CROSS Keys are hopeful of head coach Morgan Stoddart staying to lead their rebuilding process after their relegation from the Principality Premiership.

The men from Pandy Park will be in the WRU National Championship next season after finishing in the drop zone.

Keys endured a run of 12 defeats on the spin as the wheels came off, while last month financial worries led to an appeal for donations to help them finish the season.

They did that on Wednesday when they signed off in the top flight with a 24-5 loss to Pontypridd at Pandy Park.

Keys suffered huge turnover of players last summer that resulted in Stoddart, who took the reins in January, 2018 when Greg Woods left for Ebbw Vale, having to put together almost an entire new squad.

The former Wales and Scarlets full-back has had to fight fires pretty much all season to field a team and club officials have their fingers crossed that the 33-year-old, who started his coaching career at Keys in 2013, will be at the helm in the Championship.

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"It's hard to put into words how tremendous Morgan has been," said club secretary Angie Prangell.

"He has been there week in, week out, getting players from god knows where to help us fulfil our fixtures.

"He had his appendix out on the Friday before we played Llanelli, was on the phone to see how we were getting on and then was straight back on the training field a couple of days later.

"His dedication has been unbelievable and we would love him to be here next season. We are talking to some coaches to give help because he has been on his own for a lot of this year, with all the pressure on him. How he has kept going, I don't know."

Keys sit 14th in the table and could drop a place if Bargoed upset the odds against Cardiff tomorrow.

The 2012 cup winners had a spell when they were regular contenders at the top of the table finishing fourth in 2016, third in 2015 and 2014, fifth in 2013 and sixth in 2012 and 2011.

However, this year was a struggle with a record of played 30, won 5, drawn 1 and lost 24 in the Premiership.

Things have been tough since the turn of the year with opponents racking up points with ease – 53, 53, 52, 43, 43, 62, 82 and 24 – but now Keys can start preparing for locking horns with the likes of Narberth, Tata Steel, Trebanos and Cardiff Met.

"We have drawn a line under the Premiership and can look forward to next season," said Prangell.

"The financial side of things has been draining but we are getting there and the crowdfunding has been successful, although we could always do with more!

"We are going to take a few weeks, regroup and then look towards life in the Championship.

"Some of the boys are going but quite a few are staying and we have heard from others that are keen to come here.

"We are upbeat about the challenges ahead in the Championship, about rebuilding and cracking on with it.

"We did a remarkable job to fulfil our fixtures in the Premiership when things were tough and now it is onwards and upwards."