WHILE the pain of their Principality Premiership play-off defeat to Llanelli is likely to linger for some time, Pontypool must use the heartache as motivation for another promotion push next season.

That was the view of Pooler head coach Leighton Jones after seeing his side’s dream of a return to Welsh club rugby’s top tier go up in smoke at Aberavon’s Talbot Athletic Ground on Friday night.

Pontypool, who lost their Premiership status in 2012, were beaten 27-16 by Llanelli just a few weeks after completing a second successive unbeaten Championship title-winning campaign.

Their reverse at the hands of the West Walians means they will remain in the Championship, while the Parc y Scarlets outfit retain their place in the top flight.

Tears were shed by Pooler players, staff and supporters at the final whistle on Friday, but Jones was determined to try and look at things in a positive light going forward.

“Obviously the boys are disappointed,” he said. “The travelling support has been amazing, the town has been buzzing, so to fall at the last hurdle is a disappointment.

“We do feel like we’ve let people down. They travelled in their numbers and were brilliant, but we couldn’t get the win for them.

“Letting the town and the supporters down is a bitter pill to swallow, but you’ve got to man up.

“We’ll have to dust ourselves down and go again next season.

“It’s going to be another season in the Championship, but obviously there are some big teams coming down and we’ll have a few more Gwent derbies.”

He added: “I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom.

“The majority of the boys are staying, so while it’s disappointing now, in a couple of weeks, when we go back for pre-season, we can get that buzz back.

“Hopefully when the disappointment settles and we come back in, we’ll be raring to go again.

“As we said in the huddle at the end, it’s a terrible feeling for us and the fans but we’ve got to remember it and have it at the front of our minds going into next season and that we don’t want to be in this position again.

“The focus will be on winning the league but getting better again.”

He continued: “The lads are gutted. It’s always difficult seeing a few grown men crying, but that’s what it means to the squad and management.

“There was more than a handful crying, it was probably into double figures with the emotion coming out, which is good because it shows that it’s more just a game of rugby for them.”

On the game itself, which saw Llanelli outscore Pooler by three tries to one, Jones said: “We just weren’t good enough, so we’re not going to sit and moan, we’ve got to accept that our performance wasn’t good enough.

“Their contact area work was better than ours, and we didn’t play as much rugby as we’d like to or normally do.

“They were more clinical with ball in hand. We were a couple of metres from their line five or six times and didn’t convert that into points.

“There was a lot of territory and possession for us in the first half, so to come away with only six points wasn’t good enough.

“We spoke at half-time about what we were going to do in the second half, but we just didn’t come out and do it.”

Pooler led 6-0 and 9-7 before two second-half Llanelli tries took the match away from them, although Scott Matthews did grab a late consolation.