NEWPORT will at the very least have to match Merthyr’s intensity in the collision if they are to spring a surprise at the Wern tomorrow (kick-off 2.30pm), according to Craig Warlow.

Black and Ambers chief Warlow was disappointed with his side’s set-piece game and frontline defence in defeat to Pontypridd last time out, and he knows there cannot be a repeat performance this weekend when Newport face the reigning Principality Premiership champions.

The game will be the first between the two since Merthyr won a one-sided WRU National Cup final in April.

However, a month before, Newport had won at the Wern, with Matt O’Brien kicking a late penalty to seal a 19-18 success.

Fly-half O’Brien and scrum-half Ryan James won’t be involved tomorrow, David Richards is unavailable and Jonathan Morris is out with a torn pectoral muscle.

“We’ve always been involved in tit-for-tat games with Merthyr,” said Warlow. “They score, we score, they score, we score etc.

“We’ve always gone up there with the attitude of moving the ball to try and move their big forwards around.

“We have to at least get parity with Merthyr in the collisions, and that’s attacking wise as much as anything.

“When teams go to Merthyr they think they are capable of winning, but you can’t expect to win unless you do those things first.”

He added: “Merthyr were clear favourites to win the league before a ball had been kicked, so it’s no surprise they are out in front.

“Dale McIntosh has done a fantastic job up there and he’s got a good group around him who are all working hard.”

Newport slipped to seventh after the 43-25 loss to Pontypridd, while Merthyr are seven points clear following their 34-24 defeat of Llandovery.