Newport 24 Llandovery 6

The Newport win saw them leapfrog Llandovery into top position in the Indigo Premiership with just a handful of games left before the play offs writes Huw S Thomas.

It was Llandovery’s first defeat since October and it ended a run of 17 league and cup victories which included their 29-7 Church Bank win over Newport in November.

Llandovery coach Euros Evans rested a number of his top players who were nursing niggling injuries and Newport – themselves short of first choice players – were more efficient in a number of areas.

They had far the better of the line outs whether securing their own ball or disrupting the Llandovery throw, carried harder, took chances better and their brutal tackling in midfield checked many a promising attack.

They also had a master tactician in fly half Matt O’Brien who kicked beautifully out of hand and off the ground to score 14 points through a try, penalty and three conversions.

The one plus for the Drovers is that they stopped Newport from getting a bonus point, something that could prove vital when it comes to final placings.

The Black and Ambers are now four points clear of the Drovers but have played one game more so that the remaining games of both clubs will decide who will eventually finish top.

Newport have just two games remaining – away at Neath and home to Bridgend – whereas the Drovers have Aberavon away, Swansea and Bridgend both at home.

All five games could end up with bonus point wins and it is now very much a two team shoot out for top place and the crucial advantage of home draws at semi final and possibly final stages.

Two Newport bonus point wins would see them end up with 104 points but if Llandovery get three bonus point wins of their own, they then would finish with 105 points.

Even if the Drovers get to just 104 points (14 points from three games) they would clinch top spot by dint of having won more games (22 to 21) than the Black and Ambers.

Any slip up by either team would create considerable damage to their title prospects.

The Drovers had the edge in the first half but crucially were robbed of possession three times on their own throw near the home line and had to rely on Jack Maynard for their points.

Their best chance of a try came when Maynard’s cross field kick was well gathered by wing Kian Abraham only for skipper Jack Jones to fumble a difficult pass in the act of scoring.

Fly half Maynard kicked two goals with the help of a strong wind to forge a 6-0 lead before a quick top penalty on half way by scrum half Che Hope caught the Llandovery defence unawares and his pass to O’Brien ended with the fly half getting his converted try and a 7-6 lead.

Maynard refused a 40 metre penalty in favour of a positional touch finder but again the Llandovery line out was disrupted and chance gone.

After the break, Newport changed their front row which had been under scrum pressure in the first half and an O’Brien penalty made it 10-6.

Replacement Lee Rees, centre Macs Page and full back Jac Davies threatened but the Newport defence would not crack and when a speculative kick out of defence by wing Iwan Prys Jones saw the ball roll and dribble  tantalizingly along the touchline on its way to the Llandovery in goal, Hope was first to the bounce for a second home try.

Down 17-6 Llandovery put everything into a search for a try but could make little headway against Newport physicality and organisation under skipper and No 8 Ben Roach.

A sickening leg injury for the talented Davies and a yellow card for replacement hooker Harry Thomas sucked the energy out of the Llandovery effort but although a driving line out got replacement Henry Palmer a third home try, the Drovers defence bravely made sure it was to be the last of the evening.

24-6 was a harsh scoreline on the Drovers but the Black and Ambers deservedly won the battle –  the final throes of war are yet to come.

*** Attention now switches to the Indigo Premiership Cup and the final at the Principality Stadium on Sunday April 7 when the Drovers will face Merthyr (KO 5 35 pm) in an attempt to win their third Cup in 17 years.



Tries: M O’Brien, C Hope, H Palmer

Cons: M O’Brien (3)

Pen: M O’Brien


Pens: J Maynard (2)


Llandovery: J Davies; H Doel, M Page, R Jones,K Abraham;J Maynard, D Land; J Hughes, C Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), C Long, J Powell, S Hart, J Evans

Replacements: J Morse, H Thomas, G Jones, O Davies, S Worrall, I Phillips, S Potter, L Rees


Newport:  J Lloyd; I Jones, C Foster-Smith, J Morris, L Lewis; M O’Brien, C Hope; J Reynolds, W Langley, C Davies, E Ferriman, R Landman, J Reid, K Taylor, B Roach (capt),

Replacemnets: H Palmer, T Workman, C Brooke, T Caple, L David, D Buckland, I Galton, L Bates