This is the Athletic XV page for the season 2009-10
Llandovery Athletic XV play in the Carmarthenshire Tyre Services Championship, consisting of:
The team coaches are Geraint Williams (07968 750232), Emrys Evans and Alan Morgan.
Athletic Team Manager is Huw Clarke (07811 350633)
Athletic Captain is Emrys Evans.
|Ammanford||L||A||5/9/09||W||0 – 24|
|Mumbles||L||H||12/9/09||W||54 – 0||1|
|Whitland||L||A||19/9/09||W||25 – 29||1|
|Llandovery achieved a hard fought win in this open, running game, by 29 points to 25. In the first half Llandovery scored two unconverted tries through prop Rees Richards and second row Rob Hughes. In the second-half three tries were scored, by scrum-half Aled Jenkins, flanker Dylan Thomas and outside-half Ioan Davies, who also converted two.|
|Waunarlwydd||L||A||26/9/09||W||3 – 10||1|
|Dunvant||L||A||3/10/09||W||15 – 19||1|
|Morriston||L||A||10/10/09||W||8 – 31||1|
|Narberth||L||H||24/10/09||W||16 – 6||1|
|Huw George reports:
In a low scoring, table topping, affair, played in typically autumnal conditions, and with a partisan crowd bolstered by the Youth Team whose own game had been cancelled with their opposition failing to raise a side, the Drovers second string prevailed over a big and battling visiting team from nearby Narberth – almost a local derby in good old fashioned style.
The Drovers led at the interval by 11-6 thanks to a try by the evergreen example that is captain, coach and mentor to his younger charges – the “mother hen” called Emrys Evans. This score was added to by a conversion and penalty by the effervescent, irrepressible Matthew Bailey.
Narberth in response had added two penalty goals to make everything to play for at the re-start.
The second-half yielded just one score, a second try for the home side this time going unconverted.
It was however, anything but a dour game. It was highly competitive and at times, highly charged and it was good to see those that had left the field during the game, some of them appearing to have serious “knocks”, counting as “walking wounded” later in the day.
The game could have changed mid-way through the second half when, as a consequence of an injury to the hirsute Narberth Tight Head prop, the game was reduced to uncontested scrums and some of the home team’s dominance was nullified. Shortly afterwards the visitors were further reduced to 13 men in one instant when two players were yellow-carded in the same incident.
Instead, the set-backs seemed to galvanize the visiting team which was also playing against the elements at this stage and it was only resolute and at times inspired defence from the home team that prevented any further scoring. The Drovers remain top of the league as a result of this win.
|Felinfoel||L||A||31/10/09||W||7 – 12||1|
|Huw George reports:
The Drovers travelled to Felinfoel for this league game with a squad that was heavily depleted through both injury and unavailability and were therefore delighted to come away with their undefeated position for the season intact and to remain on top of the league.In a game that was only able to proceed on the basis of uncontested scrummages from the outset as Felinfoel were unable to field a specialist front row, it was noted by head coach Geraint Williams that “whilst it obviously was a disappointment that one of our strengths was removed it was great credit to Felinfoel that they wanted the game to go ahead – many other clubs would have cried off so they deserve full praise for encouraging the game to go ahead”.
In the proverbial “game of two halves”, Llandovery led at the break by 12 points to nil thanks to two tries scored by blindside flanker Chris Thomas and scrum-half Aled Jenkins, one of which was converted by Ioan Davies
The only score of the second half was the try and conversion for Felinfoel which made for a tense and exciting climax which tested the resolve and defensive capabilities of the visiting Drovers as the home side attacked with purpose.
Whilst the scoreline suggests that the match was evenly balanced – and indeed without the excellent team spirit and huge defensive effort in the second half the result could have gone the other way – Geraint Williams was also able to reflect on the fact that his young and depleted side also had three tries disallowed for a variety of reasons which could have made the gap much wider.
|Ammanford||L||H||14/11/09||W||20 – 7||1|
|Huw George reports:
On a day when the weather dominated so much sport and when much didn’t even take place, what a joy it was to watch these two highly committed young teams do battle in a compelling and at times bruising encounter that did credit to both clubs.Amongst the watching hardy faithful that endured the weather was former Drovers Prop Aled Griffiths, now senior coach at the visitors club, and he must have been well pleased at the performance of his junior side who will be pressing hard for elevation to the first team, whose own game had been cancelled thus allowing the coach to review the talent available to him.
