Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers played as well against the All Whites as they had played badly against Cardiff the week before but still went down to defeat at St Helen’s.
After conceding 45 points and six tries to Cardiff the week before, Llandovery looked to be heading for a similar fate when they trailed 13-0 after 15 minutes. But they rallied to take an 18-13 lead and came back strongly in the second half from being 33-21 down to 33-28 before throwing everything into a final onslaught. Three times imprecise passes cost them the try that would have brought rich reward and they had to be content with a measly bonus point when five were in their grasp.
Far more aware, alert and dynamic in the loose, fluent at half-back and more creative out wide than against Cardiff, the Drovers matched Swansea try for try and only lost out to the boot of fly-half James Dixon who ended up with a 23 point haul.
Coaches Rob Appleyard and Lyndon Lewis could not hide their disappointment. “We were on the wrong end of a number of dubious refereeing decisions one of which had a huge bearing on the result” said former Swansea stalwart Appleyard. “We have video evidence that shows conclusively the pass leading up to Swansea’s second try scored by centre David Watts was well forward” said Lewis. “We have to live with it but it is hard on the players when they perform so well only to see their efforts spoiled by poor positioning by the referee.”
After trailing to a try by wing Hanno Dirksen and points from Dixon, Llandovery produced two terrific tries. After a big hit in mid-field from Nio Aiono and a run by fellow-flanker Lloyd Phillips, fly-half Cerith Rees put wing Neil Clapham in at the corner. A Rees penalty was soon followed by a sweeping move - inspired by the swift pass of scrum-half Gareth James – which sent centre Dan Rogers in on the left, Rees converting well for a 15-13 interval lead.
Another Rees penalty was further encouragement, only for the glaring forward-pass try to visibly knock the stuffing out of the Drovers.
Whilst Dixon scored a try and two penalties, Llandovery could only squeeze in a lone Howard Thomas penalty to trail 33-21with 10 minutes to go.
To their credit, Llandovery got their composure back enough for wing Matthew Jacobs to go on a weaving run to make a converted try for Rees with two minutes left. The city slickers were rocking in the face of the Tywi Valley side’s second comeback of the day and if Clapham had routinely developed a three to one overlap in the last move of the game, the result would have been very different.
Llandovery Ratings by Huw S Thomas: H Thomas 6; N Clapham 6, D Rogers 5, R Williams 7, M Jacobs 7; C Rees 6, G James 6 (R Walters 6), P Edwards 6 (O Evans 6), A Yelland 6, C Cross 6, M Harbut 5, L Tonkin 6 (S Martin 6), N Aiono 7, D Fitzgerald 6 (L Kendall 6), L Phillips 7 (E Siggery 5)