Llanelli broke the early deadlock through a Iwan Evans penalty, the contest struggling to get off the ground with the referee’s whistle too often breaking up the flow of play. Ponty were attempting to up the tempo and made an impression on the scoreboard, firstly through a Diggy Bird penalty, then following a wide attack as winger Alex Webber touched down on the corner flag, his try expertly converted by Bird.
The home team were looking the more inventive, albeit with little happening to enthuse the bumper festive crowd at Sardis, and drew further ahead through another Bird penalty. Ponty were looking strong in the scrums, sometimes poaching opposition line-out ball, and with Bird kicking effectively for field position, were well worth their 13pts to 3 interval lead.
Conditions deteriorated after the break, as did Llanelli’s discipline, with hooker Taylor Davies sent to the sib bin and Bird hoisting over another two penalties for the home team. A kick and chase foray instigated by Webber and a series of five metre scrums did not however provide a further breakthrough for Ponty.
Having been under the cosh for the entire third quarter, the visitors regrouped to apply pressure, spreading the ball for winger Ryan Davies to cross wide out. Ponty’s response was to launch a snap counter down the tram lines, replacement Joel Raikes arcing in behind the posts, with Bird again converting. Llanelli continued to infringe, prop Steff Phillips next to see yellow, as the game once more struggled to ignite. It was the visitors who finished the stronger, flanker Nathan Hart burrowing over from close range with the conversion added by Tadhg McGuckin, but a consolation score only as Ponty held out to win by 26pts to 15.
15.Ben Jones. 14.Alex Webber. 13.Mason Grady. 12.Garyn Smith. 11.Morgan Richards (Corey Sheppard). 10.Diggy Bird. 9.Jamie Hill (Joel Raikes).
1.Huw Owen (Curtis Reynolds). 2.Nathan Huish (Rob Jones). 3.Morgan Bosanko (Ben Warren). 4.Sean Moore. 5.James Murphy (Cally James temp /Lloyd Evans). 6.Morgan Sieniawski – cpt. 7.Sion Parry (Cally James). 8.Alun Lawrence.
Tries: Webber (20); Raikes (68)
Cons: Bird (21, 69)
Pens: Bird (9, 26, 45, 49)
15.Tom Rogers. 14.Ryan Davies. 13.Ioan Nicholas. 12.Jonny Lewis – cpt. 11.Liam Hutchings(Kalum Evans). 10.Iwan Evans (Tadhg McGuckin). 9.Iwan Tremblett (Dane Blacker).
1.Steff Bond (Steff Phillips). 2.Taylor Davies (Greg George). 3.Alex Jeffries (Gareth Havard). 4.Chris Long (Ed Couzens). 5.Danny Drake. 6.Elis Hopkins. 7.Nathan Hart. 8.Josef Miles.
Tries: R. Davies (61); Hart (77)
Con: McGuckin (78)
Pen: Evans (5)
Golden Bob Man of the Match: Diggy Bird
WRU Man of the Match: Garyn Smith
Referee: Elfyn Morris Roberts