NEWPORT begin the defence of their South Wales Premier League crown today at Spytty Park with a mouth-watering showdown against perennial division one title adversaries Cardiff.

Easing back into the swing of things won’t be an option for the hosts as they lock horns with the side who denied them the championship two years ago.

If the capital outfit hadn’t come out on top in 2017 then Newport’s triumph of last term would have been their third in a row.

As reigning champions, Newport are there to be shot at again this season, and Cardiff won’t need a second invitation to spoil the party if the home team are slow out of the blocks.

The corresponding fixture last April fell to the weather, while Newport won at Cardiff later in the summer, before skipper Matt Norris went on to lift the league trophy.

After starting on home soil, Newport go to Mumbles and St Fagans, before returning to Spytty Park to take on promoted Clydach.

Between those two games comes Glamorgan’s match against Gloucestershire at Spytty Park, as County Championship cricket returns to Newport for the first time in more than 50 years.

The reverse encounter with Cardiff is played out on July 6, and Newport complete their programme on August 31 at home to Bridgend.

Division Two also gets up and running today with newly-promoted Newbridge kicking off their campaign with a Gwent derby away to Newport Fugitives.

Newbridge finally made the step up to the South Wales Premier League’s second tier after winning the South East Wales League Division One title in 2018.

If there are any concerns about staying in the division after being promoted, then Newbridge can look at Gwent rivals Malpas for inspiration.

The Bettws Lane side diced with relegation last summer but ultimately had enough quality to preserve their status.

First up for them is a trip west to Gorseinon, winners of South Wales Cricket Association Division One last year by just eight points from Cowbridge.

Panteg will be hoping for a better season this time around and they can get going with a positive result at Ynystawe.

All except two of the 12 teams in South East Wales League Division One saw their first action of 2019 last Saturday.

Promoted Monmouth, whose game against Brecon was moved to later in the summer, belatedly get under way today at Miskin Manor.

Abergavenny, Blackwood Town, Chepstow and Sudbrook all won their opening fixtures, while Usk’s match at Pontypridd was rained off.

Chepstow, who beat Miskin Manor in a one-wicket thriller, host Cardiff Gymkhana today, the latter having lost to Blackwood on match day one.

Blackwood go to Pontypridd, Abergavenny entertain Brecon, there’s a Gwent derby between Sudbrook and Croesyceiliog, and Usk visit Pentyrch.