PONTYPOOL’S Geraint O’Driscoll showed nerves of steel to snatch victory from Cross Keys and give his side a major boost in their bid to beat the Welsh Premiership drop.

The theme from The Great Escape rang out when Pooler avoided relegation last season but the music should have been from Oliver on Saturday after they had picked Keys’ pockets.

Keys were the better side for nearly all of the game yet their efforts earned them just a losing bonus point.

But, as a member of the visitors’ backroom staff said after the game, ‘that’s rugby’. Pontypool were given the chance to get out of jail – and they took it.

The game was summed up by standout performer Rob Nash, the Keys openside flanker who was everywhere and won his battle with Cae Trayhern to be the game’s more magnificent seven.

Yet Nash let his former side back into the game with a late high tackle that earned a yellow card and resulted in a 13-9 lead being turned into a 15-13 loss.

But credit must also go to Pooler for grabbing four points from an under-par display. They made errors galore yet through sheer determination got the result that saw them leapfrog Ebbw Vale.

The match was finely balanced throughout and the score was 6-3 to Pooler at the break thanks to two penalties to one, though it was 2-1 to Keys in terms of golden chances.

Wing Matthew Pewtner was worked down the Keys right on 14 minutes but opted to try to beat last man Steve Taylor rather than drawing him and putting scrum-half Owen Jones clear.

They were left to rue another blown chance after 24 minutes when Pooler were stretched from side to side but centre Phil Williams, with a huge overlap to his right, threw a pass to Pewtner that was far too floated.

That prevented the wing moving on to the ball at speed and though he went over the whitewash, the try was chalked off for crossing.

Pooler had one big chance of their own, Trayhern going within inches after sniping from a ruck, and held the advantage thanks to a pair of O’Driscoll penalties to one from Keys full-back Gareth David. But the hosts were staring down the barrel when they trailed 13-6 after an hour.

Pewtner weaved his way over after a midfield move inside the Pooler 22, helped by appalling tackling, and not only did David convert but he booted a second penalty.

Keys were more accurate and supported in numbers while Pontypool were hesitant and frequently found themselves isolated.

But then came the remarkable finale with replacement fly-half Shaun Connor inching Pooler closer with a penalty on 70 minutes before O’Driscoll took centre stage with two kicks in injury time.

First the utility back, who was given back kicking responsibility only because of a knock to Connor’s right knee, punished Nash’s high tackle and was presented with the chance to win it with the clock on 89 minutes.

O’Driscoll had suffered when he was wide with the last kick of a one-point defeat at Pontypridd in the thick of last year’s great escape. This time there was no mistake with his left boot.

l Next Saturday Pooler will be hoping to notch up their fourth consecutive victory at home to Glamorgan Wanderers.

Pontypool: S Taylor, G Williams, C Macey (D Connolly 67), P Price, G O’Driscoll, S Mills (S Connor 46), C Morgan, J Jeune, R Buckley (C Attwell 54), N Blake (L Davies 76), S Pailor, D Critchley, R Bowen, C Trayhern, G Morris (captain).

Scorers: penalties – G O’Driscoll (4), S Connor.

Cross Keys: G David, M Pewtner, L Andrews, P Williams, M Johnstone, R James, O Jones (D Langdon 80), R Cornock (J Price 79), L Burns (captain), N Hall, M Curtis, B Watkins, R Peebles, R Nash, T Lampard.

Scorers: try – M Pewtner; conversion – G David; penalties – G David (2).

l See page 46 for revised match dates