Maynard's late penalty proves crucial as Athletic win a thriller
CARMARTHEN Athletic produced their best display of the season to beat division one west leaders Tondu.
Despite the defeat, the visitors remain top, while the Red and Blacks have moved up one place to eighth.
In the early stages Tondu used their powerful pack to drive at the heart of the Athletic defence — and within ten minutes the visitors were eight points in front.
A third-minute penalty from fly-half Paul Smithson was added to with the first try of the game when quick ball from a midfield ruck gave lock Stephen Bevan the momentum to break a tackle and crash over.
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Eventually the Athletic got themselves back into the match with a well-struck penalty from scrum-half Scott Maynard.
Midway through the first half, the home team drew level with an excellent score. It was created by wing Adam Davies, who set off on a counter attack.
With a timely sidestep, Davies found himself in space and four passes later centre Viv Jenkins timed his run perfectly to take the final offload and dive over in the corner.
Five minutes later, Tondu right wing Darren Thomas made a powerful surge and from the resulting breakdown Tondu were awarded a penalty.
They kicked to the corner and a driving line-out gave hooker David Bishop the simple task of diving over for an unconverted try.
Just before the half-hour mark, the Athletic went into the lead.
After a driving line-out fell just short of the line, hooker Gethin Robinson managed to power over for a try converted by Scott Maynard.
The hosts extended their advantage to nine points with another fine try when the ball went through several pairs of hands to prop Scott Meakins, who gave a well-timed pass to centre Rhys Jones to score in the corner. Maynard's excellent conversion gave the Athletic a 22-13 lead.
Tondu responded when strong-running centre Matthew James Davies split the defence to score close to the posts.
Five minutes into the second half Tondu regained the lead with a Smithson penalty. However, with the home defence becoming more resilient, the Athletic began to dominate territory.
With the Red and Blacks kicking game pinning Tondu back and with centre Jenkins a continuous threat, the visitors spent most of the half on the back foot.
Good play by the home team down the right touchline ended with referee Craig Evans yellow-carding Tondu centre Nick Hopson for hands in the ruck.
From the resulting penalty — and with only five minutes remaining — Maynard's successful kick gave the home side a 25-23 lead.
In the final minute, the Athletic conceded a penalty at the breakdown. But to the relief of the large home support, Smithson's kick drifted just wide of the far upright.
This was an important confidence-boosting win for the Red and Blacks, though both teams deserve great credit for providing the spectators with a wonderful game.
Match sponsors were Carmarthen Wanderers Cricket Club, Carmarthen Golf Club and John Marvin and friends.
Next week the Athletic are at home to Loughor (2.30).