Aberavon (5th - 31 points) take on Neath (8th - 16 points) in the traditional local derby on Boxing Day at the Gnoll, kick off 2:30pm. The match will be the last game of the first half of the Principality Premiership as both West and East leagues come back together for the second half of the season after this round of games.
As a reminder, 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. The Wizards are guaranteed to finish at least fifth in the Premiership West but could jump up a position depending on their result at the Gnoll, and the result of Llanelli's (4th - 32 points) match away to Swansea.
Neath have won three of their thirteen games in the Premiership West. They won their opening two games of the season with them getting a bonus point win over Swansea (39 - 16) and a win over Carmarthen Quins (18 - 15). The Welsh All Blacks then lost eight straight as they went down to RGC 1404 twice, Llandovery, Llanelli, Bridgend, Aberavon (20 - 41), Swansea and Carmarthen. In the middle of November, they beat Llandovery 19 - 5 but have lost their two games - losing at Llanelli (13 - 15) and at home to Bridgend (8 - 15).
Looking at the Premiership West, in "attack" this season, Neath have scored 18.4 points on average per game (ranked bottom) and 2.6 tries (ranked 6th). In "defence" they have conceded 25.3 points on average per game (ranked 7th) and 3.2 tries (ranked 6th). Aberavon have scored 24.8 points per game (ranked 3rd) and 3.5 tries (ranked top), and conceded 24.8 points (ranked 5th) and 2.8 tries (ranked 3rd).
Head-to-head, Aberavon and Neath have met each other 36 times in the Welsh National League with Neath leading the series 25 - 10 with 1 game drawn. At the Gnoll, Neath lead 13 - 3 with 1 game drawn, with the drawn game occurring the last time both sides met at the ground two seasons ago.
Looking back to Boxing Day in 2011, the Wizards went to the Gnoll having not won at the ground since 1983. Neath were top of the table going into the game with Aberavon in third place. The match proved to be an attritional affair with Neath winger Kevin James and Aberavon flanker Nathan Strong both red carded inside the opening eight minutes. The Wizards led a quarter of an hour in when the home side failed to control the ball from ruck possession on their own 22. Aberavon lock Rhydian Gierat hacked the ball through and gathered his own kick to crash over near the posts. Outside half Jamie Davies added the extras with opposite number Dai Langdon kicking a penalty shortly afterwards to make the score 7 - 3 to the Wizards at the end of the opening quarter. Davies put Aberavon back into a seven point lead in the 36th minute with a penalty, but the homeside scored a close range try by Gareth Gravell in injury time. This made the score 10 - 8 to the visitors at the interval.
A determined Aberavon defence halted the homesides attacks in the third quarter before Davies extended the Wizards lead to five points with a penalty on the hour mark. Then, in injury time, Davies kicked his third penalty of the afternoon to make the final score 16 - 8 to Aberavon, and prevented the homeside securing a losing bonus point.
The Wizards team that day was: Howard Thomas; Richard Carter, Richard Thomas, Will Price, Ricky Thomas; Jamie Davies, David Pritchard; Lloyd Howell (rep Neil White), Marc Breeze, Will Taylor (rep Anthony Edwards, rep Will Taylor), Rhydian Gierat, Gavin Ronan, Nathan Strong, Richard Morris (rep Darryl Thomas), Chris Davies (capt)
The referee for Boxing Day's game will be Gareth John, aided by Rhys Jones and Huw David.