CROSS Keys endured more misery at the Gnoll, as a second-half collapse ensured they were thrashed by Neath in the second Principality Premiership Tier Two play-off, writes Tom Coleman.

A brace from Aaron Grabham, as well as converted touchdowns from Ed Howley, Charlie Davies and Chris Morgans proved enough to down Keys, who replied with two penalties from Josh Prosser and a consolation try from substitute James McCarthy.

The result means Keys miss the chance to set up an all-Gwent final with Newport next week, and ends their season on a rather unwelcome note.

Neath ran out 59-14 winners when the two sides last met at the Gnoll, but there was initially little suggestion of a repeat during a tightly-contested first half, as both sides looked to dominate the centre of the park.

An early Josh Prosser penalty handed Keys the lead during a bruising opening ten minutes, but a moment of brilliance from Grabham ensured they were soon pinned back.

The winger chased down his own clever kick through the heart of the Keys defence on the 22, beating an advancing Leon Andrews to the ball to touch down.

Keys remained in the contest, with Lewis Barnett and Nathan Trowbridge both probing the Neath defence - the latter on his 200th appearance for the club - but clear chances remained scarce.

Barney Nightingale came closest to making a breakthrough, but a last-ditch tackle caused him to spill the ball on the line.

Prosser tilted the game back in the visitors’ favour with another penalty shortly after half-time, but Neath hit back again just a few minutes later, as Howley pounced on a loose ball that eluded everyone else before crossing the whitewash.

The full-back duly added the extras, but then spurned the chance to further extend the lead by putting a penalty wide.

However, his disappointment was short-lived, as he added another two points to his side’s tally after Grabham touched down for a second time just after the hour.

Keys’ misery was further compounded just three minutes later as Davies burst through the centre of the defence to bundle over, before Morgans added another converted try late on.

McCarthy did go over for a consolation, but it was otherwise an afternoon to forget for the visitors.

Neath: E Howley, A Grabham, M Llewellyn, M Pearce, G Llewellyn, G Evans (I Evans 65), C Morgans; B Uphill (N White 31), S Crocker (I Phillips 55), G James, R Jones (J Griffiths 71), J Barley, J Collier (capt), L Ward (A Morris 71), C Davies

Scorers: Tries: A Grabham 2, E Howley, C Davies, C Morgans; Con: E Howley 4

Cross Keys: L Andrews, B Nightingale (J McCarthy 61), L Barnett, P Williams, N Trowbridge, J Prosser, O Leonard (J Leadbetter 55); L Smout, R Jones (A Powell 49), R Cornock, D Hodge, T Lampard, D Hughes, I Jones, S Matthews (capt) (J Skinner 49)

Scorers: Try: J McCarthy; Pen: J Prosser 2; Con: J Prosser

Referee: Simon Rees (WRU)

Argus star man: Josh Prosser