Drovers claim creditable draw with champions
3:26pm Monday 7th October 2013 in Sport
Llandovery 27 Pontypridd 27
Huw S Thomas at Church Bank
Llandovery gave the defending champions a real test but in the end had to be content with a draw.
The Drovers had beaten Ponty just three times in 20 Premiership games and they came agonisingly close to making it four.
There was a dramatic ending when Pontypridd scored a try to tie the scores in the last movement of an enthralling counter.
Replacement Simon Humberstone had the chance to win the game but missed the conversion.
It was a fitting result to a full blooded contest between the sides that finished first and second in last year’s Premiership but the summer loss of some key players to professional sides has made life difficult for Llandovery.
And now, England Championship side Rotherham are near to signing full back Lee Rees who can play in so many positions behind the scrum and who scored a fine second half try.
It is becoming a worrying trend for the Scarlets region to see promising Premiership players depart for the Championship.
In the summer Carmarthen Quins centre Rheon James went to Cornish Pirates, Llanelli fly half Dan Newton to London Scottish and the Llandovery trio of centre Jack Roberts, lock Shaun Jones and prop Peter Edwards headed for Rotherham, Leeds Carnegie and London Welsh respectively.
They join dozens of Premiership players who are now enjoying the lucre of the Championship where clubs receive four times more funding than their Welsh counterparts.
Even National One clubs like Coventry are signing Premiership players such as Cross Keys flanker and skipper Rob Nash who left Pandy Park at the start of the season after being offered a lucrative two year contract.
He joins former Welsh internationals in lock Scott Morgan, full back Barry Davies and fly half Matthew Jones at Butts Park.
Two early yellow cards for illegal tackles by prop Greg Cunniffe and No 8 Lawrence Reynolds cost Llandovery dearly, centre Garyn Smith slicing through for a try, converted fly half Dai Flanagan.
But after a yellow card for Ponty second row Craig Locke, the Drovers were level when Matthew Jacobs twisted through for a try converted by fly half James Garland.
The visitors struck just before half time when flanker Jake Thomas crashed over in the corner for a 12-7 lead.
Intense home pressure ended with Garland taking a quick penalty to slip over and convert and then the fly halves swapped penalties before a storming run from Drovers lock Bryn Griffiths fashioned a try for full back Rees, converted by Garland.
Garland kicked a penalty but replacement Dafydd Lockyer grabbed a try converted by Humberstone to bring it back to 27-22.
Second row Craig Locke’s corner try at the death after home flanker Shaun Miles had been carded tied the scores to bring the curtain down on a memorable game.