LLANDOVERY 26 CINDERFORD 12
By Huw S Thomas
(Photo of the three pairs of brothers who played for Llandovery against Cinderford in a pre-season friendly at Church Bank
Left to right Marco and Dino Dallavalle, Adam and Aaron Warren, Jack and Scott Maynard)
The Drovers entertained their old English friends from the Forest of Dean in a friendly before they start their Premiership campaign on September 3 when they travel to Carmarthen Quins writes Huw S Thomas.
They ran out comfortable winners, the four tries to two, the try count not reflecting home superiority and the result augurs well for the season ahead.
Coach Euros Evans considered it a good performance but far from perfect.
“Very pleasing to get four tries before the break but we squandered a lot of chances in the second half- something we cannot afford to do in the Premiership.”
“ We also let in a couple of tries to a driving line out but it was a bonus to see a lot of second half replacements and potential first teamers defend so well against big men.”
A bit of Llandovery history was made, too, when the Drovers’ starting line up included three pairs of brothers in the Dallavalles (Marco and Dino), Warrens (Adam and Aaron) and the Maynards (Jack and Scott).
All six played big parts in the comfortable home win.
Ammanford’s Dallavalles – No 8 Marco and prop Dino – made a lot of ground, ball in hand, the Warrens – centre Adam and wing Aaron – were real danger men all afternoon with both getting on the score sheet whilst the Maynards – full back Jack and scrum half Scott – were busy and involved throughout
Cinderford came into the game after a 17-0 win over Matson in mid week, Llandovery having slipped to a 19-14 defeat at the hands of Pontypool last week.
The expectation of a close game between the two sides proved unfounded, particularly in the first half when the Drovers fielded all but a couple of first teamers
England National League One side Cinderford finished last season in a highly creditable fifth place out of 14 – their best ever- under coach Clive Stuart-Smith, the former Scarlets scrum half.
With Llandovery having finished fourth in last year’s Premiership, it was interesting to muse on the comparative strength of what is the third tier of rugby in England and the second tier in Wales.
The result seemed to suggest that Llandovery would not be out of place with most of the English second tier- Championship – sides.
Cinderford had half a dozen players capped by England Counties and came with the usual competitive hefty pack of forwards.
The lighter and more mobile home pack under skipper and lock Jack Jones more than held its own but behind the scrum, the Welsh side were streets ahead in invention and ambition.
New signing from Llanelli half Ioan Hughes fitted in nicely at fly half and ex-Gwent Dragon Adam Warren marked his return to Church Bank with in imperious display in the centre, his distribution, timing and reading of tight situations worthy of the international that he is.
His mid field partnership with the ever excellent Rhodri Jones promises to be an exciting addition to this year’s armoury.
A 40 metre burst up the middle by former Cinderford prop Dino Dallavalle set up the first Llandovery try for hooker Craig Thomas, well converted by full back Jack Maynard, back from his short stint at Cardiff.
An equally brilliant slicing run from Rhodri Jones saw the centre angle through unopposed, Maynard again converting for a 14-0 lead.
Cinderford replied with their first incursion into the Llandovery 22, a driving maul from a line out fashioning a try for hooker Sam Baker.
Play was predictably fast and furious on the bone dry pitch and centre Warren who was twice involved in the movement was up to get a try of his own, Maynard adding the points.
The centrethen pushed through a kick for brother Aaron to cross for a fourth home try and a seemingly dominant 26-5 half time lead.
The visitors had lost ex- Cross keys lock Dan Hodges for 10 minutes but changes in the home side and a more determined forward effort from Cinderford balanced things up after the break.
Despite the Drovers losing replacement back row Joe Powell t a yellow card , they had three very good chances to finish.
Over eagerness and imprecision let the visitors off the hook and the only try came from Cinderford – from a close range line out which saw replacement hooker Will Haly crash through a pile of bodies, fly half Reece Broughton converting.
Tries: C Thomas, R Jones, Adam Warren, Aaron Warren
Cons: J Maynard (3)
Tries: S Baker, W Haly
Con; R Broughton
Llandovery: J Maynard; K Abraham, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, S Maynard; D Dallavalle, C Thomas, B Watkins, J Jones (capt), G Evans, O Davies, M Dallavalle, S Worrall
Replacements: L Thomas, C Woodall, L Rees, K Jones, L Pike, J Evans, S Melmoth, J Powell, E Sheldon, T Pritchard, R Owens, W Caron-Lewis
Cinderford: M Wilcox (capt);W Baldwin, G Gladding, G Boulton, E Sheldon; R Broughton, M Austin; J Smart, S Baker, T Brockett, T Jerrum, D Hodge, M Lane, J Shields, A Ryan
Replacements: Z Littlefair, W Hendy, R Kibble, J Williams, H Edwards, W Haly, D Wilcox, T Powell, J Holliday, D Fissenden, J Mullis