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Boxing Day 2022 – Indigo Premiership Preview

*Odds will appear on the day of the match

Newport head coach Tyron Morris insists his team are now back to their best and expects his Black and Ambers to avenge their opening day defeat to local rivals, Ebbw Vale when they meet on Boxing Day.

The big Gwent derby at Eugene Cross Park is one of four sets of festive fisticuffs guaranteed to shake off any excess of Christmas pudding.

The Ironmen shocked Morris’s men in their previous tussle at the start of the year, beating last year’s Cup winners, 25-22, at the Newport Stadium, with a last-minute kick from Evan Lloyd.

But Newport have started to get back to last season’s form – racking up four straight wins, after losing their first four of the season – to leave themselves nicely placed just five points below the hosts in the table, in fourth.

Morris said: “We had a difficult pre-season, we lacked numbers and I think that put us about two weeks behind everyone else. 

“But I knew we would get up and running at some point and we are back firing now.  

“Credit to (Ebbw Vale coaches) Jason (Strange) and Geraint (Lewis) this year, who have changed that team considerably. 

“They look a completely different team -they are back to the traditional nitty-gritty Ebbw side that I remember.

“They have been grinding out some excellent wins. We didn’t take them lightly at the start of the year, I think they caught us a bit rusty, but we knew Jason and Geraint would turn this team around from last season.

“It is a huge derby game; they always matter a bit more for local bragging rights.”

Strange has, indeed, turned around Ebbw Vale’s fortunes. Having finished second from bottom in a Covid-affected league last year, picking up just three wins from 11 games, the Steelmen are currently sitting pretty in fourth spot.

They have won six out of nine and are just six points off second place.

Morris added: “They have an excellent set of half backs, with Jonathan Evans and Evan Lloyd, and they control the game very well. 

“They have tactical awareness around their kicking game, too, so we will have to be prepared to master that if we are to get any sort of result up there.

“They have got a unity there at the moment. Jason has gone in and picked up a lot of local boys, who want to play for the badge, playing for their local rugby family. They have gone back to a very good maul and scrum team.

“Ebbw are going for the double, so there’s that riding on the game as well. The first loss gives us a bit of an edge now, to go up there and get some revenge on their turf.”

Pontypridd will travel down to the capital also looking to even the scores, following their 26-12 loss earlier in the season against last year’s champions, Cardiff.

The Rags have enjoyed an excellent start to the season, winning nine of their ten games so far.

They did suffer a minor blip recently, losing to Aberavon in front of the S4C cameras, but Cardiff got their season back on track last weekend with a huge 82-0 victory over a lacklustre Carmarthen Quins side.

Pontypridd, however, seem to be finally kicking into gear, following a slow start to their campaign.

They currently sit in 10th place, with just two wins from nine in the league.

But a big win away against Aberavon saw the Valley Commandos reach the final four of the WRU Premiership Cup, and there is hope they can take that form into the league.

Bottom of the table Bridgend Ravens host Aberavon, who currently sit in second place at the Dunraven Brewery Field.

And it will be a tough ask for Tom Smith’s men who have lost to the Wizards twice already this season, losing by an aggregate score of 94-28.

But the home side will have hope, with Aberavon recently losing four games in a row, before getting back on track last time out with a 30-23 win against league leaders Cardiff.

Elsewhere, Llandovery will take on Carmarthen Quins at the Church Bank in a good old West Wales derby.

Llandovery were the victors when the two teams last met earlier in the season, and Carmarthen have since struggled, picking up nine losses from ten.

Swansea and Llanelli will battle it out at St Helens’. 

With both sides currently lying towards the bottom of the table, a win for whichever side would be crucial to get themselves back on track.

RGC against Merthyr will bring the curtain down on 2022 for the Indigo Premiership, as they face off on the following day, December 27, at Parc Eirias. 

The North Walians have been on quite a charge of late, winning their last four games in the league, and progressing to the final four in the WRU Premiership Cup.

The Ironmen will prove to be tough opposition, though, and can boast a similar record. Both sides are currently locked on 26 points, in fifth and sixth positions, although RGC have played a game more.

26 December, 2022

LlandoveryvCarmarthen Quins

27 December, 2022


*Odds will appear on the day of the match

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