Gwent foes ready for Championship humdinger
12:02pm Friday 11th October 2013 in Sport
EBBW Vale crossed for six tries in a comprehensive Championship victory when they headed to Pontypool Park in January, writes Chris Kirwan.
It was a similar story when the sides had met at Eugene Cross Park in September 2012, the Steelmen dotting down nine times when romping to a 55-8 success against an inexperienced Pooler side.
Another one-sided affair looks unlikely in Pontypool tomorrow.
The pair are setting the pace in the Swalec Championship with Ebbw already eyeing promotion thanks to a perfect five from five and Pooler snapping at their heals with four wins, their only disappointment coming at Llanharan.
The leaders, who haven't conceded a try for three games, are hot favourites for their fourth title on the spin but head coach Jason Strange expects a stern test against their Gwent rivals.
"It's a good challenge for us and one that we welcome," said the former fly-half. "Pontypool have made a lot of progress, their results show that.
"But I'd like to think that we are on an upward curve as well. We have probably only played for 50 to 60 minutes so far but an 80-minute performance will come sooner or later."
Pooler are delighted to be involved in such a game after spending 2012/13 among the cellar dwellers following their demotion from the Premiership and a summer of courtroom battles.
"Last year was just about getting a team on the field and taking it from there," said head coach Mike Hook.
"There is a lot more expectation on the boys this time and that's down to their hard work.
"They've done really well so far but we will know how far we have come after this weekend because Ebbw Vale are the team that everyone measures themselves against.
"It's going to be a great test for us as a group and we still have plenty of building to do but it's just nice to be in this situation after all that happened last season."
Newbridge will be looking to maintain their winning home streak when they welcome Bonymaen to the Welfare Ground.
'Bridge have lost all three away games but took the spoils when they hosted Bridgend Athletic and Tata Steel.
Blackwood predictably struggled against Ebbw's power last weekend but will hope to fare better when they take on Narberth at Glan-yr-Afon Park.
Other fixtures: Beddau v Bridgend Athletic, Cardiff Met v Bargoed, Tata Steel v Llanharan, Tondu v RGC 1404.
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