Cross Keys fired up for playoffs shootout

8:32am Saturday 5th April 2014

IF Cross Keys can send Carmarthen Quins packing this afternoon then the Pandy Park outfit will not only fancy their chances of earning a place in the Premiership playoffs but they will be eyeing a home semi-final.

The victor of today's encounter (kick-off 2.30pm) will be in the box seat for the top three while the losers will be left playing catch-up.

It looks to be a shootout between Keys, Quins and second-placed Llandovery for the two spots behind leaders Neath.

And Greg Woods' side, who play the Drovers in the Swalec Cup semi-final next weekend, have given themselves a great shot at extending their Premiership season beyond April 26 thanks to a super past week.

They are the first to admit their performances weren't dazzling but they got the job done to win on their travels to Neath (with a bonus point) and Newport.

You can bet your bottom dollar that they will be better on their own patch and the coaching staff had some welcome selection headaches.

Keys will be boosted by the strong ball carrying and chop tackling of Dragons number eight Ieuan Jones while his regional teammate Steffan Jones slots in at full-back with Dorian Jones charged with pulling the strings from 10.

Prop Richard Cornock and Vinny Lott made an impact off the bench against the Black and Ambers in midweek, helping to earn a penalty try, and they return to the starting XV either side of in-form hooker Darren Hughes.

After today Keys have a pair of Gwent derbies against Bedwas and Newport at Pandy Park before visiting Bridgend's Brewery Field on the final day.

They will be desperate to be going into their games with the aim of retaining their top-three spot rather than chasing one.

Bedwas look destined to finish sixth – another solid season for Steve Law's men – but still have a big role to play in the relegation dogfight.

This afternoon they welcome 11th-placed Neath to Bridge Field with their visitors looking to stretch away from bottom club Swansea, who are just four points back.

The Whites would have been even closer to the Welsh All Blacks were it not for a late try by Bedwas prop Joe Mills last weekend. The hosts have won their last three and will hope that it's not as nervy today.

Cross Keys: S Jones, N Williams, L Andrews (captain), A James, J Cordy-Redden, D Jones, O Jones, R Cornock, D Hughes, A Lott, D Hodge, O Hodge, A Powell, S Matthews, I Jones. Replacements: L Garrett, H Palmer, C Gould, S Andrews, R Tucker, A O'Brien, P Williams, R Lee.

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