Bridgend Ravens visit Carmarthen Park on Saturday for a Principality Premiership clash against Carmarthen Quins (1:30pm).
After a stunning win against Llandovery, Bridgend put in arguably their worst showing of the season against Newport last time out. The Gwent side were more powerful on the day, securing a 28pts to 17 victory. Bridgend know that vast improvements will need to be made as they face one of the perennial title challengers at the Park.
Carmarthen recovered from defeat at Aberavon to beat RGC by 35pts to 22. It was comprehensive stuff from the Quins who raced in for four tries; scored by Haydn Pugh, Shaun Jones and a brace from Dale Ford. Former Scarlet Aled Thomas' boot scored the rest of their points as they maintained their current mid-table position.
Last season, the sides faced off three times. The two games during the first half of the season, which were during the 'West' Conference went the way of Carmarthen (at home 30-28 and away 26-34) before Bridgend turned the tables, winning 11pts to 6 at the Morganstone Brewery Field.
Incredibly, Bridgend's last win over the Quins at Carmarthen Park was in March 2006. The Ravens were in the midst of a tight title race with Neath that season and a victory at the Park was secured thanks to tries from Nicky Griffiths and Mike Powell. The boot of Gareth David kept the scoreboard ticking over as Bridgend won by 18pts to 6.
Bridgend make a few changes to the side that were beaten at Rodney Parade last weekend. With Jamie Murphy away on international duty with Germany, Ospreys Academy and Bridgend Athletic product Caine Woolerton makes his first start of the season at full back. Will Holley is the second introduction into the back three alongside Mike Powell. Stuart Floyd Ellis and Nathan Edwards continue their run as the centre pairing, Ryan Evans and Chris Williams are the half backs.
Owen Jordan, Gareth Harvey and Cai Lewis comprise the front row. Jack Pope pairs up with James Little in the boilerhouse. The back row of Adam O’Driscoll, Tom Morgan and Dafi Davies gets another opportunity to impress.
There’s a familiar face amongst the replacements as Ashley Evans, a recent signing from Neath, returns to Bridgend colours.
Bridgend XV: 15. Caine Woolerton 14. Will Holley 13. Stuart Floyd Ellis 12. Nathan Edwards (capt) 11. Mike Powell 10. Ryan Evans 9. Chris Williams
1. Owen Jordan 2. Gareth Harvey 3. Cai Lewis 4. James Little 5. Jack Pope 6. Tom Morgan 7. Adam O’Driscoll 8. Dafi Davies
Replacements: 16. Owen Thomas 17. Ollie Evans 18. Garyn Daniel 19. Chris John 20. Joe Grabham 21. Connor Tantum 22. Morgan Jones 23. Ashley Evans