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Principality Cup Previews

Principality Cup Previews

Friday, February 22.
PONTYPOOL v SWANSEA (2.30pm, at Pontypool Park)
Pontypool, with only one home defeat this season, take on Swansea, who have not won an away match since Stradey Park last September. Wing Len Woodard and centre Ben Jeffries suffered injuries last week and will be out of the home line-up.
Cup winners: Pontypool – 1982/83. Swansea – 1977/78; 1994/95; 1998/99.
Runners-up: Pontypool – once. Swansea – seven times.
Cup record: Pontypool – won 74, lost 29. Swansea – won 105, lost 27.
Previous rounds: Pontypool bt British Steel 31-15(a); Beddau 50-7(a).
Previous Cup meetings: Pontypool lead 5-3.
1972/73: Swansea 32 Pontypool 6. (quarter-final)
1975/76: Swansea 22 Pontypool 14. (semi-final)
1981/82: Swansea 13 Pontypool 25.
1982/83: Pontypool 18 Swansea 6. (FINAL)
1984/85: Pontypool 19 Swansea 13. (quarter-final)
1987/88: Pontypool 29 Swansea 18.
1990/91: Pontypool 28 Swansea 10.
1999/00: Swansea 29 Pontypool 8.

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Saturday, February 23
ABERAVON v CARDIFF (5.30pm, at the Talbot Athletic Grd)
Only a late Gareth Thomas try won it for Cardiff three years ago and they will rest most of their international players, including half backs Iestyn Harris and Rob Howley. Aberavon coach Chris O’Callaghan has new scrummage and lineout machines to help his side.
Cup winners: Cardiff – 1980/81; 1981/82; 1983/84; 1985/86; 1986/87;1993/94; 1996/97.
Runners-up: Aberavon – twice (1973/74; 1974/75). Cardiff – three times.
Cup record: Aberavon – won 77, lost 30. Cardiff – won 112, lost 23.
Previous rounds: Aberavon bt Rhymney 52-20(h); Whitland 27-9(a).
Previous Cup meetings: Cardiff lead 3-2.
1973/74: Cardiff 4 Aberavon 9. (semi-final)
1975/76: Cardiff 12 Aberavon 16. (after extra time)
1976/77: Cardiff 15 Aberavon 6. (semi-final)
1994/95: Cardiff 72 Aberavon 3. (quarter-final)
1998/99: Aberavon 12 Cardiff 20.

BLACKWOOD v PONTYPRIDD (2.30pm, at Glan-yr-Afan Park)
The first-ever cup meeting for these clubs and Blackwood, under coach Mark Thomas will provide good opposition with young Jagger To’o at centre looking to show his talent and assistant coach Roger Bidgood, the former Wales cap, is a former Pontypridd player.
Previous rounds: Blackwood bt Llanharan 14-13(h); Hirwaun 13-0(a).
Previous Cup meetings: None.

BONYMAEN v NEWPORT (Holders) (2.30pm, at the Morfa Stadium)
Newport coach Ian McIntosh has returned from a break in South Africa and he will have Shane Howarth back to fitness, though Andrew Powell and Mike Voyle are out. Bonymaen coach Malcolm Dacey, the former international fly half, awaits the fitness test of his captain, hooker Darren Poland.
Cup winners: Newport – 1976/77; 2000/01.
Runners-up: Newport – twice.
Cup record: Newport – won 78, lost 28.
Previous rounds: Bonymaen bt Bedwas 24-12(h); Tondu 16-8(h).
Previous Cup meetings: None.

CARMARTHEN QUINS v BRIDGEND (2.30pm, at Carmarthen Park)
Carmarthen Quins are hoping to include centre Shaun James in their squad. He transferred to Pontypridd at the start of the season and has playing in the Welsh Sevens squad. Bridgend had their pre-season training camp in Carmarthen and this will be the first match for new caretaker coach Allan Lewis.
Cup winners: Bridgend – 1978/79; 1979/80.
Runners-up: Bridgend – three times.
Cup record: Bridgend – won 90, lost 28.
Previous rounds: Carmarthen Quins bt Oakdale 29-5 (h); Carmarthen Ath 43-0(a).
Previous Cup meetings: Bridgend lead 1-0.
1995/96: Carmarthen Quins 25 Bridgend 28.

EBBW VALE v NEATH (2.30pm, at Eugene Cross Park)
The only all-Premier clash gives Ebbw Vale a chance to hit back at a Neath side that has already won Eugene Cross Park this season, by a massive 45-6 scoreline in the league. This one should be much closer.
Cup winners: Ebbw Vale – nil. Neath – 1971/72; 1988/89; 1989/90.
Runners-up: Ebbw Vale – once (1997/98). Neath – five times.
Cup record Ebbw Vale – won 66, lost 30. Neath – won 92, lost 27.
Previous round: Ebbw Vale bt Llandovery 43-15(a).
Previous Cup meetings: One win each.
1971/72: Ebbw Vale 0 Neath 10. (quarter-final)1977/78: Neath 10 Ebbw Vale 16.
League meetings: At Ebbw Vale – Ebbw Vale lead 5-3.At Neath – Neath lead 5-2.
This season: Ebbw Vale 6 Neath 45 (December 8).

NARBERTH v CAERPHILLY (2.30pm, at the Lewis Lloyd Grd)
Caerphilly assistant coach Mark Ring remembers his clashes with Narberth flanker Alan ‘Santa’ Reynolds. Though Ring was in the Wales side when Reynolds made his test debut in Namibia, the pair clashed in Swansea-Cardiff matches. Narberth, the Division Two leaders, are the only side outside the top two divisions still remaining in the competition.
Previous rounds: Narberth bt Builth Wells 30-16(a); Resolven 31-25(a); Cross Keys 39-23(a); Merthyr 27-5(h).
Previous Cup meetings: Caerphilly lead 1-0. 1998/99: Narberth 19 Caerphilly 29.

NEWBRIDGE v LLANELLI (2.30pm, at the Welfare Grd)
The Scarlets have the best of all cup records. Eleven times as winners and of course, still in the Heineken Cup semi-finals. Newbrige coach Mike Watkins was Wales skipper in all his international matches and will not be thinking of defeat.
Cup winners: Llanelli – 11 times – 1972/73; 1973/74; 1974/75; 1975/76; 1984/85; 1987/88; 1990/91; 1991/92; 1992/93; 1997/98; 1999/2000.
Runners-up: Llanelli – four times.
Cup record: Newbridge – won 67, lost 30. Llanelli -won 129, lost 19.
Previous rounds: Newbridge bt Glamorgan Wanderers 46-12(h); Aberystwyth 18-6(h).
Previous Cup meetings: Llanelli lead 1-0.1988/89: Llanelli 26 Newbridge 24. (semi-final)

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