"This is your captain speaking..."
Firstly, may I apologise for the distinct lack of captain’s blogs over the past few weeks! I know some of you “terrace talkers” have been calling for more, but due to work commitments, finding time to put pen to paper has been hard!
As with life, rugby is full of ups and downs, peaks and troughs, and the start of this New Year for Pontypridd has been no exception. We were all looking forward to the local derby against Cardiff, and had endured an alcohol free new year, only for the big game to be called off.
Having been working well in training, we then went down to Neath confident that we could repeat the previous year’s double over the reigning champions. The support that followed us to the Gnoll was second to none, and we thought we were in with a fighting chance right to the end of the game, but it was not to be on the day.
Despite the loss, we took confidence from our performance and eagerly awaited the home cup tie against Pontypool. Yet again, we showed in that game what we are capable of with a 53pts to 0 demolition job at Sardis.
Swansea were the next visitors to the House of Pain, and after losing the way we did down at St Helens earlier in the season, we were eager to make amends. This proved to be a hard fought match against a team which can never be taken for granted, and the result confirmed our winning run on home soil.
The Six Nations was nearly upon us, and with fixtures to be re-arranged, we were all hoping to keep the ball rolling, but the weather put paid to that! During the heavy snowfall, it was intense fitness work with Curly that kept us going – building up to the next game, an away cup tie at Cross Keys.
Just two months earlier, on a cold Tuesday evening we had put sixty points on the Keys, and ability wise, I knew that there was no problem in securing another win, but psychologically, there was always the doubt of failing to reproduce the success of the earlier result. Cross Keys, under a new coaching regime, were a totally different proposition, and they had the desire for revenge. The feeling at the end of that defeat was just about the worse in my whole time with Ponty – worse than losing the cup final last year.
Taking a long hard look in the mirror was the topic of conversation after the game, and the whole squad held an open discussion in training on the Tuesday evening about what went wrong. Training was positive in the week leading up to Wanderers match.
We got off to a strong start that took us into half time with a healthy lead, and we were confident that we could take things on in the second period. What happened to the referee during the interval I can not explain, as he then took offence to our style of play , penalised us off the park and just did not allow us to get going. There was elation after Dai Flan’s drop goal which seemed certain to have gained us the “W” only for a penalty to be awarded against us and the scores levelled.
The draw against the Wanderers felt like a loss, but there is no time to dwell on that result as we now face the “Turks” on Saturday. We beat Llanelli this season on their own patch against all the predictions, and although they are top team in the division, they must be aware of our capabilities and our home record.
It’s a big game coming up, and I appeal to all our loyal supporters – KEEP THE FAITH! With a typical Ponty backing, we can ensure a warm welcome to the league leaders at the House of Pain, with plenty of Ole, Ole, Ole! echoing around the stadium!
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Sut y gallwn hawlio yn ol ein gem genedlaethol? Oes angen newid y strwythur? How can we reclaim our national game? Is there a need for a restructure?