Holders Neath visit Division 1 West leaders Carmarthen Quins in the Swalec Cup on Saturday mindful of the fact that at the same stage of last year's competition they were given a mighty scare by Tonmawr only going through on tries after captain Lee Beach declined to go for a straightforward penalty, preferring to put the ball out of play.
Coincidentally, at the time, Tonmawr were leading Division 1 West too so the Welsh All Blacks will need no reminding of the potential pitfalls of such ties especially given that Quins coach Max Howells has a wealth of local knowledge to call upon.
Neath were in outstanding form to beat Glamorgan Wanderers 41-nil last time out and their squad is reinforced by the return after injuries of centre Wayne Mitchell, outside-half Howard Thomas and hooker Ashleigh James.
Luke Ford, Neath's recent threequarter recruit from the Blues, was man-of-the-match against Glamorgan Wanderers when he scored two tries, prompting one Neath supporter to comment, "If he scores half as many tries for Neath as his dad did for Cardiff, he'll do for us." His father Steve scored 198 for the Blue and Blacks, breaking the great Bleddyn Williams' earlier record of 185. Luke therefore completes a neat triangle as Bleddyn himself played one game for Neath before joining the R.A.F. during the war.
Director of Rugby Rowland Phillips said: "We were very pleased with our display against Glamorgan Wanderers. They were the last side to beat us back in November so the 41-nil margin is hopefully an indication of how far we have come. But we will be taking nothing for granted at Carmarthen.
"The Quins have not lost this season and have an impressive lead at the top of Divsion 1 West which they head from Narberth and Tonmawr. They have a lot of seasoned campaigners, many with Neath connections, and we expect their set-piece to be strong with a good scrum and real proven lineout aces in Paul Arnold and Martin Morgan who shared a lot of our success at The Gnoll.
"Quins were a very competitive side in the Premiership apart from that one season when they were relegated and they had a good overall success rate. Promotion is probably their priority but it was for Tonmawr last year when I recall it took a particularly brave performance from our late scrum-half Gareth Jones who returned to the field after injury to spark our revival and ensure our survival in the competition.
"We very much respect the challenge posed by Carmarthen Quins and have prepared for this game exactly as we would for any Premiership challenge, the boys are bubbling and we are looking forward to it."
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