Leighton Jones was critical of Pontypool RFC’s discipline but praised his players for their character to grind out a victory over promotion rivals Neath RFC.
The top two met at a packed-out Pontypool Park and played out a thrilling game of rugby that left both sets of supporters on the edge of their seat until the final whistle.
Neath held a 13-10 lead at the break courtesy of a Nicky Griffiths try and eight points from Steff Williams, including two penalties.
An incredible try from Deon Smith kept Pooler in the hunt with Matthew Jarvis booting five points.
Tries from Amosa Nove, Ieuan Jones and Joel Mahoney secured the bonus point for the hosts but Neath kept themselves in touching distance thanks to a Sion Crocker brace and a late Aled Brew score, but Pooler held on.
“It was frustrating. We didn’t really put our full mark on the game,” explained Jones.
“We scored some nice tries but our discipline and game management wasn’t where it should have been.
“Full credit to Neath, when we didn’t manage it and our discipline went from us they came back and scored but for a neutral I’m sure it was a cracking game to watch.
“You can only get five points and we’ve got five points.
“We’re probably a little disappointed that Neath got their two but they deserve them.
“They played their style of game and our discipline let them get two points.
“Five points were on offer and we’ve taken them and that’s pleasing.
“The boys have got to take a big pat on the back, we were down to 13 men and we go and score a try.
“We were down to 14 men and we’re kicking at goal.
“The boys soaked up a lot of pressure and we were on the wrong side of the yellow cards so to still come back and win shows great character and the massive togetherness the boys have on the field.”
The victory continued Pooler’s perfect start to the league season but there was more than just points up for grabs on the weekend.
Pontypool lost their last fixture against Neath and Jones wanted to see a reaction. While the fans came in their numbers to test with DKMS for Ethan Davies, honour the life of the late Eddie Butler and say farewell to outgoing Chief Executive Officer Ben Jeffreys.
“We spoke about that defeat [last season].
“It’s been a big week with Eddie, Ben and Ethan.
“It was a great day, both sides of the ground were full, it was back to a proper rugby atmosphere and the boys deserved their win.
“Neath are stacked with history, we are stacked with history, we’re both very well supported and all-bar paper that was a Premiership game.”