What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports:
Both sides took huge benefit from a full-blooded game that went Ponty’s way with a last minute penalty from fly-half Dai Flanagan.
Last year’s Premiership champions showed their renowned resolve to pip the Drovers with an 82nd minute penalty after Llandovery had taken the lead with a spectacular burst of three tries in eight minutes deep into the second half.
Ponty had enjoyed a clear edge for three-quarters of the game, their strength in the contact area, clockwork line-out and superior finishing establishing a 17-0 lead. Skipper and lock Chris Dicomidis got an early try from a driven line out, converted by fly half Simon Humberstone, but both sides had serious bouts of attacking pressure only to be rebuffed by excellent defence.
Llandovery back rowers Richard Brooks and Phil Day plus locks Bryn Griffiths and Llywelyn Jones caught the eye in a tough contest up front whilst centres Matthew Jacobs and Paul Davies kept big centres Gavin Dacey and Tom Pascoe quiet in midfield.
But a Humberstone penalty made it 10-0 at the break and when Flanagan converted a try by wing Matthew Nuthall, the result looked a foregone conclusion.
But the Drovers were very lucky when referee Chris Williams missed a home knock on and, whilst Ponty hesitated, prop Wyn Jones showed excellent speed to run in from 40 metres. It was just the lift that the home side needed and they hit Ponty with two more quick tries. A kick from outstanding scrum half Lee Rees bounced kindly for flanker Chris Marks to power through before non-stop flanker Shaun Jones crashed over for a grand try.
With fly half Rhys Jones kicking two conversions, Llandovery were ahead and the gap could have been greater with a little more steadiness in prime attacking positions. One brilliant run from wing Aaron Warren broke down with a final loose pass to the unmarked Jake Randall before Ponty threw everything at the Llandovery defence in a rousing finale.
Shaun Jones brought off some stupendous tackles and Rhys Jones and Rees kicked the side out of trouble only for Flanagan to dash home hopes with a 30 metre penalty.
Coach Lyndon Lewis was disappointed at the result but encouraged by the gritty fight back. “We chopped and changed the side to give everyone game time and to get so near to edging the game against the champions will stand us in good stead for the stern tasks ahead.”
The Drovers still have work to do at the contact area, line out and kick offs but they are in buoyant mood and travel to Bath this Friday (Aug 24) for their last warm up game with a squad of 24 players , all of whom are in the frame for the opening game of the season against Cardiff.