Playing against the elements in the first half the Drovers took an early lead when good approach work from the hard working forwards pressurised the visitors into giving away a penalty which was kicked by outside half Andy Webster.
With the Drovers strong up front it was no surprise that they chose to keep the ball tight during the first half and play to that strength and from a rolling maul following a line-out close to the visitors’ line they secured their second score with a try for hard-working lock Rob Hughes – the conversion from wide out was a magnificent effort which narrowly failed to add the two points and the score at the interval was 8 – 0 in favour of the Drovers.
Playing with the elements at their backs in the second half the Drovers fans were confident that their side would run up a big score in what was rapidly being dubbed the “ruck in the muck”.
With Andy Webster kicking well out of hand and gaining significant territory time and again it was only resolute and at times heroic defence from the visitors that prevented the expected runaway score.
Backs coach Alan Morgan was delighted though with the second score for powerful centre Gareth Augustus which he said was “straight off the training paddock and an Alan Chips special”. Andy Webster with the wind at his tail added the points to make the score 15 – 0.
A third try was to follow for the home side when Dylan Williams showed his explosive pace to outstrip the hard chasing defenders and cross for the home side’s final score – the kick, even with the assistance of the elements, failed, again by only a fine margin.
The visitors though, with their backs to the wall, with the game already lost and with the weather giving the home side the second half advantage, far from collapsing, rallied strongly and, late in the game, spent some considerable time pressing hard at the Drovers line.
Eventually, with the Drovers reduced to fourteen men – the home no. 8 was otherwise occupied removing a somewhat bemused rabbit from the field of play, Ammanford conjured up their first and only try when their forwards burrowed through giving their outside half a relatively straightforward kick to finalise the scoring for the day.
Once again, rugby was the winner in this contest whilst the home side remain on top of the league and continue their unbeaten run.
|Llandeilo||F||H||27/11/09||L||3 – 6||–|
|Huw George reports:
Thankfully the rain that has plagued so many games in recent weeks was absent on Friday night when the Drovers played host to near neighbours Llandeilo in a friendly.
There is a long history of keen rivalry between the clubs and there is now added spice as the visiting coach – former Ospreys, Wales and Lions hooker Barry Williams – learned his trade and earned all his youth caps whilst playing for the Drovers and this year two of the 2008/09 Drovers team – fullback Celfyin Davies and centre Glyn Davies – now play for the visiting side.
With a final score of only 6-3 in favour of the visitors you could be forgiven for thinking that the game was a dour dull affair and that spectators would have been leaving long before the end but this was far from the case. Visiting coach Barry Williams expressed it succinctly when he said “That was a good, old fashioned Towy Valley derby – what a shame there aren’t more of them”.
Both sides attempted to play open rugby, but the local rivalry ensured that the defences on both sides were fully committed to the cause and that nothing was left in the locker by the time they finished.
The visitors had the majority of the possession in the first half and were supplied with a steady stream of ball from the lineout where they were totally dominant – they were however unable to be creative enough behind to capitalise on the amount of ball they won and the visiting coach was left to reflect on the missed opportunities – surely an achilles heel as his team looks to establish themselves as a promoted team in the main national league structure.
From the Drovers perspective this was a really good test of their standing and their potential and to a man they gave a good account of themselves – indeed such was the overall team display from the home side that it was impossible to nominate one individual as the man of the match.
The points were shared in the first half with former Drovers hero and now Llandeilo point machine and full back Celfyn Davies kicking a penalty goal whilst Drovers outside half Andy Webster replied in similar fashion for the home team.
The only points of the second period went again to the boot of Celfyn Davies with a second penalty whilst the normally accurate and consistent Andy Webster missed with two opportunities late in the game which, had they been taken would have seen the Drovers record a sterling win in the mist that hung low and still over Churchbank.
As it was the home coach Geraint Williams was left to reflect on a game that could have been won but which showed that he has in his charge a strong, committed and above workmanlike team of local talent, much of it hewn from the lush Towy Valley that produced this magnificent entertainment – what a shame we don’t see more of this type of contest that the league structure and the quest for points has ruined.
