PONTYPRIDD 12 LLANDOVERY 23
The Drovers kept up their impressive good form with their ninth Premiership win in 10 games to keep closely on the heels of Cardiff and Aberavon writes Tom Hughes. Photo by Derek Jones.
With the top two failing to get a bonus point win, it leaves the Drovers tucked neatly in third place with two games in hand over the top two.
Cardiff are on 52 points and Aberavon 43, followed by the Drovers on 42.
The top four, come the end of the season, will go into the Premiership play offs in April and unless there is a dramatic drop in form, Euros Evans’s charges must have a big chance of making that final four.
Pontypridd are not having the greatest of season and Sardis Road may not be The House of Pain of old but they pushed Llandovery hard until the final stages.
In front of a 1,500 crowd, they belied their 10th position in the league table with a typically gritty effort up front but they could never get the better of the Llandovery pack in which the back row Griff Evans, Osian Davies and Stuart Worrall were shining lights, nor did not have the class behind to worry the Drovers.
Their talented young fly half Bob Burnell kept them in the game throughout, one of his four penalties a huge kick from half way but Llandovery always looked likely to triumph in a contest spoiled by the damp conditions.
In their first visit to Sardis Road since November 2018, Llandovery looked full of their confident, running selves and it took them just a minute to score.
Scrum half Dafydd Land – making a rare appearance in the starting line up ahead of Lee Rees – got the opening try of the game, after centre Rhodri Jones had made a break before handing on to the swiftly supporting Land.
It was converted by full back Jack Maynard before fine combined work from centre Adam Warren and wing Kian Abraham ended with prop Jamie Hughes being held up on the Ponty goal line.
Fly half Burnell, son of coach Justin Burnell, soon brought the home side to within a point with a couple of penalties, including one monstrous effort from the half way line.
Maynard answered with a 23rd minute penalty for a 10-6 lead and the rest of the half was played out evenly in the wet and difficult conditions.
With the Drovers getting on the wrong side of international referee Craig Evans after the break, Burnell added a brace of penalties for Ponty to go ahead for the first time.
Maynard kept his head to pinch back the lead with a good penalty of his own before the Drovers put the game to bed with two unconverted tries in two minutes.
Two replacements in prop Berian Watkins and wing Callum Dodd crossed with 10 minutes to go.
Watkins finished off a strong rolling maul before Dodd was worked clear for the try of the game.
Watkins started the movement off on half way with a pass to Abraham who slipped tackles before sending skipper Jack Jones galloping away.
The lock fed replacement prop Dino Dallavalle who promptly lobbed the ball wide to Jones and the centre swapped swift passes with Maynard before putting Dodd haring over in the corner for a try of quite the highest order
In search of the bonus point, the Drovers kept battering away at the line but a combination of resolute home defence and the surprising reluctance of referee Evans to go into his pocket foiled all efforts of a try.
*** Llandovery quickly return to action this Thursday evening when they entertain fifth placed Merthyr under the Church Bank lights (KO 7 30 pm)
Pens: B Burnell (4)
Tries: D Land, B Watkins, C Dodd
Con: J Maynard
Pens: J Maynard (2)
Pontypridd: A Lloyd; E Skuse, T Morgan, J Howells, S Hayman; B Burnell, J Raikes; T Devine. R Jones, T Harper, K Parker (capt), C Dicomidis, C James, J Miles, S Parry
Replacements:M Bosanko, B Stephens, G Daniel, M Barnard, A Ward, R Harries, C Morris, M Lewis
Llandovery: J Maynard; R Wall, Adam Warren, R Jones, K Abraham; I Hughes, D Land; J Hughes, C Thomas, L Green, J Jones (capt), J Powell, G Evans, O Davies, S Worrall
Replacements: R Guest, D Dallavalle, B Watkins, L Pike, J Evans, K Jones, C Dodd, L Rees