Dragons Jevon Groves and Nathan Buck back for Keys
SWANSEA v CROSS KEYS, TODAY (KO 2,30pm)
CROSS Keys get a big boost for their opening Principality Premiership clash with the inclusion of two experienced Newport Gwent Dragons forwards who cut their teeth at the club.
Tighthead prop Nathan Buck, 24, and back rower Jevon Groves, 25, are very familiar faces at Pandy Park, the two nurtured at the Gwent Valleys club.
They both are becoming old hands in the professional game having jointly played in over a hundred matches for the region, Buck 56 times and Groves, who is also Keys’ assistant forwards coach, with 47 games under his belt.
There are four changes for the trip to Swansea, three in the pack, from the side which started last week’s 45-13 hammering of Bedwas away to qualify for the prestigious British and Irish Cup.
Groves is at number eight for Adam Powell (unavailable), Buck is in instead of Anthony ‘Vinny’ Lott (on the bench) while Reuben Tucker and Rhys Peebles swaps places, the former in the starting XV with the latter a replacement.
Behind, Angus O’Brien is at stand-off instead of Dorian Jones with his brother, former Newport and Scarlets outside-half Rhys Jones set for his Keys debut, both siblings on the bench.
Swansea have been in the doldrums of late, they finished bottom of the league last season, and come into the new campaign already on a bit of a downer.
Last weekend they missed out on a place in the British and Irish Cup when they lost their play-off against Aberavon 15-8 at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
Keys head coach Greg Woods believes it is a game his side should win but he won’t be taking Swansea lightly, even if the Pandy Park side did the double over them last season, winning their home game thanks to a record 48-0 crushing of the All Whites.
“If we want to challenge for the play-offs, we’ve got win these game and win them quite comfortably,” he said.
“I think the challenge will be huge down there – they’ll be hungry and desperate to win at home, especially after the season they had last year. I think it’s a dangerous fixture to a certain degree.”
Swansea have a familiar name to Gwent rugby fans starting at number eight in former Pontypool lock Sam Pailor, an ex-Wales Under-20s international who once trained with the Dragons.
Swansea: J Hamer, R Williams, A Jenkins, D Watts (capt), A Claypole, N J Thomas, J Cole, N Smith, S Otten, N Thomas, T Price, R Hughes, J McKenna, R Dudley-Jones, S Pailor.
Replacements: P John, A Mason, T Sloane, B Fox, T Hughes, J James, P Davies, N Harwood.
Cross Keys: A Bramwell, L Williams, L Andrews (capt), P Williams, N Trowbridge, A O'Brien, R James, R Cornock, G Price, N Buck, D Hodge, T Lampard, R Tucker, S Matthews, J Groves.
Replacements: L Garrett, D Hughes, A Lott, S Andrews, R Peebles, R Dyer, D Jones, R Jones.
Referee: Jon Mason (WRU)
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