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WRU Indigo Premiership: Dragon Weekend Preview

Neath will host their first Indigo Premiership match at The Gnoll for four years when they welcome Carmarthen Quins on Saturday.

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Welsh All Blacks were the most feared team in Wales, but they slipped into the third tier – the WRU Championship – in 2019.

After a hard road back, Neath clinched promotion last season and although they lost a nice-to-see-you-again derby at Aberavon in their opening Premiership fixture last week, 27-14, they will be confident of opening their account in front of their own fans.

Former Wales wing Dafydd Howells is back with the club and a was a tryscorer last week.

The 28-year-old was approached to return to his former club by coach Pat Horgan and says: “The offer was to go back after I’d played a season with my home club Abercrave and I thought, ‘why not?’ Let’s see if I’ve still got it in the legs!

“The young boys here will do well in the Premiership. They want to learn, they want to listen, and I think that can only serve Neath well in the Premiership this year.”

Carmarthen Quins will arrive at Neath also having suffered a defeat on the opening weekend.

Reigning champions Llandovery hammered out an eight try warning to their rivals that they are in no mood to relinquish their title as they went to the Quins and won 54-31.

If there was a sting in the tale from the home side, who picked up two late tries to turn a 36-point deficit at 54-17 into a 23-point defeat in the end, it was small consolation for going under to their bitterest rivals.

Llandovery entertain Merthyr in round two, the Ironmen coming off the back of a fine victory, 24-17, at home to the Steelmen of Ebbw Vale.

Adam Hoskins, Wales sevens cap Morgan Sieniawski and a penalty try gave Merthyr their three tries, although they eased off after the break.

Ebbw Vale – for whom Curtis Gregory, Ethan Phillips and Rhys Francis scored the tries last week – are at home to Pontypridd.

Ponty drew 19-19 at home to bitter rivals Cardiff on the opening day, but will be encouraged by the way they fought back after training 19-14 late on.

The Ponty hero on week one was Will Keep, who scored on his debut with the final play of the match, although Joseph Scrivens was unable to nail the conversion which would have stolen it.

Having started with a draw, Cardiff will bid to get their first win at the Arms Park against RGC, who head south for their first match of the season.

Pontypool – promoted as champions from the Championship – began their campaign last week with a derby day defeat at Newport, 38-27.

They host Swansea, who lost a thriller last week at home to Bridgend, 28-27.

Swansea thought they had won after Joe Thomas crashed over for a late try and Rhys Jones added the extras.

That made it 27-25, yet there was still time for Luke Price to step up to land his seventh penalty to give the Ravens a 28-27 victory.

Bridgend now host Aberavon – two teams with opening day victories.

Newport are the team that sit things out.

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