Sunday, 28 April 2013

Llandovery and Llanelli earn the right to challenge Pontypridd in thrilling climax to Premiership season

The Principality Premiership set pulses racing yesterday afternoon as Llandovery and Llanelli were celebrating securing end-of-season play-off slots, while Bedwas were left to dream of what might have been.

Chris Knight scored the winning try with just six minutes left on the clock to help Llandovery clinch a breath-taking 43-41 win at Bedwas, and pip their hosts at the post, while Llanelli fought valiantly before going down 27-18 at Pontypridd and give the defending champions a thing or two to think about before the showpiece finale.

Bedwas-Llandovery was a scintillating and nerve-jangling encounter that left both sets of supporters physically and emotionally drained, and neutrals dancing in the aisles as Welsh rugby showcased its qualities with aplomb. The away side were eventually left to travel home in euphoria after seizing the chance to challenge Pontypridd and Llanelli for the title.

Ethan Davies crossed for the hosts in just the first minute and converted it, but nobody could have envisaged the drama about to unfold as the lead went on to change hands three times.

Jack Roberts, James Garland and Lee Rees tries, the latter two converted by Garland, had Llandovery ahead by the 25 minute mark, but Bedwas weren’t ready to give up, and Deri Mattravers scored for Bedwas on 33 minutes, with Lewis Robling converting and adding a penalty to leave the score at 17-19 at the break.

After a brief respite to try and catch our breath play resumed, and whatever Bedwas head coach Steve Law said at half-time obviously worked as they were back in front by 51 minutes through Lewis Hudd and Robling touchdowns, both converted by the latter.

And after the lead had changed hands for a remarkable second time, The Drovers came back to within two points at 31-29 with a converted Mathew Jacobs try on 55 minutes and a Garland penalty after 57.

Just two minutes later, Mattravers crossed again, converted by Robling, to make it 38-29 and the Bedwas fans may have dared to start believing. But the visitors had other ideas, and crossed again on 65 through Jake Randall with Garland adding the extras.

Robling stretched Bedwas’ lead to 41-36 with another penalty three minutes later; before Knight’s late heroics won it for the away side, the lead changing hands for its third and final time.

Bedwas did have further chances. Robling missed a sensational penalty attempt from inside his own half, while the ball was dropped short of the Llandovery try-line on two occasions in an unbelievable end to an incredible match.

But victory was Llandovery’s, and they know the hard work starts here as they enter the play-off campaign.

Meanwhile at Sardis Road, Llanelli gave Pontypridd a scare before the hosts turned the game around and rescued their unbeaten home record this season.

An early Simon Humberstone penalty was cancelled out when Dale Ford went over for the visitors after just 10 minutes, which Jordan Williams converted. Humberstone then single-handedly put Ponty back in front by converting his own try four minutes later.

Williams kicked a penalty, and then converted a Dan Thomas try on the half hour as Llanelli went 10-15 ahead. But Ponty were back in front six minutes later when Humberstone converted an Ed Siggary touchdown, and that left us at 17-15 at the break.

An early Williams penalty but Sosban Fach back in front in the second half, but that was where their scoring ended and Ponty went on to secure the win.

Humberstone converted his second try on 53 minutes, and then kicked an injury time penalty for a personal tally of 22 points.

Elsewhere, Cross Keys ended the season on a high with a 28-3 win over Carmarthen Quins. Their own play-off challenge faltered at the death, but one final victory means they finish just a point behind both Llanelli and Bedwas.

Kristian Baller helped himself to a brace of tries, with Nathan Trowbridge and Scott Matthews adding further scores for a bonus point. Angus O’Brien kicked the rest, with a Dan Newton penalty all the Quins could reply with as they ended the season with something of a whimper with three defeats in their final four games.

Aberavon also secured a bonus point with a 33-22 win over Bridgend in another entertaining encounter at their Talbot Athletic Ground home.

The two Richards starred for the hosts. Mr Carter grabbed a brace of tries, while Mr Thomas chipped in with another. Stefan Andrews grabbed the fourth, with Jamie Davies kicking the other 13 points.

Lloyd Evans, Chris Williams and Ben Thomas scores for Bridgend, two in the final six minutes, weren’t enough for the visitors. Jamie Murphy converted one and kicked a penalty, with Lewis Williams converting another.

The day’s other game saw a Jason Tovey penalty earn a point for Cardiff in an 18-18 draw at Neath to end a season neither will be particularly enthused with.

Gareth King, Marc Jones and Dai Langdon tries, plus a penalty by the latter, looked to have won it for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining. Jack Phillips and Jamie Davies had scored for the Arms Park club, with the boot of Tovey doing the rest of the damage as they came back from a 13-8 half-time deficit to level through his kick with seven minutes left.


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