Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers had a gilt edged chance to claim just their third win of the season but despite oodles of possession and prime attacking positions, they could not get through a very determined, committed home defence.
It was a big disappointment for Llandovery and their president Phil Davies. "It was a game that was well within our grasp at half-time" said Davies "but we then failed to compose ourselves when in striking distance of the Cardiff line. The only consolation is that Maesteg also failed to get anything at Neath and we live to fight another day, the next league game at home to Cross Keys on Friday night, February 8 being a vital one."
There was barely a whisker between the two sides on a very muddy, heavy Arms Park pitch but Cardiff perhaps earned the win through their ability to convert chances into tries.
In search of just a second away win of the season, Llandovery dominated most of the game through their hard working pack in which on-loan Scarlets prop Phil John was the leading figure in the loose. John put in some charging runs as the Drovers pack, well supported by schoolboy scrum-half Tom James – the current Llandovery College captain - were in control for all but the opening and late stages.
The 18 year-old James, strong, low-slung and chunky, made an impressive debut in attack and defence and cleverly mixed his passing, running and kicking game with a heartening maturity.
But for all the tireless work of James and his forwards, Llandovery could not dent a very sound and solid home defence in which the back row of Damian Welch, Adam Powell and Adam Whitney was outstanding. Cardiff got an early try from full-back Roger Davies, converted by wing Leigh Halfpenny but despite the advantage of a very strong wind, they could not gain any dominance up front, their only other first-half points coming from a Halfpenny penalty. Cardiff fly-half Craig Evans ran 60 metres after an interception but was hauled down by a magnificent cover tackle from opposite number Gareth Morgan who is on loan to Llandovery from Guinness Premiership side Worcester until the end of the season.
After the break, Llandovery got near the home line on numerous occasions but failed to drive home the advantage, their line-out again fallible, their options poor and their ball retention nothing less than erratic.
In search of the three points that would bring his side back into bonus point territory, Morgan missed an angled penalty and then replacement full-back Gareth James nearly got a long distance try.
Cardiff rode the storm with grim determination and when, with ten minutes to go, Whitney snatched the ball out of a maul and surged up the touchline, Llandovery were penalised. Llandovery defenders all expected a kick at goal but in the blink of an eye replacement scrum-half Glen Holloway – on permit from Llantrisant – turned a quickly taken penalty into a try to confound the hapless Drovers.