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WRU Admiral Championship Preview, 08/10/2022

Cross Keys coach Jack Condy admits he had to raise his voice at half-time last week – even though his team went on to score 100 points.

Imagine what might happen if Condy turns up the volume before kick-off this Saturday when Keys visit Ystrad Rhondda!

In fairness to a coach coming off the back of a 100-6 home win against Tata Steel, Condy is quick to point out the context of the most one-sided scoreline in the WRU Championship season so far.

Tata Steel have had problems raising teams this season and they began last week’s clash at Pandy Park with only 14 men.

Even so, the Port Talbot-based club showed grit and determination and it was only 19-6 with half an hour gone.

“Credit to Tata, they started the game with only 14 men but they were probably the best team for 35 minutes,” says Condy, the former Scarlets No.8 who was forced to retire through a knee injury in 2018 at the age of just 23.

“They fought for each other, having turned up without coaches or medical staff. We provided medical cover for them and helped as much as possible.

“I got a reaction from the players at half-time. It was the first time I’d had to raise my voice for about three years! The opposition became a little tired and we were clinical.”

Condy, now aged 27, is building a reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in Wales after cutting his teeth at Penallta.

He took over at Cross Keys this summer and his club lay third in the Championship table – behind Pontypool and Neath – with three wins from their opening four matches.

Condy is not predicting another 16-try rout at 10th-place Ystrad Rhondda, though, and says: “They are a very good, solid outfit. It won’t be an easy game and it will probably go down to the wire.

“We have to concentrate on ourselves and get the basics right, but there’s every incentive to keep pace with the top two in the table.”

One of those top two – second place Neath – are facing another side who, like Tata Steel, took a bit of a hammering last week.

Trebanos were crushed 82-3 by leaders Pontypool but Neath coach Patrick Horgan is counting no chickens as he prepares to take his side up the Swansea Valley.

“I know Trebanos had a tough outing last week against Pontypool, but there are lots of teams who are going to have a tough outing up there, I am not going to look into that too much,” says Horgan.

“Trebanos are always competitive, they play a great brand of rugby. We have had a few really tight games with them over the years and we are expecting another great game.

“These matches are like the old-fashioned cup games, they are brilliant. We know we need to be on song to come away with the win and a bonus point.”

Neath have won three of their four matches so far, with their only loss – a narrow one by 34-30 – coming at high-flying Pooler.

“We knew it was going to be important to get off to a good start, and we need to keep this run going,” says former scrum-half Horgan.

“I have been here for a while now, I have been through the worst of things, but I have also some of my best times here. A lot of clubs will go through these peaks and troughs, but I hope we are back on our way to a peak now.

“We picked up two points up in Pontypool, which isn’t easy. We are under no illusions, we still have plenty to improve on.

“The quality in the league is huge, there are a lot of difficult games. We struggled last week against Narberth and if you don’t play well, you will be punished in this league.

“If a club plays Neath, no matter where we are or what we are perceived to be, it is always a game where people want to do well against us.”

Elsewhere in the Championship, sixth-place Bedwas welcome fifth-placed Cardiff Met and Ystelafera travel to Glamorgan Wanderers, in what will be two tight fixtures for the midtable teams, as they battle to keep up the pace with the top four.

Narberth have won two games out of four this season and despite leading Neath at half-time last week, they ended up on the losing side, 33-23.

The Otters – coached by the hugely experienced former Scarlet Sean Gale – will be looking to improve their current mid-table position, starting with the visit of 12th-place Beddau this weekend.

Meanwhile, Bargoed, who started the season with a tight 24-16 loss against Neath, have turned their season around.

Now sat in fourth place the Bulls will be looking to keep the pressure on those at the top when they host Maesteg Quins, who have one win from their first three games and are back in ninth spot.

October 8, 2022

Bargoed v Maesteg Quins

Bedwas v Cardiff Met

Glamorgan Wanderers v Ystalyfera

Narberth v Beddau

Tata Steel v Pontypool

Trebanos v Neath

Ystrad Rhondda v Cross Keys

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