Pontypool rounded off their pre-season campaign with a physical encounter with Merthyr under the lights at Pontypool Park.
The result didn’t go Pooler’s way as they fell to a 31-21 defeat in a competitive clash.
But it was another chance for head coach Leighton Jones to assess where his squad is at ahead of next weekend’s league opener against rivals Newport at Rodney Parade.
And he felt his side need to learn individual errors as they look to take the step up to the Indigo Premiership.
The Ironmen took an early lead but Pooler came roaring back through Morgan Lloyd, with Matthew Jarvis adding the conversion against his former side.
Merthyr extended their lead but a second-half revival saw Pooler claw their way back into the game.
Morgan Lloyd grabbed his second of the game, once again converted by birthday boy Jarvis, but Pooler’s dominance saw them awarded a penalty try.
However, Merthyr struck back in the final moments to secure the win.
“The biggest learning curve is individual errors,” explained Jones.
“Against a quality team like Merthyr if boys make individual errors they punish you.
“The boys will have to learn that quite quickly.
“The majority of the boys were here last year and we would have gotten away with that but against fitter, sharper, stronger boys you are not going to get away with it.
It is a different league and a different animal and hopefully the boys will learn quickly from it and realise we can’t be tripping up like we did.
“We spoke about some things at half time and it was pleasing to see us come out in the second half and do what we spoke about.
“We clawed our way back on the scoreboard and probably in the second half we had majority of territory and possession.
“Maybe if we had taken one or two decisions or opportunities in their half then it could have been a different scoreline.
“It wasn’t massively about the scoreline, it was about looking at us and how we are going to get better ready for the league campaign.”
Mike Herbert and Matty Bancroft both left the field after taking big hits during the game but Jones was pleased with the physicality from both teams.
“We’re not exactly shy with physicality ourselves so both teams went out there and hit lumps out of each other,” he continued.
“That’s part and parcel of the game and physicality is something we pride ourselves on.
“Merthyr are a big, physical team and it was good to go toe-to-toe with them.
“We are still building and looking to improve but every team is in the same boat.”