Bridgend Ravens travel to Cross Keys on Saturday afternoon in the first game of the 2018/19 Principality Premiership (2:30pm).
The campaign is being billed as the biggest in the competition with up to five sides facing the drop to the Championship.
The Ravens wrapped up pre season on Saturday with a 36-38 home defeat to Bargoed. Bridgend crossed for six tries and looked their threatening best at times with ball in hand. However, four missed conversions and lapses in concentration saw Bargoed avenge last season’s ten try hammering at the same ground. There were plenty of positives for the coaches to take from the game ahead of the trip to Pandy Park.
Cross Keys’ warm up campaign was due to end last week, but they saw their clash with Cardiff University cancelled. Their pre season saw earn victories over Old Redcliffians (38-21), Ystrad Rhondda (36-0) and Newbridge as they look to rebuild under new captain Damian Welch.
Bridgend will be looking to build on the end of last season which saw them win eight of their final ten league games, including a win over Cross Keys at Pandy Park by 7-13. Chris John’s breakway score, and the boot of Jamie Murphy ensured Bridgend left Gwent with a hard fought success. More of the same will be needed this weekend if Bridgend are to kick off the campaign victorious.
Bridgend’s commitment to the development pathway continues with twelve of the starting fifteen from local clubs. Tyler Williams and Aaron Grabham are selected in the back three after both scoring last weekend, where they’re joined by Premiership debutant Will Holley. Captain Nathan Edwards leads the side for the first time in competitive action alongside Stuart Floyd Ellis in the centre. Club centurions Jamie Murphy and Chris Williams are paired at half back.
Rhodri Apsee, Gareth Harvey and Cai Lewis comprise the front row. It’s a debut for James Little in the second row alongside Chris John. Adam O’Driscoll, Jack Pope and Tom Morgan are selected in the back row.
Bridgend XV: 15. Tyler Williams 14. Aaron Grabham 13. Stuart Floyd Ellis 12. Nathan Edwards (capt) 11. Will Holley 10. Jamie Murphy 9. Chris Williams
1. Rhodri Apsee 2. Gareth Harvey 3. Cai Lewis 4. Chris John 5. James Little 6. Jack Pope 7.Adam O’Driscoll 8. Tom Morgan
Replacements: 16. Iestyn Merriman 17. Ollie Evans 18. Neil Elworthy 19. Matthew John 20. Aled Evans 21. Dan James 22. Ryan Evans 23. Morgan Jones
There is a supporters’ coach running to Pandy Park. Priced at £8 per person and £4 for children and there are limited spaces remaining. Please contact Aled Thomas on 07532196963 as soon as possible to book a seat.
Sadlers Bar will be open from 11:30am on Saturday, serving tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages before the bus leaves at 12:30pm. The bar will be open when the bus returns and will show Millwall v Swansea LIVE.