The Drovers return to league action on Saturday with an away game in Mumbles and they will be looking to stretch their unbeaten league record and extend their lead at the top of the table.
|Mumbles||L||A||5/12/09||L||6 – 0||1|
|Huw George reports:
A trip to the seaside is always looked upon with relish and Mumbles is no exception, even at the beginning of December.
As to be expected in the conditions, the game was a very low scoring affair with Mumbles scoring the only points of each half – a penalty on each occasion.
The visiting coach was very philosophical after the game. “On balance, they probably deserved to win” he said whilst adding “we missed a penalty in the second half which would have drawn us level and they came away and scored again – for the rest of the game we were pressing on their line but were unable to turn that pressure into points”.
The Drovers had travelled without a number of their regular players including both of their first choice half backs but again the coach made no excuses – “They won fair and square” he said, “and the boys gave of their best”, adding “probably it was just the kick up the backside we all needed”.
Whilst it is disappointing to lose the unbeaten record, such a record can also be a “millstone” with teams either failing to fulfil fixtures or turning up with the attitude that the Drovers’ is a scalp to be cherished – sometimes at all costs. The Drovers, despite the loss, remain top of the League. Next week sees the Drovers return to their favoured home pitch at Churchbank where the visitors will once again be a team from Swansea’s high veldt – Bonymaen – and the team is looking forward to getting back to winning ways.
|Bonymaen||L||H||12/12/09||W||28 – 18||1|
|Huw George reports:
The Drovers returned to winning ways in a stunning display of open running rugby on a gloriously sunny, crisp and clear afternoon at Churchbank and strengthened their hold at the top of the league.
After last week’s reversal in atrocious conditions at Mumbles the head coach Geraint Williams said “This could be just the kick up the backside we required” – he could not have been more prophetic.
This week he just asked his young team to “go out and express yourselves” and that is indeed what they did with panache and precision, pace and passion and it was a joy to behold.
The visitors, with a very strong pack which included two towering second row forwards was driven by a vocal, demanding and competent scrum half and with a centre pairing almost as big as the second rows, they came with clear intent and were not anticipating a reversal even with the table topping Drovers having the home advantage.
“Boney” were out of the blocks early and from the pressure exerted at the initial kick off worked themselves into a position where the Drovers had no option but to concede the penalty which was well struck and gave the visitors the lead – the only time in the game they were to be in front.
There was parity for the Drovers in the set scrums but the early line outs were fragile for the home side and the visitors dominated the exchanges at the breakdown where their rolling maul proved to be their real strength.
Behind the scrummage however, from the blustering, harrying, strength speed and guile of Scrum Half Aled Jenkins to calm, secure, sure-footed and pacy Full Back Ioan Davies – the Drovers completely out thought, out paced and out flanked their opponents in a display of assured, fleet footed, inspirational running rugby that has become this team’s hallmark.
The first try, scored by outstanding centre Dylan Williams, followed an extraordinary passage of play with the Drovers retaining possession for a significant period of time, moving the ball from touchline to touchline with cut out passing, stunning lines of running and inter-play of mesmeric proportions in a self assured, patient build up. It was a stunning opening score and had the sizeable crowd of partisan home supporters in raptures. The conversion points were added by Andy Webster.
The visitors replied and kept the scoreboard ticking over with their second penalty goal.
If the first try was full of patient build up, the second was equally brilliant but in an entirely different way. The score was crafted by sleight of hand and foot, incisive running, dynamic work off the ball and an assured confidence that could only end when the scrum half, Aled Jenkins, crossed – once again Andy was on hand to add the conversion to take the score out to 14 – 6.
“Boney” were not about to give up though, and using their mauling strength, with a catch and drive from an attacking lineout, any one of a number of their hard working pack could have been credited with their first try, which was scored wide out but which was exceptionally well converted to move them within a point as half-time approached.
Continuing to press, “Boney” again kicked to the corner for a line out close to the home side’s line, and with the Drovers’ line out spluttering, they fancied their chances of repeating their earlier score.
Once again however quick thinking, quick movement, exquisite pace and quiet brilliant handling meant that the quick throw in that was taken by the Drovers avoided the threat and the full line out. The ball was worked wide across the park to the opposite touchline, through several pairs of hands and into the grip of the pace machine that is Dylan Williams. His searing outside break tore the “Boney” defence apart and Arwel Davies was on hand a matter of seconds later at the opposite end of the pitch to score the home side’s third and best try of the day. Once again the score was converted and the break saw the home side lead 21 – 13.
