Llandovery 37 Pontypool 21

Both teams came into this game with similar records, having won seven of their first eight Premiership encounters, and there was predictably little to choose between top of the table Llandovery and third placed Pontypool writes Huw S Thomas.

In a compelling and exciting match in front of a big crowd of away fans, the Drovers clinched a bonus point win in the very last movement of the game when replacement hooked Taylor Davies burrowed over under the posts.

The win keeps them at the top of the Indigo Premiership table, four points clear of Newport who have played one game less.

“Best game we’ve seen at Church Bank for a good while “ were the united voices of Club president Handel Davies and Secretary Robin Barlow.

“And what an early advert for next season’s Elite Development League!”

Coach Euros Evans could not hide his delight.

“What a great game, atmosphere and occasion.”

“We were more than happy with the win against a strong Pontypool team but to get the bonus point try in the last play of the game was the cherry on the cake.”

“Pontypool stayed in the game and made it difficult for us. When we had good quality ball we managed to score some great tries. Tomi Lewis was on fire at full back and a constant threat throughout.”

“But we have Newport next and that will be just as difficult a challenge.”

After promotion from the Championship, Pooler have been the surprise packet of the Premiership but here they were up against the defending champions on their own Church Bank patch.

They gave it everything in the image of their combative captain and No 8 Scott Matthews but the superior invention and adventure of the Llandovery back division was something they had not come up against thus far.

In many people’s minds, this was the most absorbing Premiership contest of the season thus far with the speed and craft of the Llandovery backs pitted against the power and strength of the Pontypool forwards.

Not that the home forwards were outplayed – far from it – as they contested toe to toe with their Gwent counterparts in a no holds barred but clean contest, well referred by Ian Davies.

Lock and skipper Jack Jones, flanker Osian Davies and No 8 Joe Powell – in his 150th game for the Drovers – were immense figures in the loose and showed themselves to be in the form of their lives.

Behind them, half backs Lee Rees and Ioan Hughes were calm and composed in directing operations, centre Adam Warren repeatedly threatened the gain line and wings Harri Doel and Aaron Warren ran hard and fast
Full back Tomi Lewis brought flair and excitement to proceedings with his goose stepping counter attacking runs whilst centre Rhodri Jones had a stand out game in defence.

The home side were soon 10-0 up after a Hughes penalty and conversion of a try by Rees who was set up for his score by a terrific run by the dashing Doel.

Pooler took it in their stride and when they forced a close range scrum, skipper Matthews was up and away in a flash to crash in under the posts, fly half Matthew Jarvis converting.

A Hughes penalty was followed by some delightful back play which sent Doel racing in, Hughes converting for a 20-7 lead.

Back came Pooler with a close range line out putting lock Ashley Sweet in for his side’s second converted try but seconds before the break they conceded a penalty try for a deliberate knock on and trailed 27-14.

Llandovery searched for the bonus point try but despite some fine running and handling they could not find a way through Pooler grit and determination in defence.

Hughes’s third penalty stretched the home lead only for replacement centre Owain Davies to finish off more powerful play by his pack to bring Pooler to within nine points.

The visitors sniffed a fourth try and possible losing bonus point as they carried hard into the Llandovery midfield but did not have the outside speed to outflank defenders.

With time all but up, Llandovery made one last effort and a close range line out and patient driving play worked in former Scarlets hooker Davies for another converted try and winning bonus point.

*** Llandovery’s next game is a mouth watering clash at home against their nearest pursuers Newport on November 25

Tries:L Rees, H Doel, Pen try, T Davies
Cons: I Hughes (3)
Pens: I Hughes (3)
Tries: S Matthews, A Sweet, O Davies
Cons: M Jarvis (3)

Llandovery: T Lewis; H Doel, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, H Thomas, L Green, J Jones (capt), E Scragg, O Davies, J Powell, S Worrall
Replacements: D Dallavalle, T Davies, B Watkins, J Evans, N Hart, M Page, J Maynard, D Land

Pontypool: J Malson; W Price, P Lewis, J Mahoney, A Nove; M Jarvis, M Lloyd; S Cochrane, S Scarfe, O Drake, L Randall, A Sweet,M Herbert, S Matthews (capt), C Davies
Replacements: W Griffiths, D Kelleher-Griffiths, P Lloyd, L Johnson, A Grey, M Flanagan, O Davies, B Moa