Keys hope to add to Ponty's pain in Swalec Cup final
Updated 2:32pm Friday 2nd May 2014 in Gwent Rugby
CROSS Keys were fuelled by British and Irish Cup heartbreak when they beat Pontypridd in the 2012 Swalec Cup final. On Sunday they will aim to avoid the tables being turned.
The pair of Principality Premiership title hopefuls clash in the third encounter of finals day at the Millennium Stadium (kick-off 5.25pm) on Sunday.
It is a repeat of the showdown two years ago when Keys, fresh from the BIC final defeat to Munster A in Cork, triumphed 32-19 to win the first major trophy in their history.
This time it is Ponty who head into the encounter on the back of Irish agony after last Saturday's semi-final loss to Leinster A at Sardis Road.
The full-timers pipped the Welsh semi-professionals on try count after crossing the whitewash in the 87th minute to level up at 22, prompting extra time that still didn't separate the sides.
Keys will have to be at their best if they are to add to Ponty's pain but Morgan Stoddart, who is in his first season on the Pandy Park coaching team, is bullish about their chances.
"It's a big challenge, Ponty finished top of the league and are used to winning the cup but we can take a lot of heart from two years ago," he said.
"A lot of the boys were involved that day and hopefully that experience will stand them in good stead, and so will our win at Sardis Road (38-17 in December).
"Everyone is available, that meant we had to make some tough selection choices and we are confident that if we play well we can do the job.
"Ponty had a massive game at Sardis last weekend and would have used up a lot of emotions playing in front of such a big crowd and putting so much in.
"But this is a cup final and they will be firing again, so we have to be at our best."
Eight-times capped Wales full-back/wing Stoddart has experienced the highs and the lows of cup finals while representing Ponty.
He was in the 15 jersey in 2005 when denied by a stunning Llanelli comeback and then experienced a happier, but just as dramatic, triumph the following year when Dai Flanagan's last-gasp drop goal beat Neath.
"I think it will be more nerve-racking as a coach," said Stoddart, who scored on his Test debut against South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.
"You can't affect too much once the game starts and it's down to the players to react to the challenges on the pitch."
Keys are set to be bolstered by three Dragons in fly-half/full-back Steffan Jones and back row forwards Jevon Groves and Ieuan Jones.
- The Swalec Bowl is between Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd and Llantwit Major at 1pm followed by Merthyr's Swalec Plate encounter against Rhiwbina at 3.15pm.
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