WRU National Plate, Bowl and League previews for Saturday, January 13th:

National Plate Round Four (2pm):

Crymych v Penallta

It’s been a tough league season so far for The Preseli Men – but tomorrow is a chance to put all that to one side and enjoy an opportunity to make the quarter finals of the Plate, and move within two wins of a Principality Stadium appearance.

However, it will be tough against a Penallta team third in Division One East, with nine wins in 11 league games thus far.

But in any cup competition, home advantage counts for a lot, and Randall Williams has a young side who should be excited and motivated at the prospect of going all the way. Indeed, Crymych can play tomorrow without any fear – and if they pull off a win, it could just be the spark they need ahead of a pivotal league match away to Llanelli Wanderers a week on Saturday.

National Bowl Round Five (2pm):

COBRA v Pembroke

Speaking of Crymych, their second XV travelled to COBRA in North Wales in the third round of the Bowl earlier in the season, only losing 22-16, and that result should give Pembroke real heart ahead of their own trip there tomorrow.

The Scarlets had their home game with Milford Haven postponed last week, but they still head into this with a lot of momentum, having won 12 of their 13 league and cup games this season.

Their pack has been formidable this campaign, with No 8 Sam Smith one of many to again stand out as he continued his try scoring form in the 38-0 win over The Quins in late December.

But Geraint Lewis’ team also carry ample threat and speed behind, and lively scrum half Tom Lewis has impressed with his ability to snipe and get his backline moving.

However, COBRA are fourth in the North Wales Division Two, and have only lost once in eight league games themselves, and the nature of the trip makes this a difficult task for The Scarlets.

But as Fishguard proved in 2012/13, any side who reached the last 16 of the Bowl is capable of going all the way if they commit to it properly – and the visitors should be determined not to let a big chance pass them by here.

WRU Championship (2.30pm):

Rhydyfelin v Narberth

Despite it being a National Cup game, I suspect The Otters would have been disappointed to have been brushed aside 43-0 by Premiership side Bedwas last Saturday.

But they must refocus tomorrow to play a Rhydyfelin side second bottom of the table, and who Sean Gale’s team have already beaten at home.

There are changes aplenty, as Ianto Griffiths switches from No 10 to full back, with Jonathan Rogers coming in at outside half, and Kieran Griffiths and Rhys Lane starting at centre and scrum half respectively.

Rhys Davies (prop), Dan Smith (hooker), and Rich Rees (flanker) are also back in the starting XV, as Narberth aim for a fourth straight league win.

Against Newcastle Emlyn in December, Gale’s men displayed their ability to overcome tricky away trips in tough weather conditions – and if they show the same resolve tomorrow, I expect they will prevail here.

Narberth: Ianto Griffiths, Liam Hutchings, Kieran Jones, Kieran Griffiths, Nick Gale, Jonathan Rogers, Rhys Lane, Rhys Davies, Dan Smith, Tom Slater, Dewi Williams, Alex Jenkins (capt), Rich Rees, Tom Powell, Steffan Phillips. Replacements: Bradley Davies, Rhodri Owens, Sean Jenkins, Lewys Gibby, Moritz Neumann.

Division One West (2.30pm):

Tenby United v Gowerton

The Seasiders are currently in their best run of form this season – and are gunning for a fifth straight league victory at Heywood Lane tomorrow.

Gowerton arrive on the back of a tough 19-14 win in Aberystwyth last weekend, and are well in the title running as they lie second behind Dunvant.

But Tenby are playing with cohesion and grit, and as they showed against Kidwelly after Christmas, have the ability to run riot if their backline is given the platform.

That win was followed by a gutsy 21-15 success in Gorseinon, with Andrew Cooke and the recently returned Roy Osborn, two of their in-form forwards, scoring tries.

Chris James’ men are now up to sixth, but now only lie seven points away from tomorrow’s visitors. It is maybe too early to start talking about back to back promotions – but a win here, and suddenly the prospect is far from impossible.

