Keys up for the cup
CROSS Keys director of rugby Jonathan Westwood is expecting a battle royal when his side clashes with neighbours Bedwas in tomorrow’s British and Irish Cup play-off.
The two meet at Bedwas’ The Bridgefield tomorrow (kick-off 2.30pm) to determine which club will represent the Newport Gwent Dragons region in the tournament.
Westwood is confident Keys can triumph and add a new chapter to their impressive pedigree in the fledgling competition having being beaten finalists in 2012.
A heroic 20-16 semi-final victory at Pandy Park over the full-time professionals of the Cornish Pirates in a thrilling encounter saw them reach the last round.
Despite another courage display, they were comprehensively beaten by another full-time pro outfit in Munster A who also benefitted from the home advantage of playing at Cork’s Musgave Park.
The cup has been slim-lined this season so that only one Welsh side from each of the four regions will go through after play-offs involving the 12 Premiership sides.
Last week Keys and Newport had to face off and the Gwent Valleys side had home advantage at Pandy Park because they finished fifth in the league last season while their opponents were seventh in the table.
Keys won 39-17 which means they now take on Bedwas who are at home tomorrow and only have to play one game by virtue of finishing on top of the Gwent pile in fourth place in the Premiership in 2012/13.
Qualifying would mean an awful lot to Keys, as Westwood outlined.
“I’m sure both sides will be up for it because there’s a lot riding on this game with the added fixtures it brings and the higher profile the competition has now,” he said.
“We have fantastic memories of this tournament and we want to experience similar times again.”
Last season the two sides shared the honours in two keenly contested encounters, both sides winning away in the league, Bedwas coming out on top 31-28 in October while Keys succeeded 13-8 in February.
It will, no doubt, be another closely fought affair tomorrow.
“We are in for a difficult time in Bedwas and they deservedly get the home fixture because they finished higher than us in the league last season and we have the utmost respect for them,” Westwood added.
“But I think we can win because we have the ability to deliver and I’m sure this weekend’s game will be a cracker.
“It was a good win against Newport but it was a scrappy game we hope to progress from.
“And we hope tomorrow’s game will be a far better rugby spectacle than last week’s game.”
Keys hope to have close to a full squad to chose from but will be without wing Kristian Baller (groin) and scrum-half Rhys Dyer (knee), although the pair should be back in action within a couple of weeks.
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