Llandovery 10 Aberavon 10
In their final home game of the season Llandovery were lucky to come away with two points after being outplayed by Aberavon in the second half, writes Huw S Thomas.
Skipper and flanker Phil Day and wing Sam Soul – both products of Bishop Gore CS - played their 100th game for the club but were the first to admit that lady luck smiled on them through the wind and rain of Church Bank.
The result was a severe dent to Llandovery play-off hopes and nor will it have given them much confidence for this week’s Cup semi final against Cross Keys but the Drovers can have no complaints despite leading for 84 minutes of the game.
The Wizards dominated the second half with the wind at their backs but it was not until the fourth minute of injury time that full back Richard Carter scored the try that brought his side level.
Centre Richard Thomas missed the difficult conversion and then Carter was short and wide with a penalty from long range that would have ensured a well deserved win.
Aberavon have made significant progress since Jason Hyatt took over the coaching reins in mid season and are one of only two sides to beat Pontypridd.
They confirmed their progress by taking the game to the Drovers up front and won the contact area hands down after the break but could not find a way through some brave and desperate home defence.
The Drovers had led 10-5 at the interval after playing with the wind, thanks a penalty try at a scrum five plus five points from the boot of fly half Ian Brooks against a breakaway 60 metre try by wing Mike Powell.
With skipper Ben Thomas leading from the front and with notable support from hooker Evan Yardley and flankers James Bija and Nathan Brown, the Aberavon pack took firm control, recycled the ball expertly and pounded the home defence for long periods.
Llandovery backs and forwards tackled themselves to a standstill in the last quarter with skipper Phil Day, full back Mike Evans and flanker Sean Miles outstanding.
The damaged dam finally burst with the Carter try and there was much relief on home faces at the sight of Thomas and Carter missing vital kicks
Opposing coaches Lyndon Lewis and Jason Hyatt – good friends as well as opponents – had mixed emotions.
“We salvaged something out of an unconvincing display” remarked Llandovery’s Lewis “ and we will have to be far more switched on in the Cup next week or we will be on our way out”
Hyatt who has turned things around since his mid season arrival as coach was happy with the two points that puts the Wizards out of danger.
“To come here and all but win was confirmation of the progress the boys have made in the second part of the season and it augurs well for next year.”
“I thought that the pack under Ben Thomas was terrific and we had so much possession in the second half that I thought the win was bound to come ”
“Llandovery defended heroically to be fair to them and although we are disappointed at not winning, a draw at Church Bank has to be hard earned”
On this form Aberavon who are only one of two sides to beat champions Pontypridd this season will not be going to make up the numbers in this week’s Cup semi final against the Cup holders.