A DEPLETED Cross Keys take a squad of just 20 players to the west of Ireland for their clash with Connacht Eagles tomorrow.
Last weekend the Pandy Park side claimed a hard-earned 17-12 British and Irish Cup win over the full-time professionals to register their first triumph in this season’s tournament.
Injuries have taken their toll and tomorrow Keys are without wings Kristian Baller, Nathan Trowbridge, Elliott Jones and Marcus Johnstone, centre Nathan Williams and scrum half Rhys Dyer.
And number eight Adam Powell and second row Ollie Hodge will also be staying at home after picking up knocks.
But last campaign’s finalists are determined to push their hosts all the way at the home of the Buccaneers Rugby Club in Athlone.
Victory last week was a vital one for Keys’ head coach Greg Woods who is looking for a prestigious double over the Eagles.
“It was a very pleasing to win against a really good, full-time side,” he said.
“We had to dig in and we were hanging on in there at the end – it was an old-fashioned Keys performance with great team spirit.
“It was an excellent scalp for us.
“We do have a bit of an injury crisis at the moment and I admit we do have one eye on our league game against Aberavon next week.
“We are only taking 20 players with us to Ireland – only those who are 100 per cent fit.
“Some of our players like (prop) Anthony Lott are working overtime.”
Woods added: “And we have some big games coming up over Christmas against Aberavon, Newport and Llanelli “But we’ll still have a competitive side this weekend.
“We shunted Connacht off their own ball last week and scored from a driving lineout. (Outside half) Steffan Jones kicked his goals and we’ll be looking for the same this weekend.”
Newport Gwent Dragons No 10 Jones kicked 12 points for Keys last weekend.