Words: Huw S Thomas. Pics: Ian Williams

Helped by a brace of tries from teenage revelation Macs Page, the Drovers stayed on firm course for the Premiership treble when getting much the better of Cardiff in the play-off semi final at Church Bank.

Having already won the Cup and topping the Premiership table at the end of the regular season, they will now attempt to lift the Premiership title at Church Bank against Newport on May 11.

Only Pontypridd have succeeded in doing the treble since the Premiership was launched back in 2003-2004.

“It’s been a long hard season and we are now a game away from a huge achievement” said coach Euros Evans.

“Cardiff had us worried in the first half and closed us down effectively but we found our fluency after the break and as the game opened up we scored some very good tries”

“We’re thrilled with the victory over a strong Cardiff squad and our second-half performance was exceptional, even by our demanding standards.”

“However, it was disheartening to witness our captain, Jack Jones being carried off, as he is such an outstanding leader for us.”

“We, at least, know he is out of hospital and safe which is terrific news.”

“Our replacements kept up the pressure once they came on and our teamwork as a squad spurred us on.”

“A great team effort obviously but a special word, too, for Macs {Page} who demonstrated his class by scoring another remarkable try.”

His words were echoed by attack coach Gareth Potter.

“That was a tough game but we always created lots of chances and it was just a case of being patient and being clinical when the opportunities arose.”

“Our bench performed very well, kept us on the front foot in the last quarter and we had a special finisher on the left wing!”

Llandovery turned round a 10-6 half time deficit to take firm hold of the rest of the game, the highlight being a duo of tries from the exciting Page.

The Pembrokeshire teenager scored one brilliant solo try to leave defenders trailing in his wake and then finished off an irresistible, pounding attack from backs and forwards to take Llandovery clear.

In front of the S4C cameras, the Drovers found Cardiff a tough nut to crack in the first half, unable to find a way through a highly organised defence under skipper and No 8 Morgan Allen.

Despite Cardiff losing centre Arron Pinches to a yellow card, all Llandovery could muster was a couple of penalties from full back Jack Maynard.

They trailed to a penalty from ex-Dragons fly half Arwel Robson and a well constructed converted try for bullocking skipper Allen

The Blue and Blacks had their best spell of attack in the entire match in that last 15 minutes of the first half when their forwards carried hard and often deep into the Llandovery 22.

Pressure eventually told when the home side ran out of defenders and the 10-6 interval lead was no more than the tough defending visitors deserved.

A half time pep talk from coach Euros Evans had effect and with the Drovers swarming to the attack, scrum half Lee Rees’s chip and chase was just thwarted by a great bit of covering from full back John Goodchild.

The back row of Osian Davies, Joe Powell and Stuart Worrall were everywhere in attack and defence and prompted by the ever threatening Rees, Llandovery upped the tempo in thrilling style.

With Cardiff tackling and covering losing its edge and bite, gaps started to appear and with more time and space, Llandovery dominated possession and territory.

Fly half Ioan Hughes crossed when a series of attacks, following a close range line out drive, outflanked the Cardiff cover and his conversion took his side into a 13-10 lead.

Within a minute that had become 20-10 when replacement wing Kian Abraham was put away by the sniping Rees and the galloping Davies, one of Llandovery’s unsong heroes of the campaign.

Robson reduced it to 20-13 with a good penalty and – to show they were not done with – only a great cover tackle by left wing Harri Doel on scrum half Tom Habberfield denied Cardiff a score.

Then came the moment of the match, immensely promising 19 year old Page showing searing pace to slalom past defenders for another converted try and a 14 point lead.

Receiving the ball on half way from centre Rhodri Jones, Page stabbed infield, slipped tacklers and then left the cover in thin air on his way to the posts.

Play was halted for almost a quarter of an hour when Llandovery skipper and lock Jack Jones was stretchered off with a neck injury.

A hospital scan later in the day thankfully confirmed there were no fractures but his appearance in the Premiership final is in serious doubt

As Cardiff tired in the face of the pace and continuity of the home attack and with their replacements failing to make much impression, Page finished a multi phased attack by taking a pass from unselfish centre Jones to confirm the second half dominance of the bouncing Drovers

It was a tad harsh scoreline on the visitors and a sad end for Cardiff’s coach Steve Law who reluctantly quits the capital club after six highly successful years in charge.

Honest, candid, down to earth and a rugby man through and through, his vast experience, clarity of thought and motivational skills will be sorely missed by Cardiff in particular and rugby in general.

The Premiership can hardly afford the loss of men such as Steve Law.

*** Newport who despatched Ebbw Vale 48-13 in the other semi final will now face the Drovers at Church Bank on Saturday afternoon (KO 2 40pm)

Tries: M Page (2), I Hughes, K Abraham
Cons: I Hughes (4)
Pens: J Maynard (2)

Try: M Allen
Con: A Robson
Pens: A Robson (2)

Llandovery: J Maynard; M Page, Adam Warren, R Jones, H Doel; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, T Davies, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), C Long, O Davies, J Powell, S Worrall

Replacements: D Dallavalle, H Thomas, L Green, N Hart, J Evans I Phillips, K Abraham, D Land

Cardiff: J Goodchild; J Beal, L Pollock, A Pinches, D Cross; A Robson, T Habberfield; R Barratt, J Tomlinson, R Litterick, C Bradbury, E Phillips, S Moore, M Allen (capt), L de la Rua,

Replacements: E Daniel, C TylerGroccot, T Harper, E Rees, T Rice, J Williams, H James, M Young