There was keen disappointment in Llandovery ranks on Saturday when they struggled to put away a combative albeit limited Bridgend. The Drovers travelled to the Brewery Field in search of the five points they ideally needed to keep in contention for a play-off spot but in the end they were relieved to come away with a plain four points win.
The West Walians overtook Cross Keys to go up to fourth in the Premiership and still have a chance of a play-off spot if they can win their last three games – against Neath, Aberavon and Bedwas. They entertain Neath this Saturday, Aberavon on Tuesday and finish at the Bridge Field on April 20 in a possible shoot out against Bedwas.
Rain fell throughout onto an increasingly treacherous surface and these hostile conditions dictated the nature of a stop-start game, punctuated by a multitude of scrums.
Llandovery coach Lyndon Lewis bemoaned the heavy ground and slippery ball. “We came looking for tries but we could never get fluency into our play and found it hard to break down a well organised home defence whose first up tackling ruffled our feathers,” said Lewis.
That said, Llandovery had the better possession and territory and had a definite edge at the scrum where Peter Edwards, skipper Emyr Phillips and Andrew Jones – plus replacement Wyn Jones - were in control. Lock Shaun Jones was a great force in the loose alongside flanker Richie Pugh but the usually fluent Llandovery back division was well marked in the heavy underfoot conditions, where players found themselves losing their footing on the soaking wet surface.
After fly half James Garland had kicked the Drovers into a first minute lead with a 30 metre penalty, the sparse crowd had to wait another 69 minutes for the next score. During that time, the Ravens hardly got into the Llandovery 22 and the Drovers had the better chances.
Garland missed two relatively easy penalties and prop Peter Edwards once burst a full 30 metres up the touchline before feeding centre Jack Roberts who looked certain to score only to be thwarted by a magnificent cover tackle by replacement flanker Arthur Ellis.
With Phillips and locks Jones and Bryn Griffiths outstanding in the close quarter exchanges, Roberts swooped onto a stray pass to get the vital score ten minutes from time. The conversion by scrum half Rhodri Williams was enough.
Veteran Rob Walters came on to make his 300th appearance for the club before the game ended with a good late try from wing Tom Grabham at the end of Bridgend's only serious attack of the game.