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Jones praises fitness of squad in Pooler comeback

Sunday 13th November 2022

Leighton Jones credited the fitness of the squad as Pontypool RFC came from behind to secure a remarkable comeback victory over Bargoed RFC in the WRU Admiral National Championship.

The Bulls came to Pontypool Park and shocked the home crowd as they raced into a 20-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to tries from Tom Rice and Dylan Williams along with 10 kicked points from centre Steffan Jones.

Pooler battled back well with Pat Lewis and Deon Smith touching down and Matthew Jarvis adding seven points from the tee to reduce the deficit to just three points at the break.

“Bargoed came and they started well,” explained head coach Jones.

“We made a few individual errors, which any good team would punish, and they did it well.

“Three individual errors and a bit of poor discipline and we were 20 points down. It wasn’t an ideal start for us.

“Never at one point did I think we didn’t have the squad [to turn it around], we haven’t got the spirit in the squad to roll over and die.

“It was shocking to be 20-0 down with 20 minutes gone but it was key that we stuck to what we had been practicing all week on what we had identified would work for us and we got back to 20-17 at half time and we were back in the game and we fought hard for that.”

A Jarvis penalty levelled the score in the second half before the Bulls edged back ahead courtesy of a converted Keaton Davies try.

Constant Pooler pressure eventually led to a penalty try before Smith got his second score of the afternoon to give Pontypool the lead for the first time with around 10 minutes to play.

Replacement Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths made sure of the win at the death, denying the Bulls a bonus point in the process.

“We took the lead for the first time on 65 minutes,” continued Jones.

“The boys kept plugging away and what was key for us was the fact [Gareth] Betts has been doing a lot of work with the fitness.

“I think at about 60-65 minutes we did get the upper hand in a few aspects of the game and we managed to stamp our game plan and really crank it up.

“And probably that’s where we’ve come away with the win and five points. The boys will play for 80 minutes and are fit enough to do so.

“I think that last try was a real killer blow for Bargoed.

“They were sat on a point and towards the end they could have quite easily got the win, we were only five points up and we missed a kick at goal to go two scores ahead.

“We haven’t dropped a point yet and that’s massive for us and keeps putting the pressure on the teams who are up at the top end of the league.”

The victory moves Pooler six points ahead of Bargoed, in third, and keeps the distance behind leaders Neath RFC, who have played a game more, at two points.

There is now a two-week break in the schedule with Pontypool resuming league action at Bedwas RFC on Saturday 3rd December.


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