Rugby Union: Pontypridd's chance to outdo the Joneses

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The Independent Online
PONTYPRIDD have always been there and thereabouts among the top echelon of club teams in Wales and this month, starting with today's home game with Swansea, they aim to show they can be the best.

Talk of the big four clubs in the Heineken League - Llanelli, Cardiff, Swansea and Neath - irks the Sardis Road faithful and victory this afternoon will put unfashionable Pontypridd right up among the fancy Dans.

Last season, Swansea's remaining hopes of holding on to their First Division crown crashed at Pontypridd, where they were beaten 35- 12, and if the home side can make it six wins in a row they will climb within striking rate of the top of the table.

'We're playing well at the moment as a team, but now is the time we have got to prove we can make it at the highest level. That means we must beat Swansea and carry on winning throughout November,' Neil Jenkins, Pontypridd's Welsh international stand-off, said.

In a hectic month, Pontypridd meet all four sides ahead of them in the table and could emerge as the team to beat come December. If Jenkins has his way, that is exactly how it will be.

With 93 points to his credit this season, and 596 in almost three and a half years of Heineken League rugby, Jenkins is currently the most prolific points scorer in Welsh rugby. If his side are to continue their winning ways, and beat Swansea for the third time in four league meetings at Sardis Road, then he will have to be on peak form if he is to launch them on a sustained title challenge.

'Without doubt, this is our best chance for three years to get up there with the big teams. We have been playing well this season and the whole squad is determined to win this one,' Jenkins said.

Cardiff, fresh from their 78-0 mauling of Pontypool, will be aiming to maintain their challenge at Bridgend's Brewery Field, the graveyard of so many of their hopes down the years, while the league leaders, Neath, host Dunvant. Llanelli, the defending champions, also have home advantage over Cross Keys, who are bottom of the table.

There will not be any rugby, however, for Stuart Evans, Neath's former Welsh international prop, following the decision by the Welsh Districts Rugby Union to ban the pub side he joined, the Cross Keys in Neath, for allowing the former St Helens professional to play. The suspension will last two weeks.

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