Fresh from their 58-3 win over Aberavon in the Welsh Cup, the Drovers once again proved too strong for the Wizards at Church Bank writes Huw S Thomas.
This was Llandovery’s tenth win out of 11 games and they stay top of the Premiership at the half way mark of the season but they will not have been satisfied with their performance..
“Aberavon made life difficult for us in the damp conditions ” said coach Euros Evans.
“We knew they would come out fighting after last week and to their credit were really up for the fight.”
“We did not help ourselves by squandering some gilt edge chances in the second half but we have to be satisfied with another bonus point win which keeps us four points ahead of Ebbw Vale with a game in hand.”
But this was a different Aberavon side in line up and determination from the one that had capitulated in the Cup and they slugged it out toe to toe with the league leaders despite the most horrendous of starts.
Three yellow cards in just 12 minutes – for centre Callum Carson, hooker Cameron Lewis and wing Chris Banfield – saw the Drovers ease into a 14-3 lead.
Referee Gareth Newman sent off Carson and Banfield for deliberate knockdowns and Lewis for collapsing the maul at the penalty try
The penalty try had the Drovers 7-0 up after three minutes and a close range effort from a line out by hooker Taylor Davies, converted by full back Jack Maynard trumped a lone penalty from fly half James Davies.
Restored to 15 men, Aberavon gave as good as they got up front and defended with gusto behind the scrum to frustrate Llandovery plans of attack.
The moment of the game came five minutes from the interval.
A sweeping blind side attack from the home backs ended with centre Adam Warren back flicking a pass to brother and wing Aaron who squeezed home in the left hand clubhouse corner.
At 19-3 the home crowd expected to see their favourites stretch away but not a bit of it.
Lock Rhys Thomas was the stand out forward in the loose to take the game to the Llandovery pack and the only score for close on half an hour was a Maynard penalty.
Llandovery – with No 8 Joe Powell outstanding – carved out opportunities but let slip one golden chance of a fourth try when flanker Jordan Evans sped away from a maul only to see his try scoring pass to Aaron Warren prove far too difficult for the wing to take.
A combination of poor retention, confused option taking and a lack of discipline allied to staunch Aberavon defence halted home momentum and there was relief all round when Llandovery at last got their bonus point.
A driving maul at the line out eventually worked in replacement hooker Craig Thomas
Aberavon soaked up a lot of pressure as the Drovers went for more tries and it was only just that their hard work and commitment was rewarded right at the end.
With quick ruck ball, centre Brad Roderick found a weakness in midfield to make a try for replacement scrum half Scott Whitlock, replacement fly half Aled Thomas drop kicking the conversion.
*** This week, Carmarthen Quins will be the visitors to Church Bank for the eagerly anticipated Christmas local derby
Statistics would suggest a comfortable home win.
At the half way stage of the Premiership season Llandovery have scored the highest number of points 381, conceded the fewest 169, have the best points difference 212, scored the most tries 50 (equal with Newport) and conceded the fewest 21.
The Quins who are just one place off the bottom of the table have conceded the most points 337 and tries 45, all of which adds up to huge motivation for the Quins to turn their season around with a fighting local derby away win under skipper Tom Phillips
Tries: Pen try, T Davies, Aaron Warren, C Thomas
Con: J Maynard
Pen; J Maynard
Try: S Whitlock
Con: A Thomas
Pen: J Davies
Llandovery: J Maynard; H Doel, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes D Land; D Dallavalle, T Davies, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), C Long, J Powell, N Hart, J Evans
Replacements: J Hughes, L Green, C Thomas, C Long, S Worrall, T Poole, I Phillips, J Davies, L Rees
Aberavon: J Gage (capt); J Baker, C Carson, B Roderick, C Banfield; J Davies, I Tremblett; J Walters, C Lewis, C Davies, S Smallman, R Thomas, B Gregory, C Loveys, I Davies
Replacements: S Whitlock, S Jardine, A Thomas, S Hurley, R Hughes, A Waite, R Jenkins, G James