Fresh from Premiership Cup final win over Merthyr last Sunday, it was back to league work for the Drovers at the Talbot Athletic Ground writes Huw S Thomas.

Needing at least 14 points from their next three Premiership games to ensure finishing top of the regular table – and a resulting home draw against fourth in the table – they got a vital bonus point win against the Wizards.

They will now need just nine more points from their remaining two home games against Swansea and Bridgend to claim top spot ahead of Newport.

The Black and Ambers finished their league programme with an astonishing 89-26 win over Bridgend to move to 104 points after 24 games.

The Drovers are on 95 points after 22 gamesh

Coach Euros Evans made no fewer than nine changes from the side that won the Premiership Cup, resting a number of front line players that included skipper and lock Jack Jones and fly half Ioan Hughes.

The gamble nearly failed as Aberavon pushed the defending champions to the end and got to within just three points of the winners in a tight final few minutes.

“We had a number of players with niggling injuries but they came through a really tough and rough test” said coach Gareth Potter.

“The Cup win over Merthyr took a lot out of us but the boys had enough in the tank to hold off a very determined Aberavon side.”

“Our squad is not big and the boys have been going hard since the middle of August so it will be about managing and rotating the squad in the remaining three – or hopefully four games.”

The undoubted highlight of the day was the wonderful counter attacking run of 19 year old full back Macs Page to send in skipper and scrum half Lee Rees for the try that brought the Drovers the winning bonus point.

Rarely will you see such coruscating running from one so young as he left everyone for dead as he sprinted  his way upfield to make defenders look like statues before offloading to the supporting Rees.

Raw in experience but bursting with promise, the Crymych product is a rare prospect, imbued with not just pace but a firm tackle and big boot and equally at home at full back, wing or centre – possibly his best position in the future.

When wing Aaron Warren and centre Rhodri Jones got tries in the first quarter in movements all started by the quick thinking dancing feet of skipper Rees, the Drovers looked comfortable enough.

The Wizards responded in style and with No 8 Ashton Evans carrying hard and centres Joe Gage and Callum Carson probing in mid field, they came right back into the game.

A close range line out worked in hooker Luke Davies for a try, well converted by ex-Drover James Davies, to make it 10-7 only for Llandovery to hit back in style.

Fast handling by the backs, quick re-cycling and hard carrying by the forwards – prop Dino Dallavalle to the fore – made deep inroads into the home defence, ending in lock Chris Long picking up from the back of a ruck to plunge over the line.

Fly half Jack Maynard’s conversion made it 17-7 at the break, the Drovers now needing just the one try for the bonus point.

That became a difficult task with Aberavon – orchestrated by fly half Davies – having the better of play and asking a lot of questions of the Llandovery defence.

Davies and Maynard swapped penalties before the influential Davies ran well to put in replacement scrum half Rhodri Cole with an inside pass.

The conversion brought Aberavon to within three points and with the line out fragile, nerves began to jangle in the away ranks in the face of a determined fightback.

Then came the decisive blow when Page left an astounded statuesque defence in tatters as he slalomed upfield from his 22 metre line before slipping the scoring pass to Rees.

Bonus point secured, Maynard added the two points for a seemingly comfortable 27-17 position with eight minutes left on the clock.

No such thing, as the Wizards upped their game again and replacement centre Brad Roderick took advantage of shadow tackling to go in under the posts, Davies converting to again reduce the lead to just three points.

The rugby intelligent nous of Berian Watkins, Craig Thomas, Stuart Worrall and Nathan Hart steadied the Llandovery ship in a frantic end to a very hard earned but so vital away win.

*** The Drovers entertain Swansea on Saturday in search of another bonus point win to keep in touch with Newport



Tries: L Davies, R Cole, B Roderick

Cons: J Davies (3)

Pen: J Davies


Tries: Aaron Warren, R Jones, C Long, L Rees

Cons: J Maynard (2)

Pen: J Maynard



Aberavon: S Andrews, F Jones, J Gage (capt), C Carson, C Banfield; J Davies, S Whitlock; R Jenkins, L Davies, G James. S Smallman, R Hughes, B Gregory, A Evans, C Loveys

Replacemnets:  S Jardine, R Cole, B Roderick, R Fox, R Cherry, A Waite, J Walters, M James

Llandovery: M Page; I Phillips, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; J Maynard, L Rees (capt); D Dallavalle, H Thomas, L Green, C Long, E Scragg, O Davies, N Hart, J Evans

Replacements: J Morse, C Thomas, B Watkins, M Dallavalle, S Worrall, G McDonald, S Potter, D Land