Showdown at Church Bank
By Bryan Weaver | 21/12/2017
Huw S Thomas reports:
The Principality Premiership season might not be half over but Saturday’s Christmas showdown between Llandovery and the Quins (KO 2 30 pm) looks certain to draw the biggest crowd of the season to Church Bank.
The last game of the first phase of this year’s revamped league pits third placed Llandovery home to second placed Quins with the winner certain to finish at least in second place in the eight-strong West Conference.
The Quins could even finish top if they beat the Drovers with a bonus point win and Bridgend upset the odds by beating current leaders RGC who are at the moment three points ahead of the Quins and five ahead of the Drovers.
There is even an outside chance of Llandovery pipping both RGC and the Quins. For that to happen they would have to win Saturday’s game with a bonus point and for RGC to get nothing at the Brewery Field. Even then the Drovers would have to end up with a superior tries tally to RGC.
The tightness of it all is reflected in the current tries tally where the Quins are on 41 and the Drovers and RGC locked on 40.
Whoever does finish top will carry 8 points forward, the second team 7 points to the second phase of the competition when every club will play the other once over the next five months.
The finishing positions in the West and East will determine the number of points to be carried forward by each club ranging from 8 to the winner down to 1 point for the eighth team.
But that will be far from the minds of both coaching set ups who will relish the excitement of a real West Wales derby between the two strongest Carmarthenshire teams.
Head coaches Euros Evans and Richard Kelly are two of the brightest talents in the Premiership and will be keen to finish off the West campaign with a win.
Recent form suggests that the Quins will be narrow favourites to take the spoils against a Drovers side that has shown patchy form over the last few matches.
The Quins have not lost since September 30 when they went down to RGC up in Colwyn Bay but they got revenge for that defeat when overturning the North Walians 25-22 in their most recent game at the Park.
They have reeled off seven consecutive wins – including a 26-12 defeat of Llandovery - to move up to second place on 45 points just three points behind RGC with Llandovery a further two points behind on 43.
The Drovers stared the season with a bang, in reeling off four straight victories but then went on to lose four and win four of their next eight games.
To be fair they suffered most from Scarlet call ups to B and I Cup and Anglo Welsh but, now back to a full complement of players, will fancy their chances on Saturday with home advantage.
The Quins pack under former Drover Haydn Pugh has been in thundering form and much will depend on how much good possession the home forwards under No 8 Richard Brooks can salvage to give their exciting backs - led by scrum half Lee Rees - enough try scoring chances.
Local bookmakers cannot separate the two sides offering 10/11 on either team with the draw at 16/1.