NEWPORT return to competitive action against Pontypridd in the Premiership Cup tomorrow, 567 days after leaving Sardis Road with four hard-earned league points.

The Black and Ambers get the tournament under way in Ponty while Ebbw Vale are also on their travels to Merthyr.

The Premiership Cup has been split into eastern and western groups – Cardiff and RGC the others joining the Gwent duo – with 10 fixtures being played before the start of the league on December 11.

The top two from each conference will then clash for the cup next year, with Newport head coach Ty Morris admitted the club have reevaluated their approach to the competition.

"If I am honest, when we first got back together we were going to use the Premiership Cup to build momentum and give everyone game time leading up to the league, which was going to be in January," he said.

"With them moving the Premiership forward and then finding out that there is a way to get to Principality Stadium in this competition, we have all bought into being successful in this cup and trying to get some silverware."

The Black and Ambers have tuned up for their opener at Ponty with friendlies against today's hosts (17-14 defeat), Swansea University (24-21 win), Aberavon (40-33 win) and Bridgend (28-19 win).

"The intensity is raising ready for the first game – I wish I was playing because of that momentum after being out for so long," said former flanker Morris.

"Although the pre-season games have been good, and we've been able to see progress in all areas, there is nothing like a proper campaign to get the juices flowing.

"We played some really good rugby to beat Pontypridd for the first time in a long time up there before lockdown.

"They are an excellent team, especially on their own patch, and a game at Sardis Road is a great way to start.

"It's going to be a tough group with all teams capable of beating each other but if we want to challenge for the league then we have to do well in this competition."

Newport are "depleted" due to unavailability this weekend but fly-half Matt O'Brien is able to lead the side after succeeding Rhys Jenkins as club captain, although the Dragons academy coach is under pressure from one of his young prospects.

South Wales Argus: TALENT: Dragons fly-half Will Reed will push captain Matt O'BrienTALENT: Dragons fly-half Will Reed will push captain Matt O'Brien

"Young Will Reed had an absolutely outstanding game last week," said Morris. "He is really one to look out for and it's nice to see him smiling and playing well.

"Will is going to push 'OB', he knows that and is happy about that with him being his academy coach."

The Steelmen know what to expect when they open up against the Ironmen at the Wern, stopping it is another matter.

Ebbw head coach Greg Woods has enjoyed some fierce tussles with Merthyr in recent times and has called on his team to be brave.

"It's been a long time coming and used the pre-season block to get the club back functioning and the team back playing," said Woods, whose team beat Aberavon and Cardiff University after a useful workout in defeat to London Scottish of the English Championship.

"We are in a good spot but this will be a big test against a side who have recruited strongly. I watched them against Bridgend in pre-season and it was Merthyr of old – they were big up front with dangerous runners behind.

"They don't have weaknesses and we know what is coming, are we good enough to withstand it and land some blows of our own?

"In our tight encounters I feel we haven't scored enough tries and gone there to win, so we have to leave nothing behind and go out on the attack to try and cause some trouble."

Woods agrees with his Newport counterpart that the eastern group will be uncompromising but also has one eye on what is to come in the winter.

"The east group is extremely tough and games come thick and fast. You've got to get selection right with some experience but we also have to blood some youngsters," he said.

"It's a chance to win something but I also don't want to waste this opportunity ahead of the Premiership to integrate players into the squad and have to get the balance right."