Rugby Previews for Saturday 25th January 2020

Championship Division:

Otters miss out on toughest match

Pontypool v Narberth

Narberth's away match against Pontypool was postponed because Pooler are playing in the WRU Cup. Never mind Sean Gale and Co - it gives you something to look forward to later in the season!

Division One (West)

Borderers to celebrate narrow double victory

Daf Phillips - A good player a CrymychWhitland v Crymych

Jac Howells - try scorer for WhitlandLocal derbies between Whitland and Crymych are traditionally hard-fought, with few points separating the protagonists after 80 minutes of total commitment - and I expect this tussle to follow the pattern.

The Borderers are currently sixth whilst The Preseli Men are lying low in 11th - but form matters little when these two lock horns at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn.

Crymych's canny coach Randall Williams was The Borderers' captain for a number of years and he would love to avenge a 13-19 home defeat.

Verdict: I know it could go either way but I think Whitland will complete the double - but I expect Crymych to pouch a losing bonus point!


Scarlets to edge another welcome win

Nathan Williams - high hopes for Milford HavenPembroke v Felinfoel

Pembroke gained a terrific win last Saturday, only their second so far, and as a result will go into their home match against third-placed Felinfoel with a measure of confidence after such a long string of defeats, most of them by narrow margins.

They lost 31-11 in Felinfoel, who have won nine of 12 matches so far, but even with home advantage The Scarlets know they face a formidable side here.

Verdict: Coaches Geraint Lewis and Kyle Davies are realists and know that one win doesn't make a successful season and if a number of their walking wounded are up and running again my heart says that Crickmarren will resonate to supporters cheering on a home victory!


Division Two (West):

Burry Port are 100%!

Burry Port v Milford Haven

Milford Haven pushed Burry Port all the way at The Obs before losing 13-17 - and have recently gained their first away win at Kidwelly and a home 20-20 draw against one of the other high fliers in Mumbles, who could count themselves lucky with a late score.

Verdict: Nathan Williams and Co would be chuffed with a win against a team that boasts a 100% win record but although they are capable of springing a surprise against the section leaders I have to go with Burry Port, especially with home advantage!


Nant to just shade this one

Gavin Walsh - in fine fettle for FishguardNantgaredig v Fishguard & Goodwick

Fishguard & Goodwick travel to Nantgaredig on the back of yet another narrow home defeat as they lost 23-21 to divisional leaders Burry Port, with a last-ditch penalty robbing them of the honour of ending Burry Port's 100% race to the section silverware.

The Seagulls were ahead with 10 minutes to go and they know that on their day they are capable of beating any team in the section but seem to jettison their chances either very early in the match, when they concede lots of points, or late on as they did to lose 22-31.

Verdict: Nantgaredig are currently sixth, with six wins, two draws and six defeats but seem to have greater consistency - and for this reason I think they will win, although I hope Chris Shousha and his squad prove me wrong.


Can Seasiders maintain their winning streak?

Toby Smith - key player for PembrokeTenby United v Pontarddulais

Tenby United have rocketed up the table after recent wins against Loughor, Pontyberem and Carmarthen Athletic in their last three matches and coach Jonathan Evans and his assistants must be rightly proud of the way The Seasiders have shot up from relegation candidates to fifth place.

They are a relatively young side but there is talent aplenty at Heywood Lane as this Saturday they entertain Pontarddulais.

Verdict: The Bont are currently in fourth position with seven wins (including a 19-13 victory over Tenby at home) – but I think The Seasiders have turned a big corner and that growing confidence in what they are capable of  will see them come through again here!


Division Three (West) A:

Battle Royale before Aber take the verdict

Hywel Baker - playing well for The QuinsAberaeron v Pembroke Dock Harlequins

Another entertaining clash will take place at Aberaeron as Pembroke Dock Quins travel to the seaside town to try to gain revenge for a narrow 5-12 reverse at Bierspool:

These are two very good sides that featured for a while in the title race but have now fallen out of it so Aberaeron's injury-hit squad can now focus on trying to get fit for their WRU Bowl semi-final against Cardiff-based Fairwater.

