What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery went down to a disappointing and comprehensive six tries to two defeat at the hands of high flying Merthyr.
Merthyr’s best player on the day was open side flanker Osian Davies who hails from nearby Sennybridge and who is related to former Llandovery fly half Carwyn “Caws” Williams. The blond haired human dynamo was everywhere in the loose and a real thorn in the home flesh with his charging runs, all-embracing tackling and constant support work.
It was ironic too that a number of other players had strong links with the club and town of Llandovery. Prop Gary Powell, wing Owen Howe and replacement scrum half Tom James were all former pupils of Llandovery College whilst outstanding Carmarthen born flanker Ed Siggery made 18 appearances for the Drovers when a teenager.
Beaten in all aspects of play by a very well balanced, aggressive and confident side, the Drovers slipped down the Premiership table into eighth place after their fifth defeat in 10 league games. They were in retreat at the scrums and outmuscled in the contact area and when in possession found the Merthyr defensive line-speed too hot to handle.
Coach Euros Evans had bemoaned the fact the LV Cup games - played on the same weekend as the Premiership – had deprived his side of some of its stars and the absence on Saturday of a quartet of players was sorely felt. Scrum half Rhodri Davies, full back Lee Rees, hooker Dafydd Hughes and back row skipper Phil Day may not have swung the game Llandovery’s way but their particular skills would certainly have narrowed the gap between Drovers and Ironmen.
That said Merthyr looked what they are – co-favourites with Aberavon to win the race for top of the table by the end of the first half of the season. The clash between Wizards and Ironmen on the last day of competition on January 7 will probably decide on who finishes top.
After Merthyr full back Matthew Jarvis and Drovers’ fly half Jack Maynard had swapped early penalties, the visitors took firm control with three tries from prop James Howe, fly half Dean Gunter and scrum half Rhys Downes establishing a 22-3 interval lead.
When skipper Craig Locke and No 8 Tom Daley crossed to make it 36-3 a rout looked on the cards. To their credit, the Drovers picked themselves off the floor as the Merthyr defence relaxed and centre Rhodri Jones celebrated his 100th club appearance with a try converted by full back James Davies.
Replacement scum half Alex Davies showed up well with some nice touches and locks Bryn Griffiths and Joe Powell continued to give their all, but Daley then got his second try at a lineout surge only for the Drovers to bring respectability to the score with a late converted try from wing Jack Parkinson.