Dai Flanagan makes a welcome return for Pontypridd
If a live televised encounter against a table topping team who boast a 100% record in the last Welsh League match at a famous stadium entails a "big game", then Pontypridd have a big game coming up on the weekend.
Llanelli have stormed to the top of the Premiership with an impeccable return of played six, won six, and it is they who will host Pontypridd on Saturday 18th October in a game kicking off at 5:30pm due to live screening on S4C. There have been many epic encounters between the two clubs at Stradey Park, but with the Scarlets regional franchise and Llanelli RFC due to evacuate the stadium at the end of the month, this will be the last.
When all the gloss and the hype and the history is stripped away from the game, it remains a hugely important one for a Pontypridd side seeking a first away win in the league this season.
In the build up to the big clash, Ponty coach Paul John remains objective about his team's aspirations of success. "Going away to face a Llanelli team with a 100% success in the league so far is a difficult task" said John "but from our point of view we have nothing to lose. The pressure will be on Llanelli to keep up that record.
"We need to take our home form with us on the bus from Sardis Road, which we haven't done so far this season. If we play to our potential we can achieve a result, and having won and drawn at Stradey last season, the boys know that they have the ability to succeed".
The latest injury victim in the Ponty camp is winger Chris Clayton, with a suspected minor fracture of the wrist. He joins outside half Gareth McCarthy (hamstring) scrum halves Rhys Downes (knee) and Gavin Morris (blood clot) and prop Sam Hobbs (knee) on the sick list.
Ponty welcome back Blues pair, winger Aled Brew and outside half Dai Flanagan, with Matthew Hutchings slotting in at full back and Kristian Baller continuing at scrum half.
Newly recruited tight head prop Pat Palmer makes his debut for Ponty, with Rhys Williams back in at hooker and Rhys Lloyd at blind side flanker.
Pontypridd: 15.Matt Hutchings. 14.Aled Brew. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Adam Thomas. 11.Lewis Williams. 10.Dai Flanagan. 9.Kristian Baller; 1.Stuart Williams. 2.Rhys Williams. 3.Pat Palmer. 4.Grant Harrington. 5.Chris Dicomidis. 6.Rhys Lloyd. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Nathan Strong (capt).
Subs: Lawrence Price; Mike Davies; Andrew Jenkins; Ryan Harford; Huw Dowden; Ryan Savage; Geraint Lewis.
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Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
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