Bridgend Ravens host Neath at the Morganstone Brewery Field on Saturday looking to return to winning ways after a double bonus point defeat at Carmarthen last time out (2:30pm).
Bridgend’s performances of late have been positive – a win over Llanelli was followed by a close fought 30-28 defeat at Carmarthen Park last weekend after three straight defeats kicked off the campaign.
Neath started the season with two impressive wins over Swansea and Carmarthen Quins at the Gnoll. Three straight defeats have followed, losing to RGC, Llandovery and Llanelli. The Gnoll side sit three points above Bridgend in the current early-season standings.
Last season was a mixed bag of results between the two sides. The Ravens secured two impressive wins in the Foster’s Challenge Cup, but it was Neath who prevailed twice in league action. The fifth and final encounter between the teams was a March friendly which Bridgend won by 40-21. The last clash, in May, went the way of the Welsh All Blacks by 21-10 to book Neath a place in the Tier 2 Principality Premiership Playoff Semi Finals.
There are a few changes to the Bridgend side. After an encouraging cameo last weekend, Aaron Grabham joins Tyler Williams and two-try hero Dylan Moss in a strong back three. Joseph Gatt and Owen Watkin continue their pairing in midfield. Cai Evans retains the ten jersey with Harri Morgan making his first senior start at scrum half after two appearances off the replacements bench.
The pack remains the same as last weekend, aside from one change which sees Ashton Evans return at 8. Jamie Murphy and Will Baird are also on the comeback trail, taking their place amongst the replacements.
15. Tyler Williams 14. Aaron Grabham 13. Joseph Gatt 12. Owen Watkin 11. Dylan Moss 10. Cai Evans 9. Harri Morgan
1. Rhodri Apsee 2. Iestyn Merriman 3. Cai Lewis 4. Jack Pope 5. Kieran Martin 6. Owain Lloyd 7. Zac O’Driscoll (capt) 8. Ashton Evans
Replacements: 16. Owen Thomas 17. Ollie Evans 18. Garyn Daniel 19. Chris John 20. Adam O’Driscoll 21. Will Baird 22. Jamie Murphy 23. Ed Doe
15 Ed Howley; 14 Richard Smith, 13 Keiran Williams, 12 Gavin Evans (captain), 11 Mike Evans; 10 Iwan Evans, 9 Chris Morgans
1 Ben Uphill, 2 Sion Crocker, 3 Geraint James; 4 Rhys Jones, 5 Matthew Davies; 6 Elis Hopkins , 8 Scott Hicks, 7 Ryan Bean
16 Neil White, 17 Ifan Phillips, 18 Liam Tobias, 19 David Griggs, 20 Ceri White, 21 Scott Gibson, 22 Matthew Pearce, 23 Alec Jenkins