What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery were desperately unlucky to go down to defeat at the hands of Aberavon, who got the winning try just two minutes from the end of play.
It was their fourth successive defeat in Tier One and with it went all hopes of making the play offs. But the Drovers can be proud of putting up one hell of a fight against many people’s favourites to take the title.
The patched up side made light of the absence of front rowers Dean Howells and Dafydd Hughes, inspirational lock and skipper Phil Day, full back Lee Rees and scrum half Rhodri Davies to come agonisingly close to turning over the Wizards.
They had trailed 20-3 late in the first half but in a rousing second half rally they took a 27-23 lead four minutes from time when replacement lock Jake Baker crossed and fly half Jack Maynard converted.
To their credit Aberavon kept their composure and two minutes from time the pack drove over from a close range lineout for replacement hooker Ieuan Davies to get the touchdown and ex-Drover James Garland kick the conversion.
Llandovery Team Manager Andrew Jones saw a lot of positives in the side’s performance. “The boys did the club proud given that we have been ravaged with injury for the last few games and suffered some heavy defeats. Some of our very young players, like prop Jamie Hughes and lock Joe Powell, have really stepped up to the mark in recent times.”
“We may be out of the play offs but it was important for the morale of the squad that we competed and competed well and I think you can safely say that the Wizards had to work for their win.”
Llandovery’s first half performance was not great, with both lock Bryn Griffiths and prop Greg Cunniffe yellow carded for offside and a dangerous tackle respectively.
But the second half belonged to the Drovers who were very well led from the front by skipper and No 8 Duane Eager who along with Powell was the outstanding forward on the field after the break.
Tries from skipper Ian Moore, outstanding flanker Luke Joseph and full back Steff Andrews had established a 20-3 lead for Aberavon with Llandovery’s only response a Maynard penalty. Full back Mike Evans got a converted try back for Llandovery just before the break to make it 20-10 after he had scooped up a Maynard chip ahead.
The Drovers were revitalised when wing Aaron Warren got another converted try and after Maynard and Garland had swapped penalties, replacement lock Jake Baker nosed Llandovery into the lead following a huge surge by the pack.
One huge upset looked likely but a second yellow card for Griffiths checked home momentum and hooker Davies broke home hearts with the late late effort from a driven maul.