PONTYPOOL have had a superb 2017, but chief executive Ben Jeffreys is confident that the club will continue to go from strength to strength in 2018 with coach Leighton Jones at the helm, writes Chris Kirwan.

Pooler romped to the WRU Championship title in April with a record of 21 wins from 22 games, while they won away to Premiership sides Llanelli and Cardiff in the National Cup.

They have picked up where they left off this season to win all 12 games in the league, 10 with four-try bonus points, ahead of Saturday's final game of the year against Gwent rivals Newbridge at Pontypool Park.

However, Jeffreys says that Jones hasn't just helped build a winning team since taking the reins in the summer of 2016, following the club's heartbreak at missing out on the Premiership.

"Getting promoted was the best thing that never happened to us! It allowed us to look at what we wanted and how we were going to achieve it," said the chief executive.

"Leighton has done so much more than just build a winning team. We have players with an affinity to the club and they are giving so much on and off the field. Leighton has built a culture of honest and integrity, of giving 100 per cent to the club.

"We've built links with the likes of Talywain and Pontypool United and all sides are seeing the benefits of that.

"A lot of people just see the winning side on a Saturday but it's not just the results, it's the way that we are doing it.

"So many players stayed after we didn't get promoted and they are rebuffing offers to go up to the Premiership. That's credit to the work that Leighton and his coaching staff have put in.

"Leighton is perhaps the single most important appointment that this club has made in a decade. His vision and drive is having a big impact and we just want to keep supporting him and giving him the tools to keep improving us."

Pooler upset Llanelli 19-14 at Parc y Scarlets last January before turning over Cardiff 43-32 in the capital.

The run was ended 19-3 by a streetwise Cross Keys but the club are aiming for more scalps in the coming months.

A home tie against Championship rivals Tata Steel provides a big chance to cause another upset in the second round.

"Cardiff was one of the best moments of my life and the amount of people that came to see that game was really gratifying," said Jeffreys.

"It's great to know that the support is there and that there is a real appetite for Premiership rugby in Pontypool.

"That night was an indicator of the potential of the club, but equally the cup run was just good to see our team stay together and demolish two Premiership sides and push Cross Keys hard.

"Of course we will be looking to the cup again next year and it's a good way of measuring ourselves, but it's just nice that we have got stability and are improving under Leighton."