Llandovery 54 Swansea 21 by Huw S Thomas

Llandovery’s singular record against the All Whites continued with a 26th consecutive league and cup win over Swansea since August 2010 writes Huw S Thomas.

The bonus point win over the visitors brought the Drovers to within four points of Premiership leaders Newport with one game to play – against Bridgend this Thursday.

As it stands Newport are on 104 points, Llandovery 100 but a win over the Ravens would be enough to finish top of the Premiership’s regular season table.

The two teams would be tied on 104 points but the Drovers would be top by dint of having won more games than Newport – 22 to 21.

A bonus point win against Bridgend would see Llandovery end up on 105 points- one clear of the Black and Ambers.

Top spot would ensure a home semi final play off against fourth placed Cardiff at Church Bank on May 4.

Once again, coach Euros Evans rotated his squad in the face of heavy league and cup demands, making nine change -one positional – from the side that beat Aberavon 27-24 the previous week.

Evans continued his policy of fielding very young talent – centre Macs Page, hooker Harry Thomas and prop Josh Morse all teenagers – and once again they did not let him down.

Thomas, in particular, showed strength, speed and mobility to grab a brace of first half tries, the second after a great run by Man of the Match and flanker Joe Powell, before being replaced by Taylor Davies

Morse scrummaged hard, carried strongly and got round the park nimbly whilst Page showed flashes of threatening footwork and directness.

Despite Swansea taking the lead with a 4th minute try from wing Gareth J Rees after a storming run from lock Lewis Marsh, it was Llandovery who dominated throughout in the eight tries to three victory.

“Job half done” was rhe reaction of coach Euros Evans.

“We entertain Bridgend on Thursday, need to beat them to finish top of the pile but we will not take them lightly.”

“They have always been competitive on visits to Church Bank and got under our skins so we need to be fully focussed on the task at hand.”

“The next few weeks are going to be hectic and competition for places in the final push is going to be intense but wonderfully challenging for all concerned.”

At times, the Drovers played with a fluency and ambition that Swansea could not match but they will be concerned at conceding 21 points to a side languishing in 10th position.

Some weak tackling gave Swansea room to look dangerous too many times in a game that flowed back and fire from furst to last.

Ebullient scrum half Lee Rees was a constant danger in the first half, grabbing two close range tries of his own to add to the Thomas double and one from burly prop Berian Watkins.

Swansea did get a well worked second try from sharp full back Brandon Wood to make it 35-14 at the break before replies from Dafydd Land and Abraham took the Drovers clear 49-14.

They were the two best tries of the day with slick handling, fine support running and clinical finishing shredding the Swansea defence.

Page, along with Land and wing Harri Doel – two local lads who learned their early rugby with the Junior Drovers –combined down the left to work in the Lee Rees understudy.

Replacement centre Ilan Phillips made a break on half way, carried on by the tracking Land and finished off by wing Kian Abraham

Yellow cards for Swansea replacement prop Tom Sloane and Llandovery lock Chris Long fractured play and to their credit Swansea found enough grunt and energy to push over replacement lock and ex Drover Jake Baker.

With all three of their tries converted by fly half Rhys Jones, the All Whites came back to 49-21 but then lost scrum half Aron Hemmings to a yellow card.

The Drovers took immediate advantage with a close range line out move finished off by replacement hooker Taylor Davies – his 16th touchdown of the season.

The only surprise left was to see in-form full back Jack Maynard miss his first conversion of the day when his touchline kick came back off the upright.

*** The Llandovery –Bridgend game kicks off at 7 30 pm on Thursday night with an expected arge crowd hoping to cheer on the Drovers to top spot in the league

Tries: L Rees (2), H Thomas (2), B Watkins, D Land, K Abraham, T Davies
Cons: J Maynard (7)

Tries: Gareth J Rees, B Wood, J Baker
Cons: R Jones (3)

Llandovery :J Maynard; K Abraham, M Page, R Jones, H Doel; I Hughes, L Rees; J Morse, H Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), E Scragg, J Powell, N Hart, J Evans,
Replacements: J Hughes, T Davies, L Green, C Long, S Worrall, I Phillips, C Dodd, D Land

Swansea: B Wood; Gareth J Rees, Gareth O Rees, S Matthews, M Jenkins; R Jones, A Hemmings; D Davies, O Thomas, E Thompson, L Ashley (capt), L Marsh, J Greaves, C Davies, L Evans
Replacements L Phillips-Taylor, T Sloane, T Mills, C Thompson, J Baker, R Lewis, J Symes, M Brown