John Kendrick reports:
In the early stages of this game played in ideal conditions there were no indications that the Drovers would gain a second home victory in successive seasons against sixth placed Pontypridd. The visitors made the early running and maintained a territorial dominance in which they were aided by the home side’s errors each time they had the ball so curtailing any cohesive play.
However it was the Drovers who were to strike first when against the run of play outside half Cerith Rees struck a fine long range penalty, followed soon after by a second. Sandwiched between these two was one for Ponty out half Dai Flanagan. Eventually the pressure told and after a series of errors the ball was kicked deep into the home 22 and with the defence totally at sixes and sevens centre Gavin Dacey was able to stroll over for a try converted by Flanagan.
This 10-6 lead after 30 minutes was the last time Pontypridd were allowed to score until the 86th minute. Llandovery stopped making errors and opened up with an exciting, expansive running game that had the spectators cheering their side on. As the Drovers continued to mount a series of attacks the Pontypridd side responded with some great tackling whilst any response by the visitors was snuffed out again by some great scrambling defensive work. At the end there was no doubt the faithful Church Bank supporters considered this to be one of the best games seen.
Coach Rob Appleyard couldn’t disguise his delight at the outstanding display of his team: “And to think we were short of at least 8 or 9 regular players and then that we lost two more in the first 10 minutes – great. I was really pleased with the way the team took the game to the opposition, and I thought Matthew Harbut had his best game for the club and replacement Aled Jenkins showed up well.”
In the later stages of the first half Cerith Rees put over two more penalties whilst Matthew Harbut went over for his second try of the season. The Rees conversion brought up a half time score of 19-10.
If the visiting supporters hoped for a revival after the break they were to be disappointed. The Drovers continued attacking at every opportunity and only the superb Pontypridd tackling kept them at bay. The Drovers defence was equally secure and, despite all the good attacks, tries were hard to come by. After 10 minutes of the half influential Drovers centre Rhys Williams suffered a leg injury and had to leave the field. His replacement, Athletic scrum half Aled Jenkins, came on to take up position on the wing and certainly to his credit didn’t look out of place in a Premiership game. He ran strongly, causing problems for the defence, but it will be for one outstanding chase back and double tackle with Dan Rogers to stop a certain try that he will be remembered. It was reminiscent of his father Elfyn Jenkins, himself an outstanding and well respected Drovers favourite.
Eventually, as players of both sides showed signs of fatigue from the pace of the game, tries came. The first was scored by Llandovery wing Matthew Jacobs. Defending on his own line he stripped the ball from a Pontypridd lock, looked up and seeing no one in front set off down the pitch. Sprinting the whole length of the field he outpaced the defence and scored an outstanding individual try. Cerith Rees missed the conversion but with three more second half penalties his personal tally stood at 23 points - an excellent display of place kicking bringing up a total of 40 points in the last two games and a season’s league total to date of 221.
A last gasp Ponty attack saw Lewis Williams cross for a try converted by Flanagan which brought a late degree of respectability to a well beaten Pontypridd side.
Supporters Man of the Match