In his latest rugby column, Fraser Watson looks at Narberth, a big day in Crymych, photo evidence, the Pembrokeshire Vikings and women's rugby in Wales.

And Fishguard's Ben John predicts the scores.....

New (and improved) Championship material:

Narberth supporters have come to know what to expect in the Championship these last three seasons.

Pontypool finish top, usually unbeaten, with The Otters at the very least challenging strongly for second place.

This time around the mood has changed. Pontypool are still top and unbeaten of course, but the extra teams coming down from the Premiership has made it so much more difficult to be in the chasing pack. Bargoed and Bedwas are also yet to lose while Narberth lie seventh after being hammered 52-6 by the former on Saturday.

Narberth have long sat at the top of the tree in local rugby and whilst their spending is often sneered at, they deserve credit for consistently being a top three side in a tough, uncompromising league.

This is a new test for them though. Sean Gale’s team aren’t used to losing runs and four defeats in five is a slide that needs to be addressed at home to Cross Keys this Saturday.

Of course, having to increase standards is no bad thing. But the league’s added intensity now means a top five finish or better for The Otters would represent a very successful campaign.

Crunch time in Crymych:

Ok, so Crymych and Pembroke are hardly next door neighbours.

But this Saturday, we should have the sort of full blooded local ‘derby’ that the leagues were regionalised for. Especially given there is so much now riding on it.

The Scarlets did phenomenally well to win back to back promotions and while they have been no disgrace thus far in One West, they’ve been dealt some harsh lessons. In seven league games they have only won once, and yet can reflect on four potential wins that got away.

They are in a league now where being off the boil, even for short periods, costs you dear.

Crymych know that only too well and their own form is floundering. It’s now three league defeats in a row, two of which were against sides previously rock bottom.

Both sides now lie two points off the bottom and will be putting big emphasis on Saturday. And there should be a large (and vocal) crowd to go with it.

Whoever loses is in for a dicey December.

Picture perfect – but not for refs:

Long gone are the days when as an amateur player, you were simply chuffed to see your face in a squad photo in the weekly paper.

The increase in social media and the brilliant voluntary contributions to local rugby from the likes of Riley Sports Photography, Susan and Brian McKehon, and Rod Hillier (to name but a few) has left us all spoilt for choice when it comes to action photos.

But while albums are great for players, supporters, and journalists alike, they don’t always make kind viewing for referees.

Last week Tenby skipper Luke Dedman was denied a late try that would have given his side victory over Tycroes. Mrs McKehon’s razor sharp work with her camera suggested he had reasonable cause for complaint….

The increased contributions of freelancers has enhanced sports coverage immensely in Pembrokeshire and you won’t get any complaints from my end. But sometimes you can’t help but feel sympathy for grassroots referees.

They get enough flak as it is – and now making split second calls, often when unsighted and without the help of a neutral assistant, can be scrutinised by a camera lens some 50 metres away.

Mixing it up:

The demise of second team rugby in Pembrokeshire means there are few opportunities left for enjoyable, social matches.

Don’t get me wrong, there are clubs out there for everyone. But when said clubs are getting battered on a weekly basis it’s hardly an incentive for newcomers.

Which is why the concept of the Pembrokeshire Vikings Mixed Ability team is such a good one. Initiated by Simon Gardiner, sessions so far have included males, females, veterans, novices, people with disabilities, and no doubt plenty of laughs (and knock-ons).

But the Vikings have shown there is still a place for fun in rugby - and have provided an outlet for people to run about on a field without living in the gym or packing protein into their diets.

This Sunday, the Vikings play another well renowned mixed ability side in the Llanelli Warriors at Haverfordwest.

If you can, get down and offer both sides some support. Grassroots rugby needs them.

Cap fits for Sarah:

To say the WRU have made a mess of the women’s league structure this season would be an understatement. To create a system whereby the lower leagues are rewarded for fielding full teams but not for winning games is as patronising as it is deflating.

But it hasn’t deterred Haverfordwest RFC youngster Sarah Lawrence, who on Sunday won her first cap for Wales against Scotland despite only playing in the South Development League this season.

Of course, she was already well known to regional and national coaches at age group levels, but it is always heartening to see a player capped after staying loyal to her local club. And the humble, modest manner in which she handled the achievement suggests her feet remain firmly on the ground.

There’s plenty more to come from her I’m sure. But seeing a promising international playing weekly in what is essentially a non-competitive league should alert the WRU to how restrictive their new format is.

Guest predictions:

Last week, Milford’s James Trueman got the ball rolling for guest predictions with a 50% ratio in terms of who would win.

This week, Fishguard’s centre turned second row Ben John picks up the ball. His passion for rugby is evident on social media, and the amount of strapping keeping his knees together on Saturdays suggests he’s been around a while.

Here are his punts….

WRU Championship:

Narberth v Cross Keys – Narberth by 8.

Division One West:

Crymych v Pembroke – Crymych by 8.

Whitland v Penclawdd – Whitland by 14.

Division Two West:

Fishguard v Loughour – Fishguard by 18.

Milford Haven v Pontyberem – Milford by 10.

Mumbles v Tenby United – Mumbles by 12.

Division Three West A:

Lampeter Town v Cardigan – Lampeter by 17.

Llangwm v Aberaeron – Aberaeron by 20.

Llanybydder v Pembroke Dock Quins – Llanybydder by 3.

Neyland v St Clears – St Clears by 25.

St Davids v Laugharne – Laugharne by 35 plus.

Tregaron v Haverfordwest – Haverfordwest by 17.