DROVERS LEAVE IT LATE TO CLAIM THE AWAY WIN

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

After trailing throughout the game, the Drovers scored a converted try four minutes from time to gain a very narrow win over the All Whites at a damp St Helen’s writes Huw S Thomas

With both teams on just 12 points in the Indigo Premiership table and firmly resolved to move away from the bottom reaches, the game was predictably well contested.

It was only Llandovery’s third win of the season in six outings and much welcome after last week’s heartbreaking last gasp 33-31 defeat at Merthyr.

“We had to tough out a tight contest but we kept our composure in the last 10 minutes” said coach Euros Evans.

“Despite losing our captain (Richard Brooks) we did not panic and the bench all made a contribution in giving us the chance to snatch the game at the end.”

“After last week’s last gasp defeat at Merthyr, this was a big boost to morale in what is turning out to predictably to be a highly competitive Premiership.”

The All Whites had not beaten the Drovers in Cup or league since August 2010 and this latest win made it 18 consecutive wins for the Carmarthenshire side.

In November 1969 this same correspondent was at St Helen’s to see the All Whites give the touring South Africans a hard game before going down 12-0.

Who would then have thought that little Llandovery – population 2,000 – would be playing on the famous ground and not only that but taking the Swansea scalp for the 18th consecutive time some 50 years later?

Llanelli and District side Llandovery were only admitted to the West Wales Rugby Union in 1965 and faced Crynant on the day that the Springboks played Swansea in 1969.

History, however meaningful, meant nothing to either side on Saturday but commitment was full and unrelenting even if the skill levels were not particularly impressive on a cold day and wet surface.

There was far too much kicking – especially on the Swansea side – to make much of a spectacle but the tactic seemed to have served the All Whites well as the game moved into its final minutes.

Edging possession and territory the Swansea forwards under No 8 Jon Fox, looked to have won the game, having forced the Llandovery defence into errors that were punished by fly half James Davies.

Davies was one of five former Drover in the home squad – centre Rhys Williams, hooker Matthew Moore, flanker Duane Eager and replacement prop Dean Howells the others – and his three penalties had given Swansea a 9-3 lead by the end of the third quarter.

Fly half Jack Maynard had kicked one out of three long range penalties but apart from the dangerous probing of scrum half Dafydd Land, Llandovery were not their usual selves in attack.

When skipper and No 8 Richard Brooks was sin binned for foul play, Swansea looked ready to turn the screw.

Despite a second Maynard penalty to make it 9-6, the All Whites soon looked to have taken a decisive lead.

A slanted Davies cross field kick eluded full back Kristian Jones and the loose ball was volleyed on by centre May Nagy who won the race for the touchdown with some ease.

With a quarter of an hour to go, Llandovery roused themselves out of their lethargy with replacements flanker Stuart Worrall, hooker Ricky Guest, along with props Berian Watkins and Dino Dallavalle prominent in tight and loose.

The Drovers pack forced a penalty for Maynard to bring the score back to 14-9 and keeping the ball as well as they had badly protected it in the first half, they surged up field.

Maynard put the ball into the Swansea corner with normal time up and Swansea had to defend just five metres out.

Lock Jack Jones then pinched the Swansea throw and yard by yard the pack nudged its way forward with great patience until the burly Watkins got the touchdown to tie the scores.

Maynard did not fail with the kick as the Drovers took the lead for the first time and the firmest of tackling gave Swansea little chance of a breakout in the dying minutes.

*** Llandovery’s next game is at home on December 7 when Pontypridd will be the visitors to Church Bank

Swansea

Try: M Nagy

Pens: J Davies (3)

Llandovery

Try; B Watkins

Con: J Maynard

Pens: J Maynard (3)

Swansea: J Thomas; N Trowbridge, M Nagy, R Williams, G Rees; J Davies, R Morgan-Williams; T Sloane, M Moore, J Pritchard, O Morgan, J Williams, D Eager, J Fox (capt), C Bowden

Replacements: S Howard, E Drake, D Howells, H Sutton, R Thomas, C Morgans, S Williams, C Carson

Llandovery: K Jones; H Doel, C Evans, R Jones, A Warren; J Maynard, D Land; J Hughes, A Rees, L Green, J Jones, J Powell, L Ellis-Jones, R Brooks (capt), S Miles

Replacements: D Dallavalle, R Guest, B Watkins, O Davies, I Rees, J Evans, S Worrall, S Maynard

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Cardiff 9 9 0 0 220 119 41
Carmarthen Quins 8 6 0 2 206 147 28
Pontypridd 9 5 0 4 200 192 24
Aberavon 8 5 0 3 164 152 24
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 9 5 0 4 208 178 23
Llanelli 9 5 0 4 187 219 22
Merthyr 9 4 0 5 199 201 22
Llandovery 7 4 0 3 158 134 20
Newport 9 3 0 6 174 186 18
Swansea 9 3 0 6 140 159 17
Ebbw Vale 9 2 0 7 183 230 13
Bridgend Ravens 9 1 0 8 128 250 7