With the run in to the climax of the Principality Premiership campaign now gathering momentum, Pontypridd go head to head against Pontypool at Sardis Road on Saturday 18th April, the game kicking off at 2:30pm.
Pooler are fighting for their lives in the division, and having impressively won their last three matches against Gwent rivals Newport, Cross Keys and Ebbw Vale, are making a good show of things. Still occupying bottom place in the table, but only two points adrift, Pontypool will undoubtedly pose a stiff test for a Ponty side seeking to extend their 100% home record.
A combination of injuries, recovery from injuries, and the resting of players during an intense schedule of games, has seen numerous changes made to the Pontypridd starting line up.
Both outside halves, Gareth McCarthy and Dai Flanagan, are sidelined with hamstring strains, with the versatile Kristian Baller wearing the number 10 shirt, and partnering young Rhys Downes at half back. Adam Thomas slots in at full back, with Gavin Dacey returning at centre following a stint with the Wales Sevens squad.
Flanker Geraint Lewis has pulled up with a groin strain, but Wayne O'Connor making a timely recovery from a bicep injury to take his place in the team. A rotation of the front row sees Stuart Williams and Ryan Harford packing down in the prop positions. Ponty have drafted in young outside half Dean Gunter from Abercynon, a player who has figured in the Blues Academy system, to cover at outside half.
The Pontypridd team selected to face Pontypool is as follows:
15.Adam Thomas. 14.Owen Williams. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Mike Davies. 11.Lewis Williams. 10.Kristian Baller. 9.Rhys Downes.
1.Stuart Williams. 2.Huw Dowden. 3.Ryan Harford. 4.Ryan Savage. 5.Chris Dicomidis. 6.Rhys Lloyd. 7.Wayne O'Connor. 8.Nathan Strong - cpt.
Subs: Andrew Jenkins; Dean Gunter; Lawrence Price; Leighton Davies; Grant Harrington; Chris Martenko; Pat Palmer.
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series