Skipper returns to boost Keys for Pandy Park derby
CROSS Keys openside flanker Rob Nash returns from a five-week ban to captain his side against Bedwas in today’s Gwent derby clash with Bedwas (kick-off 2.30pm).
The hosts are also greatly strengthened by the return from injury of wing Kristian Baller and centres Luke Ford and Aled James.
Tighthead prop Marc Jones makes his first start of the season while influential back rower Tom Lampard is on the bench again after his foot injury.
Centre Leon Andrews is still recovering from a knee injury while scrum halves Ryan James and Jonny Lewis have both suffered broken bones in their hands, old Keys favourite Owen Jones parachuted in to offer cover on the bench for Rhys Dyer.
The Pandy Park side look to get back to winning ways after back to back defeats in the British & Irish Cup to Newcastle and Newport.
This afternoon’s clash could be a cracker with both sides going well in the league, Bedwas one point ahead of Keys in third with the two having an identical five wins and two defeats from seven record.
The visitors look to get over their own British & Irish Cup hangover after heavy defeats by Bedford and Neath.
They will be without Newport Gwent Dragons academy boys Jack Dixon (centre), hooker Elliott Dee and back rower James Benjamin who are away at a national academy training camp.
Newport look to continue their excellent run of form when they entertain league champions Pontypridd at Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm).
The Black and Ambers are on a roll after two fine wins over Connacht Eagles and big rivals Cross Keys in the British & Irish Cup.
They will look to take their form into the league as they seek their first home Premiership victory of the season.
Dragons tighthead prop Tim Ryan is with them again and the home side’s pack will look to provide enough ball for their dangerous backs to do some damage to an unbeaten Ponty who are second in the table, two points behind leaders Llandovery.
An interesting statistic for history lovers: the two sides have played each other 81 times since the very first match in February 1882, with both recording 39 wins with three games drawn.
So will one of them nose ahead tomorrow or will it be their fourth stalemate?
Cross Keys: G David, K Baller, L Ford, A James, E Jones, D Gunter, R Dyer, A Lott, G Horrigan, M Jones, D Hodge, O Hodge, R Peebles, R Nash (capt), A Powell. Replacements: T Lampard, C Gould, J Johnstone, J Sollis, N Williams, D Jones, O Jones, N Trowbridge.
Bedwas: S Thomas, M John, R Wardle, S Williams, R Budina, R Powell, T Rowlands, S Feehan, T Organ, S Grainger (capt), J Thomas, P Rees, K Gay, R Hutcherson, I George. Replacements: D Preece, M Petit, B Roberts, J Richards, A Harris, J Davies, I Smerdon, R Owen.
Newport: J Leadbeater, E Frewen, G O'Driscoll, W Richards, A Awcock, S Sneddon, A Quick, J Jeune, A Brown, T Ryan, R Jones, A Frampton, S Waldron, C Attwell (capt), R Coombs. Replacements: R Prosser, D Mathews, D Rosser, B Lampitt, W Hodnett, T Hancock, R Downes.
Referee: James Jones
Today’s other Premiership fixtures (all 2.30pm kick-offs): Aberavon v Llandovery, Cardiff v Llanelli, Neath v Bridgend, Swansea v Carmarthen Quins.