EBBW Vale boss Greg Woods expects to learn a lot about his new charges by now they react to their WRU National Cup anguish, writes Chris Kirwan.

The Steelmen’s hopes of a Principality Stadium date with Newport were dashed when Justin James’ late try sneaked a 10-6 semi-final success for Merthyr at Pandy Park.

Ebbw return to Principality Premiership action at Bargoed tomorrow afternoon and on the face of it, given there is no relegation, there isn’t a great deal to play for with seven games to go.

But head coach Woods, who took the reins in January after leaving Cross Keys, will use the final weeks of the campaign to cast a close eye over his squad.

“We played really well against Merthyr and gave a good account of ourselves – we were hard to break down and it could have gone either way,” he said.

“Now we want to win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season, it’s a chance for me to really get to know the boys and what makes them tick.

“The squad is staying together for next season and it’s a case of implanting a bit more of the game plan that we want to play.

“It’s a big learning curve for me and after a bit of soul-searching at training on Tuesday I am interested in how the squad reacts.”

Ebbw sit in ninth with five wins from eight games and hunt a fourth win of the campaign against the Bulls.

The two Premiership East encounters were tight – 24-20 in Bargoed then 19-14 at Eugene Cross Park – before the Steelmen recorded an impressive 26-3 away cup triumph.

“We have to hit reset and go again,” said Woods. “Going to Bargoed Park is always a hard challenge.

“It’s another tough test for us and if we play near the level we hit last week then we should get the points, if we are not mentally switched on for the physical battle then we will come unstuck.”