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WRU Premiership & Championship: Weekend Preview

Pontypool can go 15 points clear of their biggest rivals at the top of the WRU Admiral Championship if they win at home to Beddau on Friday night.

Neath have offered the sternest challenge to Pooler all season, although Bargoed have lately nosed ahead of them into second-place thanks to having played two games more.

It means there is a three-point gap between Neath and Bargoed, but those two games in hand should see the men from The Gnoll make up the gap over the final weeks of the campaign.

Catching Pontypool, though, is highly unlikely as if the Gwent side collect a maximum five points at home to Beddau they will be up to 109 points – 15 more than Neath.

Pooler are still unbeaten, although their scoring spree has been restricted lately – not because of any grand defensive plans, but due to the fact that opposition clubs have struggled to raise a team.

These ongoing problems within the Welsh club game are a concern and were highlighted by the fact that two of Pooler’s last three matches – against Bedwas and Ystalyfera – were 20-0 walkovers.

Hopefully, Beddau can find their way to Pontypool Park on Friday evening and try to spring a major surprise by inflicting a first defeat of the season on the hosts.

Pooler have already won the Championship Cup at the Principality Stadium and an invincible season would be a fitting tribute to their former greats Eddie Butler, Charlie Faulkner and Laurie Daniel, who have all died during this current season.

Bargoed hope to stay in second place on Saturday by winning at Ystrad Rhondda, while Neath are at Glamorgan Wanderers.

Elsewhere, Cross Keys host Cardiff Met, Tata Steel meet Bedwas, Trebanos entertain Narbeth and Maesteg Quins visit Ystalyfera.

On Saturday, the king will be crowned when the top team of the regular Indigo Premiership campaign is decided. 

It’s not the actual trophy, though, as the play-offs will determine the destiny of the silverware.

Newport will learn who they will meet in the play-offs – and it could be a Cup final re-match with Cardiff at the Arms Park. 

The Black & Ambers host Llandovery in their final game in the regular league season and head coach Ty Morris knows that it is a dead rubber for his side in many ways.

Newport are stuck in fourth place and face a trip to face whichever team finishes on top of the table.

Reigning champions Cardiff currently hold a two point lead over Merthyr, who they host at the Arms Park in their last game, and have a three point advantage over the Drovers.

“We lost a game against Llanelli when they pulled out, but that has given us a bit more time to recover from the Cup final defeat to Cardiff. It took a miracle try to win it for them, so we know we aren’t far off them,” said Morris.

“This weekend is still important to us because we want to gather as much momentum as we can to take into the play-offs. In many ways the game against Llandovery is about us making a statement.

“We believe we can beat any of the other three teams ahead of us and we are in pretty good shape as a squad.”

The Blue & Blacks, who pipped their arch-rivals in the WRU Premiership Cup final at Principality Stadium at the end of last month, triumphed 18-13 at Ebbw Vale last weekend to return to the top of the table. 

Head coach Steve Law saw wing James Beal go down in that game having lost lock James Richards in the Cup final the weekend before.

“We’re looking forward to the play-offs and earning a home draw is very important. That’s why it is such a vital game against Merthyr this weekend,” said Law.

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