PONTYPOOL will have the chance to show their Premiership credentials when they travel to Gwent rivals Cross Keys in round two of the WRU National Cup, writes Chris Kirwan.

Pooler are running away with the WRU National Championship and a third title on the spin will earn a play-off against the side that finishes fifth from bottom of the top flight.

That could well be Keys, who are in a relegation dogfight with Neath, Bargoed, Bedwas, Llanelli, Bridgend and Swansea.

Pontypool boast a formidable squad featuring plenty of Premiership experience – including former Keys favourites in lock Danny Hodge, hooker Darren Hughes, flankers Scott Matthews and Rob Nash and wing Lloyd Lewis – and they will be keen to signal their intent in the cup clash on the weekend of January 26.

Leighton Jones’ men have an impressive recent cup pedigree after claiming the scalps of Llanelli, Cardiff and Carmarthen Quins, although they make the short trip to Pandy Park aiming to avenge a 19-3 loss in the quarter-finals two years ago.

Keys, winners of the tournament in 2012 and runners-up in 2014, had a bye in round one while Pooler were given a walkover when Neath’s financial struggles meant they could not raise a team.

The draw has thrown up some humdingers with Ebbw Vale’s reward for a hard-fought round one win at Carmarthen Quins being a trip to face holders Merthyr at the Wern.

The teams met in the semi-finals last season when the Steelmen suffered a heartbreaking 10-6 loss.

Newbridge of the Championship, who had a round one bye, will attempt to cause an upset against Bridgend while Bedwas, who beat Rhydyfelin in round one, try to avoid a banana skin at Cardiff Met.

Bargoed won at Newcastle Emlyn on Saturday and are on their travels again, this time to fellow Premiership strugglers Swansea.

Two of the favourites to make it to Principality Stadium on April 28 are guaranteed to fall with Pontypridd entertaining Llanelli and Cardiff heading north to face RGC 1404.

WRU National Cup: Llandovery v Trebanos, Cardiff Met v Bedwas, Newbridge v Bridgend, Merthyr v Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd v Llanelli, RGC v Cardiff, Keys v Pontypool, Swansea v Bargoed