What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
On a wet and misty Easter Monday, Merthyr proved far too strong for a very much weakened Llandovery side to confirm their rank as favourites to win the Premiership title writes Huw S Thomas
Both sides could meet again in the Welsh Cup final at the Millennium Stadium if they win their respective semi final games this Saturday when Merthyr play Ebbw Vale and Llandovery face Newport .
The physical demands of five games in 16 days proved too much for the Drovers who were on the back foot for most of the game.
Up to this game they had only conceded 79 points in six games so it was a sizeable shock to let in 39 points and six tries against The Ironmen.
Coach Euros Evans rested some of his key players before Saturday’s semi final and although there was plenty of effort from fringe players such as fly half Josh Hammett and flanker Tom Powell, Merthyr were more dynamic in all phases.
Llandovery suffered at the scrums, won little ball at the line out and could not counter the Merthyr driving maul off the line out.
Half of the home side’s tries came from the driving maul and it was an area of the game that Llandovery had no answer to.
They had the misfortune to lose flanker Emyr Price to a nasty ankle injury at the start of the game and from there on it was a matter of limiting the damage and avoiding a heavy defeat in the image of the 75-14 massacre of 2017.
Full back Matthew Jarvis got an early penalty before three tries from hooker Rhys Williams, a penalty try and one from wing Kyle Evans took Merthyr into a 20-6 half time lead.
Llandovery did come close to tries on two occasions in rare attacks but lost possession and all they could muster was two penalties from full back Kristian Jones.
Evans scored his try from a blatant off side try but the game was settled in a salvo of three tries inside eight minutes, two of them the result of the driving maul.
Prop Nathan Trevett, scrum half Justin James and replacement hooker Matthew Dwyer crossed before centre Tom Riley dropped a pass with the line at his mercy.
Wing Aaron Warren and centre Rhodri Jones threatened fitfully for the Drovers and lock Bryn Griffiths and No 8 Richard Brooks worked hard but there was a general lack of sparkle and strength up front and behind.
Team Manager Andrew Jones summed up the Llandovery performance neatly.
“A lot of the boys are tired with a surfeit of rugby but you cannot win games if your set piece is not working.”