NEWPORT are targeting an autumn Premiership push to ensure that they start next year looking up rather than down, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Black and Ambers' early WRU National Cup exit means they spend this weekend in league action with a rearranged home encounter with Bridgend.

Cardiff and Aberavon have started with a bang to set the pace with perfect records but a blanket could be thrown over everyone else.

If ninth-placed Newport win against the Ravens then they will leap over Llandovery, Swansea, Carmarthen Quins, Pontypridd and RGC up to fourth.

But the threat of relegation, which is automatic this season and not down to a play-off, looms over most clubs with bottom club Llanelli just five points back on the Black and Ambers.

"I'd like to think that we won't be near the relegation spot come the end of the season," said Newport fly-half Matt O'Brien.

"If we get a win on the weekend we can move all the way up to fourth, so that shows how close it is. There are a couple of teams running away with it but it's tight between the rest.

"Nobody wants to be around the bottom of the table come Christmas so hopefully we can get some wins together and be well away from that."

Newport entertain Bridgend on the back of an excellent 9-3 win at Llandovery in testing conditions, with O'Brien's right peg providing all the visitors' points.

"I don't think it was one for the neutral but it was a good result," he said. "Conditions dictated the game and it wouldn't have been pretty to watch but it was nice to get a win.

"We'd lost four in a row and losing can become a bit of a habit, so it was important to get back to winning ways and now we have the chance to kick on.

"We've got a couple of home games coming up (with Pontypridd a week on Sunday) and we can really get the ball rolling.

"Our games against Bridgend have tended to be high scoring in recent seasons. They haven't done that well so far this season but we haven't exactly had a great start either, so both teams will be targeting this one."

Last season Newport took the spoils 28-17 when the sides met at Rodney Parade with O'Brien having a day to remember, scoring two tries in a 23-point haul with the other score coming from centre Tom Pascoe.

l The Newport Former Players Association's planned reunion at Rodney Parade ahead of the game against Ponty a week on Sunday has been cancelled.

The ex-Black and Ambers will now meet ahead of the home encounter with traditional rivals Cardiff on Saturday, December 7.