Defeat leaves Drovers play-off hopes in doubt
Updated 10:59am Monday 17th March 2014 in Sport
Llandovery 12 Bedwas 17
The Drovers went down to a shock defeat at the hands of visitors Bedwas after letting slip a 12-0 half-time lead, writes Huw S Thomas.
The set-back dealt Llandovery’s play-off hopes a severe blow although this was softened by the news that close rivals Llanelli and Carmarthen Quins had also lost.
But Cross Keys have come right back into contention for a play-off place with a thumping bonus point win over Cardiff.
Pontypridd look certain to finish top of the table but it is now any two from four sides for the key second and third positions.
The Quins and Drovers are tied on 56 points, Llanelli are on 51 and Cross Keys 50 but the situation is complicated as Llandovery have just four games left, Llanelli and the Quins five and Cross Keys six.
After winning 19-13 at Bridge Field, Bedwas became the first side this season to register a league win at Church Bank and did it thanks to a storming second half display from the pack in which replacement Deri Mattravers was outstanding.
Mattravers has been a thorn in Llandovery’s side over the years and put in another rousing ball-carrying performance from the moment he appeared in the 32nd minute.
The 42-year-old belied his years, sucking in tackler after tackler with his thunderous charges to set Bedwas on the way to a victory termed “the best of the season” by coach Steve Law.
Despite limited possession Llandovery had taken their chances well in the first half when Bedwas were reduced to 14 men after the yellow carding of lock James Thomas who had earlier been denied a try after a great ankle tap tackle by Llandovery scrum half Lee Rees.
Taking advantage of a weakened Bedwas scrum the home forwards forced a penalty try – fly-half James Garland converting - before full back Mike Evans came dashing into the line to run in from 55 metres.
When Bedwas prop Aaron Coundley was carded, the odds looked on a home win but the departure of lock Bryn Griffiths with a calf injury disrupted the Drovers’ pack.
With Mattravers in terrific form Bedwas took control, winning the collisions and forcing Llandovery back in the loose.
Taking advantage of a huge penalty count, fly-half Richard Powell kicked three penalties, wing Rory Budina grabbed a try from a Stuart Thomas kick and Powell kicked his fourth penalty.
The Drovers had a late chance to snatch the game from out of the fire but a dropped pass in the shadow of the Bedwas posts left them with just a losing bonus point.
Attention turns to the Swales Cup quarter final this Saturday when Llandovery face a very difficult task against Championship leaders Ebbw Vale at Eugene Cross Park.
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