The Newport team head West down the M4 to face Carmarthen Quins in the first game of the most important season for many years. The Welsh Rugby Union has decided to reduce the Premier Division from sixteen teams to twelve at the end of this season. The bottom four teams will be relegated and the fifth from bottom will face a play-off against the winner of the championship. All teams will be determined to stay in the top flight and this will ensure that every game will be keenly contested.
Carmarthen has a good record against the Black & Ambers over the last few years and our games are always entertaining and high-scoring. Let’s hope that the league pressure doesn’t stifle the kind of rugby that we are used to.
The coaching team has selected new arrival, Dan Preece at loose-head prop with club stalwart Tom Piper his partner on the other side of the scrum. Henry Palmer forces his way in to the hooker spot. Joe Bartlett takes his place in the second row and, with our other second rows injured or unavailable, Rynard Landman fills the other spot. With lots of competition in the back row, captain Rhys Jenkins plays at eight with Josh Skinner at six and Kyle Tayler getting the open-side position.
The backs have a familiar look with Ryan James and Matt O’Brien at half back and Tom Pascoe and Chay Smith in the centre. Jon Morris fills one wing spot but Elliot Frewen moves to full-back with regular fifteen Geraint O’Driscoll on honeymoon. Harri Lang takes the other wing spot.
Newport: Dan Preece, Henry Palmer, Tom Piper, Joe Bartlett, Rynard Landman, Josh Skinner, Kyle Taylor, Rhys Jenkins (Capt.), Ryan James, Matt O’Brien, Jon Morris, Tom Pascoe, Chay Smith, Harri Lang, Elliot Frewen.
Replacements: Evan Whitson, Lewis Smout, Garin Harris, Josh Reid, Mathew Reed, Geraint Watkins, Matt McGovern, Tom Lucas