Thursday, 11 September 2014

Champions Pontypridd host Neath as Premiership returns

A mouth-watering clash between reigning champions Pontypridd and former heavy hitters Neath at Sardis Road is the pick of the games as the Principality Premiership returns on Saturday.

Ponty are gunning for their fourth straight title success while the Welsh All Blacks – who narrowly avoided the drop last season – have been boosted by the return of Rowland Phillips to the club as director of rugby.

Having swept all comers aside in recent seasons – winning the Premiership and SWALEC Cup double back-to-back – Pontypridd are odds on favourites to clean up domestically once again.

But head coach Paul John says they won’t be taking anything for granted.

“The Principality Premiership is now a very good standard and it’s getting harder to win every year – we can’t rest on our laurels,” said John.

“With the success we’ve had over the last couple of seasons, teams will again raise their game every week to try to beat us, but that’s a great challenge.

“It doesn’t get much better than Neath at home to kick off the league season. 

"They have recruited well – both on and off the field – and will want to put last year’s uncharacteristic blip behind them.”

Hoping to help turn five-time champions Neath around after a poor season is Phillips – the man who won four of those titles during his previous six-year stint as head coach before leaving in 2009.

And the former Wales international is confident he can bring the good times back to the club.

He said: “When I was approached to come back to Neath and was outlined the vision for the club over the forthcoming seasons, I jumped at the opportunity to become part of what will no doubt be an exciting time. 

“As everybody in Neath knows – the club, the town, the history, the supporters and the people of Neath have been a huge part of my life and are very close to my heart. 

 “There’s no doubt there’s a lot of rebuilding to be done, but I’m confident that I can work with the coaches and players to bring success back.

“I'm delighted to be part of what I know is going to be another successful chapter in Neath’s great history.”


Post a Comment