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Saturday Celtic League Preview

Saturday Celtic League Preview


Cearphilly travel to Swansea, Newport host Cardiff, Pontypridd entertain Glasgow and Bridgend take on Connacht in this Saturday’s Celtic Leauge action.

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The All Whites have had started the season poorly, and anything less than a comfortable win will spell the end of their Celtic League hopes for this year.

If Caerphilly can repeat their five-try effort of last weekend, and shore up the holes in the backline, The Castletown men could travel back up the M4 with their first Celtic league win in eleven attempts.

Much will depend on Australian coach John Connolly’s match tactics. Both Gibbs and the influential Colin Charvis are out, but good news for Swansea is that wingers Shaun Payne and Matthew Robinson are fit and in fine form.

The wide men will have their targets set on keeping up the average of 50 points that Caerphilly concede in Celtic League games.

Swansea: K Morgan; S Payne, M Taylor, S Gibbs (capt), J Vaughton; A Thomas, S Cordingley; D Morris, G Jenkins, B Evans, A Farley, J Griffiths, R Pugh, J Thomas, R Jenkins. Replacements: D Dorsey, C Balsham, D Thomas, J Slade, J Bater, R Jones, G Henson.

Caerphilly: (not yet available)

Referee: P Fear (Wales).
Out – Swansea: C Wells (knee), H Bennett (shoulder), S Gibbs (ankle), D Thomas (disciplinary), C Charvis

Caerphilly: T Taufahema (ankle), S Grainger (dislocated thumb), S Jarman.
Previous meetings: Swansea lead 8-0 on wins in Welsh league matches.

Last season:Swansea won 36-21 home and 38-3 away.


With four wins from four, Connacht require just one more victory to ease their way into the final eight of the Championship.

The Ravens could be the side to end Connacht’s winning run. With Alan Lewis’ men having lost their last two games, the backlash could start at the Brewery Field.

Lewis will have hammered home one message to his troops this week – discipline. Any team playing against veteran Ireland goal-kicker Eric Elwood has to behave to win.

Bridgend: A Carter; C Richards, D James, G Thomas (capt), R Mustoe; C Warlow, S Martens; C Loader, G Williams, C Horsman, D Jones, A Moore, M Molitika, N Budgett, C Harris. Replacements: H Harries, J Funnell, B Phillips, P Booth, J Thiel, R Bryan, R Jones.

Connacht: M McHugh; T Robinson, D Yapp, T Allnutt (capt), W Munn; E Elwood, C Keane; D McFarland, J Flannery, P Bracken, D Browne, R Frost, C Rigney, E
Peters, J O’Sullivan. Replacements: R McCormack, M Uijs, M Swift, P Neville, E Reddan, S Moore, J Norton.

Referee: tbc (England).

Out – Bridgend: S Taumalolo (knee), A Havili, A Joy (neck), S Mannix (thigh), P Jones, M James Connacht: W Waugh (bruised shoulder), J O’Connor (ankle), G Duffy, D O’Sullivan.

Previous Celtic League meetings: Nil.


Glasgow will have to survive a commando onslaught at Sardis Road to retain their unbeaten record.

New Zealand coach Kiwi Searancke has got the Glaswegians playing great rugby, but there are few tougher tasks in European rugby than travelling to Pontypridd. And make no mistake, this is the type of environment Searancke wants his players to perform in.

The home side are putting some terrific rugby together at present. Last week’s nail-biting one-point victory over Borders showed the steel Lynn Howells has put into the team spreads from one to 22, and with confidence high, they will be hard to beat.

With Neil Jenkins in fine form, kicking 44 points in his past two matches, and Glasgow’s Tommy Hayes the equal of any goal-kicker in Europe, error-free rugby will be stressed in the pre match talk by both coaches.

Pontypridd: (not yet available)

Glasgow: S Moffat; M Bartlett, A Bulloch, T Hayes, G Metcalfe; C Howarth, G Beveridge; D Hilton, B Daly, L Harrison, A Hall, J White, G Simpson, J Petrie, D Macfadyen. Replacements: G Bulloch, A Kelly, N Ross, A Wilson, A Nicol, A Henderson, R Kerr.

Referee: tbc (England).

Out – Pontypridd: S James (hamstring).

Glasgow: C Blades (foot), J Steel (foot), R Reid, B Irving.

Previous meetings: Pontypridd lead 4-2 on Welsh/Scottish League wins overall and by 3-0 at home. In the European Cup, Pontypridd lead 3-1 on wins.

Last season: Glasgow 59 Pontypridd 14; Pontypridd 25 Glasgow 20. Previous Celtic League meeting: Glasgow 59 Pontypridd 14 (31/8/01).


Newport are playing for pride, respectability and their coaches’ jobs. After a start to the season no one predicted, new coaches Leigh Jones and Richard Hill need to turn the Rodney Parade club’s fortunes round and fast.

Newport are a far cry from the side that so nearly snatched the title from Llanelli last May, and it is time for the senior players in the squad to perform.

Defeat at home to deadly rivals Cardiff is sure to put the cat amongst the pigeons at Rodney Parade.

Cardiff are a side on an upward spiral and recent victories over Borders and Celtic League champions Leinster have given the Arms Park fans hope that this season will be better than the last.

Newport and Cardiff have played each other nearly 400 times since 1876, and tonight’s clash offers the interesting match-up of Newport’s powerful pack and weak backline against Cardiff’s weak pack and exciting backline.

Newport: M Pini; M Mostyn, A Marinos, S Williams, L Nabaro; S Howarth, O Tonu’u; R Snow, J Richards, C Anthony, S Raiwalui (capt), M Voyle, J Forster, S Ojomoh, G Gravell. Replacements: to be named later.

Cardiff: R Williams; N Walne, J Robinson, P Muller, C Morgan; I Harris, R Smith; P Rogers, A Lewis, K Fourie, H Senekal, J Tait, R Appleyard, D Baugh, M Williams (capt). Replacements: G Powell, G Woods, A Jones, D McShane, R Powell, N Robinson, M Allen

Referee: D McHugh (Ireland).

Out – Newport: J Jones-Hughes (knee), J Pritchard (broken foot bone), B Breeze (knee), I Gough (back), J Strange (groin strain), S Ojomoh (flu), C Jones (fractured cheekbone), A Wagstaff (back), H Luscombe (achilles tendon), A Garvey (back), A Popham (knee), A Powell (shoulder and back).

Cardiff: E Lewis (hand), R Sowden-Taylor (knee ligaments), J Brownrigg
(shoulder), D Dewdney (back spasm), S John (neck), A Sullivan (groin).
Previous Celtic League meeting: Cardiff 20 Newport 14 (29/8/01).

Last season: Cardiff won 20-14 home and 17-14 away. They also won 20-14 at home in a Principality Cup quarter-final.

Welsh League meetings: Cardiff lead 14-5 with one draw overall and by 6-3 with one draw at Newport.

The clubs first met on the Newport Marshes in December 1876.Cardiff claim they lead with 191-139 wins, 58 draws, but Newport claim it is 191-143, 60 draws. Newport have lost all four Celtic League matches this season.

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