Thomas: Quins must make home a fortress
CARMARTHEN Quins have been told to turn their home into a fortress as they attempt to continue their unbeaten start to the Premiership season against Cross Keys on Saturday (2.30pm).
The Gwent side visit Carmarthen Park with their hosts looking to extend a run of four straight league victories that has taken them to the lofty heights of second in the table.
The latest success was a 20-16 win over Swansea last weekend, their third triumph on their travels
With a two-week break to follow Saturday's match — the Quins aren't in the British & Irish Cup — rugby manager Steffan Thomas has urged his players to press home their early-season advantage. And he wants them to make the Park an arena that opposition players dread visiting.
"Morale's really good after four wins, but more encouraging is that three of them came on the road," he said.
"If we can turn Carmarthen Park into a fortress we'll be set for a good season.
"Cross Keys have improved year on year over the last few seasons and have established themselves as a top half team. It's a difficult match, but at Carmarthen Park it's a challenge we're looking forward to."
Keys have lost just one of their opening four Premiership games, a 28-11 defeat by Pontypridd. They also qualified for the B&I Cup after victories over Newport and Bedwas.
But Quins are full of confidence.
They have bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on cross-border competition with the hard-earned win at St Helen's coming on the back of victories over Bridgend at The Brewery Field, Llanelli at Parc y Scarlets and Aberavon on their home patch.
"You have to grind out results sometimes," added Thomas. "We weren't at our best on Saturday, but still got the win, which was pleasing.
"We had led for most of the game, but they battled back and forced their way in front. The boys showed patience to get the result.
"In fairness, we were the team trying to play the rugby and get the result."
Carmarthen led 13-3 against Swansea with fly-half Craig Evans convertingDylan Morgans's try and also kicking two penalties.
But Swansea responded to move 16-13 in front before Wales sevens star Lee Williams crossed and Evans again added the extras to seal victory.
"We didn't have a compete performance, but we went away with the win," added Thomas.
"We've got the makings of a good team, and we have to be pleased having won while not performing.
"There was an element of frustration on Saturday and that will help us against Cross Keys.
"The boys weren't happy with the performance because they have set themselves such high standards.
"If we can get five wins from five, that will represent a fantastic start."