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Jones praises 'tightest of squads'

Saturday 04th November 2023

Leighton Jones believes this team is one of the closest he has been involved in throughout his entire rugby career after seeing them battle to a hard-fought victory over Ebbw Vale.

With the TV cameras rolling and a sizeable crowd watching on from the sidelines, Pooler dug deep to come from behind and claim a thrilling victory over the Steelmen to record a seventh consecutive league victory.

In a game that swung to-and-fro all evening, the visitors took the lead through a converted Ryan Jenkins try.

Matthew Jarvis hit back with a penalty before supplying the conversion to Joel Mahoney’s wonderful effort.

Evan Lloyd levelled the score with a penalty before Ebbw were awarded a penalty try on the stroke half time.

Dylan Kelleher-Griffiths came off the bench to haul Pooler back into the game but another Evan Lloyd penalty kept the visitors in control.

However, Alex Grey followed Kelleher-Griffiths as he touched down within minutes of his introduction and Jarvis sealed the victory with the resulting conversion and a late penalty.

“There were a few areas where we need to sharpen up a bit,” admitted Jones.

“I’ve been here a long time and so has Peter [Jeffreys] and we’ve been waiting for days like this for 10 years.

“To come here on a Thursday night under the floodlights is always a bit special but to play in a Gwent derby and have the big crowd and the TV cameras, that is massively pleasing for the boys.

“They did dig in, the bench emptied, we took control of the game towards the end and got the W.

“We have spoken a lot this year about changing the mindset of the boys who are starting and those who are on the bench.

“If you are on the bench you are disappointed but this group of players do not look at it like that.

“They are on the bench but they are coming on and doing a job and I think in quite a few games this season our bench has come on and won us the game, Merthyr, Cardiff and today.

“They realise they have a massive job to do when they come on, Amosa has come off the bench has scored, Alex has done that here, they are definitely doing a job.

“This group of players has been growing for numerous years, we haven’t brought that many in this year.

“The boys are used to winning, winning becomes a habit and that along with how tight the boys are, it’s probably one of the tightest squads I’ve been around in my coaching and playing career.

“They will keep driving. They are sore, they are in bits and there are probably one or two boys who were out of gas towards the end of the game but they keep getting up, driving, building and going for each other and that is probably what is getting us over the line.

“This is a tough league with some decent teams and hopefully people will now consider us as one of them."


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