What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The Drovers went down to a narrow three tries to two defeat at the hands of their fellow Scarlet feeder club in a tight affair well refereed by Brecon's Adam Jones.
The result mattered little as the destinies of both clubs were known last week, with Llandovery already guaranteed a place in the reformed top eight league after finishing seventh and Llanelli relegated to the bottom eight league through finishing 11th.
The new leagues will kick off in February, time for the Drovers to lick their wounds, get some key players fit and challenge for the Premiership title against the other seven “qualifiers” in Aberavon, Bedwas, Merthyr, RGC, Pontypridd, Carmarthen Quins and Ebbw Vale.
This result in the final game of the first half of the season brought a certain symmetry to the fortune of the two Carmarthenshire clubs. Whilst the Drovers finished with eight wins, one draw and six defeats, the Sospans ended with a six wins, one draw and eight defeats record.
Llanelli had the lion’s share of possession in the first half, were less authoritative after the break before finishing with a real flourish to grab two late tries and victory.
Llandovery had a few key players missing but coach Euros Evans acknowledged that the side was not its usual self. “We made too many errors in failing to keep the ball when leading 15-10 with ten minutes to go and the Llanelli bench proved more effective than ours in the latter stages. We failed to build up our usual rhythm but we now take a much needed rest and get some important people back to full fitness before the new top eight league starts in February. Every game will be hugely competitive and the players are relishing the challenge.”
A try from centre Jonny Lewis and five points from the boot of fly half Billy McBryde was all that Llanelli could muster despite their control of the first half and Llandovery fly half Jack Maynard dummied his way through to score a fine solo try to make it just 10-5.
The Drovers, with flanker Stuart Worrall and No 8 Joe Powell shining, then had their best patch of the game. A galloping try from the ever improving Powell, conversion by Maynard and a penalty from replacement Jamie Davies took them into a 15-10 lead.
One had the feeling that they would normally have protected that lead with 10 minutes to go but some sloppy covering let them down and - with the bullocking No 8 Nathan Hart an outstanding replacement - the Sospans rallied to get touchdowns from full back Dion Jones and replacement Richard Bassett.