What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery kept alive their slim hopes of topping the Premiership table with this comfortable win over Cross Keys at Church Bank writes Huw S Thomas
The Drovers had gone down to a surprise 26-18 defeat at Pandy Park back in December but they took sweet revenge on the Gwent men with this seven tries to three victory.
Cross Keys face problems on and off the field, having recently asked supporters to donate up to £20,000 to settle wages for the rest of the season but they now look virtually certain to be relegated to the Championship.
With both Cardiff and Pontypridd losing on Saturday, the Drovers are back in third place and now face a huge challenge tonight (Wed) when they entertain Premiership leaders Merthyr.
Coach Simon Davies gave credit to the Drovers squad.
“We needed to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to Cardiff in the Welsh Cup semi final and the boys did just that.”
“The game was won by an excellent first half performance by backs and forwards alike in which we built up a19-0 lead despite playing into a stiff wind”
“The team showed eight changes from the side beaten in the Cup and it was good to see a number of players who have had limited chances in the Premiership do well.”
“And for the future of the club it was a pleasure to see Dafydd Land – this year’s Wales U19 scrum half and a local boy – play so well and fully deserve the Man of the Match award.”
Keys opened brightly enough but could make little headway against a firm tackling home defence and fell behind to a penalty try.
A strong Llandovery scrum forced Keys back and prop Scott Hoskins was yellow carded in the process.
Wales U19 scrum half Dafydd Land then stretched the lead after being put in by an adroit reverse “chistera” pass from centre and skipper for the day, the ever reliable Rhodri Jones.
Fly half Jack Maynard – now the scorer of over 1,000 points for the Drovers – converted and disaster then befell the Keys when centre Tiaan Loots was red carded for a volley of punches on home hooker Matthew Moore.
Within a minute Llandovery had added a third try when a very clever grubber kick from Land in the tightest of situations got wing Aaron Warren in at thecorner to make it 19-0 at the break.
There was a glimmer of hope for the visitors when captain and lock Damien Welch skipped through from close range, Botica converting before Llandovery ran in two quick tries.
Young lock Morgan Jones galloped in from 35 metres before leading try scorer Warren weaved over for his second try, Maynard converting.
Full back and Aberystwyth product Matthew Hughes then raced away up the right to go over untouched before Maynard had a pass intercepted by Rory Budina and the Keys speedster ran 75 metres for a try converted by Botica.
Back came Llandovery for replacement Carwyn Evans – another promising player from Aberystwyth – to slip defenders for yet another converted home try and a 43-14 lead with 15 minutes to go.
Keys stuck at it manfully in the hope of scoring two more tries and salvaging a bonus point.
When Llandovery centre Ryan Evans was yellow carded, replacement scrum half Josh Guy dived over after his forwards had pounded the home line.
But it was not enough for Keys as Botica’s conversion proved to be the last kick of the game.
*** Llandovery play Merthyr at Church Bank tonight (Wed April 17) KO 7 30 pm***
Llandovery: M Hughes; R Williams, R Evans, R Jones (capt) (C Evans 59), A Warren; J Maynard, D Land; D Dallavalle (J Hughes 60), M Moore, L Green (B Watkins 60), R Jones, M Jones (S Worrall 49), I Rees, E Price, S Miles
Cross Keys: I Burgwin; R Budina, L Andrews (J Adams 70), T Loots, W Cunliffe (C Nichols h/t); J Botica, D Babos (J Guy h/t); G Carpenter, E Shipp, S Hoskins (R Cornock 30-50) J Rogers 76), T Lampard, D Welch (capt), J Thomas, G Price, C Johnsey (R Cornock 20-30) (M Ayling 56)
Tries: A Warren (2), pen try, D Land, M Jones, M Hughes, C Evans
Cons: J Maynard (3)
Tries: D Welch, R Budina, J Guy
Cons: J Botica (3)