Rugby previews 29th February 2020

Aberaeron spread the ball wide


Championship Division:

Tough tussle against talented students

Cardiff Met v Narberth

Ianto Griffiths - in good kicking form for NarberthAfter their nail-biting win at home against Cross Keys, Narberth travel to take on the students of Cardiff Met looking to improve on their current sixth place in the table of this hugely competitive division.

The Otters looked likely to lose against Cross Keys but Ianto Griffiths kept his nerve late on to convert Daf Pritchards' try with four minutes to go and then slot that last-ditch penalty to deny the visitors what would have been a deserved win over the full 80 minutes. It gives them eight wins and a draw alongside six defeats whilst the students' have won 11 and drawn won of their 16th matches, a strong record that puts them fourth in the table.

Verdict: Otter head coach Sean Gale was right to praise the way his squad stuck to the task whilst struggling to hold on for lengthy periods but knows that this another challenge as Cardiff Met are playing well - and based on the fact that they are at home as an added plus I have to for a students' victory!

Division One (West):

Preseli Men must start a winning streak here

Llanelli Wanderers v Crymych

Crymych travel to take on Llanelli Wanderers knowing that a win here could play a big part in any hopes of climbing out of the bottom two against a side that has already beaten The Preseli Men at Parc Lloyd Thomas by 16-6.

The Wanderers are currently ninth in the table with four wins and a draw from 17 starts whilst Randall Williams' developing team have a record of just three wins from 14 outings.

Verdict: It is sure to be another huge test for Crymych but I’ll let my heart rule my head and go for an away win, but more in hope than expectation!

Scarlets still underdogs at Crickmarren

Geraint Lewis - desperate for a Pembroke successPembroke v Llangennech

Pembroke are still bottom of the table and enjoy home advantage over Llangennech, who are deservedly in second place after winning ten and losing only three matches, whilst The Scarlets have lost 11 games alongside two wins and a draw, so they know they face an uphill task.

Verdict: Llangennech used home advantage to record a 31-12 verdict when the teams met previously and Pembroke will be eager to gain revenge at Crickmarren, encouraged all the way by coaches Geraint Lewis and Kyle Davies.

But this is sure to be a big challenge and to be honest it is hard to see anything other than an away win on this occasion!


Borderers to bounce back to winning ways

Whitland v Aberystwyth

Whitland will seek a double over old adversaries Aberystwyth at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn, having won the previous nail-biter in Mid Wales by 13-12.

The Borderers have done really well to reach fifth place in this competitive section, showing their true grit with a number of similarly-narrow wins in their playing record of seven successes and a draw from 14 starts, whilst Aber sit just below them with a record of seven wins, a draw and seven losses.

Verdict: I expect to see a close contest here but Gareth Bennett's boys will be eager to bounce back to winning ways after their 15-20 defeat at Yr Hendy last Saturday, and record a deserved double.

Dai Ebsworth, Nico Setaro and Gareth Bennett - Whitland coaching staff


Division Two (West):

Seasiders to edge out The Mariners

Tenby United v Milford Haven

One of the undoubted highlights of the local rugby scene will be found at Heywood Lane, where Tenby United play host to Milford Haven.

The Seasiders have moved up to fifth place in the Division Two (West) table with a playing record that now reads played 17 games; won six, drawn two and lost nine whilst The Mariners are ninth but have only played 13 times.

Verdict:  The Seasiders have played well of late with a relatively inexperienced squad whilst The Mariners have been strong at home but only won once away.

It should be quite a tussle but I think Jonathan Evans' side will just do enough to win but with coaches Nathan Williams and Steve Martin likely to get involved for the visitors anything could happen!

Seagulls need to soar against Athletic

Simon James - can he put his experience to good effect for Fishguard.Carmarthen Athletic v Fishguard & Goodwick

Fishguard & Goodwick have dropped to tenth place by dint of the fact that they have let matches they should have won slip from their grasp late on with only four wins and a draw alongside seven defeats - with Carmarthen Athletic in seventh spot after seven wins and five defeats.

