Keys hold the edge but face tricky test at Neath

The Rugby Paper - - Principality Premiership - ■ By ROB COLE

IT IS 2-1 to Cross Keys against Neath this sea­son, but they won’t be rel­ish­ing head­ing back to The Gnoll to­day.

Keys are off to face their di­vi­sional ri­vals for a fourth time this sea­son, and the stakes are now higher than ever, as the sides pre­pare to clash in the se­cond Tier Two play off semi-fi­nal in the Prin­ci­pal­ity Premier­ship.

The last time Cross Keys headed west they ended up los­ing 59-14 to the Welsh All Blacks and they will face a home side flush with con­fi­dence.

Neath played su­perbly to beat Brid­gend last weekend and se­cure their place in the top four.

And who­ever wins knows they will have to face New­port in the fi­nal, af­ter the Black & Am­bers came from be­hind in the se­cond half to beat Llanelli in the first semi-fi­nal on Satur­day.

“We have come a long way from where we were last sea­son to ef­fec­tively fin­ish joint ninth this time around,” said Neath cap­tain Jor­dan Col­lier.

“But we want to keep im­prov­ing and Cross Keys are a good yard-stick as they have been one of the Premier­ship forces for a long time now.”

For­mer Wales, Scar­lets and Cardiff Blues cen­tre Gavin Evans will start at out­side half for Neath, but they will be miss­ing wing Alec Jenk­ins.

Jenk­ins in­jured his leg in an ac­ci­dent at work and is re­placed in the start­ing XV for this crunch clash by Geraint Llewellyn, an able deputy, but Jenk­ins will be missed.

In the reg­u­lar league sea­son Keys com­fort­ably de­feated Neath 48-3 at home in Septem­ber, and also beat them 29-10 in the WRU Na­tional Cup.

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