Steffan Jones' return boosts Cross Keys' British and Irish Cup hopes
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons outside half Steffan Jones is due to make his first competitive appearance of the season when Cross Keys start their British and Irish Cup campaign on Saturday.
He is one of six regional players aiming to help the Pandy Park outfit get off to a flying start when they entertain struggling Championship side Moseley (kick-off 3pm).
Highly regarded loosehead prop Aaron Coundley, 23, who started in the Dragons’ 15-8 opening league win over Ulster at Rodney Parade is also set to feature.
Keys could also be with the services of players who have regularly been made available to them from the region this season, as well as in the past, in tighthead prop Nathan Buck and back rower Jevon Groves and two well-known academy prospects.
Fly half Angus O’Brien and openside flanker Scott Matthews, both 19, have been making names for themselves as Keys regulars during this campaign after impressing at the tail end of last season.
The club and the Dragons are working together in a concerted attempt to strengthen their British and Irish Cup squad with Keys representing the region in the competition which also pits them in the same group as Ealing Trailfinders and the full-time professionals, holders Leinster A.
Having Jones back is a big boost for Keys, who are without Dorian Jones this week, as they look to go one better in the tournament this time after losing in the final to Munster A in Cork a year ago.
The 22-year-old from Bargoed returns to action after dislocating his elbow in the opening exchanges of Cross Keys' pre-season friendly against Coventry at Pandy Park in August.
The fly half is a popular figure at Keys and it was his stellar performances with them in the Principality Premiership which got him his first big break with the Dragons in the 2010/11 campaign.
Jones made 22 appearances last season and broke the region's record for points in a game when he kicked 27 points against London Welsh.
Keys director of rugby Jonathan Westwood is pleased to have him back: “It’s great news because Steff played an integral part in our successful side of two seasons ago and he is highly thought of.
“We are hopeful that Jevon will be fit after he hurt his ankle against Carmarthen Quins last week (Keys lost 24-17 away) and Rhys Peebles will miss the Moseley game with a shoulder injury, although his powers of recovery are remarkable so we hope he won’t be out for too long.”
Other worries include midfield trio, captain Leon Andrews (ankle), Phil Williams (shoulder) and Aled James (hamstring), although all three could make it in time for the weekend’s clash.
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