The Pembrokeshire KO Cup final take place this Friday (tomorrow), April 26th, when Crymych take on Whitland at Milford Haven RFC, 6.45pm kick off.

On paper, it's the two best teams in the event going head to head.

And yet, both clubs go in with contrasting recent history in the competition.

Crymych have won it three times in the last decade. They beat Milford Haven in the 2009/10 final, before making it two on the bounce the following season when they held on to beat Aberystwyth.

In 2015/16 they triumphed again as they overcame Tenby in the final – and this time around it's fair to say they’ve had to work to reach this stage.

They edged past Tenby United 20-19 in a league/cup double header back in September, and then in the quarter finals faced another Division One West side Aberystwyth, who they beat 30-10.

In the semi finals they visited tomorrow's venue, The Obs, and were pushed hard by Milford Haven before their superior strength showed and they came through 38-12.

Coaches Randal Williams, Carwyn Jones and Iwan James have seen their young side make great progress these last 18 months, and a trophy would cement that.

Whitland meanwhile, are yet to capture the cup since they were re-admitted in the 2013/14 season – and tonight also represents their first final since then too.

Unfortunately, the Borderers have walked into this quite literally after getting a bye in round one, then benefitting from both Fishguard and Neyland being unable to fulfil their respective quarter and semi final ties.

After being promoted as champions from Division Two West last season, they haven’t relented under coaches Gareth Bennett and Dan Mason and finished the league campaign strongly. Relegation from the Championship and then Division One hit the club hard, but the rebuilding job is almost complete.

But as for tomorrow, it seems we are in for a close one. Back in September the Borderers beat tonight’s opponents 23-21 at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn, only for the Preseli Men to get revenge at home in January when they won 12-10.

The coaching staff...

Crymych: Randal Williams (head coach); Carwyn Jones and John Davies (assistant coaches); Iwan James (team manager).
Whitland: Gareth Bennett (head coach); Dan Mason (backs coach), Greg Morris (team manager).

The form guide...

Crymych ended their season with back to back home wins over Gowerton (34-15) and then Kidwelly (59-14) - welcome results after three games without a win.

Their form this season has fluctuated. At one point a top two finish seemed possible but such is the close nature of Division One West, they seem set to finish eighth despite being just 7 points off runners up Llangennech.

Whitland picked up more and more as the campaign wore on. The Borderers were hovering just above the relegation zone in October after three successive defeats - but then came back strong. They finished the campaign with five straight league wins, including beating runaway champions Felinfoel (24-14), and currently lie third while they await other results to dictate their final position.

The team news...

The issue of players on dual contracts and permits always arises before a Pembrokeshire KO Cup final. To clarify, Gethin Gibby, Laurence Headlam, and Sion Colella, who have played this season with Narberth and Carmarthen Quins respectively this season, are signed to Crymych. They will be eligible on Friday.

Jake Jenkins however, is contracted with Narberth so won't be available.

For the Preseli Men, prop Ryan Rees and back rowers Osian and Guto Davies may miss out with injury. Rhys 'Beaky' Davies, one of the stand out performers for his side in this campaign, will again lead as captain.

Whitland have taken the step of naming their team this morning. Full back James Stephenson can't play due to a new arrival, while backs Liam Price (injured) and Scott Lloyd (signed to Carmarthen Quins) are also unavailable. Therefore, Dan Evans and Geraint Jones come into the back three, while hooker Marc Jones will again lead them out.

Whitland: Dan Evans, Geraint Jones, Gino Setaro, Josh Thomas, Jonathan Thomas, Nico Setaro, Adam Davies, Aaron Mayne, Marc Jones, Jimmy Buirds, Raff Williams, Courtney Bowman, Scott Buirds, Ryan Morgan, Jack Mason. Replacements: Tomos Evans, Scott Meakins, Ben Kirk, James Thomas, Josh Thomas, Dai Ebsworth, Scott Candler.

Views from within...

Randal Williams (Crymych): “It's been nice to have that cup final feeling this week.

"It could be a very tight game. Whitland have had a good finish to their season and I think both sides are going to put in a decent performance.

"Let's hope the rain holds off and we get a game that warrants a final. It's good for Milford to be hosting it and it will be a big night."

Gareth Bennett (Whitland): “The boys are keen and eager to be back in the Pembrokeshire Cup final after a successful league campaign.

"It’s the highlight for any player at grassroots level to play in your county final.

“When we won promotion last season the boys felt they could challenge in the league and they set a target of top five finish, which we've managed.

"It's nice to be in with the chance of some silverware and we look forward to a tough encounter with Crymych."

The venue ...

For the first time in the club’s history, Milford Haven RFC will host the Pembrokeshire KO Cup final.

The club has already held a semi final this season when The Mariners took on Crymych, and Chairman Steve Holmes said recent renovations had proved pivotal to them being awarded the final.

“We’ve never been able to hold gate here because the ground was so open from all directions – but now it is enclosed we can take admission fees. It has certainly benefitted the club for home games this season.”

And everyone involved with Milford Haven RFC is excited at the prospect.

“We wouldn’t have put in for the final if we didn’t think we could do the occasion justice,” said Steve.

“It’s wonderful exposure for the club and we want to make the county proud so that organisers will want to hold it here again in the future.”

Players, committee officials and club members will all be helping out, either through marshaling, manning the gates, or the catering.

All seems in place off the field, now let’s just hope Whitland and Crymych can produce on the field as well.