Two play-off places are still up for grabs as the WRL Men’s League South goes into its final weekend, and Bridgend Blue Bulls will hope to celebrate their 20th anniversary day with a victory over rivals Cynon Valley Cavaliers.
The 20th anniversary of the men’s league hasn’t disappointed, with four sides still fighting for the two remaining places in the semi-finals, taking on each other in what could be winner takes all clashes.
The Bulls are currently in fourth place in the league, on the same number of points as the Cavaliers who are currently in sixth. However their points difference is far superior, +106 to -12, so it will take a big win for the Cavaliers to overtake them.
Ahead of the men’s game at 2.30pm, there’s an equally important U16 match between the two sides. Both are already in the play-offs in this competition but this game could go some way to deciding who has a home semi-final tie.
Bridgend’s Nathan Morgan said: “On Saturday, we’re inviting any player who has represented the Bulls over the past 20 years to come along to join in the celebrations, to share their stories and experiences of being a Blue Bull with us. We have arranged some attractions to entertain our junior section along with a band in the evening to finish the day celebrating the most successful club in Welsh Rugby League history.
“This season so far has been a tale of two halves where we got off to a great start, but narrowly lost our last couple of games. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to introduce so many youngsters from our junior section into the senior squad this year, along with attracting a lot of young exciting talent. We think that our young squad will learn a lot from this season and will put them in good stead to improve as the seasons come.”
Cavaliers’ Spencer Jones said: “It’s the first season we’ve run an open-age men’s team and undoubtedly it has been a great success. With players drawn from many rugby union sides in the valley along with players from Merthyr and Glynneath, the coaching staff have done a tremendous job in moulding them, with the majority of the side having never played league before, into a good functioning team. We go into our final fixture against the Bulls still in the mix for a play-off place and whatever the result, the team can be immensely proud of themselves and we will come back better next year.”
In the other game where a play-off spot could be decided, Aberavon Fighting Irish travel to Torfaen Tigers. Aberavon are currently in third place with one foot in the semi-finals. Again, only a heavy defeat will prevent Aberavon from playing in the semi-finals.
Tigers’ Matt Cummings said: “We are looking forward to welcoming Aberavon this coming Saturday. It has been a very long time since we crossed paths and it’s great to see them back. I’m sure this Saturday will no doubt have the same edge as some of those great battles from years gone by and be an entertaining game to watch. Because of a hard-fought win last Saturday, where the boys really gave it everything away at Bridgend, we have given ourselves a slim chance to qualify for the play-offs and I’ve no doubt we’ll give it all out there on Saturday.”
The Aberavon coaching staff of Richard Lewis and Dean Scully were part of the original Irish squads who played against the Tigers 20 years ago, whilst John O’Callaghan was involved in the administration both then and now.
Lewis said: “Training has been going well and the boys are keen to finish on a high and get home advantage in the play-offs. We know the Tigers have vast experience, we knew that 20 years ago, and know that now, so it will be a great game and a big test to end the regular season on.”
O’Callghan adds: “We’re delighted with the progress this year, with seniors and juniors. The game against Torfaen this Saturday takes us back 20 years when we used to lock horns on a regular basis. We know no trip to Torfaen is an easy one and we’re expecting a battle royale this weekend. This game will be season-defining for both teams so there will be a lot at stake. We’re going in with nearly a full squad, we’re confident of coming away with the spoils, but we know it won’t be easy and there’s clearly no room for complacency.”
The final match sees newcomers South Wales Jets, who have qualified for the play-offs as league leaders, will take on fellow newcomers South Wales Saints at The Wern in Merthyr Tydfil.
Jets’ Liam Price said: “Even though the season couldn’t have gone any better for us, we still won’t look more than one game ahead. Our main objective now is to finish on top of the table unbeaten only then can we turn our focus to the playoffs. I would like to thank all the players involved so far this year their journey so far has been amazing and we want to finish off in style.”
South Wales Saints Founder and Head Coach, David Albertelli, said: “The season has been great, all clubs have actively participated in the development of the Saints by allowing larger match day squads, quarterly stoppages, and communicating really well. Officials should also be thanked for helping the new players with the rules and application throughout the season too. This final game against league winners South Wales Jets is the perfect end to the season. The Saints are all looking forward to the battle on the pitch and the overall day.”