What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery 21 – Swansea 5
The All Whites have not beaten the Drovers in Cup or League since August 2010 and this latest result made it a remarkable 20th consecutive win for the Carmarthenshire side writes Huw S Thomas
The last competitive game the two clubs played against each other was back on March 7 2020 when fourth placed Llandovery ran out 20-10 winners over ninth placed Swansea in the last Indigo Premiership game before lockdown.
They were back to renew hostilities at Church Bank 560 days later, this time in the West Conference of the new Indigo Premiership Cup and the home side were once again in control.
They completely dominated the first half but were poor “in extremis” after the break when poor judgement and multiple errors let Swansea off the hook.
“We were pretty awful in the second half” was Llandovery coach Euros Evans’s frank assessment of play.
“We failed badly to kick on but need to acknowledge the resilience of the Swansea defence.”
“Our skill levels are not what we expected from the players in a desperately poor 40 minutes.”
Victory was further tempered by the news coming out of Llanelli that close season signing No 8 Tom Phillips, released by the Scarlets at the end of last season, had been suddenly re-signed by the regional outfit.
The game itself – particularly in the second half – was a disappointment, lacking fluency, cohesion and pattern and, on the evidence of this, both sides will be up against it this week when both travel – Llandovery to Carmarthen Quins and Swansea to Aberavon.
It was poor fare to serve the watching Goronwy Morgan who remains one of the very few survivors of the All Whites side that drew 6-6 with the All Blacks back in 1953.
Swansea started well enough and pressure was nearly rewarded but a great cover tackle by Llandovery full back Will Thomas denied wing Harri Houston a try.
The Drovers took the lead with a 40 metre penalty from impressive Scarlets fly half Angus O’Brien and went further ahead with a try from their best forward No 8 Stuart Worrall after a multi phase build up.
Swansea fly half James Davies, a former Drover, was injured in the action and was replaced by Curtis Davies before O’Brien knocked over his second penalty following excellent work from debutant wing Ashley Evans.
Full back Thomas continued to be a real livewire in open play and Llandovery were soon 18-0 ahead when the pack forced the Swansea scrum to concede a penalty try.
The All Whites did, at last, get some possession and made good use of it with a driven line out sending hooker Owen Thomas over wide out.
O’Brien added another penalty to make it 21-5 at the break, a fair reflection of the play.
Llandovery looked odds on to get a bonus point but in a pointless second half made error after error.
Swansea proved more competitive and although still under pressure at the scrum, they battled away with quiet determination.
The ball carrying and rate work of lock Huw Sutton, back rowers Callum Bowden, Jon Fox and Jay Williams kept Swansea in the game but there was little penetration behind the scrum.
The game lost all fluency and fizzled out, with more interest in Kath Pritchard, the first lady to run the line in a Premiership game at Church Bank and the birthday celebrations going on in the stand for life-long Drovers supporter Helen Thomas than any of the turgid exchanges on the pitch.
The shining light for the Drovers was the display of fly half O’Brien whose class clearly stood out with hand and boot plus the indefatigable running of flanker Stuart Worrall.
Swansea at least took satisfaction from conceding no points in the second half after a gritty combative performance under skipper Williams
There was little comfort for the Drovers who know that a huge task lies ahead against the Quins who a fortnight ago beat their Tywi Valley rivals 35-14 in a friendly at Church Bank.
Tries: S Worrall, pen try
Con: A O’Brien
Pens: A O’Brien (3)
Try: O Thomas
Llandovery: W Thomas; A Evans, K Jones, R Wall (C Woodall 55), A Warren (J Garland 71); A O’Brien, L Rees (D Land 71); J Hughes (D Dallavalle 55), D Hughes (G Williams 78), H O’Connor (B Watkins 62), M Jones, J Jones (capt) (G Evans 71), O Davies, S Worrall, L Pike (I Davies71)
Swansea: L Popham; H Houston, H Dirksen, K Charles (K Abraham 73), J Carrington; J Davies (C Davies 16), L Seaward (B Ley 78); T Sloane (C Jones 50), O Thomas (A James 62 , J Pritchard (A Dew 62), M Dodd (O Morgan 73), H Sutton, J Williams (capt), C Davies (J Fox 50), C Bowden