What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery’s winning run continued at Church Bank but they will count themselves lucky to have defeated Newport writes Huw S Thomas.
The Black and Ambers had far the better of the game right up to the end before a breakaway attack, led by Aaron Warren and finished in controversial circumstances by wing Lee Williams, secured the home win.
Referee Aaron Parry first refused the try for a Williams knock on in goal but was overruled by his touch judge to the consternation of Newport players.
It was the Drovers fourth win in 13 days and it took them up to seventh place in the table and in good heart to face a difficult week.
They travel to league leaders Merthyr and then play Newport again this Saturday in the semi final of the Welsh Cup at neutral Aberavon.
If they do the double over Newport then all roads will led to the Millennium Stadium for the Welsh Cup final on April 28.
Newport came very close to a first minute try when wing Adam Sabri squandered a two on one a few feet from the Llandovery line but they soon went 3-0 up thanks to a penalty from full back Geraint O’Driscoll.
A free flowing Llandovery attack then ended with prop Jamie Hughes taking a short crash ball to power through but O’Driscoll then found the mark again from a difficult angle.
Fly half Jack Maynard restored the home lead with a 40 metre effort before a dominant Newport scrum was instrumental in getting wing Harri Lang in for a try wide out, converted by O’Driscoll.
Play went back and fore, Maynard struck another straight penalty only for O’Driscoll to reward the work of his forwards with another very good kick to put the visitors into a 16-11 interval lead
The battle of the kickers continued with a third success for Maynard and a failure for O’Driscoll as both sides slugged it out.
Maynard, too, missed for the first time but soon made amends with a 30 metre effort as he two sides strove for a crucial score with a quarter of an hour to go.
When home flanker Duane Eager was yellow carded at a ruck, O’Driscoll slotted the kick to take Newport ahead 19-17- and seemingly on the way to victory
An O’Driscoll miss gave Llandovery a life line and a kick ahead by replacement Aaron Warren was touched down by wing Lee Williams in the last movement of the game to give the Drovers a fortunate win.
Newport coach Craig Warlow who played one game for the Drovers back in 1999 bemoaned the defeat
“I thought it well in the bag when we were clearly on top in the latter stages and pressing hard ”
“A driving maul had the defence stretched to the limit when we led 19-17 and Llandovery were down to 14 men but the referee’s decisions were problematic to say the least”
“Credit to the Drovers to break out from deep and score a converted try at the death but it was only the phoney war before next Saturday”
“The sides are well matched for the real war so it could be close again”
Llandovery’s phlegmatic coach Euros Evans was as realistic as ever.
“Sometimes you lose when the better side, sometimes you win when second best so you take the knocks and pats on the back and accept your fate.”
“The three wins in league and cup inside seven days against very tough opponents took its toll.”
“We were flat and lacked the usual sparkle and we know we will need to lift our level of performance in Saturday’s semi final.”
“Players - and working men – who train twice a week cannot be expected to play with high tempo week after week but we will prepare well and hope for the best.”
Tries – J Hughes (12’), L Williams (80’); Con – J Maynard (12’); Pens – J Maynard (4) (25’, 38’, 43’, 63’)
Tries – H Lang (28’); Con – G O’Driscoll (28’); Pens – G O’Driscoll (4) (7’, 22’, 43’, 72’)