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Jones pleased with performance in opening friendly

Sunday 07th August 2022

Leighton Jones was delighted to see how quickly his squad has gelled after a thumping start to pre-season with a commanding victory at Dings Crusaders RFC.

The boss named a team mixed with returning players, new arrivals and young starlets to start the first of three 30-minute periods at Shaftesbury Park in the blazing Bristol sun.

Teenage twins Connor and Dylan Lewis were both handed starts alongside fellow new arrivals Kelvyn Williams and Deon Smith. Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths – another new signing – and Sam Scarfe added further youth.

After a cagey opening 15 minutes, Pooler took the lead through a Garin Price try. Dylan Lewis, Scarfe and Scott Matthews followed him over with Matthew Jarvis kicking a conversion to hold a 22-0 lead at the first break.

A dominant second period saw Pontypool rack up the points with Ashley Sweet, Price, Callum Davies, Adam Stratton and Duan Thomas touching down and Jarvis adding eight points from the tee for a 55-0 lead.

The hosts came roaring back in the final third with Racine Wright and a Tom Gollop double, all converted by Kieran Hill. Pooler responded well with tries from Davies and Dan Babos to seal a 69-21 triumph.

“This is the perfect opener for us,” explained Jones.

“We’ve been here a couple of times and it’s always a good test. It’s a fantastic set-up, the development they’ve made here is something to envy.

“That’s why we pick these places, it’s nice to get out of Wales and experience a different set-up.

“It was nice for the boys to get that first bit of rugby back. We’ve gone live in training but nothing is like playing opposition who come with different tactics and techniques.

“It was nice to see some of the new boys, it was really good to see the twins out there together and both made a good impact in the game.

“The boys have come in and everyone has worked hard and gelled quickly.

“Recruitment has had a big Pontypool focus so the boys who have come in are from the area and they’ve added to the squad camaraderie and that’s going to be vital this season.

“You can clearly see a lot of attacking intent from us from the scoreboard with some lovely tries.

“I thought for the first 60 minutes our defence was spot on, it was probably a bit of indiscipline that cost us and that’s where they crept back into the game with their tries but overall, a pleasing performance.”

Focus will now shift to next weekend’s trip to Indigo Premiership outfit Llandovery RFC, where we will come up against a familiar face.

“Llandovery will be a different test,” added Jones.

“Tom [Hancock] is involved there, we know the kind of coach Tom is so we are looking at a big test and it’ll probably be roles reversed where we are more the underdogs.”


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