Gary Longwell has named a strong Ravens team for their British & Irish Cup game against Pontypridd on Saturday at Deramore Park (kick off 2.30pm).
Nigel Brady will captain the team from hooker and is joined in the front row by the experienced Callum Black and Jerry Cronin. Tim Barker and Neil McComb continue their successful second row partnership, while Ali Birch, Willie Faloon and Mike McComish form an athletic back row.
The players behind the scrum are less experienced, but all members of the backline have featured for the seniors, including Chris Farrell and Peter Nelson who featured in pre-season friendlies.
The bench has a youthful look with Phoenix Academy members Conor Carey, James Simpson, Sean O’Connell, Blane McIlroy, Michael Allen and Ricky Andrew joining development player Niall Annett.
With two matches played to date, the Ravens currently sit third in their pool on 9 points, although both Nottingham (13 points) and Leeds (10 points) have each played an extra match.
Ravens coach Gary Longwell feels the British & Irish Cup is a worthwhile competition for his players. “It is important for our young players coming through to gain experience at this level as it is a good learning experience. It also gives some of the senior players some vital time on the pitch.”
He is wary of the threat posed by the Welsh outfit: “Pontypridd are a very good side. They have won 9 of their opening 11 games in the Welsh Principality league so they will be coming here full of confidence and we will have to play well to get a positive result on Saturday.”