CROSS Keys head coach Greg Woods had stressed he would not be taking troubled Aberavon lightly today and he has backed that up selecting a strong squad to face the Wizards, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
The Pandy Park side look to end the year with a bang following their excellent start to their Principality Premiership campaign.
The 2012 Swalec Cup winners are looking a good bet to add a first ever league title to their trophy cabinet, smashing champions Pontypridd away 38-17 earlier this month.
They will be determined to bounce back from two successive defeats to Leinster A in the British and Irish Cup and chalk up their sixth Premiership win in a row and their intent to do so is clear by a choosing a well-loaded side.
While Keys have won seven and lost two in the league, Aberavon have not enjoyed a pleasant season so far with a converse two victories and seven defeats track record in the Premiership.
The famous club’s misery has been compounded by some deeply humiliating defeats in the British and Irish Cup – they didn’t score a single point in their last two games, a 78-0 annihilation at home to Bristol before being obliterated 72-0 at Leeds just seven days ago.
Still, anyone prepared to write them off should think about what Northampton did to Leinster in Dublin last week after the Saints had been walloped at Franklin’s Gardens, but it’s hard not to see past a Keys win.
It’s another big day for another great club fallen on hard times of late when Newport clash with Bedwas at the Bridge Field not too many miles away from Pandy Park.
The Black and Ambers’ quest to get back to winning ways after two disappointing defeats at home yielded not a single point is not helped by injuries to a number of key men.
Back row forward and captain Lee Beach (Achilles), wing Elliot Frewen (ankle) and front row forward Jamie Jeune (elbow) are all out of today’s game after sustaining their injuries in last week’s 21-11 setback at Rodney Parade to Cardiff.
Beach is expected to be back in action by the time Keys visit Newport for their derby clash next Saturday, Jeune for the home Swalec Cup clash with Bonymaen in the first weekend in January, but Frewen could be out until April.
The week before their recent defeat to Cardiff, the Black and Ambers succumbed to Bedwas 31-20 at Rodney Parade after they’d dominated for 50 minutes and led 17-9 at one stage before fading badly.
They will be hoping to put things right today and get a much needed win which would greatly boost their confidence for Keys’ visit in seven days.
Cross Keys: James Cordy-Redden, Elliot Jones, Leon Andrews (capt), Aled James, Nathan Trowbridge, Dorian Jones, Kristian Baller, Luke Garrett, Gerwyn Price, Anthony Lott, Danny Hodge, Tom Lampard, Jevon Groves, Scott Matthews, Adam Powell.
Replacements: Richard Cornock, Darren Hughes, Craig Gould, Ollie Hodge, Reuben Tucker, Phil Williams, Nathan Williams, AN Other.
Newport: Geraint O'Driscoll, Ashton Hewitt, Dan Robinson, Dom Franchi, Tom James, Ethan Davies, Jamie Leadbeater, Dai Pattison, Dale Rogers, Alex Jeffries, Adam Brown, Adam Frampton, Craig Attwell (capt), Ollie Griffiths, Brendan Lampitt.
Replacements: Andrew Brown, James Greenfield, Gethin Robinson, Sam Waldron, Jamie Sullivan, Rhys Jenkins, Matt O'Brien, Lloyd Lewis.