Pontypool RFC winger, Lloyd Lewis, says the club will take the game to Bedwas RFC, when the two teams meet at Pontypool Park on Friday night. The fixture, the first time the two teams will have met since January 2016, comes just six days after the club exited the WRU National Cup after an absorbing quarter-final clash against Carmarthen Quins, writes Andrew Deering.
The last-eight encounter, which saw the West Wales outfit seal a 21-17 victory, provided further tangible evidence of the club's ability to compete against the best club sides in Wales. In far from ideal conditions, the team scored scored three well taken tries and displayed an admirable desire and application at the end of a week that had seen head coach, Leighton Jones, admitted to hospital.
If a first defeat of the season had the potential to dent the collective confidence of the squad ahead of a crunch league fixture, Lewis quickly banishes the notion. "I feel as though the game was a big confidence boost for us, despite the loss. It showed we could compete with one of the best teams in the Premiership.
"We have all had a chance to review the game and we went through it as a group on Wednesday evening. It isn't something we will dwell on, but we will definitely take a look at what we can improve on moving forward - discipline and needless penalties being near the top of the list," said Lewis.
Whilst possessing the capacity to identify areas in need of improvement is important, the ability to remedy them is crucial. In Bedwas, the club will come up against a team with considerable recent Premiership experience and who will be targeting an immediate return to the top division.
The Bridge Field side currently sit third in the table and twenty points behind Pontypool. However, with two games in hand and, following Friday's fixture at Pontypool Park, home games against Pontypool and second place Bargoed still to come, Stefan Sankala's men are still very much in the running for the league title.
A run of high profile, high intensity matches with plenty of jeopardy, is a scenario the club has been craving since failing to achieve promotion to the Premiership in 2016. The added bonus of a run in the WRU National Cup may have come to an end and the destination of the title will not be decided this month, but if the club can add a victory over Bedwas to the historic win over Neath RFC at The Gnoll two weeks ago, the club will have taken another significant step towards a return to the top division.
"It’s mentally refreshing for us to be involved in a greater number of competitive games," said Lewis. "The boys are hungrier than ever to get out there and show what we can do. We’ve done a bit of analysis on Bedwas and have identified areas of their game we can target on Friday.
"I don't really get nervous heading into games, but last Saturday - with all of the hype surrounding the game and the fact it was being screened live on TV - I was feeling it a bit. However, once you make your first tackle or carry, it quickly becomes like any other game.
"I'm really looking forward to Friday and I will try to get plenty of touches and hopefully get myself on the scoresheet."