(Above: Steffan Jones dives over to score in his first match since April 2016 - (C) Dragon Tales Photography)
- Whites lose out in close match
- Fourth losing bonus point in five matches for Swansea
- Swansea pack continues theme of dominating opponents
By: Paul Hopkins
The Whites threw everything at high flying Llandovery but were unable to get that elusive win.
While the Swansea pack impressed throughout, it was the devastating pace of the Drovers’ backs that proved the difference at St Helen’s.
The visitors’ front eight looked very strong in the early stages and earned a penalty following a big scrum. Fly half Jack Maynard kicked to touch and scrum half Scott Maynard darted forward from a ruck, only to hold on after the tackle.
Centre Ryan Evans made a mini break after the ball spilled out of a home scrum, and the Whites gave away a penalty for offside. Jack Maynard kicked to the corner, but his pack lost the ball at a maul.
A crunching hit by centre Rhys Williams on winger Rhodri Wall wasn’t enough to turn over possession as lock Joe Powell marched forward. Some creative play out wide by the Drovers saw them get quick ball out wide for hooker Matthew Moore to score. Jack Maynard’s conversion attempt fell short of the posts.
Prop Scott Jenkins charged into midfield as the Llandovery forwards battered the Swansea line. A bone crunching tackle on winger Lee Williams temporarily halted their charge, but the backs recycled the ball out wide for Wall to score. Jack Maynard converted.
The home side began to exert some pressure and camped on the Drovers line with a series of scrums and lineouts, but were unable to break through a solid defence.
Whites centre Owen Howe intercepted a loose pass and sent winger Daniel Howells racing up to the twenty-two. However, ill-discipline by lock Sam Kiley saw referee Gareth John reverse a penalty.
A deft pass by Jack Maynard found centre Rhodri Jones, who charged into the twenty-two, only for lock Jack Jones to spill the ball forward. The home side took advantage and Howells ran back at Llandovery from deep, although he took the wrong option and was unable to take a return pass from Rhys Williams.
To compound a difficult opening 40 minutes for Swansea they had lock Jay Williams yellow carded for foul play at the lineout.
Jack Maynard had a chance to kick his side further ahead on the stroke of half time when the Whites crept offside in midfield, but his effort fell short and wide of the posts.
Half-time:- Swansea 0 Llandovery 12
The visitors picked up the pace after the interval and got the ball out wide to flanker Shaun Miles, but a poor pass meant for number eight Duane Eager sailed into touch.
Scott Maynard raced upfield and his chip through was pounced on by replacement winger Dafydd Pritchard, who looked to have scored a try, only for the touch judge to rule that he failed to ground the ball. Play was brought back for a Llandovery penalty though and Jack Maynard converted his effort at goal.
Jenkins made a barnstorming run through the middle, and as the visitors looked set to add to their try tally, a forward pass by Rhodri Jones brought an end to the move.
Swansea began to turn the screw up front and Jenkins saw yellow for persistent infringements at the scrum.
Rhys Williams showed pace and power to start an attack, finding replacement full back Gareth Walters in support, but Williams was unable to take the return pass.
A horrible bounce bamboozled the Swansea defence and Williams sprinted upfield, finding Evans in support, although he lost possession on the Swansea twenty-two.
A superb crossfield kick by fly half James Davies was taken by winger Graeth Rees, who sprinted towards the line, but a last gasp tackle by full back Lee Rees saved a certain try.
The respite didn’t last long though as a massive scrum by the home pack earned a penalty try.
The visitors went back on the attack through Evans, and although Walters defused a high kick, play was brought back for a penalty, which Jack Maynard duly converted.
With ten minutes left on the clock Swansea were given a lifeline when Walters made a break and found scrum half Tom Ham in support, who fired a quick pass out to replacement flanker Steffan Jones who scored under the posts. Howe converted.
In search of victory Jones charged over the twenty-two as his side got the ball out wide through the hands of Rhys Williams, but Rees was tackled into touch. The lineout throw by substitute hooker Ricky Guest wasn’t straight, gifting the Whites a dangerous scrum five.
This time Swansea didn’t make the most of their advantage up front and replacement prop Fenton Holder was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
Powell broke through a tackle to send Drovers on a rare attack in the closing stages. Prop Berian Watkins spotted a gap in midfield and handed off a tackler, sending a long pass out wide to replacement scrum half Josh Hammett, although he held onto the ball after an excellent Howells tackle.
Swansea had one final chance to complete a comeback when Howe found touch deep inside the Llandovery twenty-two with a penalty. Moore was shown a yellow card for killing the ball and the home side opted for a scrum. However, a huge effort by the visitors’ pack earned a penalty that sealed victory.
Next up for Swansea is a home match against Llanelli, while Llandovery host Carmarthen.
Full-time:- Swansea 14 Llandovery 18
Tries:- Penalty Try (63), Steffan Jones (71)
Cons:- Owen Howe (72)
Yellow cards:- Jay Williams (40), Fenton Holder (79)
Tries:- Matthew Moore (14), Rhodri Wall (18)
Cons:- Jack Maynard (19)
Pens:- Jack Maynard (47, 66)
Yellow cards:- Berian Watkins (53), Matthew Moore (80+5)
Venue:- St Helen’s, Swansea
Referee:- Gareth John
Weather:- Sunny, 6C
Man of the match:- Ryan Evans
15 Richard Fussell (rep: Gareth Walters 4)
14 Gareth Rees
13 J Rhys Williams
12 Owen Howe
11 Dan Howells (rep: Jake Randell 80+2 (rep: Richard Murphy 80+5))
10 James Davies
9 Tom Ham (rep: Josh Guy 75)
1 Tom Sloane (rep: Jack Powell 74)
2 Ashleigh James (rep: Tom Ball 74)
3 Richard Murphy (rep: Fenton Holder 70)
4 Sam Kiley
5 Matt Dodd
6 Jon Vaughan (rep: Tudor Hughes 45)
7 Jay Williams (rep: Steffan Jones 70)
8 Jon Fox ©
16 Jack Powell
17 Tom Ball
18 Fenton Holder
19 Tudor Hughes
20 Steffan Jones
21 Josh Guy
22 Gareth Walters
23 Jake Randell
15 Lee Rees ©
14 Lee Williams
13 Ryan Evans
12 Rhodri Jones
11 Rhodri Wall (rep: Dafydd Pritchard 28 (rep: Jamie Hughes 54-67))
10 Jack Maynard
9 Scott Maynard (rep: Josh Hammett 72)
1 Berian Watkins (rep: Jamie Hughes 80)
2 Matthew Moore (rep: Ricky Guest 49)
3 Scott Jenkins (rep: Dexter Thomas 4-10, 57)
4 Jack Jones (rep: Jake Baker 80+5)
5 Joe Powell
6 Shaun Miles (rep: Emyr Price 67)
7 Stuart Worrall
8 Duane Eager (rep: Richard Brooks 57)
16 Dexter Thomas
17 Jamie Hughes
18 Jake Baker
19 Emyr Price
20 Ricky Guest
21 Richard Brooks
22 Dafydd Pritchard
23 Josh Hammett