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Players test their skills ahead of resuming Judgement Day rivalries

With Welsh Rugby’s big calendar date, Judgement Day, just around the corner, the team at Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer have sat down with players from each club to assess the mood in each camp.

Judgement Day is not just for the spectators, it’s a massive game for the players. No stranger to the big stage, Dragons’ hooker and Welsh International Elliott Dee says; “It’s the one everyone wants to be involved in. It’s a local derby in front of potentially 70,000 people. A massive occasion and playing in the stadium and having the crowd behind you lifts you an extra 10%.”

For Scarlets Back-Row, Josh Macleod, playing at the Principality Stadium has always been a dream adding; “For us youngsters coming through playing at the Principality is one of the aims so for anyone not part of the national squad playing on a stage like that is a massive occasion and really something to look forward to.”

With wins and losses in Europe in the build up to the big day, the road to Judgement Day has been varied across the clubs, however there is no mistaking that all eyes are on this weekends action as the next big landmark date. So – what does preparation look like for each of the clubs.

For the players on the pitch, it’s business as usual. Blues Fly-Half Steven Shingler said; “The week is usually the same. You prep for a side [you are playing] and pick out some chinks in their armour.” Josh Macleod also said about the Scarlets preparation; “We take every game really seriously and we’ll knuckle down in training this week.”

Welsh International and Ospreys centre Ashley Beck, however added; “Depends really if you’re on the first game or the second. If you’re the first game it’s a bit easier, it’s a normal day. If it’s the second, as with the Ospreys, we tend to stop at a hotel try and meet at the same time – but you all find yourselves watching the first game.”

The double header will kick off on Saturday 28th with the Dragons V Scarlets – but who will be keeping an eye on who as they prepare for the big game?

Dragons’ Elliott Dee said; “Scarlets have got 15 dangermen out on the field, they have been the on-form Welsh region for the last two or three years and they’ve obviously got a lot of Welsh internationals. I think the boys that make them tick are Tadhg Beirne, ‘Cubby Boi’ [James Davies] and then up-front Ken is a talisman for them, and obviously Rhys Patchell at 10. There’s a lot of boys you could name.”

Scarlets’ Back-Row, Josh Macleod replied with; “I’d say their pack. They’ve got a couple of Internationals in Corey Hill, Elliot Dee, a couple of quality youngsters who are coming through who want to show their worth, so I think it’s important we nullify their pack early on and put pressure on their backs at the same time.”

The back to back matches then continue onto the Sunday with the Cardiff Blues taking on the Ospreys; but who are they going to be focussing their attention on?

Ospreys Ashley Beck said; “I think it’s probably Jarrad Evans at no 10, he’s controlling the game quite well. He’s a running threat, a passing threat, and a kicking threat.”

In reply, Cardiff Blues Fly-half Steven Shingler said; “To be honest it will be interesting to see what team they put out. It may be a chance for the Ospreys to rotate the squad like they did against Zebra’s and I’m sure they’ll have a few exciting youngsters on show as well as some experienced players.”

In the final days before the big double-clash, all four teams were asked how it was going to be won or lost … open running game or battle of the forwards.

For Saturday’s game against the Scarlets, Dragons’ Elliott Dee thought; “They like to play quite an open game and us the same really. But there’s that old saying the forwards win the game and the backs decide by how many, so I think we’ll have to be direct and dominate up front.” Scarlets Josh Macleod agreed, saying; “I feel like the way we play it’s going to be an open game.” So watch out for plenty of ball in hand, flowing rugby!

From Rodney Parade to the Principiality: Hooker Elliot Dee scores for the Dragons in the PRO14 (photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images)

For the Sunday and Cardiff Blues v Ospreys, there was a consensus, however it’s expected to play out a little differently.

Ospreys’ Ashley Beck said; “First half, if anything like last year, the forwards are going to have to battle it out, but second half hopefully the backs can enjoy a little more and score some good tries for the fans who turn out.” Blues, Fly-half Steven Shingler agreed, saying; “It normally starts up front.”

Whichever way you support, this is set to be a nail-biting, edge of the seat, and entertaining double header showcasing Wales’ top rugby talent – and some of our future stars. There is no doubt that all four clubs are committed and determined to show their best on the big stage.

It remained to get predictions – Dragons vs Scarlets; Cardiff Blues vs Ospreys; East v West – who do the players believe will take the title?

Unsurprisingly each camp has its mind on victory – each camp has the belief they will reign victorious. It remains to be seen this weekend who will come out on top!

Ahead of the double-header at the Principality Stadium this weekend, all four of the Judgement Day teams took on the Crabbie’s Challenge. Four teams competed, over three kicking challenges – with one winner.

Organised by Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, four players from each club took part, with International players from Wales and around the world joining the competition. Check out the video below for all the laughs and skills.

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