What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The Drovers staged a remarkable recovery to turn a 17-3 deficit into a fine 31-24 bonus point win over their old county rivals writes Huw S Thomas
They move up to fourth place in the Premiership and with three games left to play – away at Bargoed and Swansea and home to Llanelli – they have every hope of finishing in the top two or three.
The Quins have had little luck at Church Bank in recent league encounters and once again fell short in another rousing Tywi Valley derby.
It puts a virtual end to their title hopes and they will be bitterly disappointed to see a clear lead disappear against a Llandovery side that looked right up against it for the first half hour.
During that period, the Quins dominated possession and territory but lacked the Llandovery cutting edge which saw the Drovers outscore the Carmarthen side four tries to three.
A beautiful day on an immaculate playing surface in front of a big local crowd was the ideal setting for this eagerly awaited clash.
The Drovers had to withstand a lot of early pressure and it was no surprise when fly half Jac Wilson chipped through to score a try, converted by full back Aled Thomas.
Llandovery replied with a penalty from fly half Jack Maynard but it was the Quins pack that looked the more cohesive and from a line out scrum half Ifan Beynon- Thomas – one of eight Carmarthen players to have sometime turned out for the Drovers - sniped through for another converted try.
Llandovery had a huge let off when a cross kick from Wilson saw wing Dylan Morgans spill the ball forward with no one near him.
A straight Thomas penalty for offside pulled the Quins 14 points clear after half an hour of quasi complete control.
Llandovery did at last get a foothold in Quins territory after a good break from centre Rhodri Jones which ended with prop Berian Watkins barrelling over for the try, converted by Maynard.
Despite a yellow card for Rees – stopping a quick tap penalty – Jones broke again and the movement ended with Maynard dummying through under the posts, his conversion tying the scores.
Llandovery opted for an attacking line out rather than a kick at goal and it paid off when a rolling maul drove hooker Ricky Guest over for a third converted try.
From a deficit of 17-3 the Drovers were astonishingly ahead 24-17 at the interval.
Once again the Drovers caught the Quins defence napping, lock Joe Powell cleverly putting replacement prop Jamie Hughes storming in from all of 20 metres.
The momentum seemed with the Drovers but the Quins kept at it with a will, still edging possession and replacement lock Haydn Pugh brought them back into it with a try converted by Thomas.
The Quins threw everything at it but to no avail against an all embracing defence, marshalled by skipper and No 8 Richard Brooks.
Both coaching teams were refreshingly ready to praise the opposition.
Llandovery backs coach Simon Davies admitted that the Quins were very imprssive in the first 30 minutes.
“They had us on the rack in that period and it was only good defence and a slice of luck that kept us in touch.”
“If Jac Wilson’s excellent cross kick had not been spilled by an unmarked Dylan Morgans we would have gone over 20 points behind”
“The Quins have a very sound all round game but when we got a bit of ball, our running patterns caught them out and to score 14 points even when Lee Res was in the sin bin was key to the game.”
“To come back from 17-3 to win 31-24 was a great effort against a very much in form team”
Quins Director of Coaching Ian Jones was phlegmatic in defeat.
“You could say we lost it after a tremendous opening and establishing a good lead but fair play to Llandovery they used their limited possession really well and were always a threat with their free running style.”
“Their defence too has proved to be one of the best in the Premiership, it soaked up very heavy pressure and it was only once in the second half that we managed to get over their line.”
“It’s been a fine season for our two Scarlets regional sides, both vying at the top albeit falling a little short at the end.
Tries – B Watkins, J Maynard, R Guest, J Hughes ; Cons - J Maynard (4) ; Pen – J Maynard
Tries – J Wilson, I Beynon-Thomas, H Pugh ; Cons – A Thomas (3); Pen– A Thomas