The gulf in class between the two sides was reflected in the scoreline as the Drovers swept to their 15th win in 18 games writes Huw S Thomas. Pic courtesy of Huw S Thomas.
Poor Llanelli have just two wins in a season that cannot end fast enough with little likelihood of finishing anything other than bottom of the Premiership.
Llandovery’s form this season has been way above that of both Llanelli and Carmarthen Quins – the other two Scarlets region sides – and will stand them in good stead when decisions have to be made on the contentious make-up of any revised or shortened “Elite “League of 8 or 10 clubs.
The win takes Llandovery up into top spot in the Premiership with four games to play.
They are two points clear of Cardiff and four ahead of Merthyr but both of their rivals have a game in hand.
Coach Euros Evans was well pleased with the performance but his mind soon turned to more urgent issues.
“We have three away games left – against Bridgend, Newport and Aberavon – and only one home game – against Swansea.”
“If we want to finish top we have to win all four games- a very tall order given the strength of opposition in the away games.”
It was ironic that two former Llanelli players were the leading lights in the home win.
Hooker Craig Thomas who spent five seasons with Llanelli grabbed a hat trick of close range tries, taking advantage of driving mauls from the line out to crash through three times.
The other was fly half Ioan Hughes, younger brother of Dragons centre Steff Hughes, who played with calm and confident assurance and kicked beautifully ball in hand and distributed smartly.
The game was effectively over by half time after the Drovers had established a 47-7 lead , scoring seven tries with full back Jack Maynard converting six of them.
Llanelli could not live with the high tempo set by backs and forwards alike, the speed of execution opening big gaps in the defence.
All eight replacements were quickly used up by Llandovery in the second half which gave Llanelli the breathing space to hold their own and even score two late tries to go away with some semblance of pride.
Llandovery were 7-0 up inside a minute when 18 year old centre Macs Page sliced through the middle and run in from 40 metres on his home debut.
Centre Rhodri Jones soon added another to make it 14-0 but Llanelli hit back with a try of their own, centre Tom Davies squeezing over after a short range line out.
Hughes and Maynard brought it to 21-7 which soon became 28-7 with hooker Craig Thomas’s burrowing effort.
With the Drovers in complete control of the ball, the ever present Thomas got two tries for his hat trick to stretch the lead even further.
It took his league and cup tally to 10 to make him Llandovery’s leading try scorer for the season so far.
Rangy wing Aaron Warren was soon worked clear by Jones to cross for his 100th try for the club to make it 47-7 at the break in a game as one sided as expected.
A penalty try at a collapsed scrum brought further pain to beleaguered Llanelli but multiple changes to the home line up and a resulting loss of fluency and urgency brought the visitors some welcome relief.
Home flanker Lloyd Pike was yellow carded 10 minutes from time and this gave which gave hard working flanker Nathan Hart and replacement forward Rhys Cherry the chance to get late tries but the game had long been decided before then,
*** The Drovers face a tricky assignment this Saturday when they travel to Bridgend to meet a side that has gradually improved through the season and who gave Merthyr a fright in their last game, leading the Ironmen at half time before losing.
STAR CHOICE: Craig Thomas (Llandovery)
Tries: C Thomas (3), M Page, R Jones, I Hughes, Aaron Warren, pen try
Cons: J Maynard (6)
Tries; T Davies, N Hart, R Cherry
Cons: H Williams (2)
Llandovery: J Maynard; R Wall, M Page, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, C Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), O Davies, L Pike I Rees S Worrall
Replacements: R Guest, W Caron-Lewis, L Green, J Powell, J Evans, C Dodd, K Jones, D Land,
Llanelli: J Davies; H Button, j Hutchings, T Davies, R Harris; H Williams, G George; S O’Connor, L Phillips-Taylor, M James, C Long, T Phillips (capt), S Hart, B Williams, L Giannini
Replacements I Young, T Zoogah, I James, J Greaves, R Cherry, G Setaro, E Evans, H Fuller