PONTYPRIDD 12 LLANDOVERY 24
With the kind permission of Huw S Thomas and the Brecon and Radnor Express
Pictured: Man of the Match Ioan Hughes
Premiership champions and league leaders Llandovery continued their rich vein of form with their third consecutive bonus point win of the season writes Huw S Thomas.
In just three games, the Drovers have racked up 16 tries – eight against Carmarthen Quins, four against Merthyr and on Saturday four more at Pontypridd
They are top of the Premiership table on a maximum 15 points, four points clear of Ebbw Vale and now await the arrival at Church Bank of capital city club Cardiff.
True to the standards set at the club, Assistant Coach Gareth Potter was no entirely satisfied with the way things went.
“We are really happy with bonus point win at Sardis Road – it, doesn’t happen often.
“ The gloss is taken off slightly by the fact that our set piece didn’t function most of the second half and so we had very little possession to attack from”
.”We were really good at times in the first half and should have scored from a couple of clear cut opportunities.”
“Young hooker Harry Thomas was outstanding around the field to show that we have exciting youngsters coming through.”
“15 points from three games is more than we could have hoped for, especially considering four front row forwards and skipper Jack Jones are still not available through injury.”
At ”The House of Pain”, the Drovers were comfortably clear at 24-0 with a quarter of an hour left with tries from fly half Ioan Hughes, centre Adam Warren, hooker Harry Thomas and wing Jac Davies before repelling a strong rally from Ponty in the closingstages.,
The patterns of each of the three initial league victories are similar in that the Drovers build up significant leads with some sparkling attacking rugby before making multiple changes and going off the boil.
That said, those changes are giving vital game experience to a host of young players who are looking to make their mark in the semi-pro game.
Coach Euros Evans has already used 32 players in his search of the balance between experience and youth, winning and performing, predictability and innovation.
Wing Jac Davies, centre Macs Page, scrum half Ben Thomas and hooker Harry Thomas already have a confidence that belies their age and promising careers ahead of them, surrounded by the gifted skills of the likes of centre Adam and Warren and Rhodri Jones, scrum half Lee Rees, fly half Ioan Hughes and indefatigable flanker Stuart Worrall.
A sign of Llandovery’s current depth of talent is that they barely missed leading scorer Jack Maynard on Saturday, with Harri Doel looking switching comfortably to full back whilst skipper and lock Jack Jones and new signing hooker Taylor Davies are yet to play this season through injury.
Fly half Ioan Hughes improves in every game with his distribution and timing of the pass, feel for tactical decisions and clever kicking a feature of Llandovery back play.
It was he whose hanging kick allowed the Drovers pack to regain possession at the kick off and after a patient two minute build up and 18 team passes, it was Hughes himself who took the pass from wing Davies to cross wide out.
No 8 Jordan Evans was held up on the Ponty line and centre Jones was just beaten to a bouncing ball in goal as the Drovers pressed hard.
The ball carrying and work rate of lock Joe Powell, Worrall and No 8 Jordan Evans shone bright as the evening star and it was only the erratic success at the line out that let the side down.
Then, a Hughes cross kick to the busy Davies allowed the wing to create space for Warren to dive home at full stretch, Hughes converting well.
Two tries were squandered in golden positions but when Powell won a close range line, his pack drove former Wales U18 hooker Thomas through the Ponty defence.
New Dock Stars and Coleg Sir Gar product Thomas was soon involved again, with a strong carry in the loose which ended with replacement Page putting Davies in at the corner with Hughes’s second conversion making it 24-0.
With the bonus point in the bank, coach Evans rang the changes and to their credit, Ponty refused to throw in the sponge, inspired by veteran lock Chris Dicomidis.
Their forwards raised the tempo enough to grab two tries from wing McCauley Rowley and and replacement centre Ryan Wilkins.
Another replacement, fly half Josh Phillips added a conversion but sound Llandovery defence denied Ponty a bonus point.
*** The Premiership fixture against Cardiff has been moved from Saturday September 30 to Thursday September 28 (KO 7 30) at the request of S4C.
The game will be live on S4C Clic and YouTube
Tries:M Rowley, R Wilkins
Con: J Phillips
Tries:I Hughes, Adam Warren, H Thomas, J Davies
Cons:I Hughes (2)
Pontypridd : L Lloyd; M Rowley, G Smith, W Keep, D Stuckey; J Scrivens, J Raikes; B Stephens, C Greenslade, T Harper, M Cook, C Dicomidis, K Parker (capt) ,J Miles, C James
Replacements: G Parry, T Devine, M Rosanko, M Barnard, W Gregory, H Nash, J Phillips, R Wilkins
Llandovery: H Doel; R Wall, Adam Warren, R Jones, J Davies; I Hughes, L Rees (capt); J Hughes, H Thomas, R Bassett, C Long, J Powell, O Davies, J Evans, S Worrall
Replacements: D Dallavalle, L Phillips-Taylor, G Jones, L Giannini, N Hart, M Page, T Rees, B Thomas