Division Two West (2.30pm):

Carmarthen Athletic v St Clears

The Carmarthenshire Saints have battled hard in their last two games, but ultimately came away with nothing and hover just one point above the bottom two.

A 17-3 home loss to Whitland was followed by a 29-19 defeat in Pontyberem – where Mike Jones’ side were frustratingly denied a bonus point by a last gasp try.

One positive from that though was the try scoring debut of Jake Philpin, while Owain Davies (scrum half) and winger Llyr Ebsworth also stood out in attack – but Jones and co must address their away form to avoid a swift return to Division Three West A.

All of their three league wins have come in St Clears, and whilst they will undoubtedly be competitive again away to Athletic tomorrow, they need to turn that into points.

Otherwise, their battle to stay up will do down to the wire.

Llanybydder v Whitland

It is a much changed Whitland line up tomorrow following their 23-17 win over Carmarthen Athletic last week.

But whilst their hosts are rock bottom, The Borderers can ill afford complacency despite beating them 96-0 at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn earlier in the season.

Llanybydder are a different proposition at home, and if we get the rain that is forecast tomorrow, their sloping pitch will be heavy and difficult to play on. That could work against Gareth Bennett and Dan Mason’s team – whose priority should be a bonus point win to keep the pressure on leaders Hendy.

Full back James Stephenson comes in from Narberth after a lengthy injury lay off, and centre Ryan Davies will also play on permit. Scott Candler (wing), Tom Parry (scrum half), Tomos Evans (prop), and veteran second row Dai Ebsworth are also handed starts, whilst skipper Marc Jones switches from No 2 to blindside flanker.

So it is a chance for some to take advantage of a rare league start – but The Borderers will need to be focussed to get the job done.

Whitland: James Stephenson, Scott Candler, Jonathan Thomas, Ryan Davies, Liam Price, Nico Setaro, Tom Parry, Tomos Evans, Gethin Lewis, Michael Ryan, Dai Ebsworth, Micaiah Jones, Marc Jones, Ryan Morgan, Jack Mason. Replacements: Aaron Mayne, Ben Kirk, Raff Williams, Adam Davies, Sean Coles.

Loughor v Fishguard

Back to back wins over St Clears and Llanybydder have eased any Fishguard fears of a relegation dogfight.

But there is still half a season to go, and The Seagulls can ill afford to let their momentum slip.

They go to fifth placed Loughor tomorrow, a side well beaten by second bottom Amman United last Saturday.

Fishguard’s back row starred last week as Chris Shousha, Simon James, and Jordan James all crossed for tries – but the latter two are missing tomorrow as Luke Freebury switches from second row to flanker.

The recently returned Ben John will play at outside half, with the likes of centre Gareth Adamson and full back Ed Bendall looking to continue their good form outside him.

Given the forecast, the visitors may be in for another big battle up front though, and will again look to hooker and skipper Gavin Walsh to lead their ball carrying in the tight exchanges.

The Seagulls have felt aggrieved this week, understandably it seems, by being forced by organisers to concede their Pembrokeshire KO Cup quarter final with Pembroke. Channelling their anger towards a vital away win tomorrow would be a good riposte.

Fishguard: Edward Bendall, Mathew George, Mike Jenkins, Gareth Adamson, David Evans, Ben John, Andrew Williams, Ryan McVeigh, Gavin Walsh (capt), Andrew Morrilo, Gwil Evans, Richie Hunter, Liam Wilkes, Luke Freebury, Chris Shousha. Replacements: Jason Davies, Mark James, Ryan Langman, Daniel Evans.

Division Three West A:

Aberaeron v Neyland

These two sides had a real war of attrition at The Athletic Club earlier in the season, with the Mid-Wales side prevailing 12-5.

It could be a similar game tomorrow with inclement weather looming – and Aberaeron’s big pack may relish the prospect of another intense battle up front.

