The Drovers won the Heineken Principality Premiership Sevens for a remarkable fourth consecutive time when they beat Aberavon 29-24 in the final at Parc Y Scarlets.
Llandovery Team Manager Andrew Jones considered it as one of the club’s greatest achievements. “To win the sevens four times in a row against all comers is, for a small club like ours, stupendous. We probably didn't have the same overall pace of past years, but our defence and basic skills were top class.”
“Above all after a ridiculously long day - we started at 10.00 am and eventually got off the pitch at 7 30 pm. – it was sheer determination and team spirit that got us through those last two games against the Quins and Aberavon because of the pace they had.”
“All played their part with Rhodri Wall, Joe Powell and Cai Devine young players who were outstanding in their first tournament, whilst skipper Lee Rees and Rhodri Jones were both truly magnificent throughout the day in winning their fourth winners’ medals.”
In a terrific team performance the Drovers accounted in turn for Neath, Swansea, Carmarthen Quins and Aberavon to confirm their status as the sevens kings of Premiership rugby.
The bobby dazzling 26 year old Lee Rees was the star of the show, with his side stepping and acceleration a reminder to watching Welsh Sevens coach Gareth Williams that the Player of the Tournament is ready for a recall into the national squad.
Club President Handel Davies paid tribute to the quality of the rugby produced by the side. “On paper we were not up to the strength of last year’s squad but everyone put in a big shift today to keep up this amazing record we have in sevens.”
With no programmes available and the score board not functioning, spectators found it difficult to identify what was going on but all warmed to the free flowing approach of the Drovers for which the trio of coaches - Euros Evans, Simon Davies and Gareth Potter - must take huge credit.
The Drovers were quickly into their stride in attempting to win the Premiership 7s for the fourth consecutive time, outplaying Neath 45-0. The mercurial Rees confirmed his reputation as one of Wales’s best sevens players by racing in for three tries to add to ones from Scott Maynard, Scott Gibson, Tom Powell and Rhodri Jones.
Despite being short of many of the players who were in the 2016 winning squad, the side then had too much cohesion for Swansea in a convincing 24-5 win. Swansea took the lead with a try from Jared Walters but then folded against efforts from key man Rees, Gibson, Joe Powell and Wall to set up a semi-final against local rivals Carmarthen Quins.
The Quins had impressed with wins over Cardiff 31-14 and Merthyr 42-21 and looked favourites to turn over their old foes in the semi final when they led 21-12 after tries from Ifan Beynon-Thomas, Gavin Thomas and Gwion Jones, who added all three conversions. But the Drovers kept their composure admirably, and late tries from Jack Parkinson and Rhodri Jones to add to a first half couple from the ebullient Rees edged them home 22-21, four tries to three.
Aberavon who included former Llandovery skipper Matthew Jacobs had made a big impression in their defeats of Ebbw Vale 28-19, Pontypridd 29-12 and Cross Keys 31-19 and were favourites to win the final.
But it was the defending champions who got off to a flying start in the final with tries from Wall (2), Parkinson and the ever consistent Rhodri Jones building up a 22-5 lead and although the Wizards rallied bravely with another three tries despite a yellow card, Wall killed off the challenge with his third try to make it 29-24.
Llandovery squad: Lee Rees (capt), Richard Brooks, Joe Powell, Tom Powell, Emyr Price, Steff Pryce-Griffiths, Scott Gibson, Rhodri Jones, Rhodri Wall, Jack Parkinson, Cai Devine, Scott Maynard
1st round: Llandovery 45 Neath 0, Aberavon 28 Ebbw Vale 19, Pontypridd 26 Bargoed 0, Swansea 31 Bridgend 10, Cardiff 14 Carmarthen Quins 31, Cross Keys w/o RGC, Newport 26 Bedwas 17, Llanelli 17 Merthyr 26
Quarter final: Llandovery 24 Swansea 5, Aberavon 29 Pontypridd 12, Cross Keys 22 Newport 10, Carmarthen Quins 42 Merthyr 21
Semi final: Llandovery 22 Carmarthen Quins 21, Aberavon 31 Cross Keys 19
Final: Llandovery 29 Aberavon 24
Plate Final: Ebbw Vale 34 Llanelli 7
Llandovery bt Neath 45-0
Tries: L Rees (3), S Maynard, S Gibson, T Powell, R Jones
Cons: R Jones (2), L Rees, S Maynard, R Brooks
Llandovery bt Swansea 24-5
Tries: L Rees, S Gibson, J Powell, R Wall
Cons: R Jones (2)
Llandovery bt Carmarthen Quins 22-21
Tries: L Rees (2), J Parkinson, R Jones
Con: R Jones
Llandovery bt Aberavon 29-24
Tries: R Wall (3), J Parkinson, R Jones
Cons: R Jones, L Rees