TWO big tests await Ebbw Vale and Cross Keys in Principality Premiership East today.

While the former head to Sardis Road for a battle with Pontypridd, the latter are away against Bargoed (both 2.30pm).

Both the Steelmen and Keys have struggled so far this season and they will be given a stern examination of the character within their squads.

Ebbw sit sixth of the eight clubs in the eastern conference, level on points with Bargoed, and just three above basement boys Keys.

This afternoon’s games come just six days before the Gwent rivals meet at Eugene Cross Park Head coach Lee Davies makes four changes to his Ebbw starting XV.

Srdan Majkic replaces Dai Langdon at centre and David Jones makes way for Carl Lewis in the scrum-half position.

Loosehead Joel Harries gets the nod over Ross Jones in the front row and Kristian Parker replaces Rhys Clarke at lock.

Clarke switches to the back row as Josh Jacas, who was at number eight against Bargoed, drops to the bench.

Meanwhile, Keys have made just three changes from the side that started their defeat by Merthyr last Saturday.

Joe Goodchild returns to replace Nathan Trowbridge on the wing and Scott Andrews was on Dragons duty last night so Josh Skinner moves back into the second row.

And Taine Basham starts in the back row just two days after celebrating his 18th birthday.

In the Championship, Pontypool can make it nine wins out of nine if they beat Newcastle Emlyn on their travels.

Newbridge, who pushed Trebanos close last time out, will look to pull away from the lower reaches of the table with victory at bottom club Glynneath.

Bargoed (home to Cross Keys): C Jones; L Smalley, A Norton, D Humphries, D Evans; I Smerdon, J Pizey; K Brown, G Clarke, M Thomas, L Blacker (capt), A Coupe, G Rogers, I Jones. Reps: J Hallett, J Mogg, L Bowden, L Johnson, L Weyman, A Gardner-Key, L Meades, R Morgan.

Cross Keys (at Bargoed): L Andrews; M Powell, L Barnett, P Williams, J Goodchild; J Prosser, J Leadbeater; C Hewlett, W Griffiths, R Cornock, T Lampard, J Skinner, T Basham, S Matthews (capt), A Powell. Reps: R Jones, L Smout, G Carpenter, D Mock, B Nightingale, C Shephard, R Pritchard, D Richards.

Ebbw Vale (at Pontypridd): D Haymond; S Thomas, S Majkic, D Franchi, T Fricker; L Dennett, C Lewis; J Harries, R Francis, R Sevenoaks, K Parker, L Randall, R Clarke, R Kynes (capt), C Regan. Reps: R Jones, J Franchi, J James, J Jacas, O Jones, D Babos, C Hall, G Payne.

Newbridge (at Glynneath): TBC.

Pontypool (at Newcastle Emlyn): C Gullis; L Prothero, D Robinson, J Mahoney, J Thomas; K Meek, A Quick; A Coundley, B Parry, O Drake, R East, B Egan, M Herbert, R Nash, B Lampitt. Reps: M Jones, M Luckwell.