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Leonard: We win at all costs

Monday 20th February 2023

Owain Leonard admitted the performance against Neath wasn’t perfect but getting the win was the most important thing.

The top-of-the-table clash was watched by a 2,500-strong crowd at The Gnoll and it was the visiting support that had the first cheer as Matthew Jarvis kicked two early penalties.

Neath roared back with a Steff Williams penalty and a converted try from Dai Griggs.

However, Pooler upped the ante and went back ahead when hooker Peter Lloyd touched down. The visitors piled on the pressure for the rest of the first half and got their reward on the stroke of half time in the form of a penalty try.

“Every team tries to score just before half time because it’s a mentality thing,” explained scrum-half Leonard.

“We went into the changing rooms excited, we played extremely well in the first half, we played great territory and we converted that territory into points.

“Coming out after half time Neath must have had a good talking to because they came out and played really well in the second half.

“They really ran the ball about and we struggled to slow their ball down and I think Neath did extremely well in playing the territory in the second half.”

The Welsh All Blacks hit back after the break through Aled Brew but an instant impact from replacement Scott Matthews helped Pooler pull away again.

Jarvis booted a penalty, either side of Rhys Harris kicks, to seal an impressive victory that showed the best of attack and defence.

“That’s exactly what we were talking about all week,” continued Leonard.

“We win at all costs, it doesn’t have to be the prettiest rugby but coming down here and getting the win is exactly what we planned.

“We worked extremely hard, especially Thursday, and to come down here and turn Neath over at home is a big achievement in this league.

“Fair play to Neath they played really well. We played extremely well in the first half and then Neath turned it around in the second half but to stick it out in the end was really good.

“We work a lot on our defence. Neath have really good ball carriers.

“Defence wins games and keeping them at bay during the second half of the second half was really good.

“Coming off the bench in big games is exciting. There is a lot of pressure put on the finishers and coming in with eight points in it was massive pressure.

“But people like Scotty coming off the bench and scoring, when you’ve got impact players like that it lifts the team spirit and I think Scotty coming on and making that difference was massive for us.”

There is a break in the fixture list this weekend and then Pooler continue their travels with trips to Trebanos and TATA Steel before locking horns with Neath again in the WRU Championship Cup semi-final at Glamorgan Wanderers’ Memorial Ground.


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