11:27pm Thursday 13th March 2014
CROSS Keys go into their vital Principality Premiership clash with Cardiff tonight (kick-off 7.15pm) at home looking to get their play-off drive back on track, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
The Pandy Park outfit are out to halt a three-match losing streak after a punishing schedule of away matches saw them lose consecutive clashes at Llandovery (23-16), Aberavon (27-26) and Llanelli (36-21).
It has the air of a clichéd must-win game, and a victory will put them back into the play-off chase.
They have fallen off the pace after picking up just three losing bonus points in those last three encounters and are currently fifth in the table, six points behind Llanelli, but with a game in hand.
There is mixed news on the injury front for Keys.
They hope highly regarded centre Phil Williams will be fit after he sustained a head injury against Aberavon a fortnight ago, while influential scrum-half Ryan James is expected to feature again after he came on as a second half replacement for Owen Jones last weekend.
But they will be without other No 9 Rhys Dyer (shoulder), Wales Under-20s openside flanker Scott Matthews (shoulder) as well as centre and captain Leon Andrews (elbow)
Brothers Rhys and Dorian Jones represented Wales at Sevens against England at Twickenham, right after the 15-a-side national team lost 29-18 in their Six Nations clash last Sunday.
Unfortunately, the siblings couldn’t avenge that defeat on the famous ground as their side went down 31-17 in an exhibition match.
Utility back Rhys will be absent this weekend as he is away again with the Wales Sevens squad, but Keys’ player of the season so far Dorian is back on club duty.
Keys also hope to have their old boy, Newport Gwent Dragons outside-half Steffan Jones available, but it is understood he is struggling with a hamstring injury.
And they are keeping their fingers crossed that their forwards coach and Dragons back rower/lock Jevon Groves will also be available.
The last time Keys and Cardiff met, an outstanding 38-10 away win by the Gwent Valleys outfit was marred by a mass brawl which erupted between the two sides at the end of the game.
Keys replacement back rower Rhys Peebles was the only player charged by police following the violence and he was jailed for a year at Cardiff Crown Court in January after he admitted wounding opposing prop Callum Lewis.
• Max Boyce tribute band Boycezone provide pre-match and half-time tonight. They will be performing for Touch Trust, a charity helping people with learning disabilities, those affected by autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), complex needs, behaviour which challenges, and other vulnerable groups in the community.
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