Cardiff RFC make a second long trip of the season to North Wales on Saturday as the Blue and Blacks take on RGC live on S4C, with a 5.15pm kick-off.
The first game between the sides this season saw Steve Law’s men run out 40-24 winners in Colwyn Bay, as tries from Leon Andrews, Jack Brooks, Barney Nightingale and a brace from Morgan Allen helped get the Specsavers Cup defence up and running in style.
Since then Cardiff have pushed on in the Indigo Group Premiership, beating Llanelli, Swansea and Carmarthen to sit top of the league, unbeaten and 10 points ahead of last season’s champions Merthyr.
RGC initially struggled to bounce back from the Cup defeat, losing away at Llandovery, but a confidence boosting home win over Pontypridd was followed up by a high scoring win away at Llanelli last week, boosting the North Wales side to third in the league, four points behind the Blue and Blacks.
The Gogs’ head coach, Tremorfa’s own Matt Silva, has made five changes to his team that won at Parc y Scarlets last weekend, with four of those coming in the forwards pack.
Joe Simpson and George Roberts are in at loosehead and hooker, respectively, while Robin Williams replaces Bryn Jones at lock and Jordan Jones plays at number eight in place of Tim Grey.
The change in the backs sees Tom Hughes drop out of the side at outside centre, with Harri Evans shifting inside to take his place and Rhys Tudor being named on the wing.
RGC: Sam Rogers, Afon Bagshaw, Harri Evans, Rhys Williams, Rhys Tudor, Billy McBryde, Efan Jones; Joe Simpson, George Roberts, Jordon Scott, Bryn Jones, Beau Williams, Andrew Williams, Will Bryan, Jordan Jones
Replacements: Rhodri King, Jessie Williams, Rhys Roberts, Robin Williams, Dan Owen, Oscar Lennon, Delwyn Jones, Dion Jones
There are more changes on the Cardiff RFC side though, where Steve Law’s starting XV shows seven alterations from that which lined up against Carmarthen.
Ethan Lewis starts at hooker, with a new second row combination of Callum Bradbury and Macauley Cook linking up, and two-try scorer from last week Alex Everett gets the nod at openside after James Botham’s nasty looking head injury.
Gareth Thompson is back at fly-half, Sam Beard shifts in to 12 with Max Llewellyn named at 13, while Barney Nightingale returns to the team on the left wing.
Evan Yardley, James Ratti and Dan Fish drop to the bench, alongside recalled duo Zach O’Driscoll and Joe Scrivens.
Cardiff RFC: Edd Howley, James Beal, Max Llewellyn, Sam Beard, Barney Nightingale, Gareth Thompson, Tom Habberfield; Thomas Davies, Ethan Lewis, Ollie Drake, Macauley Cook, Callum Bradbury, James Thomas, Alex Everett, Morgan Allen (c)
Replacements: Evan Yardley, Brynley Toms, Peter Lloyd, James Ratti, Zach O’Driscoll, Ben Williams, Dan Fish, Joe Scrivens
With the introduction of professionals Lewis and Cook up front, as well as Everett starting at openside, it is a heavy and physical pack Cardiff RFC are taking up to North Wales.
Add into the mix the always improving relationship between Habberfield and Thompson at half-back, as well as a more balanced looking centre partnership, and it is indeed a Blue and Blacks team more than capable of going up to Parc Eirias and winning.
However, nothing should be taken for granted against an RGC side in good form, in front of their home crowd and looking for revenge.