Cross Keys entertain Neath this Saturday in the Principality Premiership, coming up against a host of familiar faces in the process.
The Welsh All Blacks come in to this game still looking for their first league of 2018/19 Principality Premiership campaign. Two weeks ago Neath made the longest trip of them all when they headed north to the unfamiliar territory of Ruthin RFC to take on RGC1404 whose Stadiwm Zipworld ground at Parc Eirias was unavailable. The change of venue didn’t affect the Gogs who went on to win by 37 points to 19. Last weekend Neath failed to get the better of their Ospreylian neighbours Bridgend Ravens when the Ravens bounced back from their opening day defeat against Keys by claiming a 10 points to 7 victory over the Welsh All Blacks at the Gnoll.
Last season the two sides met just once thanks to the geographical split in the opening half of the season. On that occasion it was Keys who came away with the victory cruising to a 41 points to 15 victory at the Gnoll. The points for Keys on that cold Thursday evening back in Feburary came via a pair of tries for Darren Hughes, who has since gone to join the Welsh All Blacks and one apiece for Scott Evans, Leon Andrews, Phil Williams and Scott Matthews. Josh Prosser added 4 conversions and a second half penalty for Keys to complete the scoring.
Turning back to Saturday’s game and there are likely to be several familiar faces in the Neath lineup with former Keys players Luke Garrett, Aaron Bramwell, Darren Hughes, Ieuan Jones and Scott Andrews, who was announced as Neath skipper in his debut season all now representing the Welsh All Blacks.
The Cross Keys side for Saturday’s game has been announced and shows a total of 5 changes to the side that was defeated at Carmarthen Quins last Saturday. In the backs Mason Williams will make his competitive debut for the Keys after an impressive pre-season, he comes in on the wing in place of Ian Newbury who moves to the bench. Declan Williams comes back in to the centre in the absence of Dragons centre Jarryd Sage. Up front Gary Carpenter starts in the front row in place of Gerard Ellis whilst there will be a slight re-jig in the back row with Tom Lampard moving to openside in place of Joe Carlin with Lee Evans moving to the blind side from number 8 against the side he captained a few years ago and Izaak Duffy, who impressed from the bench at Quins starts for the first time at number 8. On the bench Keys include Joe Thomas for the first time this season with Dragons Academy scrum half Iwan Burgwin also included, having featured in the last few games of last season for Keys.
The Cross Keys side in full is:-
15. Leon Andrews
14. Wes Cunliffe
13. Srdan Majkic
12. Declan Williams
11. Mason Williams
10. Jason Tovey
9. Owain Leonard
1. Gary Carpenter
2. Rhydian Jenkins
3. Richard Cornock
4. Damian Welsh (c)
5. Harvey Reader
6. Lee Evans
7. Tom Lampard
8. Izaak Duffy
Replacements: 16. Connah Vaughan, 17. Scott Hoskins, 18. Corey Hewlett, 19. Joe Carlin, 20. Joe Thomas, 21. Ian Newbury, 22. Iwan Burgwin, 23. Dylan Fidler.
Cross Keys v Neath Principality Premiership
Date: Saturday 15th September 2018
Venue: Pandy Park
Kick Off: 2.30pm