The second half proved to be a less high scoring affair. The fourth try for the Drovers, and the score that effectively sealed the game, saw the live wire scrum half Aled Jenkins outpace the entire Boney back line in a kick and chase to score his second. With the points added once again by the ever-reliable Andy Webster, the aggregate points difference was now 15 in favour of the home side meaning that the visitors needed to score at least three times if they were to secure a win. The visitors did however continue to compete with enthusiasm and vigour and their endeavours were rewarded when, very much against the run of play, they stole one against the head from a defensive Drovers scrum on their own five metre line and, from the ensuing maul, once again drove over and emerged from the pile of bodies with another five points.
When William Webb-Ellis picked up that first ball all those years ago on the playing fields of Rugby School this must have been exactly what he had visualised. In all there were six tries scored – the home side playing to their strengths – open, fast, dynamic running and handling, whilst the visitors played their part and to their strengths with a robust, physical driving close quarter game which on another day might have seen them win.
“The Pen is Mightier than the Sword” is a proverb which has been originally traced back to “Institution of Christian Prince (1571)” – 438 years on, on the Churchbank Playing fields this was evidenced yet again when the “rapier” qualities of the home side prevailed over the “sledge hammer” strengths of the visitors.
A number of the Drovers’ youngsters once again put their hands up for acknowledgment and consideration for the senior team – amongst them, following his extraordinary display of pace coupled with both his understanding of the game in attack and his strength in defence, man of the match Dylan Williams, which caused him to be labelled “Gas with Class” by some of the home supporters.
Next week-end the Drovers travel to Llangennech for their final league game before Christmas – the coach had his presents early yesterday and his charges deserve every plaudit and accolade that is thrown at them.
|L||H||24/2/10||W||52 – 11|
|Huw George reports:
After what has seemed like an eternity for the young men that make up the Llandovery 2nd XV it was, at long last, a return to the pitch and an opportunity for them to display once more the pace, passion and panache for which they have become fabled and which, without doubt, has contributed to their lengthy mid-season lay-off.
For more than eleven weeks, going all the way back to 12th December when they last played a competitive game, the Drovers’ second string has been denied game time not only by a combination of weather, Christmas and New Year, and the start of the Six Nations campaign, but also by the inability or, more sadly, the unwillingness of opposition teams to raise sides.
As the club Chairman Handel Davies wrote in his programme notes for the Principality League game against Pontypool – “Surely the organisers of the Carmarthenshire Tyres League need to re-visit the penalties for repeat offenders as the deterrents in place are clearly proving to be ineffective”. He was referring to what he called the practice “that opponents now cry off on what is becoming a disappointingly and alarmingly regular occurrence”. Let’s hope his words are heard in those corridors of power for surely this is a young team that needs to play, and whose exploits need to be seen and enjoyed by an increasing fan base.
Despite the long lay-off though, the young bucks that are the Llandovery Seconds made short shrift of what were game opponents. The visiting side was full of a never say die attitude, particularly in defence, where they put in some sterling work, and especially so late on in the second half, when the Drovers developed an element of white line fever, coupled with a physical superiority in terms of physical stature, but they were unable to cope with the better drilled, much fitter home team who played as though they had never been away.
The Drovers play an expansive style of rugby which is a joy to behold with dynamic, incisive running in a back-line made up entirely of local talent which displays an intuitive, at times almost telepathic, understanding of each other’s next move.
Any early nerves were quickly allayed when, after the early exchanges, all of which took place in the visitors’ territory, and which showed the home side’s intent from the off, full-back Ioan Davies crossed wide out for the side’s first try. This was converted, as were many others, by the mercurial Matthew Bailey playing out of position in the role of outside half.
Against the run of play and following two brief excursions into the Drovers’ half, the visitors twice reduced the deficit by kicking penalty goals from their outside-half and narrowed the gap at one point to 7 -6.
The home side however stuck to its game plan. The forwards delivered a steady stream of possession from all aspects of play where the back row entirely dominated all aspects of open and broken play, the second rows were at their imperious best at line-out time and the front row exerted a ferocious pressure on their opposing threesome.
