By: Paul Hopkins
It was heartache for the Whites as a late Berian Watkins try saw Llandovery snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat at St Helen’s.
It means the Drovers have now won their last 18 matches against Swansea, a record that dates back to August 2010.
The home side began shakily when full back Josh Thomas tried to run out of defence, but slipped and surrendered possession at the breakdown, although the All Whites managed a turnover of their own seconds later and were able to clear the danger.
Then fly half James Davies wasn’t able to get much distance on a high kick, giving Llandovery an attacking platform, but he made amends with a lengthy clearance that found touch inside the Drovers’ twenty-two.
A poor box kick by scrum half Dafydd Land sailed out on the full, giving Swansea an attacking lineout. His opposite number Reuben Morgan-Williams picked up a loose ball, and prop Tom Sloane looked to have fumbled possession forward, but the home side were awarded the scrum.
A strong run by flanker Callum Bowden took play inside the twenty-two and hooker Matthew Moore charged towards the line, but Llandovery were penalised for killing the ball. Davies opted to chip to the corner, but his pack lost the ball forward in the lineout.
Land tried to force a pass at the breakdown, gifting the Whites possession and the visitors’ pack were penalised for offside with Davies kicking his side into the lead.
Llandovery’s first notable attack saw centre Carwyn Evans superbly flip a pass to winger Harri Doel, but he was bundled into touch by a crunching Nathan Trowbridge tackle.
Winger Trowbridge fielded a loose clearance kick and was supported by flanker Duane Eager, but the Drovers’ defence strayed offside in midfield. Davies kicked the penalty goal.
The visitors were soon back on the attack and were awarded a penalty of their own when the Swansea pack were guilty of handling in the ruck. Fly half Jack Maynard chose to aim for the posts, but his effort fell short.
Land took a quick tap penalty and his side patiently went through the phases until Eager was penalised for offside at the ruck. Jack Maynard made no mistake this time to half the deficit.
Number eight Jon Fox charged down a Land box kick, forcing Drovers to make a handling error. The Swansea forwards inched into the twenty-two, before Moore spilled the ball forward under pressure.
Half-time:- Swansea 6 Llandovery 3
After half time Land made a break from an advancing scrum and the supporting flanker Lewis Ellis-Jones made vital yards before the Whites’ forwards piled into a ruck off their feet. Jack Maynard missed his effort at goal though.
A powerful scrummage by the visitors’ pack earned a penalty and Jack Maynard found touch inside the Swansea half, but Carwyn Evans dropped a pass.
Centre Rhodri Jones made a break in midfield but Swansea were penalised for a late tackle. Jack Maynard chipped into the corner, but Drovers were unable to regain possession at the lineout so the Whites were able to clear. During the move number eight Richard Brooks was yellow carded for overzealous use of the boot.
Things went from back to worse for Llandovery when they gave away a penalty inside their own half and were promptly marched 10 metres back for further ill-discipline. Davies made them pay with a successful penalty goal.
A moment of magic by Land almost sent winger Aaron Warren through the middle, but he was brought down on the twenty-two. The Swansea defence crept offside though and Jack Maynard cut the gap to three points.
The home side grabbed the game’s first try on 69 minutes when replacement winger Callum Carson made a half break and was well tackled, but a superb cross field kick by Davies was hacked forward on the volley by centre Max Nagy, who chased his own kick to score a well taken try. Davies missed the conversion.
With three minutes of normal time remaining Jack Maynard handed his side a lifeline with a penalty goal after the Swansea defence were guilty of offside.
As the clock ticked over 80 minutes the fly half found touch deep inside the Swansea twenty-two. A mistake at the lineout gave Drovers possession metres from the line and a patient build up by the pack saw replacement prop Watkins crash over for a try. Jack Maynard converted to take his side into the lead for the first time.
Full-time:- Swansea 14 Llandovery 16
Tries:- Max Nagy (69)
Pens:- James Davies (19, 30, 62)
Tries:- Berian Watkins (80)
Cons:- Jack Maynard (80+1)
Pens:- Jack Maynard (37, 66, 77)
Yellow cards:- Richard Brooks (60)
Venue:- St Helen’s
Weather:- Light rain, 9C
Man of the match:- Dafydd Land
15 Josh Thomas
14 Nathan Trowbridge (rep: Callum Carson 58)
13 Max Nagy
12 Rhys Williams
11 Gareth Rees
10 James Davies
9 Reuben Morgan-Williams (rep: Chris Morgans 74)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Eddie Drake 70)
2 Matthew Moore (rep: Shawn Howard 53)
3 Jordan Pritchard (rep: Dean Howells 53)
4 Owen Morgan (rep: Huw Sutton 74)
5 Jay Williams
6 Duane Eager (rep: Rhys Thomas 51)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Jon Fox ©
16 Shawn Howard
17 Eddie Drake
18 Dean Howells
19 Huw Sutton
20 Rhys Thomas
21 Chris Morgans
22 Steffen Williams
23 Callum Carson
15 Kristian Jones (rep: Jordan Evans 74)
14 Harri Doel
13 Carwyn Evans
12 Rhodri Jones
11 Aaron Warren
10 Jack Maynard
9 Dafydd Land (rep: Scott Maynard 70)
1 Jamie Hughes (rep: Dino Dallavalle 53)
2 Alun Rees (rep: Ricky Guest 53)
3 Llyr Green (rep: Berian Watkins 62)
4 Jack Jones
5 Joe Powell
6 Lewis Ellis-Jones (rep: Stuart Worrall)
7 Shaun Miles (rep: Iestyn Rees 64)
8 Richard Brooks © (rep: Osain Davies 72)
16 Berian Watkins
17 Dino Dallavalle
18 Osain Davies
19 Stuart Worrall
20 Ricky Guest
21 Iestyn Rees
22 Jordan Evans
23 Scott Maynard