LLANDOVERY 29 NEWPORT 7
Llandovery resisted the fierce challenge of second placed Newport to keep their place at the head of the Indigo Premiership table writes Huw S Thomas. Pic: Derek Jones
Two tries from hooker Taylor Davies, one from his replacement Craig Thomas and a fourth from left wing Aaron Warren took the Drovers to 44 league points after just 10 games.
In the 10 games played, Llandovery have now scored 354 points at an average of 35.4 points a game and let in just 159 points at an average of 15.9 points a game.
They have scored 46 tries (4.6 per game) and conceded just 20 (2 per game), their best start in the history of the Premiership.
“A tough encounter” said winning coach Euros Evans “and as good as our attack was in patches, it was some brilliant defence that got us the win against a very strong opposition.”
“We had to withstand sustained pressure for long periods in the second quarter of the game when Newport recycled possession with their powerful ball carriers”
“We had to fight hard to keep them to one try in that period so to get a try early in the second half was a big boost for us.”
The last time the teams had met – at Newport, back in May – the Black and Ambers won a high scoring game 52-33 but this was a tighter and tenser affair between the two top sides in the Premiership.
Llandovery centre Adam Warren who played 132 times for the Dragons as a full time professional again showed himself to be still capable of playing at the top level and there were many travelling supporters ready to forthrightly question their region’s decision to release him in 2022.
Since then – and again on Saturday – his influence, direction and decision making have been invaluable to the Drovers and an important factor in the quality of the back play.
He, scrum half Lee Rees and wing Harri Doel lead the Llandovery try scoring table with four tries each but it was Warren’s brother Aaron who got the try of the match.
Early in the second half, he came off his wing at a scrum 20 metres out to take a pass from Rees and shrug off three tacklers to go in under the posts.
With the conversion from full back Jack Maynard, it made the score 19-7 and from there on Llandovery drove onto the bonus point win with a late try from replacement hooker Craig Thomas.
Few would have predicted the margin of victory at half time when the Drovers held a narrow 12-7 lead.
Two well worked tries from short range line outs by hooker Taylor Davies – the first when Newport were down to 14 men after the sin binning of wing Elliot Frewen – plus a Jack Maynard conversion got Llandovery quickly out of the blocks before Newport ruled play for the rest of the half.
Their big hefty forwards, led by No 8 Ben Roach, drove hard into midfield only to find the Llandovery defence in terrific form.
Forwards and backs alike repelled danger with props Jamie Hughes and Llyr Green, Adam Warren and co centre Rhodri Jones in particular putting in herculean efforts
For all their possession, the Black and Ambers could only once breach the home defence once when wing Oli Andrew went over after a short range surge from his forwards
Fly half Carwyn Penny kicked the conversion and at half time the game seemed to be swinging in Newport’s favour.
The assumption proved to be false as the Drovers hit them seven minutes into the second half with the Aaron Warren converted try, soon followed by a Maynard penalty to make it 22-7.
It was nip and tuck thereafter but Llandovery took advantage of a yellow card for Newport scrum half Che Hope to work in replacement hooker Craig Thomas for the bonus point try.
Maynard stuck the dagger in with the conversion to give the scoreline a flattering look, considering the tightness of the game before prop Berian Watkins was yellow carded for foolishly kicking the ball away at a Newport penalty.
Newport could find no way through to bring the curtain down on a top quality game between two sides who will surely by vying for top honours come the end of the season
*** The Drovers travel to Swansea this Saturday to take on an All Whites side who went down 36-7 at Ebbw Vale in their last game.
Tries: T Davies (2), Aaron Warren, C Thomas
Cons: J Maynard (3)
Pen: J Maynard
Try: O Andrew
Con: C Penny
Llandovery: J Maynard; J Davies, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, T Davies, L Green, J Jones (capt), J Powell, O Davies, J Evans, S Worrall
Replacements: D Dallavalle, B Watkins, C Thomas, T Poole, N Hart, G McDonald, M Page, D Land
Newport: I Davies; O Andrew, J Morris, C Foster-Smith, E Frewen; C Parry, C Hope; T Workman, T Olding, D Suter, N Thomas, J Skinner, G Young, B Roach (capt), J Reid
Replacemnets: H Palmer, A Dowse, L Newstead, J Verrier, R Jenkins, L Crane, J Lloyd, O Woodman