10:25am Thursday 26th September 2013
By Iwan Gabe Davies
WALES great Garin Jenkins believes Newport could severely test Pontypridd at Sardis Road on Sunday (kick-off 2.30pm) when the Black and Ambers take on the league and cup champions.
The stage is certainly set for the visitors to show what they can do with the Principality Premiership showdown broadcast live on S4C.
Newport haven’t had a great start to the season after losing their British and Irish Cup play-off clash to Cross Keys before being defeated in their last two league games against Aberavon and Llanelli.
But they will take heart from the fact that they were the last Welsh side to beat Ponty – nearly a year ago – when they triumphed 20-19 at Rodney Parade in the league last October.
And they went close to doing the double in the return fixture at the ‘House of Pain’ in February, going down 32-24 despite leading 24-18 in the closing stages.
Wales’ most capped hooker Jenkins, who jointly holds the 58-cap record with Matthew Rees, is a regular at Sardis Road where his son Owen Jenkins, a Wales Sevens and Under-20s full back/wing, is a player.
The ex-Pontypool, Pontypridd and Swansea hard man was impressed by Newport’s efforts against Dale McIntosh’s team during the last campaign, although he warns them they still have it all to do this weekend against a team in smoking hot form and recent 28-11 winners at Cross Keys.
“Newport should give Ponty a pretty tough game this Sunday and they almost beat them twice last season – I was very impressed with them,” he said.
“But Ponty have a great collective belief which they showed recently when they came back after being behind against Bedwas and Cardiff.
“They play some enjoyable rugby and I’m really looking forward to the Newport game.”
The front rower who represented Wales at the 1991, 1995 and 1999 World Cups believes the value of the Premiership, which could see one side potentially relegated to the Swalec Championship at the end of this season, is on the rise.
“You have really good, exciting games in the Premiership and it’s a great league to watch,” he said. “I think the quality is really improving.”
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