Pontypool RFC player-coach Matthew Jones believes the club produced a much improved performance away to Bedlinog RFC last Saturday, as Pooler set a new record for consecutive victories in the WRU National Championship. The Championship champions played back-to-back league games against The Foxes and were largely critical of their performance in the home game at Pontypool Park, despite the 38-21 scoreline, writes Andrew Deering.
Last weekend saw the side register their 44th straight victory in the division, in a tight 19-16 triumph, eclipsing the 43-game sequence put together by Ebbw Vale RFC between 2012 and 2014. Jones, who is currently focusing solely on his coaching duties following a season-ending injury against Bridgend Ravens last month, was pleased with the endeavor and intent to play against Bedlinog.
"We tried to play a lot more, but execution at times let us down. It was an improvement on the home game and we need to keep moving forward, keep building momentum and work hard in training again this week," said Jones.
The club now has just three league games remaining this season and next weekend face a trip to the Margam Sports Ground to take on Tata Steel RFC. Unlike Bedlinog, Tata Steel sit fifth in the table and have no concerns over relegation. However, with two games still left to play, the club will no doubt be motivated to finish the season on a high, with a poor end to the campaign potentially seeing them drop as low as eighth in the table.
Since the start of Leighton Jones' tenure in 2016, the Port Talbot side have provided Pooler with some of their toughest away assignments in the league. The club's two visits west have seen a combined winning margin of just thirteen points, with last season's triumph seeing Pooler battle their way to a 20-18 victory.
Those factors should ensure another highly competitive fixture, with the club also now just 240 minutes of rugby away from a second consecutive unbeaten league season. Matthew Jones is well aware of what the club can achieve between now and the end of the season, but also has an unquestionable set of priorities.
"Our bread and butter is achieving promotion through the play-off game, but it is nice to have these potential bonuses. No matter what competition you're playing in, or who you are, you want to win every game. We will do everything we can to achieve another unbeaten league season, but if we don't, we don't. Our main priority is to achieve promotion to the Principality Premiership."