Friday, 11 April 2014

Swalec Plate Semi-Final Predictions

Rhiwbina v Llantwit Fardre at Taffs Well RFC 
Two East side’s Rhiwbina and Llantwit Fardre will battle it out in the last four of the Swalec Plate this weekend.
With a spot at Swalec finals day at stake, league leaders Rhiwbina will start as slight favourites, though both teams have proved formidable opponents in the Plate so far.
Rhiwbina's Dave Smith in Swalec Plate action against Nant Conwy
Rhiwbina club official John Humphreys said, “The whole club is really looking forward to one of the biggest games in our history. Llantwit Fardre and ourselves are the two in-form teams in Division Two East and we will be preparing for a tremendous challenge.
“Like us, I expect Fardre were pleased to be avoiding the two Division One big guns, but I can assure you we won’t have any sense of complacency as Fardre come into this game on a lengthy unbeaten run.
“Both clubs have beaten Division One opponents to get this far, so it should be an even contest in front of a great crowd.”
The Squirrels should be well rested for the match after having their league game at Tredegar called off, and Humphreys admits the fixture backlog for the capital side is starting to mount up as they fight for silverware on several fronts.
 “We face a fixture back-log going into the final weeks of the season, not helped by Tredegar cancelling our game there last Saturday as they only had a handful of players available.
“However, it does mean we go into the Fardre clash at full strength and without any injuries, with the exception of skipper Nick Howell who sustained a punctured lung in the victory over Garndiffaith.”
We’re also in the East District Cup and Silver Ball semi finals on consecutive nights later this month, but with success comes challenges and none could be bigger than the Swalec Plate semi on Saturday, given that the prize is an appearance at the Millennium Stadium.”
Despite starting as slight second favourites on the day, Fardre have proven to be great cup competitors this season and have dispatched three Division One outfits on the way to the semis, including a defeat of last season’s winners Heol y Cyw.
Player/Coach Jason Pocock has been instrumental for Fardre at fly half, while their powerful forwards have outmuscled the packs of Llangennech, Glamorgan Wanderers and Heol y Cyw.
However, I feel that Rhiwbina will have the edge behind the scrum. The only meeting between the sides so far this season went narrowly to the Squirrels and I expect a similar outcome tomorrow.
 Verdict- Rhiwbina by 5 points

Merthyr v Glynneath at Mountain Ash RFC 
The other semi-final pits the One East leaders Merthyr against One West pacemakers Glynneath in a mouth-watering clash at Mountain Ash.
Methyr's Martin Luckwell touches down against Glamorgan Wanderers
If winning is a habit, both these sides are definite addicts but tomorrow there can only be one winner.
Merthyr warmed up for the match with a convincing 59-5 demolition over Glamorgan Wanderers, a win that saw them open up a seven point lead at the summit.
“We are expecting a difficult challenge on Saturday. We are not taking anything for granted--Glynneath are not top of their league for no reason and it will definitely be an intriguing clash,” stated Team Manger Paul Lewis.
Lewis believes the team are in confident mood and will be at full strength ahead of the clash.
“Our Coaches really have a selection headache on their hands with a number of players really putting their hands up in the past few games, but obviously being able to name seven replacements means we can hopefully utilise this to our advantage.”
Glynneath go into the match high in confidence having beaten One East’s Ystrad Rhondda on Wednesday evening in the semi-final of the Silver Ball.
The Neath Valley side will once again be putting their season's undefeated record on the line and are still in the hunt for four pieces of silverware.
I think this will be a really close contest- both sides have huge momentum moving into the clash but I think this might be one match too far for Glynneath.
Verdict- Merthyr by 1 point


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