Cardiff RFC begin the defence of the Specsavers Cup on Saturday as the Blue and Blacks head to North Wales to face North Wales to take on RGC in Colwyn Bay.
It is a repeat of last year’s second round game which Cardiff won 15-27 courtesy of tries from Joey Tomlinson, Adam Jones, Max Llewellyn and Llywarch ap Myrddin, as well as the boot of Gareth Thompson.
Steve Law’s men got off to an ideal start to the season last week, as they opened the Indigo Group Premiership with a last-minute win over Pontypridd thanks to a Joe Scrivens conversion with the last kick of the game.
That puts us a win ahead of where we were after round one last season, but now we come up against an RGC side in buoyant mood themselves after defeating League champions Merthyr on the opening weekend.
Tries from George Roberts and Rhys Tudor, as well as the boot of fly-half Billy McBryde, saw the Gogs secure a 23-17 victory. A first win of the season, and a first win under new head coach Matt Silva, himself Cardiff born and bred.
For this weekend’s game against his hometown team Silva has kept faith with the same starting XV that beat the Ironmen last week, with only one change to the 23 as a whole with Pedr Jones replacing Jesse Williams as tighthead cover.
RGC: Afon Bagshaw, Harri Evans, Tom Hughes (c), Rhys Williams, Rhys Tudor, Billy McBryde, Efan Jones; Joe Simpson, George Roberts, Jordan Scott, Bryn Jones, Robin Williams, Beau Williams (c), Will Bryan, Jordan Jones
Replacements: Rhodri King, Will Sanderson, Pedr Jones, Andrew Williams, Sam Williams, Oscar Lennon, Sam Rogers, Delwyn Jones
On the other hand, Steve Law has been forced into a number of changes to his starting XV due to injury or unavailability, starting up front where Peter Lloyd comes in at tighthead in place of Ollie Drake.
In the backs, Jack Brooks is in at inside centre, Barney Nightingale is named on the wing and last week’s hero Joe Scrivens starts at full-back, with Sam Beard, James Beal and Edd Howley all not included.
The only tactical change sees Sam Pailor back to start at blindside flanker with Alex Everett dropping to the bench.
Cardiff RFC: Joe Scrivens, Joe Gatt, Leon Andrews, Jack Brooks, Barney Nightingale, Gareth Thompson, Ben Williams; Thomas Davies, Evan Yardley, Peter Lloyd, James Ratti, Callum Bradbury, Sam Pailor, Zach O’Driscoll, Morgan Allen (c)
Replacements: Hugo Souto, Brynley Toms, Lewis Frances, Alex Everett, Lloyd Pike, Tom Habberfield, Zach Bartlett, Scott Andrews
It will be a tough task for the Blue and Blacks, as it always is up in North Wales, but especially against a resurgent RGC bouncing back from mid table obscurity last season under Silva and on the back of the Merthyr win.
Add in a slightly makeshift Cardiff team, especially the bench, and coming away with the win will be another good achievement, but there is the quality there to do so.
With the desire to defend the crown of Cup Winners hopefully the Blue and Blacks can grind out another win and start the season with two victories in a row.