NEWPORT may be setting the pace in the South Wales Premier League but they are looking for an improvement with the bat ahead of a key clash at title rivals Neath.

The Spytty Park side have a narrow three-point advantage over St Fagans after six rounds with tomorrow's hosts a further five back.

Last week they beat Pontarddulais by 44 runs, adding to their successes against Ammanford, Ynysygerwn and Port Talbot, to climb to the top of the table.

Newport have suffered a solitary disappointment – at St Fagans a fortnight ago - but club coach Mike Knight says they are aware there is room for improvement.

Glamorgan great Mark Wallace is their top scorer with 195 runs at an average of 48.75, with captain Matthew Norris and Callum Taylor eight and nine in the Division One rankings respectively, but more is needed with the bat.

"We are pleased with how we have done so far but I don't think that we have played fantastically well all of the time," he said.

"We haven't done it consistently, particularly with the batting and that is the department that we consider to be a real strength – we feel we've got the best batting line-up in the league.

"We've got a few young players that have stepped up a level and found it a little difficult at first, so we will be patient with them.

"I think that we set high standards and when you don't quite get there it can be disappointing, but that doesn't mean that we are playing poorly.

"We are top of the table and still feel that there is room for improvement and that is a good place to be."

Newport are set to be boosted by the return of all-rounder Ian Thomas for their trip to the Gnoll.

"It will be good to have Ian back because he is a steadying influence," said Knight. "We need to come out firing because Neath are third and going well."

Second-placed St Fagans host Pontarddulais, bottom club Mumbles entertain Ynysygerwn, Port Talbot travel to champions Cardiff while Ammanford go to fourth-placed Bridgend.

The Gwent trio are all at the wrong end of the table in Premier Two and all face away games tomorrow.

Malpas are in the drop zone in their first season in the division but pushed promotion-chasing Penarth in a tense clash last weekend.

After bowling the Seasiders out for 199 the South East Wales Cricket League champs were dismissed for 185 despite the best efforts of opener James Francis, who struck 81.

He was fifth wicket with the score on 129 but the lower order couldn't save the day, leaving Malpas to have to be content with an eight-point haul.

That was more than Panteg or Newport Fugitives could manage.

The former were beaten by seven wickets by Llanelli after being skittled for 127 while it was a five-wicket loss at Ynystawe for the Fugies after they posted just 97.

All three teams are on their travels this weekend with Panteg heading to St Helen's to face Swansea, the Fugitives visiting Tata Steel while Malpas are guests at Ynystawe.

Newbridge will attempt to keep the heat on South East Wales Cricket League, Division One pace-setters Miskin Manor when they head to Abergavenny.

'Bridge, who lost at St Fagans in the Welsh Cup on Sunday, sit second in the table, 13 points back on the leaders.

The Gwent side have made a strong start to the campaign but Miskin have only been denied victory once, when the weather was the winner at Pontypridd on the opening day of the season.

Newbridge travel to Abergavenny on the back of a comprehensive eight-wicket league success against Sudbrook, while their mid-table hosts were hammered by Brecon after being bowled out for just 84.

Usk are currently propping up the table and will hope to make home advantage count against Brecon.

Chepstow and Croesyceiliog have home advantage over Cardiff Gymkhana and Pentyrch respectively while fourth-placed Sudbrook host third-placed Pontypridd.