The backs therefore were unleashed by this dominance and some sublime play from half-backs Aled Jenkins and Mathew Bailey allowed the bullocking, barn-storming human tank that is Gareth Augustus to cross for the second try. The evergreen centre turned flanker and skipper, Emrys Evans, crossed for the third, following a sweeping end to end of the field move and an outrageous dummy and immediately from the re-start Dylan Williams showed his electric pace and super quick feet to cross for the fourth. All but the last were converted by Bailey to make the score 26-6 at half-time.
In the second period it was much the same. First over the whitewash, showing his physical strength in a darting, sniping close range try, scrum-half Aled Jenkins opened the scoring. Then following a quick throw in from the ever alert Ioan Davies, a sweeping move, covering two thirds the length of the pitch saw Captain Emrys Evans on hand to receive the scoring pass for his second try of the night.
Then, as if to prove it was possible, the spell-binding inter-play and dynamic running lines improved still further when after a glorious period of inter-play, with both backs and forwards involved, Aled Jenkins was once again on hand to score his second of the night. Both of these were converted by Bailey to bring his haul to six for the night.
The final Drovers’ try of the night, and the eighth in all, saw yet another of the players make it a brace when Dylan Williams scored again.
The visitors though, despite a score-line that was fairly comprehensive, continued, to their credit, to contribute to a thoroughly entertaining game and were justly rewarded with the last try of the night making that final score-line 52-11 in favour of the home side.
In the end, the superior fitness and finesse of the home side proved far too much for the visitors but, thankfully, they did turn up and they did contribute significantly to a game that was a contest and to a spectacle that was a joy to behold. Whilst the club Chairman has called for “penalties” for “repeat offenders” surely the spirit of the game, as exemplified at Churchbank in a wonderful display of how the game can and should be played, should be enough to encourage other club officials to throw off their inhibitions and let their young charges enjoy the game too.
|Llangennech||L||H||27/2/10||L||10 – 20|
|Huw George reports:
Following a layoff of nearly three months, being called to action for a second time in four days was always going to be a big ask, even for a squad with the ability and strength in depth of the Drovers second string, and so it proved to be. The visitors, Llangennech had a relatively young side, bolstered by the inclusion of a few first team players as they didn’t have a game, and they gave a very accomplished display.The home side had more than enough opportunities in the game to have made it a win in their favour but a combination of small errors and a lack of a clinical edge at critical stages saw them come up short.
All of the early scoring in the first half went the way of the visitors who kept the scoreboard ticking over with three converted penalty goals as the result of the home side’s indiscipline and quickly they established an early lead that was eventually to prove critical.
As the home side began to gather their thoughts and shake off some of the evident stiffness that followed their exploits earlier in the week they managed to show what they are capable of and, with their first attacking move of the game, worked the human pocket battleship that is centre Gareth Augustus free for their first try which was duly converted by outside half Andy Webster.
A penalty, again kicked by Webster, gave the home side the advantage at the break and despite their problems a scoreline of 10-9 gave the crowd hope that they could kick on and secure the points from another league win.
The Drovers however missed the kickable penalty goals early in the second half before Llangennech came back into the game, re-taking the lead with their fourth penalty goal.
As the game wore on the Drovers attacked, but were repelled and, with only minutes remaining, they looked certain to take the winning score as they were pressing hard on the visitors line. Sadly, as they pressed, the visitors managed to secure the ball and with a sixty metre breakaway try which they converted took the game away from the Drovers.
All in all coach Geraint Williams was very philosophical about the result: “I’m delighted that we are back playing and that the boys are getting some rugby” he said, adding, “clearly if we had scored when we were pressing at the end we would have won but all credit to Llangennech, they were a young side and we just weren’t quite on song today”.
|Narberth||L||A||6/3/10||W||0 – 54||1|
|Huw George reports:
After last week-end’s set-back for the Drovers it was great for them to get back to winning ways, and in some style, with a nine try romp on their away trip to Narberth.
The scoring opened inauspiciously with an early penalty goal by outside-half Andy Webster but this seemed to settle the nerves and then, with two tries in quick succession from the blisteringly quick Dylan Williams, one of which was converted by Webster, the game moved almost seamlessly out of the reach of the much bigger Otters team.
