Keys look to make history by stunning Ponty in title shootout

Keys look to make history by stunning Ponty in title shootout

Pontypridd v Cross Keys Swalec Cup Final. Leon Andrews tries to break through. (5923193)

Pontypridd v Cross Keys Swalec Cup Final. Nathan Trowbridge spots a gap. (5922109)

First published in Sport
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CROSS Keys will be fuelled by Millennium Stadium heartbreak when they attempt to become Principality Premiership champions for the first time tomorrow evening (kick-off 5.30pm).

The Pandy Park outfit are looking to upset the odds when they travel to Sardis Road for a grand final against Pontypridd.

The hosts are chasing a second successive double while Keys are looking to win the second major trophy in their 129-year history.

The Gwent side have already experienced despair at the hands of Ponty this month after being beaten 21-8 in the Swalec Cup final a fortnight ago.

Keys took their frustrations out on Carmarthen Quins last weekend, impressively winning 31-20 in the semi-final out west, and captain Leon Andrews is confident that this time they will have winners medals put around their necks.

The centre said: "I can't take another loss! Ponty are favourites but I've got a lot of faith in our team and I'd back us against anyone when we are on song.

"We're lucky to have a second bite at the cherry and the boys are determined to right some wrongs after the Swalec Cup.

"We can't afford to play like we did in the final, when I think the occasion got to us and we were outmuscled.

"But we have already won at Sardis Road this season (38-17 in December) and can take a lot of heart from that. To do it again and lift the trophy would be amazing."

Keys name the same starting XV that beat the Quins and are boosted by the return of Wales Under-20s openside Scott Matthews on the bench.

He could not play in Carmarthen because of the young guns' pre-Junior World Championship warm-up against their Scottish counterparts in midweek.

Matthews crossed for a try in a 31-19 win as did loosehead prop Luke Garrett, who is also among the replacements.

Keys opt for six forwards on the bench thanks to the presence of utility back James Leadbeater on permit from Newport.

Ponty make one change to the side that triumphed in the cup, bringing in Wales Sevens ace Rhys Shellard at openside with Wayne O'Connor shifting to blindside in a dynamic back row.

The reigning champs may have beaten Keys a fortnight ago but captain Dafydd Lockyer knows that they need to step things up.

"We didn't really play well in the Swalec Cup final and we will need to put on a much better show," said the centre.

"It will be difficult to go head to head against Cross Keys again, but mentally and physically we need to be up for this game more than any other.

"We expect another physical encounter and the game will be won up front, if we can set a forward platform and claim possession then we have the ammunition to fire along the back line."

Pontypridd: G Walsh, L I Williams, G Dacey, D Lockyer (captain), M Nuthall, S Humberstone, J Raikes, J Howe, L Belcher, K Jenkins, C Locke, C Dicomidis, W O'Connor, R Shellard, D Godrey. Replacements: L Williams, D Flanagan, A Summerhill, A Morris, J Sieniawski, O Sheppeard, L Jones, C Phillips.

Cross Keys: R Lee, E Jones, L Andrews (captain), P Williams, N Trowbridge, D Jones, O Jones, R Cornock, D Hughes, A Lott, D Hodge, T Lampard, I Jones, J Groves, A Powell. Replacements: H Palmer, L Garrett, C Gould, R Tucker, S Matthews, N Williams, J Leadbeater, S Higgins.

Referee: Gwyn Morris (Cardiff)

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