath claimed an impressive home win over Newport, 36-26. Tristan Davies, a centre, scored three tries.

Swansea eased to a 48-10 win at Caerphilly to smash the their unbeaten home record.