Pontypridd 21 Llandovery 11
9:00am Wednesday 6th February 2013 in Sport
LLANDOVERY went down to a narrow defeat at the hands of Premiership favourites Pontypridd but will kick themselves for not winning at a soggy Sardis Road, writes Huw S Thomas.
Their goal-kicking let them down big-time with both James Garland and Cerith Rees missing relatively easy shots at goal.
Five straightforward penalties went a-begging and with them the chance of a rare win at the House of Pain.
It also meant the loss of a losing bonus point which, come the end of the season, could prove costly in the race to finish in the top three and qualify for a Premiership play-off spot.
The Llandovery forwards had an outstanding second half when they dominatedmost areas and put the home pack under a lot of pressure but they just could not convert the possession and territory into points.
The Drovers had not played since January 12 and their ring-rustiness was a distinct disadvantage in the first half against a side that came fresh from a 22-14 Swalec Cup win at Llanelli.
Ponty had much the better of the first 40 minutes as Llandovery struggled to adapt to the pace of the game.
Home fly-half Simon Humberstone hit two penalties to one by opposite number Garland, who also missed badly with two kicks before Ponty upped a gear.
A number of line-outs put Llandovery under pressure and centre Gavin Dacey skipped through for a try.
A yellow card for lock Bryn Griffiths did not help the Drovers’ cause and wing Owen Williams dived over wide out just before the break for an 18-3 lead.
Garland kicked a penalty before Ponty forward Craig Locke was yellow carded and this allowed Llandovery to rally strongly under skipper and flanker Phil Day.
Day, lock Shaun Jones and replacements Luke Kendall and Nio Aiono all impressed as the Drovers kept driving forward, helped by a heap of penalties referee Gwyn Morris gave against Ponty in the contact area.
Full back Lee Rees threatened often and Ponty had to do some hard defending in the final quarter.
Replacement Cerith Rees missed badly with a penalty for the Drovers but wing Chris Knight crossed to make it 18-11 in the 71st minute.
Humberstone put over a penalty, Rees missed another two and Ponty were relieved to get a win to leave Drovers supporters speechless at their side’s profligacy.
The Drovers are in Swalec Cup action on Saturday when they travel to Bedwas, kick-off 1.30pm.