Pontypridd round off their qualifying games in Pool D of the British & Irish Cup with a home tie against Birmingham & Solihull this evening (KO 7:30pm).
This encounter will be the third in succession for Ponty against English Championship opposition, having already gained creditable wins at home against Rotherham Titans and away against Doncaster Knights. Also being the second of three games to be played within the space of eight days, the demands on the Pontypridd squad are high.
A win against the Bees will secure outright qualification for Pontypridd from their pool with a 100% record and ensuring a home draw in the quarter final stage of the competition.
With a need to rest players, and with the eight players selected for the Wales Under 20s squad unavailable, changes are inevitably made from the line up which took a bonus point win from the visit to Doncaster last Saturday.
Amongst the players given an opportunity to prove themselves in a tough challenge against the Bees are wing Chris Clayton, outside half Dean Gunter, scrum half Garyn Lucas, props Chris Phillips and Ryan Harford, hooker Huw Dowden and flankers Jake Thomas and Wayne O'Connor - all introduced in a raft of squad rotation. A shortage of second row cover sees an A.N. Other provisionally named on the bench.
Pontypridd 15.Gareth Wyatt. 14.Chris Clayton. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Dafydd Lockyer. 11.Owen Williams. 10.Dean Gunter. 9.Garyn Lucas; 1.Chris Phillips. 2.Huw Dowden. 3.Ryan Harford. 4.Craig Locke. 5.Ryan Savage. 6.Jake Thomas. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Chris Dicomidis (capt).
Replacements: Kristian Baller; Simon Humberstone; Matthew Nuthall; Ken Knaggs; Tom Hetherington; A.N. Other; Darren Waters
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.