Llandovery recorded their 12th league win in 19 games and their first double of the season but had to pull out all the stops on Boxing Day to resist a tremendous second half comeback from Whitland at a snow encircled Church Bank.
The Borderers looked out of it in the first half when they trailed 19-0 after just 27 minutes, having conceded tries to wing Gary Davies, lock Matthew Monaghan and No.8 Chris Davies. Without playing particularly well, the home pack had produced enough possession for strong running centre Tracy Lewis to punch holes in the Whitland midfield and the three tries were a fair reflection of home dominance.
Wing Gary Davies opened the scoring after just five minutes when a sharp run by scrum half Jamie Roberts had split open the Whitland blind side defence and both players then combined soon after to fashion Llandovery’s second try after 13 minutes. A run from the ex-Llandybie wing was carried on by Roberts whose clever pass put lock Matthew Monaghan sprinting in to resist challenges and cross near enough to the posts to make the conversion by full back Stuart Harries a formality.
A sloppy piece of covering from full back Daniel Griffiths then cost his side dearly as he gifted Harries a free pass for veteran No.8 Chris Davies to gallop in for a try, converted by Harries. Whitland stared a heavy defeat in the face but answered doubts about their commitment and courage with a tremendous try in the 28th minute. Wing Craig Richards, the fastest man on the field by a considerable margin, ran one of many loose Llandovery kicks back at an off-guard defence, centre Rob Phillips punched through the middle and a perfectly timed pass put centre Dominic Setaro haring in for a try, converted by Griffiths.
It lifted the Borderers’ confidence to see that they, too, could score tries and soon after the break a chip ahead by fly half Simon Rogers brought a second Whitland try, for full back Griffiths, and this heralded a great fightback which had Llandovery on the ropes for most of the remainder of the game. The hungrier Borderers now scrapped for everything and Tongan lock Faka Molitika, along with Kiwi Andrew Jakeman and captain Phil Bowen in the back row, were first on to most of the loose ball and it was against the run of play when a Llandovery attack produced seven points. Fly half Neil Clapham slipped through for a converted try but yet more poor Llandovery handling and kicking let Whitland have all of the play in the last 10 minutes.
Phillips got a good opportunist try after more Llandovery slapdash and, although they threw everything at the Drovers, Whitland were denied the chance of a draw by a mixture of bad luck and desperate home defence in which replacement No.8 Paul Jones, on loan from Neath, did some vital tackling and chasing in the hurly burly of the final exchanges.