Dominic Barrow sees no reason why Leeds Carnegie can not venture into Ponytypridd’s ‘House of Pain’ and finally deliver their first British & Irish Cup victory.
The teenage lock was one of Carnegie’s many fine performers in Sunday’s narrow 30-27 loss against the Welsh Premiership champions at West Park Leeds.
They just missed out despite outscoring Pontypridd four tries to three but have the chance to swiftly make up for that disappointment when they head to the valleys to face the same opponents at the famously hostile Sardis Road on Saturday.
Barrow said: “Hostile is the best word for that place.
“We played down there last year and there was plenty of heckling, booing, shouting and all sorts going on.
“You are always on edge but I love all that and you raise your game for it.
“They call it the ‘House of Pain’ but it’s great to play in those sorts of atmospheres.
“Fair play to the Ponty fans, they brought a fair few fans up to West Park and were pretty raucous.
“I’m sure it’ll be much the same down there but we know we can go and get the win.”
Leeds were particularly impressive in the scrummage and will, no doubt, look to assert their dominance there once again while looking to reap more rewards.
They have lost all three pool games so far and now have little chance of progressing to the knockout stages but Barrow insists that matters little.
“It makes me laugh when I read about teams resting players and not being bothered about getting through,” he said.
“We’ve spoken this week about how massive a winning mentality is.
“We saw in the Championship when we beat London Scottish what that did for us going up to Wharfedale to play Moseley.
“It was crucial we got two wins there ready for that tough game at Rotherham where we ground out a victory.
“It’s the same now. This game on Saturday is really influential in making sure confidence is high for when we head to Jersey in our next league game just before Christmas.
“We know we’ve not left ourselves in the best position with regards the B&I Cup but we want to win this game to have a really positive outcome looking further ahead.”
In hindsight, Leeds know they could possibly have defeated Pontypridd if they had been a bit more pragmatic but that was never going to be the case.
“After the disappointment of our last league game against Bedford, we really wanted to play and put a performance in,” explained Barrow, who is making the most of his chance after a loan spell at Wharfedale and is now looking forward to a third successive game.
“There were perhaps penalties in the first half we could have kicked to build a lead and likewise others to close out the game later on.
“If we had, it might have been a different outcome, but our main focus was to put in a display we could be pleased with, give the crowd something to enjoy and play some football.
“We’ll be confident going down there now and, hopefully, seeing out the win.”
Leeds certainly bossed the scrum and Barrow, 19, admitted: “We were really pleased with that area,
“The set-piece went well and Ben Harris has come in and done a really good job for us in the scrum.
“But we’re not taking anything for granted. We know they’ll have a point to prove in front of their home crowd and they’ll want to do to us what we did to them in the scrum up here.”
Barrow has been training with the England Under-20s squad this week but will return early to the Leeds camp in order to prepare for the trip to Wales.
With competition so fierce in the second and back-row at Headingley Carnegie, he admits gaining valuable experience at Wharfedale in National One has been more than worthwhile.
“It was decided the best thing for me at that stage of my development was to be getting 80 minutes each week as opposed to coming on for just 15 or 20 with Leeds,” he added.
“To be fair, it really helped me. I felt quite rusty and slow when I first went up to Wharefdale so it’s been massive just to be able to get a full 80 minutes under my belt.
“That time up at Wharfedale has really improved my match fitness.
“I came back feeling a lot sharper and more on the ball than before.”
Barrow was recalled recently after ex-Leicester Tiger Dan Hemingway suffered a serious knee injury which ruled him out for three months and on current form he could easily keep his place for the return to league action.