The Green and Golds surprised many last time out when they saw off highfliers Newbridge and will be looking to build on this performance tomorrow, but will face a tough test in Glan yr Afon. The hosts have had an extended break thanks to the international fixture and a postponement, but they, too, will be hoping to carry on where they left off after convincingly beating Bonymaen at the end of October. I think this will be a close match: Beddau sit just one place higher than their opponents in the table but based on their continued improvement, I think they will start as favourites.
Verdict - Beddau by 5 points.
Bonymaen v Whitland
Bonymaen showed a dogged determination to defeat Pontypool a fortnight ago and, desperate to distance themselves from the relegation fight, they will see this as the perfect opportunity to do so. The Borderers have only won once all season and that was against leaders Ebbw Vale - the question is why aren’t they producing that type of performance every week? As we quickly approach the half way mark of the season, these matches between the bottom clubs will take on ever increasing significance and this, I feel, will be another close encounter.
Verdict - Bonymaen by 3 points.
Ebbw Vale v Bridgend Athletic
The Steelmen have recovered from their mini crisis (losing to basement boys Whitland and supremo Neil Edwards) all the better, having knocked main title rivals Bargoed off their perch last time out to once again head the table. Athletic know they need to start picking up points if they are to avoid being sucked in to the relegation dog fight, but I think this is one battle they won’t be taking anything away from.
Verdict - Ebbw Vale by 20 points.
Narberth v Llanharan
Neither of these teams have played a league match since the end of October so should be raring to go. The Otters are currently the highest placed ‘West’ side in the league and will want to continue their progress, while having had good success against the Dairymen at home, not losing to them there since 2003. The Dairymen meanwhile, who have made a solid start to the new league, face a couple of tough fixtures before the New Year travelling to both Ebbw Vale and Newbridge. The visitors will be hoping a sixth win of the season will be on the cards tomorrow to instill some confidence before the challenges ahead.
Verdict - Narberth by 7 points.
Newbridge v Bargoed
Newbridge and Bargoed both come into this game on the back of defeats and both will undoubtedly be desperate to win to ensure Ebbw Vale don’t extend their lead at the summit. Bargoed were unfortunate not to come away with a draw against the Steelmen and will be out to right wrongs tomorrow, while Newbridge had flattered to deceive in matches before they lost to Beddau last time out and perhaps the loss might inject the impetus that seemed to be missing.
Verdict - Bargoed by 8 points.
Pontypool v Glamorgan Wanderers
Wanderers captain Alex Luff has issued a stern warning to his troops: “Vital points at stake at the wrong end of the Division. It’s a must win!” With Pontypool safe from relegation this season, the Wanderers currently sit in the drop zone along with Whitland, but they know a win here tomorrow would propel them up the table. It is very much a rebuilding season for Pontypool - who, despite everything, have competed well so far - but may have lacked the killer instinct in some matches which is surely something they will look to work on as they try to add to their solitary victory. However, knowing that they are safe from relegation, you have to question when it comes down to the crunch situation at the wrong end of the table will they want it as much as their rivals?
Verdict - Glamorgan Wanderers by 7 points.
Tata Steel v Cardiff Met
I was lucky enough to witness this fixture in One West at the tail end of last season where it was Tata’s pack that made the difference on that day and I suspect that it will be the same case tomorrow. The Margam based side have got stronger as the season has progressed but they know they will face a tough challenge from the well drilled and exciting Students. However, I think with home advantage and a dominant pack, the hosts should run out winners.
Verdict - Tata Steel by 6 points.