Friday, 20 September 2013

Swalec Championship Weekend Predictions

After a superb week in which Ebbw Vale were awarded an “A” license from the WRU, the bonus point win over Bargoed was the icing on the cake in their quest for promotion to the Premiership.

Jason Strange’s men go west this week as they take on Narberth at the Lewis Lloyd ground whilst Bargoed will look to get back to winning ways when they host Tata Steel.

Elsewhere in the league unbeaten Pontypool travel to a Llanharan outfit coming off the back of an impressive result over Blackwood and Tondu go in search of their first win of the season away at Bridgend Athletic.

In my opinion, the game of the week comes from North Wales as Cardiff Met will look to continue their superb early form against RGC 1404 who will be brimming with confidence after their debut victory in the Championship last weekend.

Bargoed v Tata Steel

Bargoed may feel a little aggrieved after last weekend’s performance against Ebbw Vale. After going in at half time ahead against the current champions, they were blown away in the second half and perhaps should have shown a little more concentration and discipline. Nevertheless they still put up a good show despite still being without a few first team regulars. Tata Steel came up short as they went down by three points away at Newbridge. This will be another stern test for Leigh Ratti’s men and will look to their physical pack to try and assert some dominance if they are to get anything out of the game. I think Bargoed may be smarting after their previous fixture and Tata Steel could maybe be in for a long afternoon.

Verdict – Bargoed by 15 points.

Beddau v Newbridge

The current Mid-District Cup winners Beddau have had an indifferent start to the season. After an opening day hammering at the hands of Pontypool, they were much improved last week as they won 17-13. Their defensive errors that cost them so dearly against Pooler were eradicated and the side had a more balanced look to it in the win over Tondu. Their opponents on Saturday, Newbridge, also bounced back from an opening day defeat by seeing off Tata Steel 23-20. Consistency will be the key for the Welfare Ground outfit if they are to make a mark in the Championship this year. With former Bridgend No.8 Matthew Llewellyn skippering the side, I think they will have too much for a new look Green and Golds side.

Verdict – Newbridge by 11 points.

Bonymaen v Blackwood

Blackwood were comprehensively beaten by Llanharan at Glan-Yr-Afon Park in their previous Championship game and are yet to win this season after losing to Bridgend Athletic in a thriller on the opening day. They were well beaten in every aspect of the Llanharan game, particularly the scrum where their pack were destroyed. Bonymaen themselves have suffered two defeats from two games and heavy ones at that. After conceding 78 points in the matches against Narberth and Cardiff Met respectively, ‘Bony’ could be in for a long old season unless fortunes change dramatically on the pitch. Blackwood Director of Rugby Matthew Back and Head Coach Matthew Veater will also be anxious to get that all important first win to try and get the ball rolling and I feel they will get it this Saturday.

Verdict – Blackwood by 16 points.

Bridgend Athletic v Tondu

Bridgend Athletic welcome Tondu to The Newbridge Fields this weekend gunning for their second victory in three games. After a dramatic win against Blackwood, Athletic let slip a comfortable lead against Pontypool as they went down 31-24. Tondu were vastly improved against Beddau after their own loss to Pontypool and some felt they could have even got a result against the Green and Golds. Like Blackwood and Bonymaen, Tondu need that first ‘W’ on the board to settle any early season nerves. Tondu will likely be buoyed from last week’s performance but I think Bridgend will run out comfortable winners.

Verdict – Bridgend Athletic by 11 points.

Ebbw Vale v Narberth

The Steelmen have one objective now for the season – promotion. After their good news from the WRU last week, Ebbw Vale will be spurred on knowing that after years of trying, they have a route to the Premiership. But the Eugene Cross Park outfit will be the first ones to admit how hard it is going to be. They head to Pembrokeshire on Saturday to take on a Narberth side who themselves may have an eye on the top half of the table around May time. The Otters suffered a setback last week when they were soundly beaten at the Lewis Lloyd Ground by RGC 1404 and had a torrid time of it at the scrum as they were forced to go passive during the second half. With the strength in depth Ebbw Jason Strange has at his disposal I think his troops will dominate their opponents throughout the 80 minutes.

Verdict – Ebbw Vale by 21 points.

Llanharan v Pontypool

Pontypool are flying after picking up maximum points from their first two games. They showed great heart in coming back from 21-3 at one point to Bridgend Athletic last Saturday to eventually win 31-24. With the likes of Sam Mills, Tom Organ and former club captain Jamie Jeune, on permit from Newport, coming off the bench they also have an exciting squad developing. Llanharan will also be on a high after a commanding performance against Blackwood that was led by their forwards who were on top throughout. Pooler will be without Captain Luke Dychkoff who has a dead leg and centre Ashley Norton who is away as part of the Wales sevens set up. But prop Jeune starts and there is the chance that former star Steve Taylor could come off the bench for a second debut. With the feeling around Pontypool at the moment I think they will make it three out of three.

Verdict – Pontypool by 7 points.

RGC 1404 v Cardiff Met

I think we could be in store for a cracker at Colwyn Bay tomorrow afternoon. If the conditions are right, there will be two young teams on show who love to throw the ball around and that could lead to some scintillating stuff. Cardiff Met have been tremendous so far this season in disposing of Llanharan and Bonymean scoring 11 tries in the process. The Eirias Park outfit will no doubt be lifted after their terrific performance in the win over Narberth last week. Home advantage will always count for something, even more in North Wales but I think the students will thrive in an environment such as this and will continue their awesome form.

Verdict – Cardiff Met by 9 points.


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