8:57am Wednesday 16th April 2014
CROSS Keys hope that the carrot of a place in the starting XV at the Millennium Stadium will aid their push for the Premiership playoffs against this evening (kick-off 7.15pm), writes Chris Kirwan.
The Gwent foes clash at Pandy Park and the hosts cannot afford a Swalec Cup hangover following their thrilling semi-final success against Llandovery last Saturday.
Their 29-27 win secured a March 4 showdown against treble-chasing Pontypridd but before then they have three more 'cup finals'.
If Keys can beat Bedwas tonight, Newport on Saturday and Bridgend at the Brewery Field a week on Saturday then they will be in the top three and in the mix for the title.
"We enjoyed celebrating the semi-final win but now we need to go again," said head coach Greg Woods. "There are three games left and if we win all of them we will be on the playoffs.
"Tonight is a massive game and we are expecting a real battle with Bedwas, who I am sure are still smarting from losing to us in the cup (31-3 at Bridge Field in round two).
"They will be coming here to spoil our party and we will have to match them at the set piece and breakdown while trying to play expansive rugby.
"I expect the boys that come in to be fresh and energetic while they will also have a point to prove.
"I am sure that lots of them are hurting from the selection against Llandovery and they will be busting a gut to make sure they don't miss out again.
"That's the perfect position for us coaches and the message that we are giving the whole squad is that if they play well then they will keep the jersey."
Keys triumphed in the cup at Bedwas but endured a pointless trip to Bridge Field in the league in January when overpowered by the home pack.
Steve Law's side triumphed 22-12 and will look for a Premiership derby double that would help get the frustration of a home 24-19 defeat to strugglers Neath out of their system.
Bedwas, who would move to within striking distance of fifth-placed Llanelli if they win this evening, were angered by an uncontested scrum farce at the end of the game that denied them the chance to push for victory.
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