7:27am Friday 25th April 2014
CROSS Keys will be going all out to achieve a home Principality Premiership play-off draw when they face Bridgend away at the Brewery Field tomorrow.
The Pandy Park side are set to be bolstered by the talent and professional experience of three Newport Gwent Dragons in full-back/outside-half Steffan Jones, back row forward Ieuan Jones and tighhead prop Nathan Buck.
Skipper and centre Leon Andrews and vice-captain number eight Adam Powell are rested for next weekend’s Swalec Cup final at the Millennium Stadium against Pontypridd.
At the same times as the Ravens and Keys are going head-to-head, Aberavon will be entertaining second placed Carmarthen Quins just down the road in a game the Wizards may have to win to ensure their league survival in the final round of games in the regular campaign calendar.
The Talbot Athletic Ground side and Swansea, four points adrift of them at the bottom and facing already safe Neath, are embroiled in a relegation dogfight that will see one of the famous clubs, under current Premiership rules at least, drop down to the Swalec Championship.
At the other end of the table, Keys have already qualified for one of the top three play-off spots and they and Quins are battling for home advantage in the clash between second and third.
Should Quins get at least two points against Aberavon, Keys will have to travel to face them in Carmarthen but a bonus point win for the men from Gwent and one point or nothing for the West Walians, it will be the other way around.
And if Keys win without the bonus point and the Quins get no change from the Wizards, it’ll be a home tie for them.
The winner of that showdown’s prize is a crack at Pontypridd at Sardis Road in the grand final next month, the reigning league champions having won the right to home advantage by finishing in the top spot.
It’s all faintly complicated but undeniably compelling stuff and Keys’ head coach Greg Woods has dispelled any lingering doubt his men will be easing off this weekend before facing Pontypridd in next weekend’s Swalec Cup final at the Millennium Stadium.
“We’ll be selecting a really strong side for Bridgend because the prospect of a home play-off semi-final is too big a carrot to turn down.
“Neath’s win at Aberavon was a result that went in our favour and we are expecting the Wizards to throw everything at the Quins now.
“This has been a hell of a season for us and after playing Bridgend, we are three games away from doing the double.
“It’s a hell of an incentive and I’ve told the boys – we may never been in this position ever again.”
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