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Admiral Championship Preview, 29/10/2022

Despite struggling with injuries and bedding-in young players, Glamorgan Wanderers head coach Martyn Fowler insists his side will not back when they host unbeaten Pontypool this weekend.

Wanderers have had an inconsistent start to the season, with two wins from six games.

With a young squad it was always going to be a tough start to the season, and the Championship is not an easy league to find your feet in.

Pontypool will, therefore, prove a tough test for Glamorgan’s young squad, but Fowler suggests his main focus is on development and incremental improvement, rather than looking at quick fixes.

“There’s been some strange results, we have been producing some fantastic 40 to 50 minute performances but, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get that 80-minute performance quite right yet,” he says.

“We have a young squad; we are building very nicely. And it is a fantastic league for development.

“If you are coming from the colleges or just out of the academy, it is a really good testing ground.

“Club rugby is all about community and it relies on these big home games. Pontypool have a great following, they have done marvellous things, so it should be a great occasion.”

In recent weeks, the Wanderers have fallen on tough times. They picked up nine injuries during their ill-fated Championship Cup game against Trebanos.

Six injuries to props have made life very difficult. But some assistance from Cardiff Rugby has seen Brynly Toms join on a permit and Freddie Barnes returns to join up with the squad, to challenge the juggernaut that is Pontypool.

“It has been a difficult few weeks, as we haven’t got a huge squad,” adds Fowler.

“We tried some new faces in the Cup, due to the number of fixtures and the attritional nature of the game. We decided we were not going to pursue the Cup, we chose to rest a few players, so it was definitely a coaching group error and not a playing group error.

“We are a little bit ragged going into Pontypool, after picking up a few injuries.

“So, there is an element of realism coming into this week. We know that we are rebuilding and Pooler are a fantastic side.

“But there’s no relegation this year, so we can develop the younger players in our squad. And we are going to have a bloody good go at them, I know that!

“If you sit off Pontypool, it is going to be a long old afternoon. So, you have to keep putting pressure on them and we have to stay in the arm-wrestle for the full 80 minutes.”

Third-placed Bargoed will take on fouth-placed Cross Keys in a crunch game at Bargoed Park.

The Bulls will be in confident mood having won five games from five, and are looking in fine fettle, but Cross Keys will prove to be a tough test.

Having only lost two games this season, Keys will be fancying their chances, especially having beaten Glamorgan Wanderers, 47-27, last week.

But Bargoed have the third best defence in the league and have only shipped 112 points from six games.

Beddau, back in 12th, host an out-of-form Cardiff Met side, who now lie in eighth.

After a very promising start to the season, the Archers have struggled in recent weeks, losing four games in a row in the league.

While faring better in the BUCS Super League this season, the students will be looking to turn things around this weekend against low-scoring Beddau.

However, the Archers will have to improve their defensive qualities, having conceded the third most points in the division so far this season. 

Having only scored 66 points this season, Beddau have only picked up one league win. And despite holding the league’s joint-sixth best defence, they have simply not scored enough points.

At the top, Neath travel to Tata Steel, who are yet to win this season and are rooted to the bottom of the table, having conceded 186 points in just three league games.

The visitors have both the second-best attack and defence this season.

The league leaders are enjoying an excellent start to the season. Their only loss came against Pontypool and they have since won their last three games – meaning it will likely be another tough day at the office for Tata. 

Bedwas fell to a narrow 9-3 loss last weekend against Maesteg Harlequins and will be looking to get back on track with a win, as they host Ystalyfera.

Stefan Sankala’s side had been on a four-match winning run, until last week, even beating Maesteg Quins the week before in the Cup, but having dropped into sixth, Bedwas have just fallen away from the top three sides.

Ystalyfera have had a mixed start to the season, having won two games from six, and have struggled for form in recent weeks.

The Swansea Valleys side haven’t won since September 24th and were dumped out of the Cup by Beddau after a disappointing 37-0 loss at home.

Narberth host Maesteg Harlequins after both sides recorded excellent wins last time out.

Narberth finished off Cardiff Met in the final quarter of the game, to win 30-10. Maesteg gritted out a fantastic 9-3 win, with player-coach Owen Howe kicking them to victory against an excellent Bedwas side.

Seventh-placed Ystrad Rhondda have really hit their form in recent weeks, and after a slow start, they now look a tough proposition for any side in the league.

They face Trebanos next as they look to get back to winning ways after a tight loss against Pontypool last week.

After beating Cross Keys at home, Ystrad Rhondda really showed their mettle when they took on Pontypool away from home, taking them to the wire last weekend, before losing 28-25 to a last-minute kick.

Trebanos, meanwhile, are starting to hit some better form, even though they are just one place off the bottom.

They got their first win of the season in the Cup against Glamorgan Wanderers, and they backed it up with a solid victory over Tata Steel in the league.

Admiral National Championship – October 29, 2022

BargoedvCross Keys
BeddauvCardiff Met
Glamorgan WanderersvPontypool
NarberthvMaesteg Quins
Tata SteelvNeath
Ystrad RhonddavTrebanos

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