Huw S Thomas reports:
Llandovery – a founder member of the WRU in 1881- reached the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time in their history thanks to a try one minute from full-time by lock Steve Covington.
The Drovers had just lost to Bedwas at Bridge Field 13-9 back in December and won the earlier league game 28-12 at Church Bank and this third clash was another well-contested tense affair between very evenly matched sides.
Both are haunted by relegation fears but cast aside their cares and woes to provide plenty of movement and excitement in their efforts to get to the Millennium Stadium final on April 28.
It was Llandovery's fourth win on the trot after a Cup win over Caerphilly and league wins over Maesteg and Bridgend, much to the delight of coach Iestyn Thomas. "It is amazing what a few wins can do to a side's confidence and although the sides were evenly matched for long periods, I believe we got the win we deserved because of our better discipline. We need to continue all the good work of the past three weeks by beating Swansea at Church Bank on Saturday. It will be a tough call as the All Whites have also hit a good vein of form recently."
Thomas was the first to accept that the key moment of the Cup-tie came in the 56th minute when Bedwas hooker Ben Flower was given his second yellow card by referee Huw David and dismissed for good. "Bedwas were leading 14-6 at the time, their forwards marginally stronger at the contact area and their tackling that little bit more dynamic but after Flower's red card, we had a crucial 15 minutes when we controlled things up front."
A try from home lock Neil Watkins and three penalties from full-back Stuart Thomas had deservedly bettered two penalties by fly-half Simon Daniel but no sooner had Flower gone for his early bath than the Llandovery pack surged forward at a five metre scrum for ever-astute No 8 Jon Mills to claim a try.
The Drovers pack with prop Phil John, lock and skipper Arwel Davies, plus the back-row of Eifion Gwynne, Jon Mills and Gareth Williams all working like Trojans, exerted increasing pressure and a Daniel penalty in the 67th minute tied the scores. Even then Bedwas had fleeting chances only to spoil them by a silly shirt tug and a marginal forward pass and it was the Drovers who launched a crucial attack with just a minute to go and 20 more minutes of extra time looming.
Silky centre Mike Jones, replacement centre Ioan Davies and scrum-half Rob Walters controlled a breakaway from half-way to send supporting lock Steve Covington galloping over for the vital try, converted by Daniel.