Report courtesy of Richard Thomas
LLANELLI lost to treble-chasing Pontypridd by four tries to three at Parc y Scarlets but secured a valuable bonus point in their pursuit of the third Principality Premiership play-off place.
The point puts them 16 points ahead of fourth-placed Aberavon, who have three games in hand.
Llanelli conceded a penalty after just 35 seconds from the kick-off which outside-half Dean Gunter converted.
The home side regrouped quickly to score the opening try on 10 minutes after Owen Williams’ penalty attempt rebounded off the right upright.
Regaining possession Lee Williams put Dan Newton close down the left before the forwards took over with prop Shaun Hopkins crashing over.
A lead of 7-3 became 10-3 four minutes later as Owen Williams converted a penalty after Pontypridd had been caught with hands in a ruck.
Williams struck with another penalty goal on 20 minutes after Ponty had thrown wayward line-out ball and then been blown for more hands in the ruck.
But determination not to concede a third defeat got them into Llanelli’s 22 where they won a penalty but Gunter was wide of the mark with his 23 minute effort.
With referee Leighton Hodge’s losing patience with Ponty’s tactic of slowing the ball at the breakdown he issued a final warning to skipper Gareth Wyatt. But there was a let-off for the treble chasers when Owen Williams missed with the resulting penalty attempt.
And there was more bad news for Llanelli as they conceded two tries in the space of three minutes to lose the lead.
First wing Owen Williams crossed in the left corner and from the restart more Ponty pressure resulted in hooker Huw Dowden getting over the line to see the Sardis Road side lead 15-13 at the interval.
Llanelli suffered a setback right at the start of the second half when skipper Craig Hawkins was sin-bin for some foul play at a ruck.
And a further three minutes later Owen Williams had crossed for his second and Ponty’s third try in the left corner.
A great run by centre Dafydd Lockyer ensured Pontypridd the bonus point with their fourth try on 55 minutes.
It was all unravelling at the seams for Llanelli who were fortunate Gunter was wide of the mark with a penalty attempt on the hour mark.
But Llanelli were not giving up and on 66 minutes lock Dominic Day went over for a converted try to reduce the deficit to seven points at 27-20.
That became 27-25 with nine minutes left on the clock when flanker Matt Gilbert emerged from a pile of bodies as the scorer of his side’s third try.
Scorers – Llanelli: tries: S Hopkins, D Day, M Gilbert; cons: O Williams (2), S Shingler; pens: O Williams (2). Pontypridd: tries: O Williams (2), H Dowden, D Lockyer; cons: D Gunter (2); pens: D Gunter (2). Llanelli 25 Pontypridd 30