Keys look to inch closer to playoffs with Newport win

South Wales Argus: Newport RFC versus Cross Keys
SIDESTEP Newports Geraint O'Driscoll (5047657) Newport RFC versus Cross Keys SIDESTEP Newports Geraint O'Driscoll (5047657)

CROSS Keys could avoid a nervy last day in their push for the Premiership playoffs if they can send Newport packing at Pandy Park tomorrow afternoon.

Keys currently sit in third and their destiny is in their own hands – beat their Gwent rivals this weekend then Bridgend at Brewery Field next Saturday and they will extend their season.

But if fourth-placed Llandovery lose to second-placed Carmarthen Quins without a bonus point tomorrow then the Pandy Park outfit can save themselves another seven days of tension.

That would be the perfect end to a hectic eight days for Keys in which they have already beaten the Drovers to make the final of the Swalec Cup and overcome Bedwas to climb into the top three.

Head coach Greg Woods rotated his squad for Wednesday's derby success but will bring back his big guns for Newport, who Keys edged out 11-9 at Rodney Parade at the start of the month thanks to a last-gasp penalty by fly-half Dorian Jones.

"We made wholesale changes for Bedwas on and still managed to grind out a win; we weren't at our best but it didn't really matter," said Woods.

"Now we roll into the Newport game with it all to play for and another win would be the perfect finish to a really good week.

"It won't be easy because I was really impressed with Newport's physicality at Rodney Parade, they really took it to us and we have to start better against them than we did against Bedwas.

"The boys are getting the job done at the moment, we've played a lot of big games already this season with some even bigger ones to come.

"The squad keep producing but we have got to improve our performances slightly – we are winning without playing well but that standard won't win us trophies."

While Keys have had to manage their squad pretty carefully because of a hectic schedule Newport have once again been kicking their heels on the sidelines.

The Black and Ambers have not played since losing to this weekend's opponents at Rodney Parade on April 1 and have taken to the field just 22 times this season in comparison to the Pandy Park outfit's 32 fixtures.

"It's been a funny season and just as we have started to get some consistency of performances we are hit by another layoff," lamented forwards coach Dai Gray.

"But we've just got to focus on what will be a tough game against Keys, who are always a formidable side at Pandy Park.

"We have to do the basics well because they have a strong set piece, a good kicking game and play their pitch well.

"It should be an interesting game because there wasn't much in it at Rodney Parade when defences were on top and the two sides almost cancelled each other out."

Newport are down to the bare bones in the back row because captain Craig Attwell has left to play his club rugby in Australia and Lee Beach, Rhys Jenkins and Ross Coombs are sidelined with shoulder, arm and hamstring injuries respectively.

BLOB Cross Keys Past Players' Association will have a reunion prior to the game on Saturday, from 12.30pm with all former Keys and Newport players welcome to attend.

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