Pontypool RFC head coach Leighton Jones insists there are plenty of positives to take from Sunday’s friendly defeat to Bristol Bears A.
Pooler, playing their first game since February 2020, travelled over the bridge without several first-team players due to a raft of injuries and endured a tough time in the Bristol sun.
Jay Jones touched down in the first half for Pontypool’s only points of the game but the Bears, who were able to call on England international Nathan Hughes, Pro12 champion Niyi Adeolokun, experienced scrum-half Tom Whitley, who notched 27 points, and Will Capon, who came off the bench to bag two tries, ran out deserved winners.
Despite the big scoreline, Jones believes that playing against the calibre of players that the Bears fielded can only be a positive.
“We are semi-professional, they are professional. Our boys will never get the chance to play against that quality of player,” he said.
“Players like Nathan Hughes. For us it was nice for them to be on the field.
“Some of the boys are new to us, they’ve come up from lower leagues so for them to actually step on the field with a player with that experience.
“Sixty or seventy minutes he played, tackling him, carrying against him. That is life experience for some boys.”
The head coach was also pleased with the attitude of his side during a tough encounter in the West Country.
“It was good for the boys to get out there and play some real rugby,” he continued.
“We’ve been limited on what we can do in training so it’s been nice to get out there and do some live stuff.
“From the scoreline we’ve definitely come out second best but we can work on stuff there.
“There are a few positive areas but it was nice for the boys to get out there, get the jersey on and be together.
“The encouraging part, the last 10 minutes we were finishing with some phase play so the boys’ attitudes were there, they were spot on there was no giving up.
“The boys who came off the bench, some of them haven’t even trained with us and they added to us as well.
“From us as a squad it was a tough day but there are positives in there.
“With some of the players they had we were always going to be in for a tough day but it was not about that.
“We wanted the boys to get out there, put a jersey on, get together.
“Yeah, it was tough but they can build on that, there is a togetherness there as was shown in the game.
“They could have given up quite easy but everyone gave their all so we can build on that.”