By Huw S Thomas

In the annual game, played in memory of former Llandovery and Nant Conwy centre Emrys Evans, a Drovers development XV were pushed all the way by their visitors from North Wales.

Not that the result was in any way important as the game offered both clubs the opportunity to fondly remember their very popular former player.

Evans, a product of the Nant Conwy club, moved south to play a total of 87 games for the Drovers 1997-2007 and was in the match squad that won the 2007 Konica Minolta Cup Final.

He returned to Nant Conwy after his stint with the Drovers and played for the Llanwrst based club until his untimely death, aged 40,  in a car accident in March 2017.

 At Church Bank on Saturday, Llandovery eventually came through to win 17-12 in a game that was surprisingly competitive for a pre season friendly even if Llandovery did not have any first team regulars on view and Nant Conwy fielded a mixture of first and second team players..

In a first half more of gusto than of guile, the only score was a home try scored by Ilan Phillips, converted by his co centre Griff Morgan.

The North Walians hit back after the break with a bullocking try from lock Caradoc Hughes but two minutes later outstanding No 8 Evan Sheldon crossed to take Llandovery to 12-5.

After intense pressure on the home line, Nant drew level with a penalty try for a collapsed maul but the last word was with the Drovers when the ever present Sheldon again forced his way over for the winning score.

Both clubs were well satisfied with the day’s play.

For Llandovery coaches Euros Evans and Gareth Potts, it was an opportunity to cast their eyes over a host of promising young players who were trying to make a telling impact.

“There was a lot of talent on view, some yet to fully develop and others ready to make a challenge for inclusion into our Premiership squad” said Evans.

“We will be keeping a close eye on them wherever they might play in the season ahead and hope to give the best of them some game time in the Premiership.”

Two former Ospreys academy players in Ystalyfera full back Kian Abraham and former Ysgol Gwyr scrum half Ben Thomas made telling contributions as did Pembroke No 8 Sheldon, the scorer of two tries.

Former Llandovery College captain and back row Dylan Jones also looked to be getting back into good shape after being out for a long time through injury whilst ex Hartpury College prop Lewys Walsh – from Aberdare- looked a promising prospect in tight and loose.

Nant’s Elgan Metcalfe deemed the visit a big success as the club prepares for yet another challenge to make the National Plate final at the Principality Stadium.

“We’ve reached two finals and lost narrowly on both occasions – to Penallta and Brynmawr – and we are targeting another good cup run.” said the former Welsh Districts lock and current club coach.

“It’s been a promising start for a mixed squad of players to hold the Drovers XV to five points and we are hopeful of a good season in North Wales and beyond.”

No 8 Carwyn Ellis, hooker Tomos Williams caught the eye as did nippy little scrum half Deian Roberts with some sniping runs.

***The full Llandovery  Premiership squad will be available for the visits of Championship side Pontypool on Saturday August 13 and English national One side Cinderford a week later