By: Paul Hopkins
Swansea’s wait for a victory over Llandovery continues after the Church Bank men survived a 45th minute Griff Evans red card to run out winners at St Helen’s.
In the early stages flanker Griff Evans stole a lineout on half way and full back Gareth Rees did well to defuse a tricky grubber kick, although the Drovers stole possession back.
In the following phases the visitors laid siege to the Swansea line but scrum half Declan Smith ran out of patience and forced a difficult pass to centre Kristian Jones, which he dropped over the line.
Full back Will Thomas powered forward but became isolated and held onto the ball after the tackle. Fly half James Davies failed to find touch with the penalty and Kristian Jones kicked high, although Davies made up for his error by stealing back possession.
Kristian Jones found touch on the Swansea 22 with a penalty but a mistake by the visitors allowed scrum half Connor Tantum to clear long. Prop Dino Dallavalle used his strength to batter through a couple of Swansea tackles and a chip through almost saw winger Callum Williams score in the corner, but the All Whites managed to get back to defend.
The visitors took the lead when a superb burst through the middle by centre Rhodri Wall split the Swansea defence and he handed a simple scoring pass to hooker Jamie Cox, who touched down under the posts. Kristian Jones converted.
Rees took a Smith box kick and the Llandovery defence was penalised for handling in a ruck. A huge kick by James Davies found touch on the 22 to give the Whites their first attacking platform. A poor lineout throw by hooker Garan Williams was stolen by lock Jack Jones though.
It was almost a disaster for the home side when Rees’ clearance kick was charged down under pressure, but winger Llien Morgan managed to get back to save his teammate’s blushes.
A powerful Llandovery scrum forced a penalty inside the 22 and Kristian Jones chipped to the corner. From the lineout Cox cleverly spun around the ruck to score. Kristian Jones missed the conversion.
A collapsed scrum on the half way line gave Llandovery a penalty, which Kristian Jones kicked to touch, but a determined Whites defence regained possession on the ground. A poor Tantum clearance kick was picked up by Will Thomas who sidestepped though a couple of tackles and after the move broke down, fly half James Garland kicked a snap drop goal.
Kristian Jones chipped to touch after the touch judge spotted foul play and the Drovers’ pack mauled into the 22 before winger Curtis Davies was yellow carded for slapping down a Kristian Jones pass.
Tantum took a quick penalty and found Garan Williams, but a dangerous tackle by Griff Evans saw the flanker sent for a 10 minute spell on the sidelines. James Davies found touch on the Swansea 22 and Garland almost intercepted a mistimed pass, but crucially dropped the ball.
On the stroke of half time centre Kieran Charles burst through a tackle, but the supporting Whites player was cynically held back off the ball. James Davies turned down the kickable penalty to find touch deep inside the 22.
Half-time:- Swansea 0-15 Llandovery
Jack Jones was penalised for holding on after the tackle as the home side started the second half with a bang. James Davies kicked deep inside the Llandovery 22 and from the lineout the Whites got the ball out to the backs with James Davies twisting through to hand Charles a scoring pass.
However, the referee checked the screen and adjudged that Griff Evans tapped the ball down so a penalty try was awarded with the flanker shown a second yellow card – a turning point of the game.
Llandovery continued to attack though and flanker Stuart Worrall ripped possession out of a tackle with a clever Kristian Jones kick forcing Rees to clear his lines up to half way. A crooked throw by Cox gifted the home side a scrum, which the visitors collapsed to give Swansea a penalty.
Dodd collected a lineout on half way and superb link play between the centres set up an attack with the Drovers penalised for killing the ball, compounded by a further 10 metres for ill-discipline. James Davies kicked to the corner but the visitors reclaimed possession and were able to clear.
A good run by Morgan fed Rees and the Llandovery defence was penalised for diving over the top. James Davies kicked the penalty goal to bring his side to within five points.
Swansea counterattacked from deep through Rees and Morgan with Charles straightening up. Play was brought back for a penalty and replacement full back Liam Popham kicked the three pointer to bring his side within a whisker of a rare victory over Llandovery.
The home side looked confident with the ball with plenty of offloads, which began to tire out the Llandovery defence. Will Thomas superbly kept the ball in play, but the visitors kept kicking possession away.
The home side tried to run out of defence, but were caught in possession with replacement flanker Ben Asprea penalised for holding on after the tackle. Kristian Jones’ penalty hit the crossbar and went over to restore a five point lead.
The home side were penalised for dragging a player off the ball so Kristian Jones found touch on the Swansea 22. A powerful maul by the home side took play over the 22 and a patient build up saw Garland chip to the corner for replacement winger Ashley Evans to score. Kristian Jones converted. Following a consultation with the TMO number eight Charlie Davies was yellow carded for a dangerous forearm during a preceding ruck.
A superb 50-22 kick by Kristian Jones secured the Drovers possession deep inside the Swansea 22 as Llandovery went in search of a bonus point try, but replacement hooker Ricky Guest became isolated in the tackle and gave away a penalty.
In the last play of the game the All Whites camped on the Drovers’ line and the defence finally gave in with centre Hanno Dirksen ghosting in to score under the posts to secure a losing bonus point. He quickly drop kicked the conversion as the final whistle blew.
Full-time:- Swansea 20-25 Llandovery
Tries:- Penalty Try (48), Hanno Dirksen (80+16)
Cons:- Hanno Dirksen (80+17)
Pens:- James Davies (59), Liam Popham (72)
Yellow cards:- Curtis Davies (36), Charlie Davies (80+10)
Tries:- Jamie Cox (13, 25), Ashley Evans (80+6)
Cons:- Kristian Jones (14, 80+11)
Pens:- Kristian Jones (80)
DGs:- James Garland (30)
Yellow cards:- Griff Evans (37, 48)
Red cards:- Griff Evans (48)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Weather:- Cloudy, 8C
Man of the match:- Kristian Jones
15 Gareth Rees
14 Curtis Davies (rep: Cori Lewis-Jenkins 41)
13 Hanno Dirksen
12 Kieran Charles
11 Llien Morgan
10 James Davies (rep: Liam Popham 67)
9 Connor Tantum (rep: Ben Ley 55)
1 Tom Sloane
2 Garan Williams (rep: Owen Thomas 61)
3 Jordan Pritchard
4 Matt Dodd
5 Jay Williams ©
6 Billy Moxey (rep: Ben Asprea 41)
7 Callum Bowden
8 Charlie Davies
16 Owen Thomas
17 Tom Northy
18 James Williams
19 Aneurin James
20 Ben Asprea
21 Ben Ley
22 Liam Popham
23 Cori Lewis-Jenkins
15 Will Thomas
14 Callum Williams (rep: Ashley Evans 67)
13 Rhodri Wall
12 Kristian Jones
11 Tomi Lewis (rep: Aaron Warren 67)
10 James Garland
9 Declan Smith
1 Dino Dallavalle (rep: Liam Tobias 73)
2 Jamie Cox (rep: Ricky Guest 73)
3 Berian Watkins (rep: Craig Thomas 73)
4 Jack Jones ©
5 Osian Davies (rep: Marco Dallavalle 80+1)
6 Griff Williams
7 Stuart Worrall
8 Lloyd Pike (rep: Jordan Evans 73)
16 Liam Tobias
17 Craig Thomas
18 Ricky Guest
19 Marco Dallavalle
20 Jordan Evans
21 Ashley Evans
22 Aaron Warren
23 Lawrence Thomas