NEWPORT can pile more agony on struggling Gwent rivals Ebbw Vale when the two sides lock horns in Sunday’s showdown at Rodney Parade (kick-off 2.30pm).

The Steelmen suffered a deflating 34-20 defeat to Cross Keys last Friday, with head coach Lee Davies admitting it was “the worst drive home” from a game he has had.

Craig Warlow’s Black and Ambers also lost the following day but they were far happier after rescuing two points away to Principality Premiership East leaders Pontypridd.

Trailing by more than 20 points at one stage, Newport showed incredible powers of recovery before losing a high-scoring encounter 47-45.

“We were relieved to come away with two bonus points in the end,” said head coach Warlow.

“Ryan Bates made a try-saving tackle during the second half and if Pontypridd had scored then they would have gone over 50 points.

“Straight after that we had a scrum five metres out, scored, and went on to salvage something from the game.

“Even though we were well down I still felt we could get back into it, and it was great to see the boys show the character they did.”

Given Ebbw’s current form, Newport will fancy their chances of completing an eastern conference double over the Steelmen, but Warlow is taking nothing for granted.

He added: “We have got to do things well to build pressure on teams.

“We know we can score tries, we just need to work on stopping giving other teams easy points.

“We might be playing a team who are perhaps low on confidence but we can’t be gifting them easy points.

“Ebbw Vale have their troubles but we are just concentrating on ourselves.”

Ebbw chief Davies, whose side still sit level on points with Bargoed at the foot of the table, remains hopeful that the 2015/16 champions can turn things around.

However, he feels the players must get the fundamentals of the game right first.

“At the moment, our basic skills are letting us down a little bit,” he said. “We’re trying to run before we can walk.

“We’ve gone back and revisited the fundamentals, and that’s about us being comfortable with our basics to execute the game plan we want to play.

“Last Friday we created four or five try-scoring opportunities but didn’t execute them, either through not seeing the pass or because the ball didn’t go where it needed to.

“I don’t feel like we are a million miles off.

“Hopefully we will be more competitive when the league opens up but right now we are not playing well enough.”

Ebbw don’t have that many injuries but will be missing several of their Dragons stars, including Jared Rosser, Max Williams, Will Talbot-Davies and Dan Babos.

Newport were forced into a number of changes at Sardis Road due to injuries or unavailability.

Warlow says he will make more changes on Sunday with skipper Rhys Jenkins among those to return to the fold.