Stand-in Ebbw Vale captain Tristan Davies knows from past history that Swalec Cup semi-final shocks do happen. The centre was skipper of the Carmarthen Quins side that beat Pontypridd 41-12 to seal a Millennium Stadium showdown in 2010. Now he will be plotting the downfall of Premiership outfit Cross Keys from the midfield of Division One East champions Ebbw.
Keys start as favourites after showing their pedigree by beating Cornish Pirates last weekend to reach the British and Irish Cup final. But the Steelmen have already sent Newport, Davies’ old side the Quins and Swansea packing. "We might be the underdogs but we have been all along and anything can happen on the day," said the inside centre.
"Nobody gave us a chance when I was playing for Quins and we ended up beating Pontypridd pretty convincingly. "We are full of respect for Keys – they are going well in the Premiership and it’s a brilliant achievement for a semi-pro team to be in the British and Irish Cup final – but there is no fear. "We have really built up momentum in the league and cup and have taken plenty of confidence from some tough games. "It hasn’t just been our wins against the Premiership sides that I think has been impressive, the performances have been superb as well and they have made people sit up and take notice."
Davies, who captains the side in the absence of injured lock Damian Hudd, is aware that both sets of backs are unlikely to be the ones taking centre stage tomorrow. Instead a fierce battle between the forwards – particularly between the front rows – will go long way towards deciding who is celebrating victory in the bar afterwards. "In Division One we have plenty of Gwent derbies and this one won’t be any different – it will be pretty ferocious up front.
"It should be a brilliant occasion with Rodney Parade a hub of noise and the Ebbw faithful making a real racket like they have all season. "We are all excited and now we just need to perform like we have throughout the cup run."
Ebbw Vale: C Simpson, D Ajuwa, W Cunliffe, T Davies (captain), T Ashmead, Dorian Jones, G James, R Jones, M Williams, R Sevenoaks, J Bartlett, A Sweet, N Coughlin, R Kynes, E Matthews. Replacements: J Powell, R Miller, C Regan, Dai Jones, D Haymond, C Haille, J Williams.