Pontypridd travel to Richmond to face London Scottish
Pontypridd forwards coach Geraint Lewis is wary of the challenge provided by London Scottish as he prepares his side for a British & Irish Cup trip to the English capital.
Lewis saw his side come out 29-20 winners in the home fixture at Sardis Road last Saturday as a red card for Irish flanker Neil Best hindered the English Championship outfit.
With three wins from three matches so far, Pontypridd are the only Pool 2 side with a 100 per cent record and know a victory in Richmond will almost certainly seal a quarter final place.
"London Scottish showed in last Saturday's match how good a side they are" said Lewis.
"They were very competitive and struck back at us to gain a valuable losing bonus point. Travelling to the away fixture will provide us with a huge challenge but one we look forward to.
"We demanded a big reaction from our squad following the home defeat against Cross Keys and we got it. We showed total commitment and put in a big hearted performance to win against the odds.
"Nothing less will do as we play the return leg this coming Saturday. We need to build on our home win, improve, and take the game to London Scottish on their own patch."
Pontypridd's long injury list has another addition, Chris Clayton the latest to run into trouble with shoulder damage.
Influential No. 8 Dan Godfrey has failed a fitness test on a hamstring strain with Lewis making two changes to his side. Aled Summerhill is drafted in on the wing and Chris Phillips takes over from James Howe at loose head prop.
Experienced player-coach Gareth Wyatt comes on to the bench as does flanker Rhys Shellard on his return from Wales Sevens duties in South Africa.
In the other return fixtures to take place on Saturday, Cross Keys face a vital tie with Leinster A at Pandy Park. Keys found the Irish side too hot to handle last weekend but a more positive result tomorrow would see them stay in contention for a quarter final place. The winners of each pool plus the two best runners up progress to the latter stages and a win over the Irish side would see Keys well in contention to do just that.
For tomorrow's encounter, Greg Woods makes minimal changes with No. 8 and Dragons man Ieuan Jones an interesting inclusion in the pack. His fellow Rodney Parade teammate Elliot Dee is also involved but has to settle for a place on the bench.
Elsewhere, both Aberavon and Llanelli face long trips to the north of England. The Wizards face Leeds Carnegie in what will be their third game in a week as they look to bounce back from two heavy defeats to English opposition. Leeds were 41-22 winners at the Talbot Athletic Ground last Saturday before Jason Hyatt's men were demolished 78-0 by Bristol in their rearranged fixture on Wednesday. Catching the two English sides will be a tough ask but Hyatt is boosted by the availability of Wales man Dafydd Howells who starts on the left wing.
Llanelli may have lost two of their three fixtures so far but they remain right in the mix in a hugely competitive Pool 3. Kevin George's side are currently in third place but are just two points behind Rotherham at the summit and face the Titans at Clifton Lane.
Welsh action in the British & Irish Cup tomorrow (Saturday):
Rotherham Titans v Llanelli (KO 2pm)
Leeds Carnegie v Aberavon (KO 2pm)
Cross Keys v Leinster A (KO 3pm)
London Scottish v Pontypridd (KO 3pm)
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.