Final warm-ups for Gwent pair
TWO of Gwent’s three Premiership clubs fine tune their preparations for the coming season with tough encounters against English opposition this afternoon.
Newport have enjoyed a good pre-season with a large batch of new arrivals bringing a feeling of optimism that has been added to by promising friendly displays.
The Black and Ambers beat Blaenavon 28-0 in the Ken Jones Memorial Fund match before running five tries past Coventry in a 32-19 success.
However, today’s game promises to be their toughest test yet against a powerful Cornish Pirates outfit in Penzance (kick-off 5pm).
Newport have enjoyed two memorable jousts with the Pirates in the British and Irish Cup.
They were overpowered in a winner-takes-all game in Camborne in 2010 but got revenge the following season in a cracker at Rodney Parade, scoring two tries in injury time for a 34-32 win.
Newport, who open their season at Aberavon next weekend, will field a strong starting line-up in Cornwall that contains eight summer arrivals.
Rhys Downes and Tom Hancock get the nod as half-backs and ex-Pontypool pair Adam Davies and Dan Robinson are paired together in midfield.
The Pirates have lost some key figures this summer, notably lock Ian Nimmo to the Dragons and full-back Rob Cook to Gloucester, but boast former Newport centre Tom Riley in their ranks.
Bedwas will be attempting to make it a Gwent clean sweep when they travel to Coventry.
The West Midlanders have suffered a loss to Cross Keys at the Butts Park Arena in pre-season as well as their defeat at Rodney Parade.
Steve Law’s side will be looking to match the efforts of their rivals ahead of their opener against Carmarthen Quins at Bridge Field.
So far Bedwas have beaten Moseley in a 38-37 cracker and drawn 7-7 in a bruising battle away at Bargoed.
Cross Keys have opted not to play a fixture this weekend but there is a family fun day at Pandy Park today (12.30pm start).