What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery kept their unbeaten record with this fourth consecutive win of the season against a much improved Neath side. The Drovers now top the West Conference table with 19 points out of a possible 20 in their best ever start to a Premiership campaign.
The bonus point win was not clinched until the ninth minute of injury time when replacement prop Berian Watkins squeezed over in the corner. It denied Neath the losing bonus point they possibly deserved but both coaches found a lot of positives from the result.
Winning coach Euros Evans paid tribute to the home effort. “Neath are vastly improved and gave us our hardest game of the season but we kept our composure when they attacked hard in the second half,” said Evans. “What was pleasing for us was the way we finished after Neath had crawled back to 22-15 in the 80th minute. We could have shut up shop and been happy with the win but we kept the ball alive and were rewarded with a last gasp converted try.”
Neath coach Gareth Llewellyn was bitterly disappointed with the defeat. “We matched a very good side for large parts of the game and deserved - at the very least - a losing bonus point – but the Drovers’ pace and tempo were just that little bit too good for us.”
Llandovery had stand out players in Rhodri Jones, skipper and scrum half Lee Rees and lock Jack Jones and looked to have the greater cutting edge behind the scrum. The ever excellent Rees – is there a more consistent player in the whole of the Premiership? - was again in sparkling form with his darting and daring runs and was unlucky to be foiled by foul play on his way to a winning bonus point try
It was 12 -3 at half time after tries from budding full back star Tomi Lewis and one from fly half Kristian Jones had trumped a penalty from Neath full back Ed Howley.
When Jack Jones got Llandovery’s third try one minute into the second half to stretch the home lead to 19-3 the odds were on a big home win but Neath responded with a lot of heart and determination. Hugely promising Wales U20 centre Keiran Williams got them back to 19-8, replacement Jack Maynard kicked a penalty for the Drovers but lock Matthew Davies’s try and Ed Howley’s conversion made it 22-15.
The Drovers then finished with a real flourish. Rees was late tackled which should have resulted in a penalty try - but no matter - a driving line out worked Watkins in at the death to clinch a bonus point and deprive Neath of the bonus point that their efforts deserved.