SCOTT Matthews is ready to lead the charge in another promotion battle with Bargoed after being confirmed as Pontypool captain for the upcoming Championship campaign.

The 27-year-old back row forward was appointed as skipper for 2019/20 and helped Pooler to set the pace until the coronavirus pandemic led to the season being suspended and then cancelled.

The club supported the Welsh Rugby Union's decision but it meant that the squad were unable to finish the job of getting back to the Premiership.

"When something you have worked so hard to try and attain is taken away, there is a period of mental adjustment," said Matthews, who was a member of the side beaten by Llanelli in the relegation/promotion play-off the previous campaign.

"It is, however, one of the beauties of sport and rugby that we will get another chance to realise our ambitions."

Head coach Leighton Jones has predicted a tough battle for the title and Matthews knows that Bargoed will once again be fierce rivals.

Free Press Series: Rivals: Pontypool and BargoedRivals: Pontypool and Bargoed

"Reflecting on last season, we were under no false illusions that the season was done," said the former Dragons and Cross Keys back rower.

"Despite sitting top of the league, there were still ten games left to play and our away fixture against Bargoed was one I know the boys were particularly looking forward to.

"They were enjoying an excellent season and as a squad we relish the big games - especially Gwent derbies."

The WRU are yet to announce a date for the return of league rugby and Pooler's rivals are currently competing in the Championship Cup, a tournament that they opted out of.

"We aren't sure when the season will start, however when we are back together in September, we will work hard and there will undoubtedly be a real buzz in the squad," said Matthews.

"It was a massive honour to be named captain last season. To be given the responsibility to try and lead the boys to the Premiership was something I took extremely seriously and to be asked again is huge for me."

Pooler will set up their own tune-ups for the 'proper' resumption of rugby while there is no fixture in the three-team Gwent group of the Championship Cup this weekend.

Bedwas, who were edged out by Bargoed, instead play a friendly fixture against Trebanos at Bridge Field.

The Premiership duo of Newport and Ebbw Vale continue their preparations for the season.

The Black and Ambers travel to Swansea University after returning to action at Pontypridd last weekend.

Newport were edged out 17-14 at Sardis Road, with both teams fielding large squads for four periods of 20 minutes.

Prop Lewis Smout and centre Jack Brooks crossed to give Ty Morris' men a 14-5 lead at the break but they were edged out when Ponty scored at the death.

Ebbw Vale returned to action against Brecon at the end of July, easing to a 64-5 win over the Division One East club, but step things up against London Scottish of the English Championship at Maidenhead RFC (kick-off 3pm).

The Premiership Cup gets under way on September 18 when the Steelmen head to Merthyr and Newport return to Pontypridd with Cardiff and RGC the other teams in the eastern conference.