Cross Keys begin the 2018/2019 season with a Principality Premiership clash versus Bridgend Ravens at Pandy Park this Saturday, 1st September.
In what is a crucial coming season Keys will have somewhat of a new look as several new signings come in to replace those that have seen fit to find ‘ambitions and opportunities’ elsewhere for the coming season. The new signings, which include European Challenge Cup winner Damien Welch as the club’s new captain will combine with a loyal group of Keys players who have happily signed up for the coming season.
The 2018/19 Principality Premiership season is crucial as at the end of the campaign the bottom 4 teams will be relegated to the National Championship with the team finishing in 12th place (5th from bottom) having to play a two-legged play off against the Championship winners to determine who takes the 12th and final place in next season’s Principality Premiership, which will be reduced to 12 teams from next season.
Turning thoughts back to Saturday’s clash against Bridgend and Keys have announced the team that will face the Ravens to start the 2018/19 season. The team includes 6 players who will be making their competitive debuts for the Keys. In the pack their will be competitive debuts for new club captain Damien Welch in the second row who starts alongside club stalwart Tom Lampard. Their will be a debut at number 8 as part of an exciting new look back row seeing number 8 Todd James, a summer signing from Risca make his competitive debut. Alongside him in the back row will be blindside Lee Evans who featured once for Keys last season before joining up with Merthyr and finishing with a League and Cup double win and Keys also bring in Dragons openside Nic Cudd, who last featured for Keys in the British & Irish Cup in the 2012/13 season. In the front row Keys will have a new hooker in the form of Rhydian Jenkins who has joined the club from Cardiff University and he lines up with the familiar faces of Corey Hewlett at loose head and Richard Cornock at tight head either side of him.
In the backs there will be 3 players making their first starts for the club where Declan Williams formerly of Pontypridd lines up in the centre with Dragons Welsh qualified South African, Jarryd Sage, who featured several times for Keys last season. On either wing 2 summer signings will provide plenty of Premiership experience as they make their competitive debuts for the club. Wes Cunliffe who signed from Newport over the summer starts on one wing whilst former Bedwas wing and one time top try scorer in the Premiership Rory Budina will make his debut on the other wing. At outside half Jason Tovey another summer signing from Edinburgh starts for Keys for the first time since he played in the British & Irish Cup at Cornish Pirates in the 2014/15 season. His half back partner will be Owain Leonard whilst Leon Andrews makes up the back line as he starts his 12th season with the the club at full back. On the bench a further 4 players could make their competitive debuts should they come on.
The Cross Keys squad in full for Saturday’s game is:-
15. Leon Andrews
14. Wes Cunliffe
13. Declan Williams
12. Jarryd Sage
11. Rory Budina
10. Jason Tovey
9. Owain Leonard
1. Corey Hewlett
2. Rhydian Jenkins
3. Richard Cornock
4. Damien Welch (c)
5. Tom Lampard
6. Lee Evans
7. Nic Cudd
8. Todd James
Replacements: 16. Connah Vaughan, 17. Scott Evans, 18. Gary Carpenter, 19. Harvey Reader, 20. Joe Carlin, 21. Ben Snell, 22. Morgan Evans, 23. Dylan Fidler.
Cross Keys v Bridgend Ravens Principality Premiership
Date: Saturday 1st September 2018
Venue: Pandy Park
Kick Off: 2.30pm