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Indigo Welsh Premiership Preview, 06/10/2022

Adam Warren admits he landed back in the “real world” with a bit of a bump.

The former Dragons centre was surprisingly one of eight players let go by the region in the summer, but he has quickly resurfaced with Llandovery and is playing a big role in their impressive early form in the Indigo Premiership.

The third-placed Drovers visit sixth-placed Ebbw Vale on Thursday night in a match that will be live streamed on S4C Clic and YouTube Page from 7.15pm.

Warren, 31, was keen to return to the club where he began his career and has also taken a new job as strength and conditioning coach at the prestigious Llandovery College.

“I knew if I was going to come out of the full-time pro game and go semi-pro then Llandovery would be my best option,” says Warren.

“I played there before and Euros Evans – who coached then – is still there and I’ve always had a good relationship with him since college.

“Llandovery have players who have been floating around full-time rugby. Players are now thinking if they go semi-pro they can keep playing a bit longer and some don’t want to move to England or France.

“There’s also the attraction of playing rugby with a smile on your face.”

The Steelmen will be a tough nut to crack at Eugene Cross Park, where they beat RGC a fortnight ago, 24-8.

“Ebbw Vale have started very well and on their own patch they are historically always strong,” says Warren.

“It will be tight and one of those games that could go either way.”

When the Saturday action resumes, Aberavon – top of the table with four wins from four – have a tricky visit to Sardis Road to take on Pontypridd.

The Wizards have benefitted from three of their four matches so far being scheduled at home, whilst last time they ran out as their infamous House of Pain, Ponty thrashed Bridgend, 40-8.

Aberavon head coach Jason Hyatt says: “The strength of the squad is phenomenal and it means we’ve got some brilliant players coming off the bench.  It’s a close-knit group and the players are at the heart of driving their own standards.

“We’ve had an excellent start, but we can’t get too complacent. There are a lot of tough teams in this league and it doesn’t get any easier when we go to Pontypridd.”

Back row forward Alex Ward – who joined Ponty from Hartpury in the summer – was one of three tryscorers in that last home game against the Ravens and is confident his team can halt Aberavon’s 100 per cent record.

Ward says: “Since going for my first session at Ponty, it has been brilliant. It’s such a competitive environment.

“Ponty have a strong squad and a good group of lads who care about the club and want to do the best they can. Hopefully, it will be an exciting year and we can push on.

“We have players in the squad who have experience winning the Premiership, they know what it takes, we are quite a young squad, as well, but the mix of both could push us far.

Second-place Cardiff have the long trip north to meet RGC – who have one win from three so far.

Like the Wizards, Cardiff have an unblemished record so far but have played one match fewer and will come off the back of a game where they were really made to sweat – last week’s narrow 20-19 home win over Ebbw Vale.

Those three RGC fixtures have all been on the road and for the first home game of the campaign, head coach Ceri Jones is confident they can take a big scalp in the form of champions Cardiff.

“We are starting to express ourselves with ball in hand, and the boys clearly enjoy that,” says Jones.

“It’s Cardiff next and our first home game of the season, so we’re in good shape for that one.”

Fourth-placed Swansea travel to Merthyr, who are just one place below, with both clubs achieving impressive victories last week.

The Whites were grateful to an appearance from Ospreys starlet Harry Deaves, who scored two tries in a 45-22 win over Pontypridd.

Merthyr won 34-10 last time out in the midweek clash at Bridgend.

Elsewhere, there’s a tasty-looking West Wales dust-up at Carmarthen Quins, who welcome Llanelli. The Quins lay bottom-but-one, with Llanelli in mid-table.

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