PONTYPOOL RFC coach Mike Hook has called it “make or break time” for the club’s season, after a disappointing defeat at struggling Bonymaen on Saturday.
Looking to extend their unbeaten run to six in the race for second place in the Swalec Championship, Pooler floundered in nigh-on farcical conditions at Parc Mawr.
And now facing a four-week lay-off in league fixtures, followed by home games against fellow contenders Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 and Narbeth, sandwiched either side of a trip to yet unbeaten and champions-elect Ebbw Vale, Hook said he and the players were under “no illusions” about how tough it was going to be, and how the period would determine their season.
“It will decide where we finish in the league,” he said.
“This is a make or break month and the game against RCG is massive.
“But our goals haven’t changed. We will continue to work on our intensity in the weeks off, which also gives us some time to deal with a few injuries from Saturday’s game.
“Of course we were disappointed with the result on Saturday.
“We didn’t play the conditions well but you have to go to tough places like Bonymaen and pick up points.
“Ultimately, like Ebbw Vale are doing, we have to win these matches to achieve our targets and get that second spot. We hope to have a fully fit squad when RCG roll up.”
Bonymaen kicked off on Saturday defending the changing rooms end of the ground into the gale force wind.
First blood went to Pooler when outside half Sam Mills stepped up to slot home after the home side were penalised for holding in front of the posts.
The game stagnated somewhat after that with neither team able to gain the upper hand, but when Pontypool were reduced to 14 men Bonymaen managed to gain a slender advantage.
Bony took a quick tap, following a conceded penalty in midfield and Pontypool loose head prop James Johnson failed to retreat the required 10 metres.
The hosts took play deep into the Pooler 22 after his sin bin, and won a five-metre scrum, driving for the line several times until second row Adrian Cousins finally broke through. With the conversion missed they went in at the break slightly ahead.
Early pressure by Pooler in the second half told when flanker Elliott Goodman burrowed his way over the line to put the visitors back in front.
But the conversion failed and Bony duly replied when outside half James Garland scored an unconverted try in the left corner to put his side in front again at 10-8.
Pontypool started to make progress again against the wind and won a series of penalties, one of which saw Bonymaen’s John Hyndman sin binned for persistent infringing.
But, frustratingly, they failed to make their numerical advantage count against the elements and couldn’t get into a scoring position to win the game in the final moments.
Pontypool play RGC 1404 on February 22, Pooler having won 26-20 at Eirias Park, North Wales, in early October.
Pontypool scorers: Try by Elliott Goodman. Penalty by Sam Mills.
Bonymaen scorers: Tries by Adrian Cousins and James Garland.
Referee: Owain Griffith (Cardiff).