The Quins have turned their fortunes around after last year's disaster campaign as newcomers Jack Price, Josh Thomas and Jordan Asparassa have revitalised their back division, with Hywel Baker leading their efforts up front.

Verdict: Another game that is tough to predict but I have a feeling that even without a few key players it is Aber who will make use of home advantage.


All Blacks to complete local derby double?

Llangwm v Neyland


Supporters at Pill Parks can be sure of one thing - and that is there will be no quarter asked for, or given, when Llangwm play host to Neyland, who have to travel less than ten minutes down the hill to try to complete the local derby double after a 29-23 victory at The Athletic Ground.

Best of pals off the pitch there is no love lost when the game starts and it looks likely be a real cliff-hanger, with both sides having players to watch - for The Wasps we could see points from Luke Hayman, whilst younger brother Toby will do the same for The All Blacks: Yale Grice will look for tries against his former club and skipper Gethin Thomas, Ian Griffiths, James Lewis and co will battle away up front.

The All Blacks might find it hard-going up front despite the efforts of Owain and Iestyn Evans, plus George Williams, whilst his brother George, who skippers the side, is in fine form alongside Chris Morgan and Henry Macbeth.

Verdict: I expect Llangwm to be in control in the majority of set-piece stuff but The All Blacks' finishing power might just see them home if they can win enough good quality ball.


Blues might just battle home

Jack Clancy - powerful member of the Haverfordwest packSt Clears v Haverfordwest

The tightest contest in Division Three (West) seems likely to be the clash between second-placed St Clears and Haverfordwest, who are just below them in the table having won nine and drawn one of their 13 matches so far.

The Saints have played one more game and won that so it is all to play for here - and a measure of just how close it could be comes from the fact that when they met at Pembroke Road in Haverfordwest there was an epic battle which  saw honours even at 12-all.

Verdict: The Saints are bonny battlers, especially at home, and will push The Blues all the way and much will depend on player availability through illness or injury.

It is almost impossible to predict any result with certainty but I can't sit on the fence here so I'll plump for The Blues, whilst Lampeter Town and Laugharne, as the others involved at the top, wouldn't mind another draw here!


Saints to struggle against league leaders

St Davids v Lampeter Town

Lampeter have the clear chance of a welcome bonus-point win because they are on the road to St Davids they face a team whom they beat 104-0 at home. Lampeter now have an impressive record of 11 wins and a draw in their 14 games whilst The Saints have played the same number and sadly lost the lot.

But they have played much better of late and could certainly compete up front in the early stages if coach Gethin Bateman and outstanding back rower Ianto Davies are available.

Verdict: If The Saints win it would be the biggest surprise in this season and neutrals like myself (!!!) would love that - but I'm afraid I couldn't wager my final fiver on anything but a big Lampeter win!


Laugharne confident of a bonus-point verdict

Laugharne v Tregaron


Laugharne have fallen behind the rest of the front runners because of their terrific run in the WRU Bowl but this week have the chance to boost their total by five points as they entertain a gritty side in Tregaron, who will never give up trying but lack The Laugharnees finishing power.

Laugharne are now in fourth place but have played only 11 games (with nine wins and a vital draw at another front runner in Aberaeron).

Verdict: The homesters have real match winners in Owain Thomas, Tom Jameson, Carl Smith and especially Mikey Williams, to name but a few, and with the game taking place at home in Wooford Park there is only one result for me - and that's a comfortable win with a bonus point thrown in for good measure!


Bydder to bag the win points here

Cardigan v Llanybydder


And finally, Cardigan entertain Llanybydder at the King George Vth Playing Fields having raised their temp recently to now have five wins in their collective kit bag alongside seven losses - and beginning to grow in confidence in this second half of the season.

Llanybydder are seventh in the table, having won exactly half of their 12 matches, and will be eager to repeat their 39-14 success when the teams met earlier, looking to use their powerful pack as the launch pad to release some pacy backs.

Verdict: The Teifisiders are capable of picking up another scalp with home advantage but I have a feeling that it will be Llanybydder who come out on top - but not by the 25-point margin previously - and with The Cardis perhaps pocketing a losing bonus point in the process!