What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
The icy and hostile conditions did not favour Llandovery’s free flowing style but they fought like tigers up front to defeat the defending Premiership champions writes Huw S Thomas.
The win leapfrogs the in-form Drovers into fourth place in the Indigo Premiership table whilst the Ironmen slip down to fifth.
Coach Euros Evans identified the areas that counted in the Llandovery win.
“Through a dogged cussedness against a big and physical side we won a game that we would have lost six months ago”
“Conditions made it a dog fight against a side that relishes softening up defences and our work in all areas of the forward battle was exemplary.”
“ We also got two well crafted tries through hard running and good support and our discipline under pressure was a key factor, denying their goal kickers a pot at goal .”
“The half time 10-0 lead did not look good enough but the battling character of the side under acting captain Jack Jones came clearly through in the second half.”
In the blustery conditions, Llandovery were soon on the attack and after hooker Alun Rees had forced a turnover, it took a great piece of unexpected covering from Merthyr loose head prop Chris Phillips to prevent scrum half Lee Rees from scoring.
Two minutes later, the Drovers were 7-0 ahead when Craig Woodall came in on a great angle to put fellow centre Kristian Jones in near enough to the posts for fly half Jack Maynard to add the conversion.
Playing into the strong wind, the visitors kept the ball well but were lucky not to fall further behind when Maynard missed a simple penalty, his kick coming back from an upright.
Merthyr skipper Craig Locke and his forwards had the lion’s share of possession in the loose and kept the game tight enough to deny Llandovery’s backs any chances to create openings.
A Maynard chip ahead all but opened up the defence before the fly half had two penalty chances to extend the lead.
He missed the first from a difficult angle but kicked the other on the stroke of half time to make it 10-0 at the break but Merthyr looked more than content to be just ten points adrift in a wind dominated game.
Llandovery shocked the visitors right at the start of the second half when Kristian Jones made a clean break up the right hand touchline, drew full back Jarvis and sent the supporting Rees haring in from 30 yards for a try converted by Maynard.
Sleeting rain made life difficult for all and sundry but from a driving line out, the Merthyr forwards drove prop Phillips over the line, Jarvis converting well.
It brought the visitors right back into the game at 17-7 but the Llandovery defence – with No 8 Joe Powell outstanding – was tight enough until five minutes from normal time when Merthyr centre Arron Pinches punched his way through some hesitant defence for a try converted by Jarvis.
In a tense finale, Merthyr threw everything into attack but it was the Drovers who finished the stronger, keeping hold of the ball phase after phase to deny the visitors any kind of score.
*** Swansea – sitting ninth in the table – are the visitors to Church Bank on Saturday with the game kicking off early at 2 00 pm.
Tries: K Jones, L Rees
Cons: J Maynard (2)
Pen: J Maynard
Tries:C Phillips, A Pinches
Cons: M Jarvis (2)
Llandovery: L Smith; M Williams, K Jones, C Woodall, A Warren; J Maynard, L Rees; J Hughes, A Rees, L Green, J Jones (capt), O Davies, L Ellis-Jones, J Powell, S Miles
Replacements: D Dallavalle, H O’Connor, G Williams, R Brooks, M Jones, Rhodri Jones, G Thomas, S Maynard
Merthyr: M Jarvis; C Czekaj, H Thompson, A Pinches, S Jones; R Davies, R Downes; C Phillips, R Williams, R Lewis, C Locke (capt), J Down, T Daley, P Rees, J Thomas
Replacements: S Evans, L Owen, J Howe, B Sier, J Perkins, J James, G Davies, L Lloyd