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Pooler looking to put disappointment behind them

Scott Matthews

Pontypool captain Scott Matthews

Pontypool may have missed out on a place in the Indigo Premiership play-offs but skipper Scott Matthews insists there is still plenty of pride to play for as they continue their first season back in the top-flight at Eugene Cross Park tonight.

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Cardiff’s victory over Merthyr last weekend ensured they picked up the fourth and final semi-final place, leaving Pooler to dream of what might have been. The victory for the Blue & Blacks left Pontypool without any silverware for the first time in many seasons.

But Matthews doesn’t want standards to slip over the final three fixtures. That starts against semi-finalists Ebbw Vale.

It was Pooler who won the first derby clash on home soil on 2 November, when they triumphed 25-20. Another double over one of the top four teams – they also beat Cardiff twice – would be another feather in the cap of last season’s Championship invincibles.

“We’re all massively disappointed, if we weren’t then we’d be in the wrong place. To have that taken away from us by having points deducted means we do feel a little bit hard done by at times,” said Matthews.

“Having been in the Championship for a number of years this season has been a huge learning curve for us. One of the big drivers for Leighton Jones, our director of rugby, when he took over was for us to change the perception of Pontypool, and that has certainly gone in the right direction for us.

“I think everyone at the club – players, management, supporters – can hold their heads up high. We’ve showed we deserved to be back in the Premiership.

“It’s hugely important that we finish strong together. We know Ebbw Vale will be hurting from the last time we played them, and we know they are going to bring the fire.

“We need to show massive respect to them, but you don’t do that by standing off. The way to respect a team is to up your own game and go after them.”

Once they have been to Ebbw Vale, who are waiting to see who they play in the semi-finals as Llandovery attempt to overtake table-topping Newport to set-up a 1st v 4th clash with Cardiff in what would be a repeat of last season’s final. The Steelmen will have to travel to face whichever team finishes second.

Meanwhile, Matthews’ men complete their campaign next week with a Wednesday night game at Pontypool Park against Merthyr before heading north to RGC for their closing fixture three days later.

“Our supporters have been fantastic and as captain of the club I would genuinely like to thank them. We ride the wave together,” said Matthews.

“There have been way more highs in recent years than there have been this season. I know we aren’t used to losing but we are realistic as a playing group – it has all been about gaining experience and getting better.”

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