The Drovers completed the double over Pontypridd, following their 23-12 win at Sardis Road but this was a game that was just as tight as the scoreline suggest writes Huw S Thomas
Llandovery keep in second place in the Premiership table – two points ahead of Aberavon – and will be mightily relieved to take the four points in the face of a determined challenge from underrated Ponty.
Aberavon won easily at Llanelli and with the Drovers and Wizards still to meet home and away, there promises to be a momentous end to the season.
A top two spot will ensure a home draw in the semi final play offs in April
The visitors under lock and skipper Kris Parker had the better of possession for long periods but they lacked a cutting edge behind the scrum, apart from the darting contribution of wing Dale Stuckey.
With referee Ben Whitehouse penalising Llandovery at the breakdown, Ponty took a 9-0 lead with three very good penalties from fly half Jamie Murphy and Llandovery could not find their usual fluency behind the scrum in the face of an alert and powerful defence.
After full back Jack Maynard had scuffed a penalty attempt, it was the forwards who got them on the score board when hooker Craig Thomas plunged through from close range Maynard converting.
The Drovers were all at sea at the line out, failing to win ball at regular intervals, only for a penalty from Maynard to put them undeservedly ahead 10-9 at the break.
They were also finding it difficult to recycle quick ball and Murphy’s fourth penalty soon after the break regained the lead.
Flanker Stuart Worrall, making his 150th appearance for the club since joining from Narberth was prominent for Llandovery in the loose but neither he nor his team mates could hardly complain at falling behind..
But they showed their class in style when they moved the ball from one side of the field to another half a dozen times before good handling and close support ended with flanker Jordan Evans sending skipper and scrum half Lee Rees racing in with an inside pass.
The Maynard conversion made it 17-12 before wing Kian Abraham was denied a corner try by outstanding tackling by the combined corner flag covering of Ponty trio centre Ceri Morris, wing Dale Stuckey and Murphy.
Ponty rallied bravely, Fijian wing Niko Marawalu scoring after a driven line out had trundled the home pack backwards, Murphy converting for a 19-17 lead.
A Maynard penalty inched the home side back ahead but then Murphy missed an easy straight penalty to leave Llandovery off the hook.
The home forwards started to dominate ruck and maul and pounded away at the Ponty line, all eight being held up short at one time or another before referee Whitehouse sin binned replacements Cai James and Tom Harper for blatant offsides.
Try as they might the Drovers could find no way through the resolute 13 man defence which bravely hung on for a losing bonus point.
Coach Euros Evans breathed a sigh of relief but will know that this week’s visit to RGC will really test his side even further. The North Walians beat Newport 36-21 at the weekend and the sixth placed side – just four points away from a play off spot – are desperate for another win.
STAR CHOICE: Lee Rees (Llandovery);
Tries: C Thomas, L Rees
Cons: J Maynard (2)
Pens: J Maynard (2)
Try: N Matawalu
Con: J Murphy
Pens: J Murphy (4)
Llandovery: J Maynard; K Abraham, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees (capt); J Hughes, C Thomas, L Green, G Evans, J Powell, J Evans, O Davies, S Worrall
Replacements: D Dallavalle, R Guest, B Watkins, M Dallavalle, L Pike, C Dodd, K Jones, D Ladd
Pontypridd: A Lloyd; S Hayman, C Morris, J Howells, D Stuckey; J Murphy, J Raikes; T Devine, R Jones, G Daniel, K Parker (capt), J Little, A Ward, J Miles, S Parry
Replacements: G Parry, B Stephens, T Harper, M Barnard, C James, N Matawalu, T Morgan, I Griffiths