CROSS Keys will be wary of struggling Aberavon despite the ongoing turmoil at the Wizards who have parted company with yet more of their coaching team, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
These are dark days at the famous club, the Talbot Athletic Ground side shipping an astonishing average of 64 points in their last three games, including a humiliating 78-0 defeat at home this month to Bristol in the British and Irish Cup.
Earlier this week, Aberavon announced the departure of two management figures – forwards guru Paul Yardley and their fitness coach, ex-Great Britain rugby league player Kevin Ellis.
This follows the exit of coach Simon King last month after his seven-year reign came to an end, replaced by former Tonmawr boss Scott Hyatt.
Keys host the Wizards, who have won just two and lost nine of their league games this season, tomorrow afternoon looking to bounce back after their British and Irish Cup back-to-back defeats to Leinster A.
The Gwent Valleys side are though riding high in the Principality Premiership and could top the table tomorrow going into their Christmas derby away at Newport should other results go their way.
But Keys, who have won their last five league encounters, won’t be taking their opponents lightly at Pandy Park, as their head coach Greg Woods was keen to point out.
“I think Aberavon will be dangerous after all the changes there – I think it will bring them closer together so we have to be really careful and they will also have rested a lot of players who missed the recent hammerings they had in the British and Irish Cup,” he said.
Focussing on his own side, Woods added: “We have to learn our lessons from our defeats to Leinster A – we have to be more physical in the contact area and our defence has got to be better.
“We have been on a good run in the league and we set out at the start of the season to be in the top two by Christmas, so the pressure is all on us.
“Jason Hyatt is a good coach who has won at Pandy Park before with Tonmawr, so this fixture looks like a difficult one for us.”
Keys are boosted by the return of centre Phil Williams who overcomes a groin strain while versatile back Kristian Baller looks set to fill the problem area of scrum-half with regular No 9s Ryan James and Rhys Dyer both out injured.