South Wales Scorpions are hoping for their biggest crowd of the season this Sunday as they take on London Skolars in Kingstone Press Championship 1 at Cardiff Arms Park (kick-off 3pm).
The match is the culmination of an exciting triple header on the 4G pitch at the capital’s famous stadium which also sees the club’s respective under 19 sides kick off at 1pm with an important Welsh Conference South game between Valley Cougars and Gwendraeth Valley Raiders starting proceedings at 11am.
The Scorpions first team hope to complete the double over the Skolars after winning 46-18 in the English capital in June.
Connor Farrer faces a late fitness test as he bids to prove his availability for the Welsh side after picking up an injury in the warm up last week at Hemel Stags.
Shaun Owens could also make a quicker-than-expected return from broken ribs, but new Scorpions signing Lloyd O’Connor is unavailable to play against his former club.
Scorpions coach Mike Grady said: “This will probably be one of the toughest game we play all season.
“London are the only team we’ve beaten this year. They’ll be fuming about that, and they’ll come at us all fired up.
“They’re a big side, they come direct at you, and you’ve just got to stop that go forward in the middle if you’re to have any chance at all. They beat Hemel a couple of weeks ago, so they’re clearly a dangerous side.
“We can’t wait to play at Cardiff Arms Park and I’m sure London will be thinking the same. It will be good for the Skolars as they’ll have a permanent 4G pitch at their place from next month.
“It should be a fantastic occasion and hopefully we’ll have our best crowd of the season. We’ve had plenty of ticket sales from Cardiff so it’s good to be able to reach out to such a wide audience.”
London Skolars could still make the play-offs, although it would require a remarkable run of form.
Skolars coach Joe Mbu said: “It was important for us to keep our hopes alive (by beating Hemel last week).
“The boys showed they can step up when it counts, and hopefully we can now build some momentum.”
South Wales’ under 19s will also hope to complete a double over their London counterparts when they meet at 1pm.
The Welsh youngsters won 40-0 at Enfield earlier this year but they know they’ll have to play at their best to beat a London side who will be keen to impress on the big stage.
South Wales coach Jon Ellis said: “We have been working hard on our structures this week and have tweaked a few aspects of our game in order to allow us to maximise our attacking game. Our last training session will be fully geared to improving our body position and re-educating the players bodies in the technical side of our defence. We never take any side less than totally seriously and are looking forward to a tough and physical encounter with London.
“Playing on the Cardiff Arms Park pitch is going to increase the pace of the match and produce a fast flowing game, it will show the supporters what a super-fast, high skill and massive collision sport Rugby League is. Our players are looking forward to entertaining the crowd and we can't wait.”
Gwendraeth Valley Raiders need to avoid a nine-point defeat to qualify for the end of season play-offs in their first ever season. At 11am, they take on Valley Cougars A, who are unable to get into this year’s top four.
The Raiders are currently level on competition points with Newport Titans, who have finished their fixtures, and have a superior points difference of plus eight, making it a nervy encounter for the West Walians from Mynydd-y-Garreg.
“To be this close to qualifying for the play-offs in our first season is testament to the hard work that all players and coaches have put in all season,” said Raiders’ head coach Andrew Thorne. “We’ve had some good results and we’ve surprised a few people. The quality of our rugby has been very good all season and we now need this one last push to remain in the top four.”
Valley Cougars coach Paul Emanuelli said: “Everyone in squad looking forward to this game at Cardiff Arms Park. We know we’re going to finish sixth in the league but that’s not going to stop us going out hammer and tongs to get the win against a very good Raiders side. We know it’s going to be a difficult game.
“It’s been a difficult first season back for us having two teams. We’ve a full squad of 20 to 25 who want to play so it’s going to be a tough call as to who makes the team.”
The day at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 27th July is officially sponsored by Cardiff International Pool operated by Parkwood Leisure on behalf of Cardiff City Council. Advance tickets, priced from just £1 for children and £8 for adults, can be booked by going to www.scorpionsrl.com.