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Celtic League Kicks Off

Celtic League Kicks Off

Six matches – five involving Welsh clubs – will play on Friday, August 30 as the Celtic League opens the season. Two of the matches will be all-Welsh clashes as Newport entertain Bridgend and Neath take on Caerphilly.

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Friday’s matches are:

The clubs have played several close matches in recent seasons and Caerphilly will certainly prove entertainers under coach Mark Ring and with former Neath player Luke Richards at fly half.

Neath have Lions centre Allan Bateman on the bench along with two A N OTHERS as scrum half Pat Horgan and flanker Brett Sinkinson are among the injured.
In the Welsh/Scottish League meetings, Neath led 6-2 with two drawn.


Bridgend coach Allan Lewis makes a return to the club he previously controlled and he will have a few surprises in the side at Newport.
Fly half Craig Warlow is on the right wing and both centre Dafydd James and hooker Gareth Williams have overcome injuries.

Newport ace Shane Howarth is on the brink of setting a club points aggregate record. They are without Ofisa Tonu’u, Ben Breeze and Ian Gough, but bring Dale Burn back on the bench and Steve Ojomoh and Andrew Wagstaff make their debuts.
Both Newport prop Rod Snow and Bridgend prop Jon Thiel are on duty for Canada against Chile.

In the Welsh/Scottish League, Bridgend led 12-11 on wins with one draw.


Swansea face a tough task as they go to Meadowbank Stadium to meet Edinburgh with the hosts skippered by the former New Zealand captain Todd Blackadder
Scott Gibbs leads Swansea with Wales skipper Colin Charvis at No.8. Their bench incudes Dean Colclough on permit and former youth scrum half Darren Pittard, but Mark Taylor is out with a knee injury, while scrum half Sam Cordingley has not yet arrived from Australia.

In the Welsh/Scottish League both sides won three matches, while it is 1-1 in Heineken Cup maeetings.

EBBW VALE v ULSTER (7.15pm).

Ebbw Vale face a tough challenge at Eugene Cross Park and are yet to decide between Matthew Rowlands of Treorchy, New Zealander Aaron Takarangi and Rhys Shorney on the wing.

Ulster include former Newport and South Africa prop Robbie Kempson in a strong-looking lineup.

Ulster won the only Celtic League meeting – 29-27 at Ebbw Vale last year,
and gained two wins over Ebbw Vale in the 1998-99 Heineken Cup by 43-18 at home and by 61-28 away.


Pontypridd go to Donnybrook hoping to better their effort their last season, but they will be taking on the Celtic League champions.

Barry O’Driscoll is in the Leinster side, that is skippered by prop Reggie Corrigan.

Pontypridd coach Lyn Howells has to decide from 24 players, that include Neil Jenkins and Ceri Sweeney as fly halves. Young Rumney flanker Wayne O’onnor may make his debut.

Leinster won 52-14 at home in last season’s Celtic League and won 23-22 in the European Cup of 1995-96. They have won all their ten previous league matches.


In the only Friday match not concerning Welsh clubs, Borders play their first-ever match, at home to Connacht.
Gregor Townsend and skipper Gary Armstrong team up at half back with former Cardiff player, Semo Sititi in the pack.

Eric Elwood spearheads the onnacht side with Scotland cap Eric Peters making his debut in the pack.

Saturday, August 31.

Two more matches will be played – one in the afternoon and ne in the evning.


Iestyn Harris ran riot against Glasgow in his first home match last season, scoring 31 points.

Tim Payne is a young debutant at prop, but Pieter Muller is out with injury.
Cook Islander Tommy Hayes gets a surprise call at centre for Glasgow and Australian Cameron Blsdes is at prop.
In the Welsh/Scottish League Cardiff led 5-1 on wins and in last season’s Heineken Cup, both sides won their home matches.


Llanelli are without their injured skipper Leigh Davies for their night match at Stradey Park against last seasons runners-up, Munster.
Matthew Watkins and Paul Clapham are debutants with Scott Quinnell at No.8 and Vernon Cooper leading the side from lock.

Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer team at half back for a Munster side led by Australian Jim Williams and Mick Galwey is among the replacements.
Last season Munster beat Llanelli 13-6 in a quarter-final of the Celtic League. In two friendlies at Stradey Park, Llanelli won 27-25 on September
10, 1988 and Munster won 42-26 on August 1, 1998.

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