LLANDOVERY 37 CARDIFF 20
In this top of the table Premiership clash on Thursday night, Llandovery produced their best performance of the season with a bonus point win front of the S4C cameras writes Huw S Thomas
In the corresponding fixture back in October, the Blue and Blacks had clung on to win 29-26 after keeping out swarms of Llandovery attacks in the last five minutes but were this time outplayed and outthought by the irrepressible Drovers
The win takes the Carmarthenshire side up to within three points of Cardiff with a game in hand as the battle for top place in the Premiership intensifies.
The Drovers put in a first half performance of the highest order, the forwards disciplined and direct, the backs inventive, adventurous and clinical.
The line out which has been the Achilles heel of recent performances worked like clockwork with the return from injury of skipper and lock Jack Jones and with quick ball the home backs had the room to exploit Cardiff weaknesses.
The captain and Griff Jones formed a formidable lock partnership, shone in all phases of play and had great support from No 8 Osian Davies and the rest of the combative pack.
One of the four Llandovery tries was of the very highest order when the slickest and quickest of ball transfers from centre Rhodri Jones, fly half Ioan Hughes and wing Aaron Warren culminated in centre Adam Warren skipping over.
“Those first 40 minutes must rank as the best of the the season” said winning coach Euros Evans.
“We have been threatening to produce that kind of display for a good while and it all came together against Cardiff”
“To beat them, deny them any bonus points and getting a bonus point win ourselves was a huge effort from all the 23 strong squad and sets us up nicely for the last seven games of what is turning out to be an exciting season for our supporters.”
Evans and Cardiff coach Steve Law, formerly of Bedwas, have had a great and friendly rivalry over the years.
There was an unforgettable game back in 2013 when the Drovers pipped Bedwas 43-41 to qualify for the Premiership play offs
The Western Mail reported –
There has been seldom a game of such attacking quality to vaunt the competitiveness and the quality of the Principality Premiership as witnessed by a host of personalities.
Former WRU Coaching Organiser Malcolm Lewis, ex-international referee Les Peard, WRU Board of Director Martin Davies, politician Ron Davies and Wales prop Adam Jones – a brief but former Drover – purred with delight at the spectacle before them.
“You will go a long way to see such a riveting and rousing clash where everything was positive, foul play absent and skill levels for a semi-professional so high“ said Lewis.
And this time again it was the Llandovery man who came out on top.
The Drovers have three home games to play – against Aberavon, Llanelli and Swansea but four away games at Swansea, Bridgend, Newport and Aberavon.
Given their current position in the table, they are now in touching distance of the play offs and a win against Aberavon at Church Bank on Friday night is the immediate priority.
Despite Cardiff taking an early 3-0 lead from a penalty by veteran fly half Dan Fish, the handling, passing and support work of the home side put them 27-6 clear at half time.
Rhodri Jones finished off a series of close range attacks by stretching himself over the line before No 8 Osian Davies showed wonderful footwork in sidestepping the last defender.
Ioan Hughes – playing his best game since joining from Llanell – dropped a neat goal before the outstanding effort from Adam Warren. Full back Jack Maynard added four conversions and a penalty with Cardiff’s only reply a second Fish penalty.
After the break, a yellow card for flanker Stuart Worrall halted Llandovery momentum.
Ex-Drover hooker Alun Rees scored from close range but soon after Cardiff centre Arron Pinches was yellow carded, ex-Worcester wing Harri Doel cleverly slipped two markers for the bonus point.
Despite another yellow for flanker Lloyd Pike, Llandovery went further ahead with a penalty from Maynard, the Premiership’s top points scorer, now on 126 points for the season.
The Drovers were denied more tries by desperate defence but were lucky when a try by Cardiff replacement Harrison James was disallowed for a forward pass by Fish in the build up.
Against the run of play, Cardiff broke away through a strong run from Pinches for James to get a very late and meaningless consolation try.
*** Llandovery entertain Aberavon on Friday night KO 7 30 pm
STAR CHOICE: Ioan Hughes (Llandovery)
Tries: R Jones, O Davies, Adam Warren, H Doel
Cons: J Maynard (4)
DG: I Hughes
Pens: J Maynard (2)
Tries; A Rees, H James
Cons: D Fish (2)
Pens: D Fish (2)
Llandovery: J Maynard; H Doel, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, C Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), G Evans, L Pike, O Davies, S Worrall
Replacements: R Guest, L Green, D Dallavalle, J Powell, J Evans, R Wall, K Jones, B Thomas
Cardiff: J Lloyd; J Beal, R Wilkins, A Pinches, J Goodchild,; D Fish, T Habberfield (capt); M Thomas, A Rees, S Andrews, S Moore, J Richards. E Thomas, E Lloyd, N Hudd
Replacements R Barrett, F Barnes, L Ashley, M Allen, L Williams, J Williams, H James, W Keep