Both teams have had a number of games called off and need to start winning to climb up the table.

Verdict: It should be close because The Seagulls are a stronger squad than their current position suggests - but they need to regain their killer instinct under brothers Nathan and Steve Jenkins.

It is also worth recording the fact that they have eight home games out of their last 10 fixtures but need to not rest on that information  and start winning here!

Division Three (West):

Quins likely to complete the double

Cardigan v Pembroke Dock Harlequins

Cardigan play host to Pembroke Dock Harlequins aiming to avenge a 25-10 reverse at Bierspool but to do so they will need to halt The Quins' powerful runners by denying them quality ball up front.

Verdict: The Quins are now sixth, with eight wins from 14 games whilst The Teifisiders lie two places below them, having won six and lost seven matches so far.

It is likely to be a closer verdict than last time but I think The Quins should complete the double if they play to their potential.

Blues likely to gain revenge

Matthew Phillips - leading Haverfordwest by exampleHaverfordwest v Llanybydder

Haverfordwest play at Pembroke Road against Llanybydder seeking to gain revenge for a disappointing 19-0 loss when the teams met in Mid Wales

Home coach Steve Barnett will be reminding his team of the need to show to total commitment and  playing well even though their promotion hopes look over after winning nine and drawing one of their 14 completed matches.

Verdict: I'm sure The Blues will listen to 'Barney' and they will record a tenth success against a durable Llanybydder outfit!


Laugharne should keep up their winning streak

Mikey Williams - key player for LaugharneLaugharne v Neyland

Laugharne might be in third place but if they do well in their remaining matches ((they have only played 12 so far and won ten alongside a draw and single defeat) they can be the section's champions.

They play against Neyland at Wooford Park after winning 36-14 at The Athletic Ground before Christmas - and will be seeking a comfortable double over The All Blacks.

Verdict: I believe that Laugharne are the best side I have seen in Division Three (West) this season and although George Williams and his relatively young side will never throw in the towel I expect a win for The Laugharnees!


Wasps to win the Johnny James Cup

James Lewis - unsung hero at LlangwmSt Davids v Llangwm

One of the games I always love watching is the one between basement battlers Llangwm (11th) and St David's (12th) and it is The Saints who enjoy home advantage as they look to claim a win after 15 consecutive defeats whilst The Wasps have two wins and a draw in conjunction with 13 losses so will start as favourites.

There is an added spice to this match as these teams will now play annually for the Johnny James Memorial Cup, presented in memory of the smashing Llangwm hooker who passed away this year.

Verdict: The Wasps lead by ten points after their 22-10 win at Pill Parks and although I think they will be pushed all the way by Gethin Bateman's boys should be able to raise the trophy in memory of Johnny in The Saints' clubhouse afterwards!


Aber should win against The Town

Aberaeron v Lampeter Town

A match that should really be worth watching is the one at Aberaeron where the home side entertain Lampeter Town, currently top and showing their ability to win when the chips are down against an Aberaeron squad who play cracking rugby but are behind in terms of league games because of their wonderful run in the WRU Bowl competition, where they are waiting to play their semi-final.

Verdict: The teams drew 3-all in awful weather at Lampeter but this game will show both teams' skills if the elements improve - and I would go for Aberaeron but believe they might have their eyes on the chance to reach the big day at The Millennium Stadium!


Carms Saints too strong for Tregaron

St Clears v Tregaron

St Clears currently sit second as reward for a playing record that reads; played 15, won 11,  drawn one and lost three - and are still very much in the hunt for promotion as they play Tregaron, who are ninth having won five of 15 matches.

Verdict: I expect a comfortable victory for The Carmarthenshire Saints but give credit to Tregaron for the way they have conducted themselves this campaign with such long distances to travel for most away games!