Two more tries before half-time, one each for Gareth Augustus and Steven Ardolino, meant the score at the break was a handsome 25-0 in favour of the visitors.
With a number of regular players missing coach Geraint Williams was keen to give the opportunity to several promising youth team players and it may well have been that the Drovers ran out of steam. They were having none of it however, and scored a further 5 tries in the second period. The first went to the ever impressive scrum-half Aled Jenkins and this was followed by another by unheralded and ever-present lock forward Dylan Thomas.
Next on the score-sheet was one of the youth players, Jake Gurrin playing in the centre. This was followed by another five-pointer from Arwel Davies with the final try going to Dylan Williams who thus completed his hat-trick. The last two tries were converted by full-back Matthew Bailey.
All in all then coach Geraint Williams was delighted with his side’s performance “I felt we played the game with a smile on our faces” he said, adding that “against a strong and physically big side I thought we held up really well, showed what we are about as a team, and with eight of the nine tries coming from behind the scrum I am delighted with what we achieved. There were a number of young players in the team and we were well led today by stand-in skipper Dylan “Rusty” Jones and even though Whitland won too we remain as league leaders”.
The next game for the Drovers is on Friday night at Churchbank when the visitors will be Waunarlwydd – they will present a stern test again for the Drovers with a number of their players away in Ireland for the Six Nations game but that won’t stop the Drovers attempting to win and win in style.
|Waunarlwydd||L||H||12/3/10||W||26 – 8||1|
|Huw George reports:
What a blessing it is that the Drovers have access to more than one pitch that is fully floodlit and capable of hosting full blooded, full bodied league encounters.
Under those lights then, on what is known locally as the 3rds pitch, even though the heady days when three teams were run have long gone, the Drovers played host to a visiting Waunarlwydd side, somewhat strengthened by the inclusion of a number of first team players.
The Drovers, known for their open, expansive, running brand of rugby were stretched resource wise and were down to a bare fifteen players with a number of regulars away at Croke Park and the highly talented scrum-half Aled Jenkins required for bench duty for the 1st team the following day.
So it was then that a disjointed Drovers team – led by Captain Emrys Evans, playing out of position at outside-half, who was injured early in the game but who played on valiantly – took on and overcame a very strong visiting team.
The Drovers dominated in the set scrums where frequently they drove their opponents back at pace and held their own in the line outs, thus securing more than their fair share of ball. However in the driving mauls the visitors were totally dominant and their back row outstanding – even when retreating at scrum time.
The first and last points of the game went to the visitors. A penalty, awarded for a high tackle, gave them a three point advantage and a driving melee right at the death brought a try. The conversion, which failed, was the last lick of the game.
Sandwiched in between, the Drovers added to their impressive tally of tries for the season. The first was scored by Steven Ardolino and the second by Alvin Phillips – both were converted by Dylan Williams who, like his skipper, was playing out of position and pressed in the goal kicking duties.
The half-time score was 14-3 but both sides were still very much in the game.
The third try for the Drovers, scored and converted by Williams, was a 70 metre, trade-mark effort as he scythed through the opposition and all but made the game safe. The fourth and final try for the Drovers was reward for their dominance in the scrum and the push-over try was awarded to Ken Hughes. The try was unconverted and the final score was 26-8.
Home coach Geraint Williams was very satisfied with what he called a “Gutsy” performance by his depleted squad who now have some time to re-group before heading to Llangennech for their next league game on Tuesday March 23rd.
|Bonymaen||L||A||27/3/10||W||5 – 28||1|
|Huw George reports:
In a week when the Drovers should have been involved in two league games and consolidated their position at the top of the league it’s a shame to reflect that, after a weather ravaged season, the Tuesday evening fixture away at Llangennech, already re-scheduled from earlier was once again called off – this time due to a sodden pitch.That meant that when they travelled to Bonymaen on Saturday they went fully expecting a tough game with preparation once again disrupted by a lack of game time.
The Drovers are however a very strong and cohesive squad and whilst they still had a few regular players missing they still managed to finish the game in some style and with another five, all converted, tries.
Head coach Geraint Williams described the game as “a tough one in which we created a lot which we failed to finish due to an element of rustiness but Bony were very tenacious throughout so the boys did really well”.
