National Cup - new team guaranteed for final

7.3.2017 www.wru.co.uk

National Cup - new team guaranteed for final

RGC 1404 and Merthyr will be bidding to become only the 15th club to reach the WRU National Cup final when they go head-to-head in the semi-finals on the weekend of 25 March.

The two Principality Premiership Tier 1 clubs were drawn together to ensure there will be a new club in the final. Pontypridd will meet Cross Keys in a repeat of the 2012 and 2014 finals, with the venues for both fixtures still to be determined.

WRU National Cup Semi-Final Draw

RGC 1404 v MERTHYR

PONTYPRIDD V CROSS KEYS

RGC have already beaten the Ironmen twice in the Premiership this season - 23-19 at The Wern and 25-24 at Parc Eirias - and if Mark Jones' side can complete a hat-trick of wins it would carry them to the Principality Stadium five years after they entered Division 1 East.

A last minute try from Huw Worthington enabled them to knock-out the cup holders, Llandovery, 45-36 in an epic quarter-final in Colwyn Bay last weekend and they are still on course for a league and cup double - as are Merthyr! In fact, the Ironmen are still in the hunt for three trophies.

Next week they meet Carmarthen Quins at Aberavon for a place in the Foster's Challenge Cup and they currently sit in fourth place in Tier 1 of the Premiership. Not a bad return for their first season in the top flight!

"To still be in contention for three trophies is great and I didn't expect us to do what we've done so far. It's testament to all the hard work put in by the coaches, players and committee," said head coach Lee Jarvis.

"RGC have done remarkably well. Mark Jones is near enough full-time with them and they are a fit, young and very enthusiastic side.

"We were disappointed to lose to them at home and when we went up there we were 24-3 up at half-time and in total control of the game. Our indiscipline let us down in the second half.

"The third game will be cup rugby and you can throw the form book out the window. They are special days and it will be a case of who can best handle the pressure - it is going to be intense and exciting."

Jarvis played for Cardiff in their 33-26 win over Swansea in the 1997 cup final, which was the last game played on the old National Ground. He was back at the same venue as a coach with Merthyr when they won the National Plate title in 2014, beating Rhiwbina 29-26.

"I can still remember that day. The build up was special and the memories that we created then were fantastic," added Jarvis.

"We still have a game to go before the final, but we'd love to do that again. We've still got a few players left from that side and Osian Davies, our flanker, was the man of the match in the Plate final."

Pontypridd will be shooting for a 13th final appearance and have won the title six times. They have appeared in nine of the last 15 finals and are still in the hunt for two trophies this season.

They currently sit on top of Tier 1 in the Premiership, but backs coach Gareth Wyatt is only too aware of just how difficult a threat Cross Keys will pose. The former Wales wing was in the Ponty side that went down to a 32-19 defeat to the Gwent side in the 2012 final.

Keys were pipped by a point in the last four by Carmarthen Quins last season and lost out 33-27 to Ponty at the same stage a year earlier. The two sides met in the 2012 and 2014 finals.

"No game at this stage is going to be easy. Traditionally, over the last four or five years, we have both been there and there abouts at the end of the season," said Wyatt.

"They have come out on top of us on occasions in the past in the cup and we know they will be targeting the tournament given they are in Tier 2 in the Premiership. We are just very pleased to be at this stage after a tough game at Carmarthen Quins.

"We've got some good senior players who are playing well for us at the moment, but there is also good balance in the squad with a core of good youngsters. Cross Keys have built a good side over a number of years and they know what they are good at and have a very effective game plan.

"It will come down to whoever can front up on the day and deliver a good performance. As long as we play on a good surface it doesn't matter where we play."

WRU National Cup Final Appearances

Llanelli 20

Neath 13

Pontypridd 12

Cardiff 11

Swansea 10

Bridgend 6

Newport 5

Aberavon 3

Pontypool 2

Llandovery 2

Carmarthen Quins 2

Cross Keys 2

Ebbw Vale 1

 

Caerphilly 1

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