9:35am Friday 16th May 2014
THE PLAYERS that put Cross Keys 80 minutes away from a first title have been charged with finishing the job against Pontypridd in Sunday's Principality Premiership final (kick-off 5.30pm).
Keys earned a trip to Sardis Road with a superb 31-20 semi-final success at Carmarthen Quins last weekend, despite heading west with a lengthy injury list and without three of their Wales Under-20s.
The Pandy Park outfit made seven changes to the side that lost 21-8 to Ponty in the Swalec Cup final the previous weekend – not all enforced – and the new boys produced the goods, much to the delight of head coach Greg Woods.
"I'll be true to my word and will reward the boys for their performance in Carmarthen," he said. "I made a commitment to the team at training last week that if they played well and got the win then they would deserve their place in the grand final.
"They were superb against the Quins so we will head to Sardis Road with a settled side and chasing a repeat performance.
"The boys have to go to Ponty with the same attitude as they had in Carmarthen; to play attacking rugby and play without fear.
"We are 80 minutes away from being champions and have to enjoy this experience."
After being bullied by Pontypridd at the Millennium Stadium, Keys will once again be adopting the underdogs tag that they relish.
Ponty have home advantage (although Keys triumphed 38-17 at Sardis in December), have had a weekend off to recharge their batteries and are fuelled by the desire to seal a double-double.
"Not many expected us to win at Carmarthen Quins and not many will be tipping us against Pontypridd," said Woods. "Lots of people don't particularly rate us after the way that we played in a televised cup final but that suits us fine and we know where we went wrong.
"We were weak at the set piece and contact area a fortnight ago and Ponty will be looking to exploit us there again. We were much better against Carmarthen and will look for another improvement this weekend."
Keys do have a fitness worry over lock Ollie Hodge so Reuben Tucker, who suffered a bang to the head in the Swalec Cup final, is poised to be on the bench.
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