Aberavon kick off their Principality Premiership campaign this Saturday when they host Bridgend in the Premiership West at the Talbot Athletic Ground, kick off 2:30pm.

A reminder of the new format of the Principality Premiership this season - In the first half of the season, the 16-team semi-professional league will be split geographically into west and east eight-team leagues, with the clubs playing each other home and away. The clubs in the west league are Aberavon, Bridgend, Carmarthen Quins, Llandovery, Llanelli, Neath, RGC 1404 and Swansea. Those in the east are Bargoed, Bedwas, Cardiff, Cross Keys, Ebbw Vale, Merthyr, Newport and Pontypridd. 

The split ends just before the New Year when all the teams come together for the second half of the season. At the end of the split, points will be allocated to clubs based on league positions so the winners of the west and east leagues will go into the second half of the season with eight points, the clubs in second place will carry seven points into the 16-team league down to the eighth placed clubs who will carry one point. Each club will then play the other 15 teams either home or away. 

Every club will have a guaranteed 29 league matches during the season. Principality Premiership clubs will continue to work with the Regions to select Regional Premiership Select XVs for the British & Irish Cup, while the Foster's Challenge Cup will not take place. There will be no play-offs, with the table-topping club at the end of the season crowned Principality Premiership champion in a straight-forward league system.

Getting back to Saturday's game - Last season, the Ravens finished thirteenth at the end of the first phase of the Premiership after winning four of their fifteen games. In the second phase, they finished fifth in Tier 2 with them winning four of their seven games.

In their first pre-season game, Bridgend drew 12 - 12 at Trebanos in a game that saw the Ravens give a squad of 32 players a run out. The Ravens led 12 - 0 at half time thanks to tries by new signing Aaron Grabham and Ryan Evans with Evans also adding a conversion. 

Last weekend, Bridgend played a round robin with Redingensians RFC and Barnes RFC at Reading. The Ravens beat Barnes 19 - 12 with tries by Garin Lougher, Ryan Griffiths and Ashton Evans. Joseph Scrivens and Jake Lloyd kicked a conversion each. Against Redingensians, Bridgend won 12 - 5 with former Wizard Gareth Harvey and Iestyn Merriman scoring tries. Jamie Murphy kicked a conversion.

Head-to-head, Aberavon and Bridgend have met each other 33 times in the Welsh National League with the Wizards narrowly leading the series by 16 wins to 15 with 2 games drawn. At the Talbot Athletic Ground the Wizards lead 9 – 6 with 1 game drawn.

Looking back at the fixture ten seasons ago, a scrappy, forward-dominated opening half saw the Wizards take a 8 - 0 lead thanks to a try from Marc Breeze and penalty by Jamie Davies. Davies kicked two further penalties in the third quarter as Gareth David got points on the board for the visitors. Leading 14 - 3, the Wizards home pack were increasingly dominating their counterparts resulting in brace of tries for Chris Wells, both converted by Davies, and an unconverted try by James Garland. Final score, Aberavon 33, Bridgend 3.

The Wizards team that day was: James Garland (rep Ricky Thomas); Richard Carter, Paul Bamsey, Liam Gadd, Steve Davies; Jamie Davies, Gavin Hooper (rep Chris Morgans); Neil White (rep Mike Harris), Marc Breeze (rep Chris Wells), Paul Breeze, Ian Moore (capt), Chris Gittins (rep Andrew Fisher), Darryl Thomas, Richard Morris (rep Simon Peters), Chris Davies.

The referee for Saturday’s game is Gareth John, aided by Richard Brace and Mike Davies.