Aberavon 10 – 34 Llandovery
What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
A vibrant Llandovery outscored Aberavon by six tries to one in this first round game in the National Cup and in so doing posted notice that they will be serious contenders to retain their title.
The Drovers recorded one of their best ever wins at The Talbot Athletic Ground in humbling the Premiership’s top team with a display of great bravery, determination and style under their fine skipper Phil Day.
Coaches Euros Evans, Simon Davies and Gareth Potter will take huge credit for preparing the team so well and were rewarded with outstanding effort from the squad.
Lock Day was everywhere in defence with his bone shuddering tackling and ball carrying inspiring his team mates to as good a win as they have enjoyed in recent years.
The team performance was the best of the season but there were notable individual contributions.
Full back Lee Rees in his 200th game for the Drovers counter attacked in dazzling fashion with his trademark side stepping causing repeated panic in the Aberavon ranks. His alertness and quick thinking were the spark for the try from centre Craig Woodall early in the second half which took the Drovers into a 22-10 lead.
Woodall too was in fine form before going off injured, hooker Ryan Williams confirmed his continuing improvement with a great display in the loose and scrum half Scott Gibson proved an excellent replacement for the injured Rhodri Davies. One superb 60 metre touch finder from the scrum half not only got the Drovers out of trouble but put them into a promising attacking position in the Aberavon 22.
The terrier like work of the back row of Duane Eager, Richard Brooks and Stuart Worrall, the industry of veteran lock Bryn Griffiths and the huge competitiveness of centre Rhodri Jones were also important factors in the win.
The key to that win was Llandovery’s ability to force turnovers when under pressure in their own 22 and both of replacement wing Jack Parkinson’s tries were counter attacking efforts from deep.
Gibson got the Drovers off to a good start with a try inside 5 minutes, converted by fly half James Davies and although the Wizards responded with a try from wing David Evans - converted by fly half Steff Williams - it was to be their one and only touchdown.
Wing Aaron Warren and Eager went over after crisp approach work and support to make it 17-10 at the break, Williams having kicked a penalty for the hosts.
Woodall and young speedster Parkinson - twice - finished off all hopes of a home win, the salt rubbed into the home wound with a touchline conversion from Jones.
The Drovers are back in league action this Saturday in the opening game of the Premiership Top 8.As fate would have it the visitors to Church Bank are Aberavon who finished top of the table in the first half of the season and who will travel, thirsty for revenge after their Cup exit.