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LLANDOVERY 31 CARDIFF 12
Under the Church Bank lights, last season’s Premiership play off champions edged home against last season’s regular league table winners writes Huw S Thomas.
In a replay of last year’s Premiership final, the Drovers again proved too strong for the capital city club but there was little in it until two late tries clinched the home win.
Llandovery had won their first three games with bonus points to boot but this time they fell one try short from racking up a fourth.
Not that will worry the high flying Drovers who have now reached 19 league points out of a possible maximum of 20, after just four games..
Renowned for their expansive back play, they owed victory to their forwards who out scrummaged the Cardiff eight.
Accolades were due to Man of the Match and loose head Dino Dallavalle, hooker Harry Thomas and tight head Berian Watkins as well as their replacements Jamie Hughes, Llew Phillips-Taylor and Guto Jones.
They won priceless penalties to put Cardiff under pressure but it was not until late that Cardiff ran out of defensive steam.
It was a good night, too, for skipper Jack Jones, playing his first game of the season after injury.
Always in the thick of the thickest action and well supported by second row partner, the ultra consistent Joe Powell and the mobile back row of Osian Davies, Jordan Evans and Stuart Worrall, he lasted most of the game until replaced by Chris Long.
Coach Euros Evans was delighted that his charges showed they could win in wet and slippery conditions as well as on dry surfaces.
“The scrummage was key” said Evans “and praise must go the six players that gave us a vital edge.”
“Our line out was not the best and we lost some line outs when we were deep into their half but the momentum we had at scrum time swung the game our way.”
“The final minutes saw us get two tries, testament to the fitness of the side in very testing conditions.”
The Drovers had huge advantage in territory and possession in the first half but the Cardiff defence under hooker Joey Tomlinson was outstanding in the wet and slippery conditions.
Injury problems had forced Cardiff to play four locks and a hooker in the back five but all held up well in the poor conditions.
Two penalties from full back Jack Maynard were matched by two long range penalties from young fly half Harrison James to leave it tied at 6-6 at half time.
When, against the run of play, James hit a huge penalty to edge the visitors ahead, an away victory looked a possibility but from there on it was Llandovery all the way.
Two more penalties from the unflappable Maynard gave his side the lead for the first time to make it 12-9 before Llandovery let loose in the final quarter.
The scrum again earned good attacking positions and a clever grubber kick from centre Rhodri Jones saw co-centre Adam Warren dotting down under the posts.
In a rare attack, replacement Harri Wilde got a penalty back for the Blue and Blacks before the game was put to bed.
With the scrum continuing to dominate, home fly half Ioan Hughes used possession soundly and got his forwards driving up field.
Multiple phase attacks got replacement back row Nathan Hart over and in the last movement of the game two clever inside passes put young replacement Gabe McDonald through to set the seal on a well deserved – albeit slightly flattering – victory.
Tries: Adam Warren, N Hart, G McDonald
Cons: J Maynard, I Hughes
Pens: J Maynard (4)
Pens: H James (3), H Wilde
Llandovery: J Maynard; H Doel, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; D Dallavalle, H Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), J Powell, O Davies, J Evans , S Worrall
Replacements: J Hughes, L Phillips-Taylor, G Jones, C Long, N Hart. G McDonald, R Wall, B Thomas
Cardiff: J Lloyd; J Beal, L Pollock, A Pinches, D Cross; H James, T Habberfield; O Evans, J Tomlinson, F Barnes, E Phillips, S O’Rourke, C Hudd, S Moore, A Rees
Replacements:G Parry, C Tylergrocott, A Williams, W Gregory, M Hughes, J Williams, H Wilde, J Goodchild