LLANDOVERY 16 MERTHYR 26
On a wet and windy night at Church Bank, the Drovers suffered their first home defeat of the season in the Indigo Premiership, to a well-organised and competitive Merthyr side, writes Tom Hughes, pic: Ian Williams.
The two teams had already played each other twice this season, with honours even at one win apiece.
Despite the game being televised, a crowd of about 400 braved the elements. The pitch was in surprisingly good condition after all the rain of the past week, testament to the hard work and expertise of groundsmen Phil Jones and Roger James.
Llandovery opted to play against the wind and soon found themselves defending a succession of driving line-outs.
On their third effort, captain Craig Locke forced his way over to put Merthyr 0-5 up. Outside half Gareth Thompson added the conversion.
On a rare excursion into the Merthyr 22, Llandovery full back Jack Maynard landed a penalty for a 3-7 scoreline.
The Drovers found it hard to make much headway against a strong-tackling and resolute Merthyr defence and they soon found themselves conceding a second try after a mix-up in defence.
Winger Teri Gee gratefully took his opportunity, scoring a try in the corner, converted by Gareth Thompson for a 3-14 half time score.
Merthyr had dominated the first half; the Drovers had struggled in the line-out and rarely managed more than two or three phases of play.
Llandovery had to re-organise their back line after the break, with Ioan Hughes replacing Welsh international Adam Warren.
With the wind at their backs, Llandovery began to exert some pressure on the Merthyr line with Osian Davies, Stuart Worrall and Lloyd Pike to the fore. After a number of driving mauls, they threw the ball wide for Kristian Jones to score and Jack Maynard to convert.
Maynard kicked a further penalty to put the Drovers only one point in arrears at 13-14.
The Merthyr defence was beginning to creak and Llandovery had done well to claw themselves back into the game.
Unfortunately, ill-discipline was to be the home team’s downfall. Firstly, Llandovery were deemed guilty of pulling down a rolling maul. Referee Jason Bessant awarded a penalty try and Joe Powell was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes.
Almost immediately, Llandovery replacement Ioan Hughes was red-carded for a high tackle with contact to the head. Merthyr’s lead stretched to 13-21.
With only thirteen men on the field, Llandovery showed real grit, with a penalty from Maynard giving them a chance of a losing bonus point.
Chasing an unlikely length of the field score, the Drovers conceded a final controversial try by Merthyr winger Adam Hoskings, confirmed by the TMO, for a 16-26 scoreline.
Llandovery coach Euros Evans was blunt in his assessment of the game, “We weren’t good enough”.
Tries: K Jones
Con: J Maynard
Pens: J Maynard (3)
Tries: C Locke, T Gee, A Hoskins
Cons: G Thompson (2)