Chris Dicomidis leads Pontypridd out against Leinster tomorrow
Pontypridd skipper Chris Dicomidis is gearing up for one of the biggest challenges his side has faced in the semiprofessional era - a winner takes all encounter against Leinster A in the British & Irish Cup.
To play a fully pro provincial outfit is a tough ask, and we expect them to be fully loaded against us
Dale McIntosh's side go into the game at the Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin on Saturday with the two opposing teams shoulder to shoulder at the head of the group with 15 points apiece. Only one team will progress into the knock out stages of the tournament.
Captain Dicomidis has this week overcome a bruised sternum and is confident of the ability of his squad in rising to the occasion.
"We are all looking forward to what will be a massive challenge" he said.
"We know that Leinster all but demolished us in a corresponding fixture on their patch last year, but we feel that we have a score to settle.
"To play a fully professional provincial outfit is a tough ask, and we expect them to be fully loaded against us, which hopefully will indicate the respect they have for us. That respect is mutual, but we believe they are beatable and if we turn up with our A game then the job can be done."
The Welsh side know a losing bonus point is the bare minimum required from the trip to Ireland. Leinster were convincing winners when the two sides met in the competition last year but a last gasp try from centre Dafydd Lockyer saw Pontypridd win at Sardis Road earlier in the competition.
Lockyer will not have the opportunity to repeat his match winning exploits as he is sidelined with a dead leg. Another absentee will be flanker Rhys Shellard with a jarred neck, an injury suffered in Ponty's last encounter against Neath.
There are no fewer than eight changes made to the team that started the win over Neath leaving Dicomidis in confident mood.
"We just got the better of Leinster in a nip and tuck home leg at Sardis Road back in October and the return tie on Saturday will probably be just as close, just as hard fought," he added.
"If we can repeat the result, as difficult as that may be, it will be a big statement of our intent to challenge and succeed at this level of competition."
Pontypridd: 15 Geraint Walsh 14 Chris Clayton 13 Adam Thomas 12 Gary Williams 11 Owen Williams 10 Dai Flanagan 9 Carl Thomas, 1 Chris Phillips 2 Huw Dowden 3 Keiron Jenkins 4 Cory Hill 5 Chris Dicomidis (c) 6 Ed Siggery 7 Wayne O'Connor 8 Dan Godfrey.
Replacements: Lloyd Williams, Simon Humberstone, Matthew Nuthall, Darran Harris, Craig Locke, Jake Thomas, Bradley Thyer.
Christmas has come early at Glynneath rugby club, one of a number around Wales who have received an array of merchandise and equipment this December courtesy of the Welsh Rugby Union's £750,000 participation points scheme.
The WRU have been delivering on the scheme - which gives individual clubs access to up to £5,000 worth of supplies and equipment each for the 2014/2015 season - over the last two weeks and today (Friday) were received by a special guest in Glynneath, club president and pitch marker Max Boyce.
The Welsh Rugby Union has signed a new four year deal with specialist equipment supplier Rhino Rugby, which is set to benefit both the grass roots game in Wales and the national squad in equal measure.
We watch the new grass growing and being stitched together in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. We speak to Millennium Stadium groundsman Lee Evans, Wales great Ieuan Evans gives an overview on the new strategy announced by head of rugby Josh Lewsey, while we also hear from Bedwas, Aberavon and Carmarthen Quins in the Principality Premiership.
Wales assistant coach Rob Howley was welcomed with open arms by the staff and players at Crymych recently when he hosted a training session in memory of former club captain and coach, Glyndwr Richards.
We hear about the WRU's annual report and some exciting new plans for schools and clubs round Wales in this week's Principality Welsh Rugby Union Podcast. WRU finance director Steve Phillips explains the money side, while head of rugby Josh Lewsey explains his new strategy for schools and clubs. We also get reaction from all round Wales.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a nationwide education programme, to help all involved in the game to recognise and remove' players with concussion. Wales, Racing Metro and Lions centre Jamie Roberts Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, WRU Head of Rugby Josh Lewsey and representatives of grassroots clubs in Wales who helped finalise the policy. We also hear from WRU National Medical Manager Prav Mathema, plus Llanelli and Cardiff in the Principality Premiership.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a nationwide education programme, to help all involved in the game to recognise and remove' players with concussion. Wales, Racing Metro and Lions centre Jamie Roberts took time out of his club commitments to raise the profile of the campaign launch held at Pontyclun Rugby Club.
The Welsh Rugby Union has launched a nationwide education programme, to help all involved in the game to recognise and remove' players with concussion. Interview with WRU National Medical Manager Prav Mathema.
This week on the Principality Premiership Podcast, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie talks to Carmarthen Quins head coach Louie Tonkin who is aiming to close the gap on leading duo, Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale, with victory against Bridgend tomorrow.