All roads lead to The Talbot Athletic Ground in Aberavon this Saturday as Keys take on Pontypridd on neutral territory in the Semi Final of the WRU National Cup.
It will be the 4th time that Keys have locked horns with Ponty in the Cup in the last 6 seasons. Keys only victory in the previous 3 fixtures came in the final of the 2011/2012 season when Keys lifted the trophy at the Millennium Stadium when they won by 32 points to 19. Ponty have won the other two games when they gained revenge in the final of the 2013/2014 season with a 21 points to 8 victory at the Millennium Stadium. The following season the two sides met at Cardiff Arms Park and played out a Semi Final classic where Ponty ran out 33 points to 27 winners.
This season Keys have reached the semi-final following victories at Glynneath in Round 1, where Keys cruised to a 49 points to 3 victory over the Championship side. In Round 2 Keys welcomed Neath to Pandy Park and secured a quarter final berth with a comfortable 29 points to 10 win. In the Quarter Final Keys were again drawn at home as they welcomed the giant-killers of the previous 2 rounds when Pontypool came to Pandy Park. In front of the S4C cameras it was Keys who produced the goods once more to secure a 19 points to 3 victory. Ponty have got to the semi final following a Round 1 victory over Cardiff Met at Cyncoed Campus when Ponty eased through with a 43 points to 13 win. In Round 2 they welcomed Newport to Sardis Road and made the quarter finals with a 34 points to 29 win over the Black and Ambers. In the Quarter Final Ponty met Carmarthen Quins at the Park and secured their place in the semi final with a 24 points to 19 victory.
When Keys travelled to Sardis Road in the 'pre-split' Principality Premiership on New Years Eve it was the home side who secured a victory when they won by 31 points to 22 to end Keys hopes of a top 8 finish. For The Keys tries came from Mathew Powell, Rhys Fitzgerald and Phil Williams, with James Thomas kicking a pair of conversions and Josh Prosser kicking a first half penalty. Ponty's points came from a pair of tries by Dane Blacker together with one for Ben Jones, who also kicked 2 conversions and 4 penalties for the Valley Commandos.
Back to Saturday's semi final and Keys have announced their side that will be bidding to make the final which is scheduled to be played on Easter Sunday April 16th at the Principality Stadium. The side shows a total of 5 changes to the side that defeated Bargoed in the Principality Premiership 2 weeks ago. In the backs Mathew Powell comes in to replace Joe Goodchild on the the wing. In the centre Phil Williams replaces Barney Nightingale and James Leadbeater comes in for Owain Leonard at scrum half. In the front row Lewis Smout starts at loose head ahead of Corey Hewlett and Adam Powell replaces Tom Lampard in the back row. On the bench Keys can call upon the services of Dragons Academy prop Chris Coleman who has been involved in the 6 nations with Wales Under 20s in recent weeks.
The Cross Keys side in full for Saturday's game is:-
15. Leon Andrews
14. Mathew Powell
13. Lewis Barnett
12. Phil Williams
11. Nathan Trowbridge
10. Josh Prosser
9. James Leadbeater
1. Lewis Smout
2. Darren Hughes
3. Richard Cornock
4. Danny Hodge
5. Scott Andrews
6. Adam Powell
7. Scott Matthews (c)
8. Ieuan Jones
Replacements: 16. Rob Jones, 17. Corey Hewlett, 18. Christian Coleman, 19. Tom Lampard, 20. Rhys Fitzgerald, 21. Barney Nightingale, 22. Owain Leonard, 23. Joe Goodchild.
Pontypridd v Cross Keys National Cup Semi Final
Date: Saturday 25th March 2017
Venue: Talbot Athletic Ground, Aberavon
Kick Off: 2.30pm