Cross Keys take strong squad to Ealing
CROSS Keys take a strong squad with them to London this weekend as they look to preserve their good start in the British and Irish Cup.
The 2012 finalists travel to play last season’s runaway English National League champions Ealing who finished 19 points ahead of runners-up Esher after losing just three times in 30 games.
But they have found life in the Championship after promotion a real struggle so far for they are the league’s whipping boys with four heavy defeats out of four league games to date.
And while Keys go into tomorrow's clash (kick-off 3pm) in a positive frame of mind after their hard-earned 20-16 home win over Moseley last week in their first British and Irish Cup encounter, Ealing won’t be so buoyant after a 49-8 battering at the hands of holders Leinster A at Donnybrook in theirs.
This weekend’s visitors welcome back full back Rhys Jones after his recent adventures in Australia where he scored a try and kicked three conversions in Wales’ 28-21 International Rugby Board Gold Coast Sevens Cup quarter-final defeat to South Africa.
Promising Newport Gwent Dragons academy centre Tyler Morgan starts as he comes in for Aled James who injured his hamstring early on in the Moseley triumph and wing James Cordy-Redden replaces that game’s two-try hero Nathan Trowbridge.
Dragons outside half Steffan Jones is set to make his first competitive start of the season after he came on in place of Aaron Bramwell for the second half last week when the full back sustained a head injury.
Jones dislocated his elbow in the opening exchanges of Keys' pre-season friendly win over Coventry at Pandy Park in August and he replaces Wales Under-18s fly half Angus O’Brien, excellent last week, who is on the bench.
In the pack, fellow Dragon Aaron Coundley starts in place of Richard Cornock after coming on for the loosehead prop last week while regional back rower Ieuan Jones is on the blindside in place of Reuben Tucker.
Keys head coach Greg Woods is delighted to have Rhys Jones back in action and praised the former Scarlets man for his performance in the 29-13 victory over Llandovery at home in late September.
“It’s really great to have Rhys back and I was really impressed with him last month against Llandovery,” he said.
“I thought he was excellent and I heard that he had a good tournament out in Australia and he’s of a professional standard. He is a regional player standard and having him back adds to our selection headaches really.”
Keys will be up against former Scarlets Academy, Pontypridd and Wales Under-20s lock/back rower Ed Siggery and he is expecting a tough encounter against a team he knows well.
“I played about three seasons against them in the Premiership, I played them every year for Pontypridd and when I first started at Llandovery,” the former London Irish and London Welsh player said.
“They have a reputation for being quite physical upfront and they try to bully teams with their forwards. They are not a bad team and are usually in the top four of the Welsh Premiership, so they should be a good outfit.”
Cross Keys: R Jones, L Williams, L Andrews (capt), T Morgan, J Cordy-Redden, S Jones, R Dyer, A Coundley, G Price, N Buck, D Hodge, T Lampard, I Jones, S Matthews, A Powell.
Replacements: R Cornock, D Hughes, A Lott, O Hodge, R James, A O'Brien, N Williams.
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