Pooler look for league comfort after cup exit

PONTYPOOL aim to take out their Swalec Cup frustrations on Bridgend Athletic when they return to Championship action tomorrow afternoon, writes Chris Kirwan.

Pooler were stunned on their own patch by Gwent foes Newbridge last weekend when the visitors turned the form book on its head with a determined, tenacious 19-17 victory.

Pontypool are now left to concentrate on the league and thanks to four wins on the spin are eyeing second place in the table behind champions-elect Ebbw Vale.

This weekend they head to Newbridge Fields to take on a Bridgend Athletic outfit that they beat 31-24 when the pitches were slightly firmer in September.

"The cup loss was a real disappointment but we are just putting it down as a blip and we have the opportunity to put it behind us by continuing our good league form," said head coach Mike Hook.

"It's going well for us on and off the field and we had a superb December so the challenge is to keep hitting our targets and keep raising the bar.

"Finishing second is a definite aim of ours and we have given ourselves a great chance of doing that with four wins in a row.

"We want to keep that momentum against a very dogged Bridgend Athletic side who really came back at us at the start of the season to make it a tough encounter."

Newbridge will aim to repeat their Pontypool Park heroics when they head west to take on Tata Steel.

Injury-hit 'Bridge have slipped down the table to 10th after losing their last three but hope the cup gives them a shot in the arm.

"We haven't had things our own way of late but at Pontypool we played some tremendous rugby," said team manager Darren Venn.

"Pooler put us under a lot of pressure in the second half but our defence was good and I think we just about deserved the win.

"It's going to be another tough game against Tata, who are another side with a good set piece, but last week's win means we go there with confidence that we can get another win."

Newbridge's success at Pontypool did come at a cost with number eight Ethan Doyle's broken leg likely to end his season.

"He has probably been our most consistent performer and has mopped up a lot of ball at the back of the scrum and carried well, so he will be missed," said Venn.

Bonymaen will attempt to claw their way off the bottom of the table with a home victory against Cardiff Met while second-placed Narberth head to fifth-placed RGC 1404.

Leaders Ebbw Vale and Blackwood are not in action because Bargoed and Llanharan are in Swalec Cup action after their games fell victim to the weather last weekend.

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