PONTYPOOL boss Leighton Jones has hailed his side's mental strength after taking a big stride in their bid to finally secure promotion to the Premiership.

Pooler will be top of the WRU National Championship at Christmas with 11 wins from 11 thanks to their dramatic 13-10 win against title rivals Bargoed, when wing Lloyd Lewis crossed in the 77th minute.

The success means they head into this weekend's derby against Cross Keys with a 11-point advantage over both the third-placed Bulls and second-placed Bedwas.

Pontypool are favourites for the title and a return to the Premiership after eight campaigns in the Championship and head coach Jones believes the composure of his side bodes well given that twists and turns lie ahead before the return fixture in Bargoed on the penultimate weekend.

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"It was a really tough game and the boys got the job done under real pressure," said the former hooker.

"Bargoed are a really good outfit who have recruited really well, plus we hadn't lost at home for three years and it was 57 league wins in a row.

"All of that meant there was huge pressure on the boys and then they had things going against them, with chances bombed and time ticking away.

"For them to keep going and finally crack Bargoed shows that the boys are mentally strong.

"It was a good result but we were at home so had to win and Bargoed will be a very hard place to go later in the season.

"The way that the league is shaping up makes these games against each other huge. They took a bonus point, which we are not happy about, but at least we got the four that we wanted."

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Jones will make sure that there is no complacency when Pooler head to Pandy Park to face a Cross Keys side that have moved out of the drop zone.

Morgan Stoddart's men are buoyed by victories against Trebanos and Ystrad Rhondda that have lifted them to 10th in the table, four points ahead of Ystalyfera in the final relegation spot with games in hand on all their rivals.

"It's a Gwent derby and Cross Keys have been putting a few good results together recently," said Jones.

"I am sure a lot of Pontypool supporters will be looking at what the Bargoed-Bedwas result is but we have got to look after our own job first."

"We are coming up to halfway and the win against Bargoed is the only game that we've not picked up a bonus point in, he continued.

"We are happy with where we are at – I have seen progression in our squad and in the style of rugby we are playing. All in all it has been a decent start to the season but there is still a long way to go."