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Scott Matthews column

Friday 10th January 2020

Last weekend we were pleased to claim a 62-14 victory over a Beddau side that kept playing right up until the final whistle. There were a number of pleasing aspects to a performance that was made possible by a good training week.

The pre-game warm up is always important and that was no different on Saturday. We hit our straps during the warm up and as a result were able to hit the ground running once the game kicked off. It was pleasing to see us put into practise some of the things we have been working on with our attack. We scored a good mix of tries - two from driving mauls, a couple from first phase and also from turnover ball that was subsequently spread wide.

In terms of what we need to work on, our discipline wasn't up to scratch, predominantly in the first-half. We gave away too many penalties and it was something we spoke about at half-time. It was then pleasing to see that we were able to action our half-time chat and largely fix the problem - ending the game with just six penalties to our name.

It was great to see Ben Sparks return with a man of the match performance at Mount Pleasant Park. Sparksy is a player of undoubted quality and in full flight is hard to stop. I don't think I'm being biased in saying our back-row is packed with several top class performers.

Ieuan Jones and Adam Stratton have been outstanding since joining the club in the summer and have perfectly complimented the likes of Mikey Herbert - who has been excellent since his return from injury - and experienced guys like Rob Nash, Brendan Lampitt and Craig Attwell. I'm also, like the rest of the club, looking forward to seeing the return of Jordan 'Bacon' Williams, who I believe will return to full training soon after a lengthy injury lay-off.

Over the festive period, we were aware that Bargoed and Bedwas were facing each other. The result of the game, with Bargoed beating Bedwas, was commented on by the Pontypool support on social media and I think that is something that shouldn't be shied away from. Having so many teams battling at the top of the table has added something extra to the league this season and brings out the best in everyone competing for the title and promotion to the Indigo Premiership.

Looking at how things stand in the table, Bargoed and Bedwas are likely to be our two main challengers for promotion moving into the second half of the season. Our home game against Bargoed was an extremely tough encounter and we know the return game at Bargoed Park in April will be right up there again in terms of intensity and tension. Bedwas are also an excellent team but we will continue to focus on ourselves and the things we can control. We have a huge amount of respect for every team in this league, but we know that if we continue to win as many games as we can, we will pile the pressure on the chasing pack and move closer to our ultimate goal of promotion back to the Premiership.

This weekend we welcome Ystalyfera to Pontypool Park. It will be our first home game of 2020 and we are looking forward to what should be another good test. Ystalyfera were promoted to the Championship in the summer and have more than held their own in the league so far. We managed to record a victory against them in the away fixture in September, but it was a tough encounter with the home support giving us some stick - something I personally always enjoy!

In the month of January we will play a total of five games and that will be a good test of our squad depth. We have some really exciting fixtures to look forward to and I know the squad are particularly excited by the upcoming National Cup clash at home to Carmarthen Quins. They are flying in the Premiership at the moment and it's a fixture that will see us in the unfamiliar position of underdogs. It will be a nice change of pace and it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure of facing us in front of what is sure to be another large crowd at the Park. We will welcome the challenge and see it as another opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams the Premiership has to offer.

Scott Matthews was speaking to Andrew Deering.


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