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Wizards aiming to break Cardiff’s spell as Jason Hyatt calls for tougher attitude

*Odds will appear on the day of the match

After a magical start to the season, winning six from six, Aberavon have been brought firmly back to the earth, losing four games in a row in all competitions, including their last three league games.

Their experienced head coach, Jason Hyatt, is in no rush to hit the panic button just yet, but the Wizards will have to pull something from their magic hat, if they are to get anything from a last year’s champions, Cardiff, who they host on Thursday night.

Cardiff are currently sitting pretty at the top of the table, boasting a perfect record. 

Hyatt admitted: “We have probably shown a lack of composure in key areas, and these errors are being compounded having come off a run of losses.

“We are playing in a very competitive league, there are a lot of good teams, and we know that if we are not at our best on a given day, we know that we will be punished.

“It is all about mental toughness, you have to take it on the chin and get on with it. It’s pointless feeling negative.

“The only time I feel like I would do that was if I thought there was a lack of effort, but that is certainly not the case, and the boys will continue to work really hard to get out of this.

“We are playing some great rugby; we haven’t been too far off. We have won six games with bonus points; we are not a bad side, and we are confident we are not too far away.

“It’s a great league, it’s always week to week. The job wouldn’t be as fun if the league was easy, so now we have to show our heart and our quality to get back to our best.”

Ebbw Vale’s Evan Lloyd has been one of the star men of the Indigo Premiership this season, guiding the Steelmen to an impressive start.

The 22-year-old is coming off the back of being released from the Dragons academy and hopes that his performances in the ever-improving  Premiership can send him back to the professional game.  

Sitting fifth in the table, Ebbw travel to Pontypridd, in what will be a huge clash at the House of Pain on Saturday.

The Steelmen will be in confident mood, with Jason Strange’s men looking to continue to fight for a play off spot, having won five of their nine games so far.

The Valley Commandos, meanwhile, have endured a difficult start to the league season, sitting 10th, with just two wins under their belt.

But a hugely dominant win at the Talbot Athletic against Aberavon last weekend in the WRU Premiership Cup will do the side a world of good.

Lloyd said: “Jason (Strange) has been really good for the boys, but for myself as a No.10, just trying to pick his brains has been brilliant.

“He has a great track record at developing young players and it’s been great to try and learn from him, especially in the position that I’m in.

“We’ve had a really good start. I don’t think if you were inside the camp you would see us doing really well so far.

“But from the outside looking in, and taking last year into account, we have thoroughly deserved it. The support has been great, too. It’s a great place to be.

“It’s the first time since before Covid I’ve had nine or ten 70/80 minutes back-to-back. In terms of development, I am just continuing to grow, and I am just really enjoying my rugby again.

“I wouldn’t say there was disappointment when I left the Dragons. I’d been there for the best part of eight years from when I was 14.

“There was just a lack of opportunity there for me, there wasn’t really a development plan there for me, and I didn’t have the chance to go and play.

“I am just really enjoying playing week-in, week-out at the moment and looking to put in some good performances.

“I’m really enjoying the Prem. Th Thursday night coverage has been great and there’s more exposure to the league now.

“Budgets in the pro game are getting a lot tighter, so there’s a lot of boys coming to the Welsh Prem now. I suppose if you get your opportunities then you will be exposed to high levels of the game.”

Elsewhere, Merthyr host Newport in a crunch game at The Wern.

The Ironmen have come into the season with a renewed vigour, under the stewardship of Rowland Phillips.

Meanwhile, last year’s runners-up Newport started the season with four straight losses but have since won three games in a row and now sit in seventh position, just six points behind Merthyr.

Carmarthen Quins face the daunting task of travelling to Parc Eirias, to face an RGC side bang on form.

Having beat Aberavon at home last time out in the league and comfortably dispatching Ebbw Vale last weekend in the Cup, the North Walian side will be looking to continue their charge towards the top four.

Llandovery will look to keep the pressure on Cardiff, when they visit St Helens to face eighth-placed Swansea.

And Bridgend will welcome Llanelli to The Brewery Field, in what is a crucial game for the Ravens, who are currently locked to the bottom of the table.

*Odds will appear on the day of the match

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