DROVERS WIN TOP OF THE TABLE CLASH AT ABERAVON
ABERAVON 18 LLANDOVERY 24
In a rousing top of the table game in the West Conference, Llandovery gained a bonus point win with an outstanding away performance at the Talbot Athletic Ground writes Huw S Thomas.
They condemned the Wizards to their first defeat of the season but had to survive a furious home onslaught in the last 10 minutes.
Both sides look firm favourites to claim the top two play-off spots after a quality contest which went back and fore in exciting style.
The Drovers are now just one point behind Aberavon at the half way stage of the Premiership Cup.
“The key was our ability to stand up to Aberavon’s set piece and we did that in a full blooded contest” said coach Euros Evans.
“All the forwards, young and old, put in a huge shift against the league leaders and it keeps us in the race for a top two spot.”
“Some of our young forwards – Griff Evans, Oisan Davies, Harri O’Connor – stuck in there well in the heat of battle, supported by wonderful support from the likes of skipper Jack Jones and the win makes up for the disappointment of losing to Bridgend last week.”
Other forwards in prop Jamie Hughes, hooker Dafydd Hughes, and back rowers Iestyn Rees and Stuart Worrall were also at the very heart of things in a fine team effort.
A word too for the hard working replacements who helped keep the Drovers in the lead in a frenetic last 10 minutes.
Behind the scrum Lee Rees was his usual sharp self, full back Will Thomas always threatened with ball in hand whilst centre Rhodri Jones was the best back on the field.
Jones pierced the tight Aberavon defence a number of times with his poise and perfect timing of runs and made the best break of the game to send in Lee Rees at a time when the game was crucially balanced.
The Wizards struck first when a tap penalty from scrum half Rhodri Cole made enough space for supporting flanker Ashton Evans to crash through, fly half Dan Edwards adding the conversion.
Aberavon edged the set pieces but the Drovers scrambled well in defence and hit back when a well worked move behind the scrum sent loping left wing Aaron Warren haring home,
Edwards was wide with a 30 metre penalty before home wing Frankie Jones was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on.
Llandovery turned down three points with a kick to the corner and it brought profit when a patient build up from the line out ended with all action hooker Dafydd Hughes going over near enough for fly half James Garland to convert for a 12-7 interval lead.
An Edwards 40 metre penalty reduced the leeway and then his replacement Aled Thomas regained the lead with an angled penalty.
The lead was quickly lost when great cut through by Rhodri Jones sent scrum half Lee Rees arrowing home for a converted try.
Prop Nicky Thomas got a yellow card for a dangerous piece of play and although there was nothing between two excellent sides, a sweeping Llandovery move gave replacement wing Callum Williams the bonus point try.
Kristian Jones – on for the injured Thomas- saw yellow for a deliberate knock on to reduce the Drovers to 14 men and replacement Sam Pailor grabbed a try to bring the Wizards back to within six points.
In a grandstand finish, the Drovers defended a wave of attacks, Griff Evans and replacement Jordan Evans winning crucial line out ball to bring home the bacon for the Carmarthenshire side.
A word too for Scott Maynard who played the last quarter in place of Lee Rees and did all the right things at the right time – by boot or by hand – in the face of relentless late Aberavon pressure.
A final tap on the back must go to team physiotherapist Dave Graham-Woollard and his team for their swift and decisive action and attention to any injured player.
On a number of occasions they were at the side of any injured player in the blink of an eye, devoted to the care and well being of any Drover needing treatment.
The value of Dave Graham-Woollard and his helpers Ruth Morgan and Nia Morgans to the Llandovery club is immeasurable.
On and off the field, the players know that they are in the very safest of hands.
Tries: A Evans, S Pailor
Con: D Edwards
Pens: D Edwards, A Thomas
Tries: A Warren, D Hughes, L Rees, C Williams
Cons: J Garland (2)
The Rugby Paper Star Choice: Iestyn Rees (Llandovery)
Aberavon: J Phillips (J Gage h/t); C Banfield, C Smith, J Thomas, F Jones; D Edwards (A Thomas 51-61 and I Tembett 61)), R Cole (capt); R Jenkins (R Fawcett 60), L Davies (C Lewis 30), G James (N Thomas 60), S Smallman, S Williams (S Pailor 60), A Evans, A Waite, L Evans
Llandovery: W Thomas (K Jones 57); A Evans, R Wall, R Jones, A Warren; J Garland (C Williams 68), L Rees (S Maynard 61); J Hughes (B Watkins 57), D, Hughes, H O’Connor (D Dallavalle 57), J Jones (capt), O Davies, G Evans, I Ree (J Evans70)s, S Worrall (I Davies 80)