Llanelli ready for Principality Defence
Llanelli skipper Adam Powell doesn’t want to leave things as much to chance this season as his side did last when they seek to defend the Principality Premiership title.
Having finished 16 points behind regular league season leaders Pontypridd, Powell’s men came storming through the Play-Offs to take the top prize in Welsh club rugby. They accounted for Neath 46-5 in the semi-final before facing Ponty in the final.
Up to that point Ponty had only lost two league matches and had also reached the semi-finals of the British & Irish Cup and the final of the Swalec Cup. But even with home advantage at Sardis Road, where Chris Dicomidis’s men had remained unbeaten throughout the regular league season, they couldn’t find a way to take the title.
But as his side prepares for the big Principality Premiership kick-off this weekend, Powell is adamant he doesn’t want another last minute squeeze when the prizes are being handed out next May.
“We sneaked in through the back door last season. We wanted to finish at the top and get a home draw, but we were aware of what we had to do all season,” admitted Powell.
“We were a long way back on points from Ponty, but we knew a top three finish would keep us in the hunt. We got stronger and stronger as the season went on and we worked hard for our success.
“Going to Sardis Road and beating Pontypridd was excellent, a fantastic feeling. It was very tense and, even though we got off to a dream start and held a comfortable lead, we nearly threw it away.
“But we know it is going to take a massive effort to hold onto the trophy as every team in the Premiership has recruited well and improved. This league is just getting stronger and stronger and the standard is best shown by the fact Scott Williams, who played with us all the way through to Christmas, is with Wales at the World Cup.
“The number of youngsters who are learning their trade in the Principality Premiership is fantastic and makes it really, really exciting. Our emphasis will once again be on youth and nurturing players for the Scarlets regional side and I’m sure it will be the same with most of the other sides.
“It is going to be another really exciting season and the fact we are travelling to Rodney Parade to face Newport this weekend just shows how tough it all is.”
While the champions go East on Day 1, newcomers Bridgend make the short trip to Aberavon to mark their return to the top flight.
“It is buzzing in Bridgend and everyone is really excited about the new season. It is my home town club, the team I supported for years, and now all the players feel we are back where we belong,” said Ravens skipper Ben Thomas.
“There is a lot of young talent coming through at the club, but we know it is going to be a step up in standard. It is a challenge we are all looking forward to taking on and we have a good blend of youth and experience.
“There is no real target. We are going to take it game by game and try to turn the Brewery Field into a bit of a fortress.”