John Kendrick reports:
The Drovers fought hard to maintain their hold on the Konica Minolta Cup, equalling the home side on try count but falling to the boot of Jamie Davies who made all the difference with 17 points from 5 penalties and 1 conversion.
Llandovery were the equal of league high flyers Aberavon in most aspects of play but in the contentious areas of disrupted scrums and blocked rucks it was always the visitors who suffered the refereeing decisions of Neil Ballard. Despite this the clearer try scoring opportunities fell to the Drovers but unfortunately they were the architects of their own downfall when they twice failed to take advantage.
Early in the first half with the score at 3-0 emergency scrum half Richard Cunniffe broke clear and ten metres from the posts with only the full back to beat and half back partner Gareth Morgan clear outside him he failed to deliver the pass – took the tackle and the opportunity was lost. To be fair to the player Cunniffe, normally an outside half, was making his first appearance at scrum half in the enforced absence of the two regular players and showed some very positive aspects to his play in other areas.
The second golden opportunity occurred in the second half when full back Gareth James cut a good angle into a move, outstripped the home defence and with wing Viv Jenkins outside him also failed to deliver the scoring pass with only the full back to beat.
Wizards outside half Jamie Davies opened the scoring with his first penalty after 15 minutes play and then the Drovers missed their first try scoring opportunity before Davies kicked a second penalty to increase the lead. The first half was a typical cup tie with both sides making lots of effort but finding the hard tackling defences difficult to break down and the two Davies penalties completed the scoring.
The second half started badly for the cup holders when they failed to secure the ball from the kick off allowing Aberavon to gain position in their half from which Jamie Davies was successful with his third penalty kick. This score seemed to act as a spur to both sides and the game began to open up with the ball being moved wide at every opportunity.
The home side were the first to benefit when a move starting in their own half saw blind side flanker Chris Davies make a scything break through midfield where he found fellow flanker Simon Peters up in support to cross for the first try of the game. Davies added the extra points with the conversion.
The Drovers now enjoyed their best period of the match but unfortunately they missed their second clear cut try scoring opportunity, although full back James soon made up for the mistake when supporting outside his threes on the opposite side of the field he crossed for a corner try. Gareth Morgan added the conversion points with a fine kick. And at 16-7 the visitors were still much in the game.
However it was again the boot of Jamie Davies which was finally to finish off any hopes of victory. Two long range penalties, from 40 metres and then from the half way line, both following ruck offences were fine testaments to the kicking ability of the outside half. The second kick with several Aberavon players clearly several metres in front of the kicker should have been overruled but by then it was too little too late and this final kick made the home side clear winners by 22 points to 7.