Simon Humberstone will hope to kick Pontypridd into the quarter finals
Pontypridd are prepared for a dramatic final round of the pool stages of this season's British & Irish Cup.
We have to play a high intensity game but at the same time, we can't chase the bonus point from the start,
The Sardis Road club are still in with a shout of reaching the quarter-finals, but need a five point win over Edinburgh Academicals tomorrow (Saturday) whilst hoping London Welsh beat London Scottish without a bonus point.
Things are incredibly tight at the top of Pool 2 with Pontypridd, Scottish and Welsh all eligible for qualification. Pontypridd face a home clash with the Academicals, a side they comfortably disposed of 13-53 in the first round of fixtures in October last year.
For tomorrow's clash, the defending Principality Premiership champions include Lewis Williams, who makes a welcome return on the wing. Luke Crocker is fit to start in the back row and with injuries at lock, Miles Normandale makes a second consecutive appearance. James Cashin, drafted in on permit from Beddau, provides second row cover from the bench.
Simon Humberstone leads the side from fly-half, but a number of usual starters are unavailable. Chris Clayton (neck), Gavin Dacey (ankle), Gary Williams (knee), Dafydd Lockyer (knee), Chris Phillips (elbow), hooker Huw Dowden (knee), flanker Jake Thomas (ankle), Owen Sheppeard (knee) and Dan Godfrey (hamstring) are all struggling with knocks. Full-back Adam Thomas and flanker Rhys Shellard are training with Wales Sevens while hooker Liam Belcher is with the Wales Under 18 squad.
Despite seeing a number of men out, Pontypridd coach Paul John says his side is more than up for the challenge.
"Edinburgh have got stronger and they've drafted in a number of different players as the tournament has progressed," he said.
"It's going to be a tough game from that point of view. We have to go into the game with a positive attitude and do as much as we can to go through. Yes we are relying on the other result, but we have to win the game with a bonus point and see what happens.
"The way we have played with ball in hand in the British & Irish Cup has been very pleasing. We just have to have better discipline at times and not let teams back into the game."
In their search for a bonus point, John knows his side must not go hell for leather from minute one.
"We have to play a high intensity game but at the same time, we can't chase the bonus point from the start," he said.
"We have to remain calm and collected throughout. The effort of the boys has been superb against a number of good sides. We've beaten London Scottish and London Welsh at home, pushed them close away and we were perhaps a little unlucky to lose those games."
Cross Keys travel to Moseley also holding hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. Although Leinster A have already won Pool 1, Greg Woods' men still have a chance of qualifying as one of the competition's two best runners-up.
Back in October at Pandy Park, Keys edged home with a 20-16 win in the return fixture. And, needing a bonus point win in Birmingham this Saturday, Woods has named a strong side. Newport Gwent Dragons pair Lewis Robling and Elliot Dee start at centre and hooker respectively with fellow regional team mates Francesco Chapparo, Darren Walters and scrum-half Luc Jones all named on the bench.
Llanelli face a trip across the Irish Sea, hoping to back up last weekend's impressive victory over Bedford Blues. Kev George's men face Connacht Eagles hoping to keep up the pressure on Rotherham at the top of the table.
Aberavon's hopes of British & Irish Cup progression are at an end, but the Wizards will be hoping to finish on a high against Gala at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
There is also one Principality Premiership fixture this weekend with Neath hosting Llandovery at The Gnoll.
British & Irish Cup fixtures:
Connacht Eagles v Llanelli (KO 4pm)
Aberavon v Gala (KO 2pm)
Moseley v Cross Keys (KO 2pm)
Pontypridd v Edinburgh Academicals (KO 2pm)
Principality Premiership fixture:
Neath v Llandovery (KO 2.30pm)
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