DROVERS UP TO THIRD AFTER DEFEAT OF NEWPORT
Llandovery 15 Newport 13
In their first home league game of the season, the Drovers kept the dangerous Black and Ambers at bay to rack up a third consecutive Indigo Premiership win writes Huw S Thomas.
Home coach Euros Evans was sporting enough to say that the game could have gone either way.
“It was a right royal battle everywhere on the field but we kept our best for the last quarter when our replacement forwards give us great momentum to match a big Newport eight.”
The work of the likes of the two Dallavalle brothers – Dino and Marco – brought fresh and energetic legs into the fray late on and with the outstanding Iestyn Rees at No 8 keeping up a phenomenal work rate, the Drovers edged home.
They move up to third place in the table, on the same points as Cardiff who are second because of a better try count.
Aberavon are top of the table with an impressive haul of 20 points after four consecutive bonus point wins.
Welsh Cup holders Newport have yet to record a win after narrow defeats at the hands of Ebbw Vale and Cardiff.
Watched by the 86 year-old Newport legend Brian Jones, their current President, they have now narrowly lost their first three games against Ebbw Vale, Cardiff and now Llandovery.
Jones – twice capped in the centre by Wales – has the unique record of claiming a hat-trick of southern hemisphere scalps by beating New Zealand and Australia with the Black and Ambers plus South Africa with the Barbarians.
He was in the winning sides against the touring Wallabies with Newport in 1957 (11-0), the Springboks with the Barbarians in 1960 (6-0) and then the All Blacks with the Black and Ambers in 1963.
“We could have easily won all three games” said the veteran “but I have confidence that we will soon be climbing the table such is the quality in the squad.”
Both sides showed serious intent to open up the game but defences were alert and swift to respond until the 17th minute when Llandovery conceded a penalty at a ruck.
It allowed fly half Kieran Meek- son of former Wales hooker Nigel Meek – to kick an easy penalty and a fine run by full back David Richards put the Drovers under further pressure.
But they hit back from a close range line out when hooker Craig Thomas burrowed through for a try, Newport No 8 Ben Roach being yellow carded in the action.
It did not seem to affect the visitors who regained the lead with a second Meek penalty and if wing Elliot Frewen had not knocked on a rolling ball near the Llandovery line, they would have gone even further ahead.
Just before the break full back Jack Maynard nosed Llandovery in front 8-6 with a 40 metre penalty in what was becoming the tightest of games.
The loose was fiercely contested and Newport forced a penalty try from a line out take and rolling maul in a movement that copped home prop Jamie Hughes a yellow card.
A yellow card for Newport replacement hooker Will Griffiths for a dangerous tackle saw the Drovers up the pace.
The effervescent Lee Rees at scrum half was a constant threat around the fringes and his quick feeding to his forward supporters stretched the Black and Ambers defence to the full
The forwards pounded the Newport line for a good four minutes until prop Llyr Green – another telling replacement – crept in and under bodies for a try converted by Maynard to inch Llandovery ahead 15-13.
In a rousing finish, Newport threw everything into attack but it was the Drovers who finished in the Newport half to seal the tightest of wins.
Tries: C Thomas, L Green
Con: J Maynard
Pens: J Maynard
Tries: Pen try
Pens:K Meek (2)
Star Choices: Lee Rees (Llandovery)/Iestyn Rees (Llandovery)
Llandovery: J Maynard; Wall, Adam Warren, K Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, C Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), J Powell, O Davies, I Rees, J Evans
Replacements: D Dallavalle, R Guest, L Green, M Dallavalle, LPike, R Jones, C Dodd, D Land
Newport: D Richards; C Swannack, C Lewis, H Ackerman, E Frewen; K Meek, L Crane; J Reynolds, H Palmer, N Evans, J Skinner, R Woodman, R Jenkins, B Roach, K Tayler
Replacements, T Davies, W Griffiths, G Harris, D Hill, J Reid, D Buckland, J Morris, D Smith