Drovers edged out in thrilling friendly
8:00am Monday 27th August 2012 in Sport
Llandovery 19 Pontypridd 20
BOTH sides took huge benefit from a full-blooded game that went Ponty’s way with a lastminute penalty from fly-half Dai Flanagan, writes Huw S Thomas.
Last year’s Premiership champions showed their renowned resolve to pip the Drovers with an 82nd-minute penalty after Llandovery had taken the lead with a spectacular burst of three tries in eight minutes deep into the second half.
Ponty enjoyed a clear edge for three-quarters of the game, their strength in the contact area, clockwork lineout and superior finishing establishing a 17-0 lead.
Skipper and lock Chris Dicomidis got an early try, converted by fly half Simon Humberstone, but both sides had serious bouts of attacking pressure, only to be rebuffed by excellent defence.
Llandovery back-rowers Richard Brooks and Phil Day plus lock Bryn Griffiths and Llywelyn Jones caught the eye in a tough contest up front, while centres Matthew Jacobs and Paul Davies kept Gavin Dacey and TomPascoe quiet in midfield.
But a Humberstone penalty made it 10-0 at the break and when Flanagan converted a try by wing Matthew Nuthall, the result looked a foregone conclusion.
But the Drovers were lucky when referee Chris Williams missed a home knock on and as Ponty hesitated, prop Wyn Jones showed excellent speed to run in from40 metres.
It was just the lift that the homeside needed and they hit Ponty with two more quick tries.
A kick from scrum half Lee Rees bounced kindly for flanker Chris Marks to power through before non-stop flanker Shaun Jones crashed over for a grand try.
With fly half Rhys Jones kicking two conversions, Llandovery were ahead and the gap could have been greater with a little more steadiness in prime attacking positions.
Onebrilliant run fromwing Aaron Warren broke down with a final loose pass to the unmarked Jake Randall before Ponty threw everything at the Landovery defence in a rousing finale.
Shaun Jones brought off some stupendous tackles and Rhys Jones and Rees kicked the side out of trouble, only for Flanagan to dash home hopes with a 30-metre penalty.
The Drovers still have work to do at the contact area, lineout and kick-offs but they are in buoyant mood and travel to Bath this Friday for their last warm-up game with a squad of 24 players, all of whom are in the frame for the opening game of the season against Cardiff.