CROSS KEYS v BEDWAS (Tomorrow, KO 2.30pm)
Cross Keys director of rugby Jonathan Westwood has ordered his troops to “stop moping around” and soldier on ahead of tomorrow’s Premier-ship showdown with Bedwas.
The Pandy Park side face their second Gwent derby in seven days after Newport came, saw and conquered in last week’s British & Irish Cup clash.
Keys have been plagued by injuries this season but Westwood says that is no excuse.
He thinks the men who have had to play on in the absence of the walking wounded showed too much self-pity last week.
Westwood believes this contributed to Newport’s 24-20 victory as the Black and Ambers raced into a 12-0 lead after some insipid play by the home team.
He is calling on Keys to ditch the ‘woe is me’ routine and put things right against Bedwas.
For Westwood, it is important his side keep their spirits up despite the injuries taking a heavy toll.
“Things are looking better with the injuries,” he said.
“A lot of the boys who have been playing throughout are battered and bruised.
“But we can’t keep dwelling on things, moping around and feeling sorry for ourselves – we’ve got to soldier on.”
Referring to Keys and Bedwas losing their opening two games in the British & Irish Cup, Westwood added: “I’m sure it’s a welcome return to league action for both sides this weekend.
“We are very similar clubs – the two of us are hard working and not that fashionable.
“They are very well organised and we’ll need to play with intensity this weekend.”
The hosts are boosted by the return of talismanic captain and openside flanker Rob Nash.
He is back after serving his five-week suspension following his sending off for a stamp against Pontypridd in the opening match of the season.
Influential centres Leon Andrews (knee) and Aled James (calf and hamstring) could also feature after injury, as could another important man in Kristian Baller. The wing has been playing for his native Abercynon while recovering from his knee problem.
Scrum half Ryan James might be available despite breaking a bone in his hand during last week’s defeat when he led the side.
Owen Jones is on standby to replace him, the club stalwart still registered with Keys. The No 9 has been coaching and playing for Rhymney Valley outfit Fleur de Lys this season.
Keys have missed Tom Lampard this campaign, the back rower/lock making his first appearance of the season as a 58th minute replacement for Rhys Peebles in the setback against Newport.
But the home side have been dealt two big blows with hooker Gerwyn Price out with a shoulder injury and scrum half Jonathan Lewis absent after hurting his hand in that defeat.
Centres Luke Ford (ankle) and Luke Williams are also out.