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Ebbw Vale v Llanelli: Rugby Preview

Ebbw Vale will fancy their chances of an Indigo Group Premiership double on Friday night, when they welcome bottom of the table Llanelli to Eugene Cross Park.

The Steelmen are keen to repeat their January 36-26 away victory over the West Walians as they bid to repair their campaign for a top four finish following recent back-to-back defeats to RGC and Llandovery.

“After two losses, it’s time to give our fans something to cheer about,” said Ebbw backs coach Steve Lang.

“The squad are continuing to work hard on their physicality, but considering the transition we went through over the summer – and the number of new faces that came in – the bond now amongst the squad is excellent.”

If the home side could choose a fixture from which to get back on the horse, then this would be it.

Llanelli have managed just two victories all season and although they have three games in hand on Carmarthen Quins, they lost to the Quins in their last match and their last victory was way back on October 29.

They have lost their last five games in a row since they beat Pontypridd 31-29 at Sardis Road and suffer from consistency in selection.

But given the Scarlets are not in action this weekend, they are likely to have a stronger side than usual.

After missing out on any return in the 26-14 defeat at RGC in Colwyn Bay, a last minute Keiran Meek penalty allowed Ebbw to leave with a point last weekend after their 20-15 reverse against Llandovery at Church Bank.

That precious point wasn’t enough to stop them falling out of the top four into fifth following Merthyr’s bonus-points away win in Swansea. The Ironmen are two points clear of Ebbw in fourth with a game in hand.

It is not an insurmountable gap, but Strange and Lang will no doubt be impressing on their players they cannot afford to drop any more points, especially against a side who are currently propping up the table.

There are only eight points between third placed Aberavon and Newport in seventh, so it looks like the fight for the play-offs will go down to the wire.

Liam Lloyd comes into the Ebbw Vale side on the wing following a loan move from Treorchy.

For Llanelli, Caleb Salmon will replace Nathan Hart in the back row as skipper Iwan Shenton moves from blindside to openside flanker.

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