SWALEC Cup Final preview

7.5.2012 www.wru.co.uk

SWALEC Cup Final preview

Swalec Cup holders Pontypridd will be favourites to retain the trophy after a league season that has ended with them top of the Principality Premiership.

The Valleys club can complete half of a memorable double at the Millennium Stadium on Monday, where they face Cross Keys in the headline even of the Swalec finals day.

Ponty have already notched up a league double over Cross Keys but face an in form side that marched to the British & Irish Cup semi-finals.

Pontypridd scrum-half Rhys Downes is determined to play his part in a cup-winning performance after missing last year's final due to injury.

"It's nice to be involved after missing the last few finals through injury," said the Cardiff Blues academy star.

"We've snuck in under the radar and had a lot of games at the end of the season which we have managed to win. We've won the regular league and it's been great to have another good cup run which we now want to win to complete the double.

"Cross Keys have been good in the past couple of seasons. I'm sure they've picked up a lot of experience from their British & Irish Cup run and they will be hungry on the weekend.

"But we can call on a lot of our own cup and league experience. Last year we won against a good Aberavon side and I'm sure the boys are looking forward to getting back out there to defend the title."

Ponty started the cup in unconvincing fashion and needed a Simon Humberstone penalty to take them to a 3-0 victory against Llandovery at Church Bank in round two.

A walkover against Tonmawr followed before the Gnoll was the destination in the quarter-final.

Six times winners Neath were tough opponents on their own patch but once again Humberstone rose to the occasion and landed 13 points with the boot to take Ponty through in a 23-10 scoreline.

Newbridge stood between Pontypridd and their eighth final and the One East side took them all the way before falling to a 28-24 defeat. Outside half Lewis Williams was the star of the show for the winners crossing for a try, landing two conversions and slotting over three penalties for a haul of 18 points.

Cross Keys have had a good season finishing in sixth position but they have never enjoyed much Swalec Cup success until this year.

They opened with a hard-earned 10-9 defeat of Bedwas with Ian Andrews crossing and Dean Gunter adding the remaining points with the boot.

In round three they entertained Cardiff side Rumney and won 36-18 with Gunter again prominent with no less than 26 points.

Seven-times winners Cardiff were at Pandy Park for the quarter-final and a high scoring match saw Keys come out on top 37-24 although the issue looked in doubt at the interval when it was 14-14. Outside half Gunter supplied another 22 points.

The semi-final was one of the closest on record with Keys overcoming One East champions Ebbw Vale by virtue of try count after the match ended 19-19.

Gareth David and Tom Lampard claimed the touchdowns that took Keys to the Millennium Stadium.

"We've had a great season but at this time we have nothing to show for it except a couple of flights to Scotland and Ireland," said Cross Keys director of rugby Jonathan Westwood.

"There are some great memories from the British and Irish Cup but it would be nice to have something tangible to put in the club and finish the season off. We need to learn the lessons from playing a quality side like Munster and put that defeat behind us.

"In all honesty we have coughed and spluttered through the rounds in the Swalec Cup and it would be great for it to be the reverse of the BIC where we played superbly through the rounds and then lost the final."

With Steffan Jones out for the season due to an ankle injury and Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey, who featured in last weekend's British and Irish Cup defeat to Munster A, unavailable Keys face a fly-half headache ahead of the clash.

They are hoping that Dean Gunter, who broke bones in his foot against Aberavon last month, will be fit to face his former side.

Ponty.net > News > Noticeboard > SWALEC Cup Final preview