What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Pontypridd had gone down 48-24 to Llandovery in last season’s corresponding fixture at Church Bank but this was a closer fought and tense game between the two Indigo Premiership sides writes Huw S Thomas.
The win takes them up to a mid table 20 points after seven games and they have one and in most cases two games in hand over all the other teams in the league.
The Drovers had not been firing on full cylinders this season, having won just 50% of their games but they put in an outstanding second half performance to bring home the bacon.
The elements to their distinct advantage, they led 13-5 at the break but with the rain coming in to add to the strong wind, the general opinion round the ground was that Ponty would take over in the second half.
That the Drovers then kept them at bay was credit to the resolve and the confidence they had in working their way upfield with infinite patience and denying Ponty the ball they craved.
“As good a second half performance as we could have wished “said coach Simon Davies.
“We were scratchy in the first half and far from clear at the break despite leading 13-5 but the forwards took us to victory with their ability to drive on without spilling the ball.”
All the 14 forwards who were used including second half replacement Richard Brooks – making his 200th appearance – kept the ball brilliantly with little error to stamp their authority on the game.
They are all fully deserving of recognition. – the six front rowers in Jamie Hughes, Dafydd Hughes, Llyr Green, Dino Dallavalle, Ricky Guest, Berian Watkins, the locks Jack Jones (captain), Joe Powell, Rhys Jones and back rowers Iestyn Rees, Ed Kennedy, Stuart Worrall, Richard Brooks and Lewis Ellis-Jones.
Mention must be made too of the full commitment of the Llandovery backs who snuffed put any danger and carried the ball forward with the determination of the forwards, none more so than Rhodri Jones, back to his competitive best in the centre.
A kick from Jack Maynard put the Drovers into a prime position early on and although it came to nothing the fly half soon converted a close range penalty for a third minute lead.
The strong wind was to Llandovery’s advantage but Ponty were well organized and sold in defence until an infringement right in front of their posts gave Maynard an easy task to make it 6-0.
Ponty hit back almost immediately. Wing Morgan Richards was brought down inches short of the line and from a resulting scrum, scrum half Jamie Hill sniped over on the unguarded blind side.
The Llandovery backs were finding it hard to slip first time tackling but their counterparts also probed dangerously when in possession in a tight contest.
A close range line out for Ponty came to nothing and at the other end wing Dale Stuckey denied Llandovery with some excellent covering of a kick ahead.
Llandovery eventually broke through just before the break when a close range line out and patient build up ended with scrum half Dafydd Land putting impressive Scarlets‘ Australian No 8 Ed Kennedy in with a clever reverse pass. Maynard converted for a hard fought 13-5 interval lead.
The Drovers were intent on keeping the ball in hand into the wind and rain and did so effectively for a full 10 minutes at the start of the second half.
From a close range scrum the pack drove hooker Dafydd Hughes over for Llandovery’s second try to stretch the lead to 13 points.
The Ponty pack responded with some fierce counter rucking and when they forced a penalty, fly Diggy Bird kicked a long range penalty.
The Drovers refused a penalty kick just to the left of the posts but failed to drive home the advantage.
Ponty eventually got down to the Llandovery end only to lose a close range scrum and from there on the home pack were expert in retaining possession as they worked their inexorable way upfield.
Ponty kicker Ben Jones had two late chances to salvage a bonus point, missing both to end any Ponty hope of going back home with some consolation.
Tries: Ed Kennedy, D Hughes
Con: J Maynard
Pens: J Maynard (2)
Try: J Hill
Pen: D Bird
Llandovery: G Thomas; R Williams, C Evans, R Jones, A Warren; J Maynard, D Land; J Hughes, D Hughes, L Green, J Jones (capt), J Powell, I Rees, E Kennedy, S Worrall
Replacements: B Watkins, D Dallavalle, R Guest, R Jones, R Brooks, L Ellis-Jones, L Thomas, S Maynard
Pontypridd: B Jones; A Webber, M Grady, D Lockyer (capt), D Stuckey; D Bird. J Hill; H Owen, M Bosanko, S Moore, K Parker, L Evans, R Shellard, S Parry
Replacements: R Jones, C Reynolds, J Raikes, B Warren, J Murphy, K Evans, M Richards, D Carter