BACK row forward Jonathan Armitage will captain Bedwas in their bid to bounce back to the Principality Premiership, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 30-year-old was a mainstay of the Bridge Field side’s pack last season, with 19 of his 25 appearances in the starting line-up.

Bedwas enjoyed a strong end to the campaign, winning eight of their last 11 fixtures to give themselves a shot at survival.

However, Stef Sankala’s men suffered last-day agony when they slipped into the relegation zone courtesy of Bridgend’s tense win against Pontypridd at Sardis Road.

Bedwas will be part of what promises to be a fierce battle in the 12-team WRU Championship when they lock horns horns with champions Pontypool, fellow relegated clubs Neath, Bargoed and Cross Keys plus Ystrad Rhondda, Narberth, Cardiff Met, Tata Steel, Trebanos, Maesteg Quins, Glamorgan Wanderers and Ystalyfera.

Meanwhile, back row forward Nathan Hudd was voted by his teammates as Bedwas’ player of the year.

Lock Craig Hudd took the coaches’ award at the club’s end of season dinner, centre Adam Williams won the supporters’ honour and lock Gareth Allen was named as most-improved player.

Gareth Arrowsmith was named as clubman while there was a special award for services to Bedwas to Mark Lewis, the stalwart who stepped down as director last year because of work commitments.

The Youth also received their awards with Cullen Bonnici winning players’ player of the year, Liam Lintern winning the coaches’ award and Luke Lloyd Clubbe named as most-improved player.

l Bedwas legend Deri Mattravers, who made a Premiership comeback at the age of 44, has joined Blaenavon’s coaching team.

The back rower came off the bench in April’s win against Aberavon and will be part of the Division One East side’s management team.