EBBW Vale aim to avoid being put to the sword by former fly-half Rhys Jones when they travel to Merthyr in the Premiership tomorrow, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 32-year-old ex-Dragons and Scarlets playmaker followed in the footsteps of his father Kingsley and younger brother Dorian to become a Steelman last season.

Jones was an influential figure in helping Ebbw avoid the relegation dogfight and finished as the league's top points scorer.

But with the Steelmen cutting their budget, the former Wales sevens international made the move to the Wern and will be aiming to help the Ironmen win a fourth title on the bounce.

Merthyr's defence of their crown got off to a sticky start against RGC in Colwyn Bay last week but they responded with a crushing Specsavers WRU National Cup triumph against fierce rivals Pontypridd last weekend.

If Ebbw are to upset the odds at the Wern then they need to put Jones on the back foot.

"We know all about Rhys and he will punish us if we give him space and time," said head coach Woods. "He is a quality player and has the ability to put us in tough places.

"Merthyr are a big, heavy side with a strong set piece and (centre) Arron Pinches gets them over the gain line."

Woods will let assistant coach Lewis Roberts take the lead in selection after missing the win against Narberth while in Japan with the Welsh Rugby Union, completing a two-year legacy programme in Kitakyushu.

"It's going to be a tough game but we got a good win against Narberth in what had the potential to be a banana skin, while we weren't that bad against Newport," said Woods.

"We've had some close battles with Merthyr over the years but haven't quite got over the line. It's a big challenge in front of us but we are relishing that."

Newport are not in action this weekend after Bridgend requested to postpone the fixture at Rodney Parade because of a memorial service for their legendary former chairman Derrick King.

The Black and Ambers have arranged a dinner to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their famous 1969 win against South Africa and the Anglo-Welsh Championship success.

The dinner is at Rougemont School on Friday, November 29. Tickets cost £40 and can be bought individually or in tables of eight.

Former Newport fly-half Keith James, who was inducted into the club's hall of fame in 2018, will host the event with contributions from the players involved, including a special South African guest.

Highlights of the game will also be shown. Contact Kev Jarvis for tickets at commercial@newportrfc.co.uk.

Fixtures: Aberavon v Swansea, Llandovery v RGC, Llanelli v Cardiff, Merthyr v Ebbw Vale, Pontypridd v Carmarthen Quins.