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Langdon's kicking keeps All Blacks top of league.

Byline: CHRIS SMART

NEATH 15 CROSS KEYS 10

NEATH stayed at the helm of the Principality Welsh Premiership, but only after surviving a late scare against battling Cross Keys in a top-of-the-table match at the Gnoll.

Keys, who would have leapfrogged the Welsh All Blacks, had they won, led 10-3 at the break, but failed to add to their tally in the second period despite coming agonisingly close to crossing for a try in the dying moments as Dan Hodge was held up over the line.

This victory put Neath in good heart for their Swalec Cup quarter-final at home to Pontypridd next Saturday, but it came at a cost as number eight Adam Powell, flanker Lee Evans and lock Euros Evans were all injured.

Prop Nicky Downs captained Neath on his 150th club appearance in the absence of Gareth Gravell, who has not recovered from a shoulder injury suffered a month ago. Downs said: "We knew it would be a tough game. Keys are now a very well-organised unit and have an impressive record this season but it was a big win for us."

Neath are now two points ahead of nearest challengers Llandovery, but only 10 points separate the leading seven clubs with Pontypridd in seventh having two games in hand. And the Blacks face some tough away matches at Ponty, Aberavon, Llanelli and Cardiff.

Keys, who three days earlier had humbled Newport 51-14, were hampered early in the second-half by the sin-binning of captain Rob Nash, although Neath did not take advantage of the extra man after a Langdon penalty, which followed the Nash yellow card.

It was Langdon who Neath had to thank for their success, as he scored all the points through four penalties and a dropped goal.

Keys had the first use of the quickly strengthening wind and scrum-half Owen Jones scored the only try of the game when he scrambled over after a quickly taken tapped penalty. Gunter converted that touchdown and booted over a penalty.

In injury-time, Keys still in the running in three competitions, piled on the pressure and Neath did very well to keep them at bay.

And after a sustained spell on the attack, Hodge looked certain to score, but somehow the hosts managed to prevent him from grounding the ball.

CAPTION(S):

GOLDEN BOOT: Langdon kicks Neath to a victorious celebration (right)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2012
Words:394
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