Llanelli 27-16 Pontypool
Llanelli secured their Premiership status with a hard fought 27-16 victory in the play-off match at Talbot Athletic Ground.
The two famous Welsh clubs went head-to-head in this one-off encounter at the home of the Wizards. An excellent crowd saw a really entertaining game and you have to have some sympathy for ‘pooler’ having won the Championship now for three years. No doubt they’ll give everything again next season.
But while the boot of Kieran Meek put them in a solid position after 40 minutes, tries from Taylor Davies, Ryan Conbeer and Lee Rees left them ultimately disappointed – while keeping the historic west Wales club from dropping down in to the Championship next season.
The first-half was a tense affair, full of niggle as both teams largely cancelled each other out.
After just six minutes of action, Llanelli lock Chris Long was in the sin-bin – being yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on.
The first try-scoring opportunity came after 25 minutes – with Pontypool winger Lloyd Lewis unable to gather a bouncing ball after being in rapid pursuit when the line was at his mercy.
Neverless, Pontypool kept going closer in the opening half-hour and got their reward.
Llanelli scrum-half Gareth George was charged down by second-row Curtis Gregory, who found Darren Hughes with an offload – but the hooker was dragged down just short
Llanelli pushed for a quick response and they nearly had it. Winger Ryan Davies dived over in the corner, only for eagle-eyed officials to spot him dropping the ball as he leapt through the air.
A couple of minutes later, Pontypool punished them as Meek doubled Pontypool’s advantage with another effort from the tee.
Eventually, Llanelli got their score. A driving lineout saw Davies pop up with the ball at the base. Prydie converting from a tight angle to give them a lead at the break.
The second-half incredibly saw them start with another knock-on over the line. Conbeer losing it in contact as he dived for the line after dancing past several defenders.
They were made to pay for being so wasteful as Meek pushed Pontypool in front with the boot once more six minutes later after Tom Price was penalised at the breakdown.
A long-range effort from Prydie pushed the west Wales club back in front a couple of minutes later and Llanelli never looked back.
The Wales international, who this time last year was involved in the PRO14 play-offs with the Scarlets ahead of a tour to Argentina and North America, nudged Llanelli a little further ahead ten minutes later with another faultless penalty.
And then two quick tries took the game away from the Championship outfit to end their hopes of promotion
First, Conbeer crossed after latching onto Steffan Hughes’ grubber.
And then the try of the night. Neat interplay from Prydie and Kalum Evans saw Lee Rees run in their third score from halfway.
To their credit, Pontypool never gave in and got a deserved consolation after flanker Scott Matthews dived over from close range.
Tries: T. Davies, R. Conbeer, L. Rees; Cons: T. Prydie (3); Pens: T. Prydie (2)
Tries: S. Matthews; Cons: K. Meek; Pens: K. Meek (3)
Llanelli match squad
1 Craig Thomas 2 Marc Jones 3 Ryan Thomas 4 Chris Long 5 Tom Price 6 Taylor Davies 7 Ellis Thomas 8 Shaun Evans 9 Gareth George 10 Ioan Hughes 11 Ryan Davies 12 Jonny Lewis (c) 13 Steff Hughes 14 Tom Prydie 15 Kalum Evans 16 Greg George 17 Rhys Thomas 18 Richard Bassett 19 Lee Rees 20 Ashley Sutton 21 Liam Hutchins 22 Ryan Conbeer