Llandovery nearly recorded a fourth successive victory when they snatched the lead for the first time in the game with only 10 minutes left on the clock. Leading by 29-16, the Dairymen lost wing Arwel Davies, yellow-carded for killing the ball, and the Drovers took the opportunity to score two converted tries. The first went to wing Gary Davies and the second to outside-half Gareth Jones, who converted both.
This set up a nail-biting finale but unfortunately for the visitors, they failed to deal properly with a deep kick-off and found themselves back desperately defending their line. With the defence failing to cover across, centre David Atkins was able to round the last tackler and score the decisive fifth try. With the extra points added by Paul Morgan the home side gained a deserved victory.
The first half saw the home forwards, playing up the slope, outplay the Drovers eight. With prop Owen Ford and number eight Colin Malone driving the ball into the heart of the Drovers defence, the Llandovery side were penned into their own half for much of the first 40 minutes.
A second minute try by Mark Roper, followed by two more from Arwel Davies and Grant Hall, were the result of this pressure. Paul Morgan converted two and also kicked a penalty to build what should have been a commanding lead. However, indiscipline was to be their weak point and with a stream of penalties awarded against them, the Drovers managed to keep within reasonable distance. Gareth Jones kicked three and a quickly-taken tap from young scrum-half replacement Gethin Thomas made for a Drovers try right on half-time. The youth player, showing good presence of mind, took the penalty quickly and with a superbly timed pass sent hooker Hywel James over for a try in the corner. With the extra points added by Jones, this left the Drovers only six points adrift after a below-par first 40 minutes.
Showing greater urgency and determination in the second half, the Drovers came much more into the game. Their backs, seeing more of the ball, ran strongly to take the game to the Dairymen and after what appeared to be a perfectly good try ruled out when the touch judge informed the referee that a knock-on had occurred, the home side increased their lead against the run of play with a first try from David Atkins, converted by Morgan.
The game then really came to life as Llanharan were reduced to 14 men but it was all over as the home side recorded the winning score and their defence held firm as the Drovers threw everything into attack in the final, frustrating minutes.
John Kendrick adds: Llanharan under Coach Dennis John have been playing well in recent weeks and sure enough this proved to be the slip up we feared. Mid week games always cause problems for team selection and this together with our injury list proved our undoing. Bos had to do duty as emergency full back on his return from a good break back home, Rob Walters attempting his fourth game in seven days was soon injured and youth scrum half Gethin Thomas had to take over and finally Hywel James with hardly any game time this season was the starting hooker. To be fair Llanharan played well - we struggled but had two ‘perfectly’ good tries disallowed and finally lost by 36-30.
Note: This game was a replay of the original match on 1st March, which had been abandoned because of the weather conditons, with the score 3-3. The report of the abandoned game was as follows:
Torrential rain caused play to be abandoned as the Dairyfield resembled a paddy field which was rightly deemed unplayable. It turned out to be a fruitless journey east for the Drovers who, on the balance of play, looked the stronger unit, but no-one had any complaints about the decision. “It was a sensible decision, made in the interests of player safety, which is paramount,” said Llanharan coach Dennis John.
The man who made the decision to call proceedings to an early halt, Penarth official David Swain, afterwards explained events. “Torrential rain saturated the pitch and It soon became very difficult under foot. After consulting with my touch judges and both captains, I tookhe players off. Further discussions took place with both coaches who were happy to end the game, which confirmed my decision. The water standing on the surface presented a potential risk to the safety of the players and the game couldn’t continue”, he said.
Before the deluge, Llanharan made an early impact with Paul Morgan slotting a penalty from in front of the posts after the visitors had been caught offside. The Drovers responded strongly and spurned a chance when Neil Clapham split the defence with a superb break, only to throw his pass beyond the reach of both Ioan and Gary Davies, who faced clear run-ins. Then Rob Walters was denied near the flag as the visitors began to produce the form that has taken them to fourth place in the first division.
As a hail storm lashed the ground, Llandovery defied the conditions to put together a series of threatening attacks. They forced Llanharan to concede a penalty on 21 minutes, which Mel Jones converted to tie the scores. Conditions worsened by the second as heavy rain, thunder and lightening all arrived to make play a lottery.