SO, which of the Gwent contingent will go the furthest in this season’s WRU National Cup?

Two-time winners Newport, 1998 runners-up Ebbw Vale, Bedwas and Bargoed begin their knockout campaigns today, with Pontypool, Cross Keys and Newbridge receiving byes.

Newport, winners in 1977 and 2001, made it to the showpiece event in 2018 but felt the full force of a Merthyr team in unstoppable form on the day.

The Black and Ambers, who face RGC 1404 at Cardiff Arms Park this evening (kick-off 6.30pm), were blown away at the Principality Stadium, going down to a 41-7 thrashing.

Head coach Craig Warlow has made no fewer than 11 changes to his starting XV after the 45-19 win at Keys on December 29.

There is a first appearance of the season for winger Adam Sabri, a return for second row Rhys Cresswell and a first start of the campaign for Haydn Palmer at outside centre.

Further west, Ebbw travel to Carmarthen Quins (kick-off 2.30pm) with a team showing just two changes following the Boxing Day defeat of Bedwas.

James Lewis replaces Aneurin Owen at 12 and Ross Jones comes in for Luke Garrett at loosehead, while Luke Shore, Sam Ireland and Curtis Hicks are on the bench.

Bedwas go to Rhydyfelin of the Championship with Stefan Sankala making five changes to his team.

Up front, Nathan Hudd has recovered from the chest infection which kept him out of the Boxing Day loss, but Jonathan Armitage drops out through injury.

Joseph Scrivens is in at fly-half, Ben White starts in the 15 jersey, winger Jordan Rees lines up against his former club and there are first starts for centre Callum Williams and scrum-half Rory Harries.

On the bench, James Richards makes a welcome return from injury and there is a potential debutant in Tom Candy.

Ebbw, Bedwas, Bargoed and Newbridge are all still waiting to get their hands on the silverware for the first time, while it’s now 36 years since Pooler won the cup by beating Swansea 18-6.

They had a memorable run to the quarters in 2017 with victories at Llanelli and Cardiff before losing to county rivals Keys.

Leighton Jones’ men are once again streets ahead in the Championship as they bid for promotion back to Welsh club rugby’s top table, and they will look for success in the cup as well.

They are already guaranteed a place in the draw for round two following Neath’s withdrawal on Thursday.

Keys, meanwhile, were the last club from the region to lift the trophy in Cardiff when they defeated Pontypridd 32-19 in a thrilling 2012 final.

Bargoed (at Newcastle Emlyn): C Jones (capt); J Purcell, B Nightingale, D Humphries, A Norton; J Prosser, M Bancroft; M Kavanagh, L Lippiett, K Bale, G Edmunds, L Blacker, A Gibson, G Rogers, A Powell. Reps: J Leadbeater, J Howells, W Langley, C Davies, B Morgan, A Gardner-Key, J Lavender.

Bedwas (at Rhydyfelin): B White; J Rees, C Williams, A Williams, K Teear-Bourge; J Scrivens, R Harries; B Toms, M Dacey, R Hutcherson, C Hudd, G Allen, N Hudd, B Hill, D Rogers (capt). Reps: S Cochrane, E Evans, J Richards, J Hayward, W Fishlock, L Crane, L Bowden, T Candy.

Ebbw Vale (at Carmarthen Quins): D Haymond; S Thomas, C Meyer, J Lewis, T Fricker; Rh Jones, D Jones; Ro Jones, R Francis, R Sevenoaks, R Clarke, A Sweet (capt), C Regan, L Evans, L Young. Reps: J Franchi, L Garrett, C Hicks, K Parker, O Young, M Flanagan, L Shore, S Ireland.

Newport (home to RGC 1404 at Cardiff Arms Park): D Richards; A Sabri, Ha Palmer, G O’Driscoll, A Evans; H Simons, G Watkin; L Smout, He Palmer, J Williams, R Cresswell, D Partridge, C Williams, J Reid, M Reed. Reps: W Evans, D Preece, T Piper, J Bartlett, M Burgess, I Bergwin, M O’Brien, C Smith.