LLANDOVERY 38 MERTHYR 12
By kind permission of Huw S Thomas and the Brecon and Radnor Express
The two sides last met in the Premiership semi-final back in May when the Drovers squeezed home 16-13 but this was a completely different game at Church Bank writes Huw S Thomas.
They were in complete control as early as the fifth minute when teenage centre Macs Page raced in for the opening try of the game and from there on the only doubt was whether the Premiership champions could get a bonus point.
They did so very late on through man of the Match, lock Joe Powell and with that the Drovers went to the top of the table with a maximum 10 points after two games.
Llandovery made four changes from the side that walloped Carmarthen Quins 54-31 – some enforced, others tactical – but a raft of newcomers made impressions on procedures.
Foremost were two talented young backs in centre Macs Page and wing Jac Davies who were both heavily involved in the first half Llandovery tries.
Hooker Harry Thomas, too, showed up well in the forward exchanges against a very experienced and wizened Merthyr pack
In Page we have a player destined for high honours, his footwork, pace and distribution skills marking him out as something special.
It is not too fanciful a thought that young Page will end up adding a senior cap to last season’s U18 honours.
He scored a brace of first half tries, the first after clever interpassing with Davies, the second swooping in on the blind side of a line-out maul, after being fed by skipper and scrum half Lee Rees who had spotted a lack of defenders out on the wing.
Rees himself got on the scorecard when after a multi phase build up, influential fly half Ioan Hughes put the little maestro in under the posts.
The pace and tempo set by the Drovers in the first half was too much for a heavyweight Merthyr and a half time score of 28-5 was a fair reflection of home dominance.
The mobility of the back five – Chris Long, the imperious Joe Powell, Osian Davies, Jordan Evans and the ubiquitous Stuart Worrall – had the Ironmen gasping for air at times.
Points machine full back Jack Maynard kicked two conversions and three penalties, Merthyr’s only answer a charge down kick and chase try from full back Ben Jones.
“We failed to turn the screw the interval” said coach Euros Evans “ but the heat was so intense that it was very difficult to play at such a high tempo”
“We have always found Merthyr tough opponents so the result shows we are on an upward curve, pleasing to see a lot of our youngsters getting game time.”
The less hectic pace of the second half gave Merthyr a chance of coming back into the game and they restricted Llandovery to a penalty from Maynard up to the 80th minute.
In injury time lock Joe Powell powered through from a line out to secure the bonus point only for the visitors to have the last but futile word with a smart opportunist try from Adam Hoskins who beat Aaron Warren to the touchdown inches from the in goal line.
*** The Drovers travel to Pontypridd on Saturday in search of a third successive win in this season’s Premiership
Tries: M Page (2), L Rees, J Powell
Cons: J Maynard (3)
Pens: J Maynard (4)
Tries: B Jones, A Hoskings
Con: G Thompson
Llandovery: J Maynard; H Doel, M Page, R Jones, J Davies; I Hughes, L Rees (capt); J Hughes, H Thomas, R Murphy, J Powell, C Long, O Davies, J Evans, S Worrall
Replacements: D Dallavalle, L Phillips-Taylor, G Jones, M Dallavalle, T Poole, Adam Warren, Aaron Warren, D Land
Merthyr: B Jones; T Gee, M Sieniawski, R Davies, A Hoskings; G Thompson, E Lloyd; L Jones, L Wiggins, D Whiting, C Locke, C Bradbury, P McBride (capt), S Evans, B Fry
Replacements: D Wall, T Hawkins, R Lewis, L Greggans, T Jeavons, J Soanes, J Lewis, D Thomas