Cudd set for Keys debut in ‘firecracker’ Gwent derby
CROSS KEYS v NEWPORT (British and Irish Cup, tomorrow, KO 2.30)
NEWPORT Gwent Dragons new boy Nic Cudd is set to make his Cross Keys debut tomorrow in a Gwent derby that promises to be a ‘firecracker’.
The openside flanker comes to help out a Pandy Park side decimated by injuries.
Keys have 19 players either out or major doubts for the British & Irish Cup clash with Newport.
Semi-professionals Keys were hammered 52-5 away at Newcastle in the tournament last week.
But the defeat has to be put into context with the Falcons’ full timers favourites for a swift return to the Aviva Premiership next year after last season’s relegation to the Championship.
Newcastle have blown away all opposition so far this campaign and Keys apparently did very well just to keep the score down.
Still, that bravery came at a price with centre Luke Ford (ankle), wing Nathan Trowbridge and outside half Dean Gunter (both hand) either missing or doubts for the Black and Ambers.
Head coach Greg Woods has never been one to harp on about players’ unavailability and isn’t going to start ahead of this weekend’s showdown.
“I’m not going to make any excuses about injuries – it’s just something we will have to deal with,” he said.
“It will be a good side that faces Newport this weekend.
“Nic Cudd comes to us with a good pedigree from the Premiership and was an awkward opponent against us when he played for Llanelli.”
Newport did very well to defeat a physical Connacht Eagles side 18-14 at Rodney Parade last weekend in their opening British & Irish Cup match, an exciting encounter that went to the wire.
And Woods is expecting them to throw everything at Keys in what he thinks will be a typically highly-charged derby.
“I’m sure Newport will be gunning for us this weekend so we are going to have to be on our mettle – I think it’s going to be a firecracker,” he said.
“They did very well last week – any win in the British & Irish Cup is a great win.”
Woods believes the famous club are getting better and he has a lot of time for their head coach Sven Cronk.
“I think Newport have improved from last year and we will certainly not be underestimating them for what should be a tense and furious battle,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it and I’ve got a lot of respect for Sven.”
Woods said Keys number eight Adam Powell and their locks, brothers Dan and Ollie Hodge, were all valiant in last week’s heavy defeat in the North East.
“They are boys who can handle it physically and they’ll have to do it again this weekend,” he said.
Openside flanker, skipper Rob Nash, and loosehead prop Richard Cornock, are banned for another week and fortnight respectively.