Swansea 'now better equipped for Pontypridd'
SWANSEA will be hoping to exorcise the demons of their last visit to Sardis Road when they travel to Pontypridd tomorrow (2.30pm).
The Whites were trounced 52-19 at the House of Pain last season, conceding three penalty tries as their inexperienced pack was obliterated.
Since then, Swansea have undergone a summer of rebuilding which saw Mefin Davies replace Jason Hyatt as head coach and a number of changes to the playing staff.
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It has been a testing start to Davies's regime, with the Whites losing five of their six Principality Premiership fixtures to date.
Reigning champions Pontypridd will pose a formidable challenge for Swansea and, although they aware of the enormity of the task ahead, the St Helen's side feel they are in better shape than when they last visited Sardis Road in April.
"We'll definitely be going to Pontypridd with a more experienced squad than we had when we went there last season," said Swansea's team manager Ian Hopkins.
"We were in a difficult position last time because we were very thin on the ground and had to give a few youngsters a game.
"Pontypridd are very strong up front and we will have to be at our best to compete with them.
"They are a very good side, particularly at home."
Swansea will need no reminding of the strengths Pontypridd possess, though Dale McIntosh's men will not be the only high-flying side they have faced this term.
The Whites showed promise in defeats against league leaders Llandovery and Cardiff in recent weeks, and Hopkins is encouraged by the progress his side are making.
"If you look at all our games, almost every one of them has been against teams in the top five," he said.
"We've faced all the teams who have started well, Aberavon aside, and that's been tough.
"We were disappointed with the defeat against Cardiff but they are a very good side.
"They have a lot of strong, talented youngsters, but I thought our defence held up well.
"We were still pressing and looking for that score until the end.
"Pontypridd are always a stern challenge. They've started strongly, but they're always a good side."
Swansea will field a stronger side tomorrow than they managed last season, though there is still room for youth in their line-up.
Fly-half Cameron Clement, nephew of Whites legend Tony, made his first start against Cardiff last week and the youngster has held on to his place in the team.
"We were very pleased with how Cameron did against Cardiff," said Hopkins.
"He was steady and kept things moving, and that's all we asked from him.
"He will have another outing at 10 tomorrow. Sam Davies is not available this weekend, so Cameron will have another chance."
Swansea (from): Backs: J. Preddy, C. Clement, E. Walker, N. Harwood, A. Jenkins, R. Williams, N. Thomas, J. Cole, A. Lewis, B. Roberts, C. Shelmerdine. Forwards: A. Mason, N. Smith, I. Williams, J. Rees, I. Dobbs, S. Otten, J. Barley, S. Kiley, D. Blyth, S. Williams, J. McKenna, J. Bija, D. Baker, S. Jones.