On the pitch, Ioan Davies, fresh from his exploits in Dublin and playing in the centre, grabbed most of the glory with four well taken tries, although his centre partner, Dylan Williams, was not to be completely outdone by scoring the fifth. Also vying for some of the glory that Davies thought he would have to himself was playmaker and outside-half Andy Webster who converted all five and kicked a penalty for a 13 point haul.
The Drovers were also buoyed by the news from elsewhere in the league where Whitland, who are pressing closely, lost their game and so the Towy Valley team remain at the top of the league as it heads to its climax.
Interestingly, next Saturday’s visitors to Churchbank, the home of the Drovers, will be Whitland so, in every sense of the words, there will be an awful lot at stake on Saturday afternoon. A home win will stretch the lead and give some breathing space – a win for Whitland will make it a tense run in for both teams.
|Whitland||L||H||3/4/10||L||12 – 13||1|
|Huw George reports:
It was difficult to imagine that this table-topping match would be anything other than a keenly fought affair with the visitors anxious to avoid a second loss in consecutive weeks whilst the Drovers were determined to widen the gap at the top of the table and tighten their grip on the championship.The spectators were not disappointed when, on a wet and wind-swept Churchbank, with conditions very heavy underfoot the teams won one half each.
With the tension explosive and the weather as wild as is to be expected in the depths of winter it was easy to understand that a factor other than the rugby might dominate the post-match discussion and so it proved to be with all of that analysis centring on the performance of the young and inexperienced referee.
Fortunately, neither side felt that the referee warranted harsh criticism, with home head coach, Geraint Williams guarded in his comments when stating “he didn’t let the game flow and we really wanted to play a fast open game”.
So far as the game itself was concerned the Drovers scored two tries in the first half. The first was scored by Aled Jenkins at scrum-half, playing once again for the 2nd team having been forced off earlier in the week injured and requiring four stitches to a facial wound when making his first start for the senior side. The second was scored by the young and impressive Jake Gurrin in the centre. The latter was converted by outside-half Andy Webster.
For the visitors their sole score in this first period was a penalty kicked by Aled Davies.
After the break, with the visitors’ strong scrummage beginning to take a grip on the game, they scored the only points of the half with two tries of their own. The first was scored by Anthony Jones in the centre and the second by Aled Davies at outside-half.
Overall then, home coach Williams felt that “Whitland were marginally the better side on the day and deserved their win – full credit to them”.
Thankfully then the disappointing performance of the man in control, whilst possibly having an impact on the game and therefore the result, has not altered the respective league positions although the gap has now narrowed to six points with both sides having seven games left to play. Fitting the games in before the season end is going to be a challenge in itself so the destination of the league title for the current season is anything but certain.
The next planned game for the Drovers is Saturday the 10th when they visit Waunarlwydd for a Cup 2nd round match so the pressure on available dates is even more intense. Hopefully rugby and not bureaucracy will determine the winners of the league championship.
|Waunarlwydd||C(2)||A||10/4/10||W||25 – 28|
|Llangennech||L||A||13/4/10||W||13 – 31||1|
|Dunvant||L||H||17/4/10||W||49 – 19||1|
|Morriston||L||H||24/4/10||W||53 – 27||1|
|Whitland||C(Semi)||H||30/4/10||W||16 – 10|
|Huw George reports:
The visitors came to Churchbank in search of a win that would salvage their season. Earlier in the week they had conceded the League title to the Drovers when they lost to Loughor and it was they, Loughor, that the winners of this game would meet in the final of the Cup.
The Drovers on the other hand, having already won the League were looking to make it to the final in an attempt to complete the League and Cup double for an unprecedented 3rd consecutive season.
No wonder then that the fans of both teams were treated to a highly competitive, fiercely physical contest that was a credit to the resolve and endeavour of both teams.
Whitland looked strong early on where their rolling maul was a real strength but it was in the scrummage where the game was decided and it was here that the Drovers were so dominant that the visitors took the almost unheard of step of replacing both of their prop forwards well before half-time.
The opening score of the game was a penalty goal kicked by a stand in who stood out, in outside half Matthew Bailey who had a fabulous game. This was followed by a brilliant try for the irrepressible second row forward Dylan Thomas who showed that, not only were the Drovers’ forwards dominant at scrummage time, but they were highly competitive elsewhere. Bailey failed with the conversion attempt from wide out but added a further penalty before half-time to make the score at the break 11-0.
