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Jones sees plenty of positives despite cup exit

Sunday 24th September 2023

Leighton Jones was disappointed with an early cup exit at Aberavon but was still pleased with the performance his players put in.

The head coach made 10 changes from the team that claimed victory at the Talbot Athletic Ground last weekend and they ran the Wizards close.

Callum Oliver and Matthew Flanagan both made their debuts while there were first appearances of the season for second row Alex Grey and winger Marcus Jones.

Two penalties from Aled Thomas handed Aberavon the lead but Peter Lloyd struck just before the break to haul Pooler back in the game.

Stef Andrews and Frankie Jones added tries in the second half – both converted by Thomas – while Ewan Rosser thundered over the line for Pontypool.

Pat Lewis had a try ruled out, Amosa Nove almost pulled another back while Josh Malson and Matt Bancroft both missed kicks as Pooler fell just short of the points needed to progress to the next round of the WRU Premiership Cup.

“We created a lot of opportunities but weren’t clinical enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over, some mis-shots at goal, some handling errors and maybe one or two wrong choices,” explained Jones.

“The result is frustrating because we left a lot of points out there and if we had taken those points and put some pressure on Aberavon it could have been a different result.

“There were certain changes, some boys came in, some boys were in different positions and I think overall they did well.

“They created a lot of opportunities and definitely put their hands up. It was just one of those days, we probably left three or four tries out there.

“It’s pleasing and it is something to build on and shows the strength in depth.”

Despite the defeat, Jones insisted he was happy when looking at the bigger picture with the club enjoying an encouraging start to the season following promotion from the Championship.

“We had the cup run last year and it was brilliant for the players, the management, the owners and the supporters,” he said.

“That day was something we would have liked to have done again this season.

“Again we had a hard route, we didn’t get over the line and we are disappointed because that was a day out for the whole community and they really bought in.

“In saying that, we are knocked out now so all the focus will go to the league games.

“It is a solid start. When you look at the boys who are playing out there, there are quite a few 19 and 20-year-olds, who are blooding in nicely.

“We’ve given certain boys a rest today and these boys have come in and proved they can do a job and belong here.

“We’ve had Newport away and Aberavon away twice, we’ve had three away games in real tough places.

“These teams generally don’t get turned over so to be two wins from four, it’s not where we want to be but when you look at the bigger picture and from where we have had to come from, it’s quite pleasing to have something to build on.

“We have a belief that we can go to these places and get a win.”


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