DRAGONS scavenger Nic Cudd will make his return for Ebbw Vale against RGC this afternoon (kick-off 2pm), but with 6 on his back rather than his usual 7.

The 31-year-old openside will make his first appearance since rupturing ligaments in his left knee in February 2019.

Cudd, who has made 130 appearances for the Rodney Parade region, provides a huge lift to Ebbw’s bid to beat the drop with his breakdown prowess and work rate.

He joins Owen and Lewis Young to form a mobile back row as the Steelmen attempt to back up their excellent draw at high-flying Carmarthen Quins.

Greg Woods’ men have a five-point lead over bottom club Bridgend with a game in hand over the Ravens, who host the Quins this afternoon.

Ebbw travel to the Brewery Field at the end of the month so will be keen to build the advantage over their relegation rivals in the scramble to avoid being the team that swaps places with either Pontypool or Bargoed, who are scrapping for the promotion spot in the Championship.

The Steelmen drew 6-6 in challenging conditions in Carmarthen last week and Woods, who hailed the performance of his pack, believed they could even have left with four points rather than two.

The management have demanding the same intensity against an RGC side that they beat 31-23 in Colwyn Bay in November.

There are just two changes to the Ebbw XV with Cudd’s inclusion meaning Dan Hill moves forward to partner captain Ashley Sweet in the second row.

Loosehead Joel Harries is the other fresh face in the pack, swapping places with Luke Garrett after being on the bench in Carmarthen. Paul King is back from injury to provide cover for the three-quarters.

Ebbw Vale: D Haymond, M Powell, R Evans, D Franchi, A Grabham, R Jones, M Flanagan, J Harries, J Franchi, D Whiting, D Hill, A Sweet (captain), N Cudd, O Young, L Young. Replacements: L Garrett, E Evans, R Sevenoaks, M Ayling, D Rubasniak, D Jones, E Phillips, P King.

Premiership fixtures: Aberavon v Cardiff, Bridgend v Carmarthen Quins, Ebbw Vale v RGC, Llandovery v Swansea, Merthyr v Pontypridd.

- Bedwas make a welcome return to the Bridge Field this afternoon when they entertain Ystrad Rhondda in the Championship (kikc-off 1pm).

The pitch has been given the green light for action after being flooded during Storm Dennis.

Bedwas' game at Trebanos last weekend was postponed, allowing Cardiff Met to leapfrog them into third in the table.

However, Stefan Sankala's side have two games in hand over the students and are just a point back.

Centre Adam Williams and back row forward Aled Evans feature on permit.

Bargoed kept the heat on leaders Pontypool with a bonus point win at Neath on Thursday evening.

The Bulls led just 14-13 at half-time at the Gnoll but stretched clear in the second half to move to within five points of Pooler.

Both teams have 10 fixtures remaining with Bargoed having home advantage when they meet on the scheduled penultimate weekend of the season on Saturday, April 25.

Pontypool edged a 13-10 success against the Bulls in December and face two key games soon with a trip to fourth-placed Bedwas at the end of the month followed by a home fixture against third-placed Cardiff Met.

Bedwas: L Evans, A Jones, A Williams, L Bowden, J Rees, J Hallett, O Keane, L Davies, M Dacey, R Hutcherson, C Hudd, M Bovington, J Richards, R Morgans, D Rogers (captain). Replacements: T Devine, K Hutcherson, J Hayward, A Evans, AN Other.