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.
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.