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Jones pleased with display in strong winds

Sunday 16th October 2022

Leighton Jones complimented his team’s performance and tactical nous as they battled the strong winds as well as a spirited Narberth RFC in the opening round of the WRU Championship Cup.

Pooler lost the toss at the Lewis Lloyd Ground but had the wind behind them in the first half as they racked up the tries in an impressive first-half performance.

A clever lineout routine saw hooker Sam Scarfe open the scoring before centre Pat Lewis finished off a devastating counter attack.

Nick Gale hit back with a penalty for the hosts but Scarfe, Geraint Walsh, Dan Babos and Joel Mahoney helped Pooler build a strong 38-3 lead at the break.

“We had to play with the wind on our backs but I thought the boys played some really nice rugby in the first half,” explained head coach Jones.

“Defensively we were on point. We played some nice phases, scored some nice tries and built up that lead which was needed.

“Once we knew where we were going with the wind we stuck to that game plan and it was nice to see some of those moves, the backs and forwards were intermingling, offloading and the tempo of the game was really fast.”

Narberth started the second half strongly with Josh Davies going over. A try from Scott Matthews kept Pooler out in front but two interception tries – from Josh Hamer and George McDonald – ensured the Otters finished with a bang.

“In the second half we had to change our tactics completely, we were playing into a really strong wind and it limited our kicking game,” said Jones.

“But I thought our forwards stepped up in the second half, we started to get penalties from the scrum.

“There were just a few individual errors, two interception tries, it was just a bit sloppy from us.

“We were never going to score the same amount of points we scored in the first half in the second half.

“We just needed to control the game better and not be so sloppy in possession.

“We were stuck back in our 22 quite a bit but looking at the lineout and the scrum, there were positives in the second half.”

Having reached three quarter-finals and one semi-final in the last four editions of the WRU National Cup, Pontypool have a strong affinity with this competition, albeit it in a slight new format.

Jones wants that to continue this season and is relishing the opportunity to name a larger bench – eight replacements are permitted in the competition.

“Quite a few players have been on cup runs, I know it’s a different format this year but the club has had some real eyes on the cup over the last six or seven years and it is something we want to do well in,” he expressed.

“[Having eight replacements] is so much better for us as coaches but also the players as well.

“There are a couple of boys out there carrying knocks in the second half so you can get them off and look after them.

“With five subs they are having to stay on and just dig in but then they turn up at training in a different position injury-wise.

“Personally I think it’s a massive improvement and it’s something we really enjoy having.

“We can also name young boys on the bench. They are breaking into senior rugby and they are having that opportunity – 20-25 minutes and that is what it is about.

“They are the future of the club and it was nice to see them on there and doing well.”


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