What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The Drovers scored four tries to RGC’s one to kick off their Premiership campaign with an impressive bonus point win at a sunny Church Bank.
The win was not as comfortable as it sounds, with RGC rallying strongly in the latter stages to put the home defence under some pressure after the 60th minute sending off of hooker Matthew Moore for a head butt (a card which was later rescinded).
It was 24-10 at the time but the Drovers showed outstanding commitment and defence to stop the North Walian challenge before win Aaron Warren made history with a late try. It was his 36th try in the Premiership, a Llandovery record and one more than former favourite and wing Ifan Evans.
Coach Euros Evans had targeted a win in this West Conference game but held little hope of a winning bonus point, such has been the competitive nature of past games between the two sides.
“We have worked hard all week to improve those areas that were found wanting in pre-season friendlies,” said Evans, “and the set piece worked well for us - our two penalty tries were testament to that. I was also pleased with the ferocity of our tackling after replacement hooker Matthew Moore was red carded with 20 minutes to go, along with our ability to keep ball away from the dangerous RGC backs.”
In that last quarter the work rate of the back row of Duane Eager, skipper Richard Brooks and Stuart Worrall and lock Jack Jones was key to success but there were many other players to impress.
“Our new signings – full back Jack Evans, wing Lee Williams, centre Ryan Evans, hooker Ricky Guest and lock Jones made hefty contributions to help us get off to this excellent start,” added coach Evans.
Williams twice put in try saving tackles when he came off his wing to put in big tackles but it was Jack Jones who was named Man of the Match for his lineout work, scrummaging and 88 minutes of graft in the open.
RGC coach and ex-Wales wing Mark Jones had no complaints. “We were never tight and accurate in what we did and, although we spurned a couple of good chances in the last quarter, Llandovery were full value for their money.”
“I had happy years down at Church Bank before going on to the Scarlets and Wales but today was not so good,” quipped ex-Drover Jones.
The North Walians led after a fly half Jacob Botica penalty but by half time trailed 24-3 – to two penalty tries and one brilliant counter attacking effort made by Williams, carried on by wing Aaron Warren and finished in style by scrum half Lee Rees.
RGC’s Kiwi No 8 Alex Taylor got an early second half try to make it 24-10 and when Moore was red carded for a head butt the visitors looked capable of more tries. But their goose was cooked when they lost the ball in midfield and the lanky Warren sprinted home from 50 metres for a converted try and bonus point.