Mike Hook: Pooler are ready for promotion push after super season
10:01am Friday 9th May 2014 in Sport
PONTYPOOL head coach Mike Hook believes finishing third in the Swalec Championship would be a fine reward for the progress made by his charges this season, writes Chris Kirwan.
Fourth-placed Pooler play their final game of the campaign when they host Llanharan tomorrow afternoon.
They are unable to finish as runners-up because third-placed Cardiff Met host second-placed RGC 1404 but a fifth win on the spin would see them jump a spot.
It has been a hugely successful campaign for Pooler regardless of how things pan out on final weekend – they finished 12 last season with 36 points and seven wins while this term they have already amassed 78 points and 16 victories.
Hook is full of praise for his team, who last week did the double over RGC 1404 thanks to a fine 23-7 home win, and believes the foundations have been laid for a promotion push in 2014/15.
"To be in the top four is a great achievement and means that we are on track for next season," he said.
"After going down to the Championship we knew that we would have to build and develop the squad and create a culture and environment for success.
"That's continued this season and with a few experienced signings over the summer we will be in a position to push for promotion.
"The league is going to be incredibly competitive without (runaway champions) Ebbw Vale in it. We will need another 10 or 20 per cent to get back in the Premiership but I firmly believe that everything is in place to achieve that."
Premiership-bound Ebbw Vale will make it a perfect season if they can record win number 26 at Narberth.
The Steelmen were pushed hard by Bargoed last weekend, emerging with a 9-3 win, and will looking to finish the season in style against a side that they beat 41-3 at Eugene Cross Park in September.
It's unlikely that Ebbw will score the nine tries needed to match last season's tally of 159 but the champions sit on 122 points and should surpass their 2012/13 total of 123.
Blackwood's clash with Bonymaen could have been a nervy affair but, much to the relief of the Glan-yr-Afon park outfit, the relegation dogfight was settled last weekend.
Matthew Veater's side were beaten 44-42 by Llanharan at the Dairy Field but emerged with a pair of bonus points, condemning Bonymaen and Beddau to the drop.
Nonetheless, there is still something to play for as a Blackwood win with a bonus point would lift them above Gwent rivals Newbridge in the final standings.
There are sure to be tries if the past few weeks are anything to go by as the hosts have crossed the whitewash 25 times in their last four fixtures while there have been 287 points scored, an average of 72 per game.
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