9:47am Friday 9th May 2014
CROSS Keys head west to Carmarthen on Sunday motivated by Swalec Cup final disappointment and the desire for another crack at Pontypridd, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Pandy Park outfit were downed 21-8 by Ponty at the Millennium Stadium last weekend with the pain of defeat matched by the frustration of an under-par performance.
They haven't had the chance to lick their wounds because on Sunday they take on the Quins in the Principality Premiership semi-final (kick-off 5.30pm).
The reward is a trip to Sardis Road and the regular season meetings, won 24-17 and 7-3 by the west Walians, suggest it will be a bruising encounter.
"It would be great to get another go against Ponty but we have to concentrate on Quins because it is going to be a really tough game," said player/coach Jevon Groves.
"There will be no problem in picking ourselves up after the final, we had a good debrief on Tuesday but to be honest we all already knew what went wrong.
"We will have to improve from Sunday to do that and we have to go to Carmarthen and play attacking rugby, because I think we were a lit bit nervous to play against Ponty.
"The Quins have one of the best defences in the Premiership and we have to be accurate at the breakdown because they are a side that likes to jackal as opposed to Ponty's choke-tackling. We have to take it to them at the contact area so that we can get back into our phase-play.
"We haven't become a bad side overnight. We have done well this season and there is a real desire to end it with silverware."
Groves has worn two hats at Pandy Park this season, working as assistant forwards coach while turning out nine times in the pack.
"It's a great coaching setup and I'm loving it," said Groves. "I thought that it would be a bit difficult being a player and a coach but the boys have really accepted me.
"I've tried to pull in some of the regional drills and ideas, doing a lot of hands-on stuff at the set piece and breakdown. I'd like to think that this has made me a better player."
The 26-year-old, who has made 19 appearances for Newport Gwent Dragons this term, is set to don the boots in Carmarthen along with regional teammates Nathan Buck and Ieuan Jones at tighthead and in the back row.
Dragons full-back/fly-half Steffan Jones is out with a knee injury while both clubs will be without their Wales Under-20s contingents because of next week's pre-Junior World Championship warm-up clash with Scotland.
Keys will field Owen Jones at scrum-half because of injuries to Rhys Dyer and Ryan James.
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