John Kendrick reports:
"We lacked motivation and they were hungrier for the win", was the response of a bitterly disappointed Llandovery coach Iestyn Thomas after his Premiership side had crashed to an unexpected but deserved defeat in the Konica Minolta Cup Fourth Round at the hands of Division 2 East side Llantwit Fardre.
The Drovers secured plenty of ball from the set pieces, particularly in the early stages but unfortunately were totally inept in its use once they had it in their possession. Handling errors, poor decision making and a lack of composure under pressure all made telling contributions to their eventual defeat.
The weak display by the Drovers, however, should not detract from the tremendous efforts made by the visitors who were lively throughout and exerted pressure on Llandovery at every opportunity. Their very positive approach allied with the Drovers' lack of authority when in possession resulted in nearly 80% of the game being played in the home side's halves.
The eventual outcome of the game was not apparent in the early exchanges. Within two minutes Llandovery took the lead when full back Justin Lewis converted a penalty goal, soon to followed by a Jon Mills try. The number 8 picked up from the back of a 5m scrum and forced his way over the line.
A lead of 8 points, even with territorial disadvantage should have acted as a spur for the Premiership side but it was the visitors who reacted more positively and began to exert a stranglehold on the Drovers from which they were rarely able to escape. They were rewarded for their efforts just before half time when full back Ryan Morgan kicked a penalty goal to end the half with the Drovers hanging on to a slender but undeserved lead by 8 points to 3.
When Ioan Davies's kick to start the second half sailed over everyone's heads straight into touch the writing was on the wall for the home side. From the resulting scrum on half way Llantwit established a foothold in the opposition half that they rarely relinquished.
Within minutes Ryan Morgan kicked a second penalty goal and then when the home side made a complete mess of trying to run a free kick out of their own 22 Llantwit were able to force a lineout close to the line. From the resultant line-out the forwards drove over the line for hooker Steven Goddard to be awarded the try. With rapturous applause ringing out from the visitors' supporters Ryan Morgan converted the try and the Division 2 side took the lead.
The response from Llandovery was immediate. For once, looking like a Premiership side, the backs put together a comprehensive movement taking the game into the Llantwit 22. When the ball was recycled full back Justin Lewis cut the line at a good angle to score the Drovers' second try. He converted his own try to take the Drovers into an undeserved lead.
This was to be the last time that the Drovers gained a foothold in the opposition 22. Llantwit, gaining in confidence from the home side's mistakes, established total territorial domination and the end result assumed an inevitability.
To the credit of the home side they kept a close guard on the Llantwit backs who lacked the creativity to breakdown this defence. Resorting to drop kicks to try and seal the result became their preferred method to attempt a score. Three attempts were charged down until the game reached its final moments when another line-out took place close to the Drovers' try line.
In a carbon copy of their first try the pack once again drove over for veteran lock and former Pontypridd player Greg Prosser to be awarded the touchdown that put the Division 2 side back into the lead.
With only injury time remaining the Drovers' kick off once again failed, with the ball not travelling 10m and the home side had lost any chance of avoiding defeat. Within seconds of the resulting scrum referee Huw David blew the final whistle to the very obvious delight of all from Llantwit Fardre.