MAGNIFICENT DROVERS FIGHT INTO INDIGO PREMIERSHIP CUP SEMI-FINALS
Llandovery 12 Pontypridd 3
Llandovery went through to the last four of the Indigo Premiership Cup and a semi final meeting with Aberavon after a tumultuous win over Pontypridd writes Huw S Thomas.
Ponty had won a league game against the Drovers 34-18 back at the end of February and were favourites to win but they found the Drovers a completely different kettle of fish from the last encounter.
It was a real old fashioned cup tie, no quarter given or asked with defences on both sides magnificent in a game that was try less but nevertheless enthralling.
Both sets of packs battered each other in the close exchanges, guarding their try line as if their very lives depended on it whilst behind the scrum there were some staggering tackles from cover defenders.
One by Llandovery’s Aaron Warren was quite remarkable as the wing got back in goal to somehow snatch the ball out of Dale Stuckey’s grasp as the Ponty wing dived over the line.
Has there ever been a more stupendous try saving tackle in all the 32 year long history of the Church Bank ground?
“Great contest between two sides that gave it everything “ said winning coach Euros Evans.
“It was a game for the purists and showed how defence can make for as exciting a game as any all out attacking clash.”
“As opposed to then league game, we kept our shape and discipline for 80 rather than 40 minutes and the entire match squad must take credit for a huge defensive effort in the second half.”
It was an enthralling game that would have warmed the cockles of the big heart of former Drover, the lately departed Arwel Davies whose name was honoured pre match in the christening of the Terras Arwel Ad-Clad in front of a large, reverential crowd.
Llandovery were out of the traps quickly as indeed they had done two weeks before but the visitors soaked up a lot of early pressure only to go behind behind to a 40 metre penalty by home fly half Kristian Jones after a Ponty offside in midfield.
The home pack monopolized possession but despite the probing of scrum half Lee Rees the backs found it difficult to break some firm and committed tackling.
Wing Aaron Warren came near to extending the lead as the Drovers continued to have the better of the play and Jones kicked another penalty for a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A stabbing run from wing Dale Stuckey set up a short period of Ponty attacking but a third Jones penalty in the 34th minute put the Drovers further ahead.
Stuckey failed with a penalty into the wind but there was encouragement for his side just before the break with a close range effort to bring it back to 9-3
The marvellous try saving tackle by Warren then denied Stuckey a try after a break by full back Cole Swannack.
The Llandovery wing was then denied at the other end but Jones soon extended the home lead with an easy penalty after a patient multi phased attack by his forwards led by skipper and lock Jack Jones.
Ponty responded with good runs from wing Jac Davies and centre Garyn Payne and started to get better possession going into the last quarter.
Davies was all but over wide out as Ponty enjoyed their best period of the game in a growingly tense atmosphere.
A crunching tackle by Jones on fly half Ceri Morris kept Ponty out and Stuckey was again denied in the corner.
Ponty had all the play in the last 10 minutes with No 8 Joe Miles outstanding in the loose and it was all Llandovery hands to the pump to keep out waves of attack.
The defence, magnificent to a man – with flanker Stuart Worrall and centre Kristian Jones heroic figures – held out for a famous win and a semi final tie on neutral ground against the Wizards of Aberavon on March 26.
The other semi- final pits Newport against Cardiff on the same day.
*** The Drovers continue their league programme this Thursday, March 17 when they travel to take on Ebbw Vale at Eugene Cross Park (Ko 7 30 pm)
Pens: K Jones (4)
Pen: D Stuckey
Llandovery: W Thomas: C Williams, R Wall, C Woodall, A Warren; K Jones, L Rees; D Dallavalle, J Cox, B Watkins, J Jones (capt),G Evans, O Davies I Rees, S Worrall
Replacements: L Tobias, C Thomas, R Guest, M Dallavalle, L Pike, A Evans, J Garland, D Land
Pontypridd: C Swannack; J Davies, B Roderick, G Payne, D Stuckey; C Morris, D Buckland; B Stephens, I Morris, T Harper, K Parker (capt), C Dicomidis, C James, J Miles, S Parry
Replacements: J Walker, T Devine, M Bosanko, J Pope, C James, J Kaikes, J Lloyd, L ap Myrddin
— Huw S Thomas Rugby World Schools Editor 4 Maes y Coleg Llandovery Carms SA20 0HS 01550 720028 07866 553920