IT'S reached must-win time for both Cross Keys and Bedwas as they scramble to retain their Principality Premiership status, writes Chris Kirwan.

Four clubs will automatically drop down to the Championship from the revamped 12-team top flight with Neath doomed and Bargoed needing a miracle.

Keys are close to sharing the Bulls' plight and are running out of time to close the gap to the trio of Bedwas, Bridgend and Llanelli.

The men from Pandy Park travel west this afternoon to face seventh-placed Aberavon, desperately needing a shock win to stay in touch.

Keys were beaten 47-19 when the sides met in Gwent in November and their cause at the Talbot Athletic Ground isn't helped by the unavailability of captain Damian Welch.

The winners of today's vital meeting between Bedwas or Bridgend at Bridge Field will be in the final safe spot.

Llanelli (played 26), who host RGC tomorrow, currently have that honour but are just two points above both Stef Sankala's men (played 25) and the Ravens (played 23).

Bedwas suffered a damaging home loss to the north Walians last week and desperately need the spoils against a dangerous Bridgend team.

One-from-bottom Bargoed enjoyed a 55-14 win against Neath last week and look to stay in a winning groove with a home encounter with Swansea. The Bulls are 16 points behind Bedwas and Bridgend with just six games left.

At the other end of the table, Ebbw Vale and Newport are aiming to finish as high as possible – and be Gwent's top team.

The Steelmen took a step towards achieving that when they won a Rodney Parade thriller last week thanks to Rhys Jones' last-gasp drop goal.

They travel to Carmarthen Quins aiming to climb above Llandovery, who take on Cardiff in the semi-finals of the WRU National Cup, into third place.

Newport are just two points behind Ebbw, albeit having played a game more, and they entertain Pontypridd tomorrow afternoon in what is often a high-scoring affair.

Cross Keys: L Andrews (captain), W Cunliffe, S Majkic, T Loots, I Burgwin, J Botica, J Guy, R Cornock, R Jenkins, S Hoskins, S Andrews, T Lampard, C Johnsey, J Thomas, G Price. Replacements: E Shipp, S Evans, AN Other, E Hopkins, J Carlin, D Babos, O Leonard, C Nicholls.

Bedwas: T Benjamin, J Rees, N Preece, J Wright, A Williams, J Scrivens, L Crane, B Toms, M Dacey, R James, C Hudd, J Davies, J Richards, J Armitage, N Hudd (captain). Replacements: S Cochrane, R Hutcherson, G Allen, D Rogers, L Beer, R Harries, J Chilcott, D McIntosh.

Bargoed: C Jones, D Dyer, B Nightingale, D Humphries, A Norton, J Prosser, J Leadbeater, J Lavender, W Langley, A Gardner-Key, G Edmunds, A Powell, L Johnson, G Rogers, L Blacker (captain). Replacements: M Bancroft, J Purcell, A Gibson, M Thomas, J Locke, R Buckley, R Morgan, M Kavanagh.

Newport: G O'Driscoll, D Thomas, C Smith, T Pascoe, J Morris, M O'Brien, J James, L Smout, H Palmer, T Piper, J Bartlett, D Partridge, M Burgess, K Tayler, M Reed. Replacements: W Evans, D Preece, G Harris, A Mann, R Jenkins, T Lucas, H Simons, S Summers.

Today's fixtures: Aberavon v Cross Keys, Bargoed v Swansea, Bedwas v Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins v Ebbw Vale. Tomorrow's fixtures: Llanelli v RGC, Newport v Pontypridd