10:35am Friday 21st February 2014
NEWPORT don't intend to go into their shells when they travel to Pontypridd in the Swalec Cup tomorrow afternoon (kick-off 2.30pm), writes Chris Kirwan.
The Black and Ambers will have to do things the hard way if they are to lift silverware for the first time since 2004.
If they can upset the holders on their own patch this weekend then they will welcome Llanelli to Rodney Parade on March 22.
Ponty are favourites to be triumphant at the Millennium Stadium on May 2 but Newport have a better record against them than most.
The Black and Ambers hey have won four of the last 10 encounters while three of their defeats have been by less than a score.
"Sardis Road is always a hard place to go but our record against Pontypridd isn't bad," said head coach Sven Cronk. "We'll go there and take the game to them, which teams don't always do.
"Ponty are a quality side but you have to play against them because they will hurt you if you just go into a defensive mode.
"It's a big challenge for us but one that the boys will be looking forward to."
The Black and Ambers are without wing Ashton Hewitt and centre Tyler Morgan, who were set to feature at Sardis Road last weekend. The pair are instead in action for Wales Under-20s against their French counterparts in Colwyn Bay.
Club captain Lee Beach is back following a two-month injury lay-off but the number eight will have to be content with a place on the bench.
"It's a boost to have Lee back but Brendan Lampitt has gone really well in his absence," said Cronk. "He was superb in tough conditions against Bedwas and Aberavon so deserves to keep his place."
Championship champions-elect Ebbw Vale have the incentive of a home quarter-final against Premiership title hopefuls Llandovery when they host RGC 1404.
The Steelmen have enjoyed a pair of league triumphs against RGC, winning 31-16 in Colwyn Bay and 45-0 at Eugene Cross Park in December.
Ebbw will be confident of securing a mouthwatering tie against the Drovers but head coach Jason Strange certainly won't entertain any complacency against the north Walians, who are enjoying a fine first season in the Championship. They sit in second place, albeit a whopping 24 points behind the Steelmen.
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