NOBODY has come closer to beating Ebbw Vale this season than Pontypool and they will hope to give the Championship champions-elect more than a scare at Eugene Cross Park tomorrow afternoon, writes Chris Kirwan.
The Steelmen have a perfect 17 wins from 17 games so far in 2013/14, a record that has seen them build up a 24-point lead in the league and earn a home Swalec Cup quarter-final against Llandovery.
But they were pressed all the way when they headed to Pontypool Park in October.
It seemed like it would be business as usual when Ebbw romped into a 12-0 lead in the opening exchanges but Pooler fought back to lead only for a try by flanker Ronny Kynes to take the spoils 19-13.
"That game showed our character to put ourselves in a position to win after a making a poor start," said Pooler head coach Mike Hook.
"We've come on a lot this season and we are going to Eugene Cross Park in confident mood; we have become a team that respects our opposition but doesn't fear them.
"Every team that faces Ebbw Vale from now until the end of the season will want to stop them going unbeaten but there is a lot more to this game than that for us – we want to get that second spot."
Pooler currently sit fourth and are tussling for RGC 1404, Narberth, Tata Steel, Bargoed and Cardiff Met to be runners-up.
After being edged out by Llanharan last weekend Newbridge can ill afford another slip-up when they travel to Bonymaen.
'Bridge were beaten 13-10 at the Welfare Ground and are now looking nervously down at Beddau, Blackwood and tomorrow's hosts.
Newbridge have not won in the league since December 7 but can ease fears of the drop with a win in west Wales.
Bottom club Blackwood are also in desperate need of a win when they head west to take on Narberth in Pembrokeshire.
That will be a tricky task against a side that have ambitions of finishing second behind Ebbw but Matthew Veater's side pushed Narberth all the way in a thriller at Glan-yr-Afon Park at the start of the season when edged out 30-28.
Other fixtures: Bargoed v Cardiff Met, Bridgend Athletic v Beddau, Llanharan v Tata Steel, RGC 1404 v Tondu.