LLANELLI 21 LLANDOVERY 54
(Photo of Llandovery hooker Craig Thomas who got a brace of tries in the 54-21 win over Llanelli on Thursday night (Nov 10)
The all Carmarthenshire clash on Thursday night went comfortably the way of Llandovery whose all round excellence was too much for Llanelli writes Huw S Thomas.
With the victory at Parc Y Scarlets, the Drovers temporarily moved into second spot in the Indigo Premiership table, just one point shy of Aberavon.
But with Cardiff beating Bridgend and Aberavon squeezing a bonus point in defeat against Ebbw Vale at the week end, they drifted back down to third, neatly tucked in behind the two leaders.
It was Llandovery’s sixth win in seven games, having scored 209 points and conceded just 110 – the fewest conceded by any club in the Premiership.
The Drovers have built up a reputation under Euros Evans of a free running, adventurous unit but it was the set piece excellence of the pack that swept poor Llanelli away.
Hooker Craig Thomas grabbed a brace of tries from short range line outs whilst referee Aled Evans awarded two penalty tries as Llanelli illegally stopped two surging scrum thrusts.
The 33 point margin of victory could have been greater such was the dominance of the visitors and although Llanelli threatened occasionally to score a couple of tries of their own, the result was never in doubt.
Scrum half Harri Williams and centre Eddie James had a few nice runs for the home side whilst back row Nathan Hart worked his socks off in the loose but Llandovery were superior man for man and unit for unit.
There was a cutting edge behind the scrum where the half back unit of Lee Rees and ex-Llanelli fly half Ioan Hughes continued to impress, the line out functioned smoothly under lock and skipper Jack Jones and the scrum was too strong and technically powerful.
It was good, too, to see the appetite for work from ex-Worcester flyer Harri Doel whose pace all but brought him a brace of tries on his return to Llandovery colours as he waits offers to join a top professional team.
The fielded Llandovery three quarter line of Doel, Adam Warren, Rhodri Jones and Aaron Warren must rank amongst the very best that the Premiership could offer.
Llanelli were forced to change loose head prop Will Couch at half time after Jamie Hughes had given the tight head a difficult 40 minutes but it made little difference, the evidence of two penalty tries the proof of superiority.
A cautious start saw Llandovery take a 9-3 lead through three penalties from full back Jack Maynard, countered by one from fly half Josh Phillips before heavy pressure on the home line ended with centre Adam Warren crossing under the posts for a try converted by Maynard.
Soon after, wing Ben Raivalitia was yellow carded for a blatant offside and the Llandovery pack fashioned a close range converted line out try for hooker Thomas.
A Phillips penalty made it 23-6 at the break and one soon after by the fly half hinted a sniff of a home recovery.
The Drovers then upped the tempo and accuracy to blow the opposition away with five second half tries, starting with a slick quick passing blind side thrust involving Hughes, Maynard and Doel that sent Aaron Warren winging in.
Llanelli themselves got a penalty try in a rare attack which saw Drovers flanker Lloyd Pike yellow carded for pulling down the maul.
Then a second try for wing Warren from a delicate Maynard chip and a penalty try which saw a yellow card for Llanelli lock Chris Long took the Drovers to 40-16 and out of sight.
Llanelli bravely countered through wing Jac Davies before a late burst from Llandovery saw Thomas crossing from a driving maul and a penalty try awarded at the scrum to cap an excellent night’s work.
*** Bridgend will be the visitors to Church Bank on Friday night, November 18 (KO 7 30 pm)
Tries: Pen try, J Davies
Pens: J Phillips (3)
Tries: C Thomas (2), Aaron Warren (2), pen tries (2), Adam Warren
Cons: J Maynard (2), I Hughes
Pens: J Maynard (3)
Llanelli: L Smith; J Davies, I Gwilliam, E James, B Raivalitia; J Phillips, H Williams; S O’Connor, T Davies, W Couch, C Long, T Phillips (capt), I Shenton, C Tuipulotu, N Hart
Reps: R Cherry, T Zoogah, R Davies, J Lewis, B Williams, G George, J Hutchings, L Hutchings.
Llandovery: J Maynard; H Doel, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, C Thomas, L Green, J Jones (capt), J Powell, L Pike, I Rees, J evans
Reps: R Guest, D Dallavalle, T Slater, S Melmoth, M Dallavalle, K Jones, S Maynard, RWall