I’ve said for most of this season that Neyland are a lot better side than their league position suggests, and the youth players they have coming through gives them plenty of cause for optimism.

But Steve Martin will also want his team to start turning good displays against the league’s better sides into wins, rather than narrow defeats.

The experience of skipper and second row Mark James will again be important for The All Blacks here, but youngsters like Jack Harries, the Buirds brothers, and Iestyn Evans in the pack, all of whom have had promising seasons, will have to excel in the tight exchanges.

Both teams have speed and good finishers in their backline, so if the conditions are suitable to go wide at any stage – this could all depend on which pack gets their team on the front foot.

Cardigan v Haverfordwest

Cardigan’s form has come in spells in their nine league games – three wins, followed by three losses, followed by three more wins.

Coach Colin Davies would have been annoyed by two late red cards in their 26-8 win at St Davids last week, but would have also been pleased to have notched a bonus point win in tricky circumstances.

No 8 Llyr Griffiths stood out with his ball carrying, and he starts again tomorrow, whilst Marcus Castle comes into the back row and Tom Dunn returns at outside half.

For the visitors, this is a huge game with Pembroke and Milford Haven again not playing. They currently lie third, eight points off the top two, and a win here puts them within striking distance.

Bruce Evans’s men have a cutting edge out wide with the likes of Liam Manwaring, skipper Mattie Phillips, and winger Josh Atherton all in try scoring form recently, but it is up front where they ned to be braced tomorrow.

Prop Terry Lovell was one of many forwards to stand out in Saturday’s win at Llangwm, but The Teifisiders will represent a much more physical test, and it’s one The Blues must come through to keep their title hopes alive.

Cardigan: John Lumb, Sion Hughes, William Delve, Emyr Harries, Casey Walters, Tom Dunn, Llyr Jones, William Brice, Luke Palmer-Davies, Ben Hughes, Dean Harries, Sion Phillips, Daniel Evans, Marcus Castle, Llyr Griffiths. Replacements: Richard Jones, Ifan James, Tom Taylor, Russ Hasler, Owain Rees, Kieran Hurley.

Llangwm v Laugharne

The Wasps gave two wholehearted displays against Haverfordwest on Boxing Day (Bishop Cup) and St Davids the Saturday after – and lost both games in the latter stages.

So it was perhaps unsurprising they ran out of steam last weekend, this time against The Blues in the league, losing 54-7.

They have shown enough in recent weeks though to suggest positivity – and No 8/centre Josh Hicks continues to stand out with tries in all of the above three matches.

Youngster Luke Hayman is also a prospect at outside half, and the experience of Ian Griffiths in the back row continues to serve them well.

They will have their work cut out tomorrow against a Laugharne team who battled back brilliantly to beat Aberaeron 17-10 last week.

To have any chance, The Wasps will have to close down the space of No 8 Mikey Williams and outside half Owain Thomas, both of whom are doing real damage lately when given space and ball in hand.

I suspect the heavier the pitch, the happier Llangwm will be. But if The Cocklemen get the job done, then with their games in hand, he top three will be looking over their shoulders.

Pembroke Dock Quins v St Davids

An illness epidemic prevented The Quins from going to Tregaron last Saturday, so it remains to be seen the strength of their squad tomorrow.

They beat The Saints 29-10 in a hard fought game earlier in the season, and skipper Thomas Doyle and co will be keen to bounce back from their 38-0 derby loss to Pembroke last time out.

Ossie Boswell’s men may need to look to the power up front of the likes of Stef Halwood and Huw Baker on a presumably heavy Bierspool surface – but they will be wary of a St Davids team that has improved in the past month.

Cardigan were pushed hard by Matthew Williams’ men last Saturday, and the return of the likes of Gethin Bateman and Dan Murphy from injury has allowed them to field a more settled pack than earlier in the campaign.

Both these sides played through horrendous conditions in the same fixture last season – with players unrecognisable by the end of the 80 minutes. And I wouldn’t expect too much champagne rugby this time around either.