Friday, 21 February 2014

Principality Premiership and Swalec Cup Weekend Preview

Carmarthen Quins will be hoping to extend their advantage at the summit of the Principality Premiership tomorrow when they host Bedwas at Carmarthen Park.
With title rivals Pontypridd having to play their re-arranged Cup match against Newport, Quins’ Team Manager Steff Thomas sees this as an important opportunity to stretch their lead.
“If we can get the win, it will be nice to steal a march on Ponty and get the points on the board.”

However, Thomas admits that Bedwas will pose more of a test to the team the Quins comfortably beat at the start of the season.

“We are expecting a very tough game, they had bit of a slow start to the season but they’re going well now and looking to make a push themselves for a play-off spot. It will definitely be a test of the strength of our squad with a few players missing.”

Despite the fact that Quins are leading the way in the Premiership and are safely through to the quarter-finals of the Swalec Cup, Thomas is adamant that no one at Carmarthen Park are thinking about claiming a historic League and Cup double.

“There is a long way to go till the end of the season but we are obviously delighted by where we are at present, though we definitely aren’t getting ahead of ourselves and just concentrating on one match at a time,” added Thomas.

In what looks like the clash of the day, third takes on fourth at the top of the table as Llandovery welcome Cross Keys to Church Bank.

When the sides met back in September the Keys were comfortable winners, but on their home patch the Drovers will pose a more stringent test. With both sides chasing a top three play-off position, the outcome of this clash could prove crucial come the end of the season.

Meanwhile, former Aberavon and Pontypridd coach Simon King has been chosen as the man to take Cardiff forward, after a big shake-up of the coaching staff at the capital side this week that saw Director of Rugby Martyn Fowler resign and backs coach Mark Ring dismissed.

Speaking about his new position, King said:

"It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m absolutely delighted to be given this role.

"I have experience at this level and now look forward to working at a club with such a rich heritage and proud history."

King’s reign begins at the Arms Park tomorrow when the Blue and Blacks entertain visitors Neath, who have only claimed two wins so far this season and have not played a competitive fixture since January 18.

"We have a good opportunity at home against Neath on Saturday, and then seven more games in the Principality Premiership season and a home quarter-final in the Swalec Cup to look forward to.

"There is a lot of rugby for us to get stuck into this season and I look forward to what we can achieve,” added King.
Elsewhere, Ben Rose’s Bridgend will be aiming to build on their good win over Cardiff last time out when they host Llanelli at the Brewery Field.

The reverse saw plenty of try scoring action, with 13 tries in all, as the Parc y Scarlets outfit ran out 46-36 winners with both sides going all out in attack.

But Rose admits the only thing that matters to the Ravens, who are still in a fight for survival at the bottom, is recording a victory.

“The game we played earlier in the season shows what both sides are capable of in attack. This should be an entertaining game for the neutral but only a win matters for the Bridgend players, supporters and club.”

After the wet weather put title holders Pontypridd Swalec Cup defence on ice, the Sardis Road side will be looking to book their spot in the last eight when they host Newport.

In the other rearranged second round match, Championship outfits Ebbw Vale and RGC 1404 will be vying for a home quarter-final draw against Llandovery.

The Steelmen have already completed the league double over the North Walian region and will be odds-on to make the quarter-final stage for the second year running.

Bridgend v Llanelli- Llanelli by 7 points
Cardiff v Neath- Cardiff by 10 points
Carmarthen Quins v Bedwas- Quins by 7 points
Llandovery v Cross Keys- Llandovery by 3 points

Ebbw Vale v Rgc 1404- Ebbw by 20 points
Pontypridd v Newport- Pontypridd by 12 points 


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