CROSS Keys might have dropped to the foot of Principality Premiership East last weekend but Jonathan Westwood feels their display against Merthyr was a step in the right direction.

Director of rugby Westwood saw his side replace Ebbw Vale as the division’s basement boys following a 34-19 loss to the Ironmen.

However, Keys chief Westwood took heart from the Pandy Park outfit’s performance, one he is hoping they can build on tomorrow.

Keys go to Bargoed (kick-off 2.30pm), the team directly above them in the table, two months after losing to the same opponents at home.

Reflecting on that Merthyr reverse and how Keys are looking to develop new talent, Westwood said: “We felt last Saturday was a step in the right direction. There were a few things in our game that we certainly improved.

“You never want to be pleased when you lose but it was certainly an improvement on our display against Newport. We created lots of chances and played with some endeavour.

“Ultimately, there were more positives than negatives on the day.

“Bargoed beat us well earlier in the season and that was obviously disappointing for us. We’ll have a very young side going up there but it will be a great experience for them.

“We’ll have a young bench as well, which is great for the players’ development, and that’s what this league is all about. But, at the same time, we need to win matches and these young guys have to learn how to do that.

“They’ll get good experience of dealing with difficult situations and Bargoed will create a lot of those.

“We made a conscious decision that up until the amalgamation of east and west we would use games to develop players for the future and the region. We said we would try to blood as many youngsters as we could in that period.

“We’ll probably have six boys aged 18 or under in the matchday squad, which is great for the future.

“They have to learn to win games while they’re young, the sooner they do that the better. They’ll have some experienced players around them and it’s vital they start playing better.”

Joe Goodchild could come back for Keys but Darren Hughes, Liam Davies and Nathan Buck are all long-term absentees and Scott Andrews is with the Dragons.