Thursday, 12 September 2013

Principality Premiership Weekend Predictions

After the appetisers of the past two weekends with the British and Irish Cup qualification rounds, the Premiership finally kicks off this weekend with a number of tasty fixtures to get us underway. 
Defending Champions Pontypridd will undoubtedly be the team to beat at the top, while at the other end, with the possibility of relegation back on the table, there could be an almighty scrap for survival with last season’s basement boys Swansea needing a vast improvement in performance if they are to survive this year.
This season we have also got a Premiership Predictions competition running on site- it’s free to enter and you could win £100 if you are the top pundit at the end of the season. If you would like to enter e-mail - the rules can be found on the home page.
Aberavon v Newport
The Wizards left it late to beat Bridgend last weekend in the BIC but they have now notched up two wins on the bounce, and with the comforts of the Talbot Athletic Ground, I think they should start as favourites. Newport were well beaten by an impressive Cross Keys side two weekends ago but this match will certainly be closer than that encounter and I can see the Rodney Parade outfit bagging a losing bonus point on Saturday.
Verdict- Aberavon by 6 points
Bridgend v Carmarthen Quins
The Ravens were in control against Aberavon last weekend before letting victory slip from their grasp, but a week before, they were lucky to beat Neath in a dreary Friday night affair. Ben Rose’s troops will be glad to be in the surroundings of the Brewery Field but I think they will still struggle against Carmarthen. I watched the Quins match against Llanelli and I still don’t quite know how they conspired to lose that match: they had the vast majority of territory and possession yet couldn’t land any killer blows. Having said that, I was impressed with their direct running and they have some powerful ball carriers, and so I think they should open up their Premiership account with a victory.
Verdict- Carmarthen Quins by 7 points
Neath v Llanelli
Neath are still very much in a transitional stage; there a number of new faces milling around the Gnoll this summer. If Neath are to compete with Llanelli on Saturday they will need a few more ideas in attack than they had against Bridgend a couple of weeks ago- although it was a damp and drizzly night, their first choice of attack was to punt it down field. One thing for sure is that any loose kicks from the hosts on Saturday will surely be run back with interest from the pacey Llanelli back line. However, Llanelli’s Director of Rugby Anthony Buchanan knows it won’t be a walk in the park for his side on Saturday. “Obviously The Gnoll is an extremely tough place to go and get a result, but we have won on our last two visits to the ground and I have every confidence that we can get another result”, said Buchanan.
All in all I think Llanelli will be too strong for Neath.
Verdict- Llanelli by 8 points
 Pontypridd v Bedwas
Ponty will open up the defence of their Premiership title at Sardis Road and will once again be the team to beat this year. Although they stuttered at times against Cardiff last weekend in the BIC, Dale McIntosh’s men have the winning habit and came through in the end. In front of a - no doubt - passionate home crowd I don’t see Bedwas upsetting the apple cart. The Gwent side surprised many last season and missed out on a play-off place by the slenderest of margins, but I think they will be hard pressed to replicate such a season as last again.
Verdict- Pontypridd by 8 points
Swansea v Cross Keys
Swansea ended last season propping up the table and may struggle again this term, I feel. They face a difficult start against a Cross Keys side who have hit the ground running in the BIC qualifiers. The All Whites know if they finish bottom of the pile again relegation is a real possibility, but I don’t see them getting anything out of the game on Saturday. I really feel the Keys underperformed last season and I expect more from the Pandy Park men this season. They have added a few new faces to their squad and I think they should open up with a routine win on Saturday.
Verdict- Cross Keys by 12 points
Llandovery v Cardiff
Llandovery will be hoping to reproduce the start they had to last season’s campaign where they were running in tries for fun. Although they lost out to Llanelli in the BIC qualifier last weekend, I think they will still start as favourites against Martyn Fowler’s men, who will also be a threat this season in my opinion. Cardiff gave Ponty a run for their money last weekend, and with ex-Drovers fly half Ceiron Thomas performing well at the fulcrum and back row Ellis Jenkins also impressing, I think they will be a tough nut to crack this year. I predict a tight match and I think with heavy rain forecast for Sunday in the West I think it will be a relatively low scoring affair and could come down to the battle from the tee.
 Verdict- Llandovery by 3 points.


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