CROSS Keys were a successful conversion away from victory at Cardiff last October – four months later they find themselves 40 points behind the Blue and Blacks in the Principality Premiership table.

Five defeats and a draw followed that 36-35 Arms Park reverse for Keys, while Cardiff won seven on the trot to put pressure on leaders and reigning champions Merthyr.

Pandy Park hosts the second meeting of the two teams tonight, with the visitors still hot on the heels of the Ironmen and Keys fighting to stay out of the relegation mire.

Morgan Stoddart’s charges have managed to haul themselves away from the danger zone in recent weeks courtesy of back-to-back wins over Neath and Bargoed.

They might have boosted their position further last Saturday had a trip to Swansea not been postponed because of the cold weather. Cardiff’s clash at Bargoed went the same way.

This evening’s encounter not only gives Keys a chance to avenge that one-point loss in the autumn but also pits skipper Damian Welch against one of his former clubs.

Welch didn’t feature in the reverse fixture when a young Keys squad picked up two points for their efforts.

They did have an opportunity to snatch all the spoils after Todd James crossed on the last play of the game.

Fly-half Jason Tovey stepped up to take the conversion from the touchline but watched in agony as his kick went past the left-hand post.

It’s difficult to say whether Keys’ season would have turned out differently had Tovey slotted the extras.

It would have at least given the team a big confidence boost following successive setbacks against Bargoed and Swansea.

But Keys now hold the advantage in the relegation dogfight, four points clear of Bridgend in the first safe spot.

Elsewhere tonight, Merthyr go to Bridgend, Llanelli host Carmarthen Quins and Neath face Pontypridd.

*A pitch inspection will take place at Pandy Park at 4pm.