By kind permission of Huw S Thomas, all copyright reserved
DROVERS MAKE IT EIGHT OUT OF NINE
BRIDGEND 7 LLANDOVERY 27
The Drovers avenged their 25-19 defeat at the hands of Bridgend back on October 9 with this bonus point win writes Huw S Thomas
This was their eighth win in nine Indigo Premiership Cup games and next week’s crunch game at home to Aberavon will settle who finishes top of the West Conference.
It became clear in the week that the top four teams in both West and East – not the top two as first indicated – would go through to the last eight of the Cup.
It is understood that in the quarter finals, the top of the West will play the side that finishes fourth in the East, the second in the West against the third in the East.
The top of the East will face the fourth in the West table and the second in the East will play the third in the West.
Hope you followed that?
Llandovery made nine changes from the side that beat Llanelli 54-12 but were strong enough to resist a firm challenge from the Ravens.
Coach Euros Evans was delighted that some of his young squad members had gained experience of Premiership rugby.
“We have to set the balance of winning and introducing inexperienced players to the speed and strength of a demanding level of rugby.”
“Hooker Jamie Cox, lock Sam Melmoth, fly half Ryan Williams and wing Tom Richards got a good taste of life in the Premiership and came through it well whether starting like Cox or coming off the bench like Melmoth, Williams and Richards.”
“We have to keep coming through with new blood.”
They were sentiments that Geraint John, the watching WRU Community Rugby chief would have warmly agreed with.
Running and handling at every opportunity, the Drovers set out their stall early with wing Aaron Warren and debutant hooker Jamie Cox crossing in the left hand corner.
Even a yellow card for lock Marco Dallavalle failed to stop their momentum and full back Will Thomas all but scored after a scorching run from scrum half Dafydd Land.
Prop Jamie Hughes went over just before the break, centre Kristian Jones converting for a comfortable 17-0 lead.
Given that the Drovers had enjoyed 75% of possession, the lead could have been more with a tad more accuracy in finishing.
Back in October the Ravens had staged a grand rally to come from 19-5 down to win 25-19 at Church Bank and when scrum half Chris Williams dummied through in the 43 rd minute, full back Owen Howe converting, Llandovery alarm bells sounded.
In their best patch of the game Bridgend built up pressure in the Llandovery 22 only for poor ball retention and silly errors to let them down at the vital stage.
Jones added a penalty and with the Llandovery backs running the ball from everywhere under replacement scrum half Lee Rees , it was fitting that the bonus point try was scored by their formidable centre Rhodri Jones, making his 200th appearance for the club.
29 year old Jones, a product of Ysgol Maes Yr Yrfa, made his first appearance for Llandovery on August 13, 2013 in a friendly against Llangennech, marking his debut with a brace of tries.
The try against Bridgend was his 51st for the club but it has been his general excellence, reading of the game, toughness, endurabilty and balanced running that has made him one of the very best all round players in the history of the Premiership.
What a shame that his region failed to realise his potential alongside that of little Lee Rees.
Both remain – in this writer’s view anyway – Llandovery’s most influential players of the last 10 years.
Kristian Jones stroked over a fine conversion to end a good night’s work for the Drovers and prepare for the looming Aberavon challenge.
Church Bank is the place to be on Saturday (KO 2 30 pm)
Try C Williams:
Con: O Howe
Tries: A Warren, J Cox, J Hughes, R Jones
Cons: K Jones (2)
Pen: K Jones
Star Choice: Rhodri Jones (Llandovery)
Bridgend: O Howe; C Woolerton, S Floyd-Ellis, J Gatt, E Howley ; J Chilcott, C Williams; R Apsee, G Harvey, T Kaijacks, H Barnes, C John (capt), A Evans, R Tucker, Z O’Driscoll (capt)
Replacements: L Murphy, O Jordan, C Lewis, M Davies, D Davies, R Dudley-Jones, P Short, C Ellis
Llandovery:W Thomas; R Wall, K Jones, R Jones, A Warren; J Garland (capt), D Land; J Hughes, J Cox, B Watkins, M Dallavalle, J Powell. J Evans, L Pike, I Davies
Replacements: D Dallavalle, L Tobias, C Thomas, J Melmoth, T Richards, I Thomas, R Williams, L Rees
— Huw S Thomas Rugby World Schools Editor 4 Maes y Coleg Llandovery Carms SA20 0HS 01550 720028 07866 553920