CRUCIAL league and cup clashes lie in store for three Gwent clubs today as the fight to stave off relegation and lift silverware at the Principality Stadium heats up.

For Championship leaders Pontypool and Principality Premiership battlers Bedwas, a place in the semi-finals of the WRU National Cup is on offer this afternoon.

Pooler will be looking to cause another upset when they host top-flight Bridgend at Pontypool Park, while Bedwas face a tough test away to Premiership high-flyers Cardiff (both kick-off 2.30pm).

Meanwhile, down at Parc y Scarlets, there is a massive league encounter between Llanelli and visitors Cross Keys (kick-off 2.30pm), with both sides desperate for points to climb out of the top tier’s drop zone.

Given their difficult run-in, this is a match Keys must get something from if they are to give themselves hope of staying up come the end of the campaign.

Bedwas and Bridgend, eight and nine points clear of Llanelli and Keys respectively, will no doubt have half-an-eye on proceedings in west Wales.

With 16 wins out of 16, Pooler’s bid to land another Championship title and therefore secure a promotion/relegation play-off against the 12th-placed Premiership team is all but complete.

“It is well-documented that, since 2016, we have been building towards achieving promotion, but the cup allows us to express ourselves against some of the best teams in the country,” said centre Clayton Gullis.

“Over the last few years, we have enjoyed great success in the competition, and I know it’s something that not just us as group but the whole community gets excited about.

“The Park is a special venue and one that means a lot to me personally.

“We have a great record on our own patch and one we will be looking to continue.

“We are one of the best supported clubs in the country and I know there is a lot of interest surrounding the game in the community.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the main stand and the bank full of supporters and they will undoubtedly create some serious noise to help push the boys on.”

The league is the top priority for Bedwas this season but that doesn’t mean they won’t be giving it their all at the Arms Park to reach the last four of the cup.

“The opportunity to play cup rugby and get a performance down at Cardiff has added a different motivation to the squad this week,” said head coach Stefan Sankala.

“Obviously the pressure of the league campaign adds a different climate, but we are looking forward to going out without the shackles of the Premiership and enjoying the afternoon.

“Cardiff are certainly on a high at the moment and their recent form makes them a dangerous outfit, but we have set some expectations that will hopefully challenge Cardiff in front of their home crowd.”

Bedwas (at Cardiff): W Talbot-Davies; K Teear-Bourge, T Hoppe, D McIntosh, J Rees; J Chilcott, R Harries; S Cochrane, M Dacey, R Hutcherson, G Allen, J Davies, C Hudd, J Richards, D Rogers (capt). Reps: A Rees, B Toms, C Budgen, P Williams, N Hudd, L Crane, D Smith, A Williams.

Cross Keys (at Llanelli): L Andrews; R Budina, S Majkic, T Loots, W Cunliffe; C Penny, D Babos; R Cornock, R Jenkins, S Evans, S Andrews, D Welch (capt), E Hopkins, G Price, I Jones. Reps: W Griffiths, S Hoskins, N Thomas, T Lampard, J Thomas, C Nicholls, J Guy, I Burgwin.

Pontypool (home to Bridgend): G Walsh; L Lewis, J Mahoney, K Meek, J Thomas; M Jones, A Quick; A Coundley, D Hughes, O Drake, D Hodge, C Gregory, S Matthews, R Nash, B Sparks. Reps: J Jeune, A Watkins, C Price, B Lampitt, M Herbert, M Luckwell, M Lewis, C Gullis.