DROVERS HELD UP BY THE STEELMEN

What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas

Llandovery slipped to a disappointing 37-21 defeat at Eugene Cross Park back in October and had to be happy with this draw against a hugely competitive Ebbw Vale side at Church Bank writes Huw S Thomas.

After their excellent way win over RGC, confidence was high in Drovers ranks but bottom side Ebbw Vale put in an outstanding second half of possession rugby to share the soaking wet spoils.

This game marked the exact half way mark in Llandovery’s season, this draw making for a current record of five wins, two draws and four defeats

With 11 games remaining, they are in seventh place but have the comfort of knowing they have games in hand over every team in the Premiership.

“A frustrating day” said coach Euros Evans, “poor game management with the wind at our backs, a creaking line out and a lack of concentration at key moments made for a poor day.”

“And with five away games to come – one in the Cup and four in the league – there are tough times ahead.”

The wind and rain in their favour, the Steelmen were soon deep into home territory but a close range line out produced little against firm defence,

A tremendous rolling maul took the Drovers forwards upfield and when fly half Jack Maynard sold a smart dummy, quick passing put wing Jordan Evans in at the corner.

Ebbw were soon knocking at the home line again and although centre Ethan Phillips was held up in goal, a driving scrum brought its reward with a penalty try.

Full back Gavin Thomas did some excellent covering of probing Ebbw kicks and the visitors found it hard to breach a hard tackling Llandovery.

Home defence at the line out was particularly strong in the face of a number of close range attacks much to the frustration of the visiting pack.

Having earlier eschewed a number of kicks at goal, Ebbw opted to go for goal from 45 metres and full back Ryan Evans put over a fine kick in awful conditions for a tenuous 10-5 interval lead.

A serious injury to hooker Rhys Francis did not help the Ebbw cause but his fellow forwards scrapped away courageously into the elements.

Led from the front by skipper Ashley Sweet, the Vale forwards had the upper hand for all the third quarter.

It eventually took a charge down of a relieving kick by centre Ethan Phillips for the Drovers to come level at 10-10, centre Rhodri Jones the first to a rolling ball in goal.

Maynard missed an ambitious long range penalty from inside his own half as the Drovers strove for the vital score only for them to lose yet an attacking line out under pressure from the outstanding Sweet.

The game ended with the Ebbw forwards holding on expertly to the ball in appalling conditions to thoroughly deserve their two valuable league points which brings them level with Bridgend at the foot of the table – both on 17 points.

Llandovery

Tries: J Evans, R Jones

Ebbw Vale

Try: Pen try

Pen: R Evans

Llandovery: G Thomas; J Evans, K Jones, R Jones, A Warren; J Maynard, S Maynard; J Hughes, A Rees, B Watkins, J Jones, J Powell, L Ellis-Jones, R Brooks (capt), S Worrall

Replacements: D Dallavalle, R Guest, L Green, R Jones, S Miles, L Smith, L Thomas, J Howells

Ebbw Vale: R Evans; M Powell, P King, E Phillips, A Grabham; D Langdon, M Flanagan; R Jones, R Francis, R Sevenoaks, D Talbot, A Sweet (capt), D Hill, L Young, D Rubasniak

Replacements: J Harris, M Blake, D Whiting, M Ayling, D Franchi, D Jones, L Garrett, E Rosser

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Cardiff 16 13 0 3 396 243 61
Carmarthen Quins 17 10 3 4 372 278 54
Aberavon 16 11 0 5 371 272 53
Llandovery 16 9 2 5 344 285 48
Pontypridd 18 10 0 8 394 376 47
Merthyr 18 8 0 10 362 374 44
RGC 1404 17 8 1 8 409 381 43
Newport 15 7 0 8 294 278 37
Swansea 17 7 0 10 246 292 35
Llanelli 15 6 0 9 293 412 27
Ebbw Vale 17 4 2 11 283 351 27
Bridgend Ravens 18 3 0 15 271 493 19