Turning to face a stiff breeze it was the Drovers that were first out of the blocks again in the second period, and their hard work with ball in hand was rewarded when outstanding back row forward Daniel Thomas crossed for his side’s second try. Again the score was unconverted but with Whitland having posed no attacking threat the game seemed won.
The visitors were not prepared to lie down however and they did manage to get on the score sheet with a well taken penalty from their full back. This score set the nerves jangling for the home support as the elements were in the visitors’ favour and two converted tries would have secured for them an unlikely win.
As it was the Drovers’ defence was, as it has been all season, resolute to the point of being frugal and whilst they did concede a try very late on to the replacement scrum-half, which was the only try of the game to be converted, it was too little and much too late.
The Drovers now move on to meet Loughor in the final on a date and at a venue both of which are yet to be confirmed.
Having retained the League title and with two Cup Final wins in the last two seasons the Drovers will be confident, but not overly so. Head Coach Geraint Williams said “We have one more game to go. We have had a fantastic season and the boys have delivered everything I have asked of them with a brand of rugby that has been a joy to be involved with. We will treat Loughor with the respect they deserve as fellow finalists and look forward to giving of our best”.
Another win will indeed bring an end to yet another remarkable season for the Drovers.
|Loughor||L||A||8/5/10||W||10 – 50||League Winners!|
|Loughor||C(Final)||At Llangennech||13/5/10 K.O. 715pm||W||32 – 6||Cup Winners!|
|Huw George reports:
For the second time in less than seven days these two teams did battle, this time at the neutral venue of Llangennech, but once again it was the Tywi valley side that prevailed although on this occasion the margin of victory was smaller.
Having been crowned League Champions a few weeks earlier the Drovers were a little nervous in the early exchanges with the added pressure of not only attempting the double of League and Cup but, if achieving that feat, making it the third successive season. The team has talent, resilience and spirit and they are deserved record breakers.
In the League encounter at Loughor the previous Saturday it had been pretty much one way traffic as the score-line of 50-10 suggested, but the Estuarymen were not about to roll over and concede without a fight. Both teams showed some changes from the Saturday encounter with Loughor fielding a physically impressive side with a touchline wag commenting “if that’s the size of their seconds then their firsts must be huge”.
As has been seen so often however the game is not all about physical presence and with the Drovers adhering to their mantra of open running rugby it was Loughor that ultimately tired and the League Champions who ran out eventual winners in some style.
The Drovers attacked from the kick-off and worked the ball wide on several occasions only for the final pass to go to ground when a try seemed assured. It was fully five minutes before Loughor had their first scoring opportunity and that was a failed penalty goal attempt from within their own half – at that stage all the play had been in the Loughor half.
The opening score eventually went to the Drovers when a sweeping move out of defence saw Ken Hughes score a try which Matthew Bailey converted.
Loughor replied with two well taken penalty goals before Matthew Bailey kicked one for the Tywi Valley team to make the score at half-time 10-6. At that stage it was anybody’s game and both sets of fans were quietly confident that their side would win through.
The re-start however was electric with Daniel Thomas scoring his side’s second try which Bailey again converted.
There followed a period of intense pressure from Loughor and the Drovers were Herculean in defence as wave after wave of driving forward play pressed without success and when the attacks were finally repelled it was almost possible to see the Loughor side deflate.
From then on it was almost an exercise in how many more points the Drovers would score and with three tries in quick succession from hard working Lock Rob Hughes, replacement Wyn Jones and finally the evergreen winger Ioan Davies the result was sealed and history made.
The season, so savagely affected at the turn of the year by the weather, has been yet another outstanding success. This was a fitting famous physical finale and coach Geraint Williams was very keen to acknowledge the performance of his own players but also that of the Estuarymen who had made for such a combative game.
Whilst acknowledging the extraordinary team effort that has been the core of this prolonged period of success for the Drovers it is also finally a delight to report that as part of the closing act of the season the bullocking scrum-half Aled Jenkins and the blisteringly quick centre Dylan Williams have both been formally invited to attend pre-season training for the 1sts next season.
Training for the 2nds will commence, as usual, after Royal Welsh week.
Congratulations go to all involved.