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.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.