The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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Saturday June 19th - 2.30pm Valley Cougars v Torfaen Tigers (Pontyclun RFC) Cardiff Demons v Bridgend Blue Bulls (Taffs Well RFC) Swansea Valley Miners v Aberavon Fighting Irish (Ystalyfera RFC)
Previews... Cardiff Demons will be hoping to break Bridgend Blue Bulls' proud record of 21 wins on the trot at Taffs Well RFC this Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm). As reigning British Champions and current leaders of the Total RL.com Welsh Rugby League Conference, Bridgend have yet to taste defeat since their formation at the start of the 2003 season, the icing on the cake being their narrow victory over Carlisle Centurions in last year?s Harry Jepson Trophy final in Warrington.
Cardiff have run the Blue Bulls close twice, losing 32-16 last year and 30-20 in the second week of this season. In last year?s play-off game, highlights of which were shown on Sky Sports, the Demons came back from 20-6 down to 20-16 only for Lenny Woodard to score the decisive try, edging out Jamie Iles in a classic footrace for the line. And in week two this year the Demons mounted a similar recovery, turning a 20-2 deficit into a 26-20 cliffhanger only for Bridgend to once again score the crucial try, this time a short range effort on the last tackle by hooker Craig Fox.
Bridgend have named a 22 man full strength squad for Cardiff which includes Welsh internationals Lenny Woodard, John Devereux, Kevin Ellis and Allan Bateman.
Cardiff are also expected to name a team that is almost full strength. Sean Gilbertson is still suffering from his knee injury picked up while playing for East Wales last week while Mark Dando, Mark Bow and Pete Moore are both unavailable, the latter due to his inclusion in the Great Britain students squad. Jon Byers is expected to be named as captain.
Cardiff have never previously had the luxury of home advantage against the Blue Bulls so Saturday?s match should be very interesting indeed.
Valley Cougars home match against Torfaen Tigers has been moved nine miles across the valley to Pontyclun RFC. With Newport on a bye week, a win for Torfaen will put them three points ahead of their Gwent rivals with just five weeks of the regular season to go. The match, which will kick-off at 2.30pm, will be Pontyclun's first ever staging of a Rugby League match. Cougars' coach Mark Rowley explains the reason for the move.
"Sardis Road has had a hard year. Three sides, the Warriors, the Cougars and Pontypridd, have all played regular rugby at the ground so the pitch is in desperate need of re-seeding. Pontyclun were keen to host us and it's great to take rugby league into a new area. I'm sure that the town's rugby fans will turn up to support us and we look forward to welcoming them back to Sardis Road on July 3rd when we take on Aberavon Fighting Irish."
Aberavon will be taking on Swansea Valley Miners for the second time in four days when they travel to Ystalyfera RFC this Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).
The Irish took first blood at Little Warren on Wednesday with a crushing second half performance, running in 38 unanswered points, as they beat an understrength Swansea 58-14. Kyle Jenkins scored a brace of tries on his debut with the club and is expected to keep his place for the return fixture on Saturday. Ceri Thomas, Dean Scully, Liam Gadd also scored two tries while Darren Ryan also crossed. Gary Vaughan kicked eight goals.
Swansea's tries were scored by Simon Bevan, Dylan Griffiths and Andy Lustig.
Team P W D L F A D PTS Bridgend Blue Bulls 7 7 0 0 310 131 179 14 Aberavon Fighting Irish 7 6 0 1 276 141 135 12 Torfaen Tigers 7 4 0 3 298 181 117 8 Newport Titans 7 3 1 3 214 185 29 7 Cardiff Demons 7 2 0 5 205 220 -15 4 Swansea Valley 7 1 1 5 147 372 -225 3 Valley Cougars 6 0 0 6 106 326 -220 0