PONTYPOOL boss Leighton Jones is confident his side can cause a giant WRU National Cup upset if they are at their very best in Saturday's semi-final against holders Merthyr.

Pooler will lock horns with the Ironmen at Ebbw Vale’s Eugene Cross Park (kick-off 5.30pm) for a place at Principality Stadium on Sunday, April 28.

Jones’ men have already beaten Cross Keys and Bridgend of the Premiership to reach the last four for the first time since 1991 but a formidable team stand between them and a first final in 28 years and lifting the cup for the first time since 1983.

Merthyr won the double last season and are currently leading the way in the defence of their league crown.

Dale McIntosh’s men are favourites for a double-double but Pooler head into the clash buoyed by securing a hat-trick of Championship titles with last weekend’s thrilling last-gasp win at Cardiff Met.

That nervy encounter, which has earned a promotion/relegation play-off in mid-May, was welcome preparation.

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“It was a tough game, Cardiff Met are a decent team and played some really good rugby to put us under pressure,” said head coach Jones.

“It was just what we needed, although Merthyr will pose a different sort of challenge.

“They are strong all over the park with a dangerous, powerful set of forwards and plenty of gas out wide. Merthyr pride themselves on their defence and they will be a very tough nut to crack.

“They are the best team in Wales and we can’t wait to test ourselves against them – anything can happen in cup rugby and if we are on the money then we always back ourselves.”

Pooler rang the changes for the trip to Cyncoed because of a number of niggles, providing the management with some welcome selection headaches.

However, they have been hit by the loss of fly-half Matthew Jones after the once-capped Wales international suffered a knee injury in the quarter-final win against the Ravens.

“He will need a knee operation and losing him is a big blow because of his experience,” said Leighton Jones.

“However, Matthew Lewis has shown that he is more than capable at 10 and showed his quality at Cardiff Met with his (match-winning) drop goal.”

Pooler are providing free coach transport for supporters to Ebbw Vale and Jones is aiming to give them plenty to cheer.

He said: “It’s an exciting week, the boys love the cup and it’s got a lot of attention in the town with plenty of people talking about the semi-final.

“Ebbw Vale is a proper rugby ground and I know that we will have a lot of support – our fans will make it feel like a home game.”

Merthyr took the spoils 21-6 when the teams met in the quarter-finals last year tournament thanks to tries by centre Aaron Pinches and hooker Rhys Williams.

Dale McIntosh’s men, who went on to lift the trophy by hammering Newport in the final, currently lead the way in the Premiership by two points from Cardiff, who face Llandovery in the other semi.