2007/2008 Principality Premiership
Pontypridd 29 v 7 Llandovery
12 January 2008 - Sardis Road, Pontypridd

Match Report

Pontypridd 29 - 7 Llandovery

Huw S Thomas reports:

The Drovers never looked likely to win this game but they will take huge encouragement from a fighting second-half performance in which they resolutely matched Pontypridd.

Llandovery Handel Davies summed up the mood in the Llandovery camp. "We know full well that with Maesteg's win over Llanelli we have slipped to the foot of the table but our second half display showed that we still have much to give and there are a dozen games left to get out of trouble" said Davies. "Our display was immensely more committed than against Llanelli and Bedwas. We are not dead yet."

And with hooker Emyr Phillips, lock Tom Walker and wing Owain Rowlands set to return and boost the strength of the squad, Davies' hopes are not based on shifting sand.

Pontypridd coach Paul John sportingly acknowledged the Llandovery recovery. "They fought for their lives but after we led 22-0 at half time, we lost our concentration and shape and in the end were more than happy to get a fourth try and bonus point" said the former Wales scrum-half.

In the first half, Ponty punished Llandovery's failure to hold on to the ball with two tries from wing Kristan Baller and another from centre Gavin Dacey.

Llandovery rallied with replacement full-back Gareth Morgan - on loan from Worcester - running dangerously while the forwards started to make ground. Hooker Adam Yelland, locks Haydn Pugh and Arwel Lloyd plus back-rowers Gareth Williams and Marc de Marigny showed up well while Richard Cunniffe was useful at fly-half. The ex-Bonymaen player stood in for the unavailable Gareth James and was positive and decisive in most other things, with his distribution swifter and crisper than the man he replaced.

One thing to come out of the afternoon was that defences are lying in wait for centre Steffan Thomas to come inside on the inevitable crash ball and that the fly-half - whoever he may be - needs more options and variety in his passing and kicking. To his credit, Cunniffe did push the ball wide and away from Thomas on a number of occasions which saw centre Mike Jones have more space and time to show his deft running and passing skills. Only a lack of quality out wide stopped the Drovers threatening the Ponty line.

Coach Iestyn Thomas will have to choose between James and Cunniffe for the game at Cardiff but Cunniffe certainly deserves another crack of the whip at No 10. Thomas also has the choice of playing Gareth Morgan at fly-half.

Down 22-0, the hard graft of the Llandovery forwards and the ever-competitive work of skipper Rob Walters at scrum-half were rewarded when flanker Gareth Williams galloped under the posts after a break from No 8 Marc de Marigny. The South African - along with half-a-dozen team-mates - looked a different player from the shambles of the previous week.

Ponty got their bonus with a penalty try for obstruction on Lawrence Price but the Drovers confirmed their re-found vim and vigour with a strong final ten minutes.

Official : Howard Hopkins (Wales)

Team Sheets


Pontypridd Llandovery