DROVERS STUTTER TO BONUS POINT WIN AT PARC Y SCARLETS
LLANELLI 29 LLANDOVERY 36
The Drovers claimed a third consecutive bonus point win in the Indigo Premiership but were challenged all the way by a Llanelli side that belied its bottom position in the table writes Huw S Thomas.
When Llandovery got to lead 36-15 in the 67th minute, having run in six tries, all hopes of a Llanelli win seemed to have long since disappeared.
Not only did they trail by 21 points at that stage but were down to 13 men, one lock Ashleigh Hyndman having been red carded for punching and the other Chris Long yellow carded for pulling down a maul.
Llandovery flanker Jordan Evans was also in the sin bin for retaliation on Hyndman and then suddenly Llanelli played with a precision and skill that shook the over confident Drovers to the core.
With ex-Llandovery College scrum half Archie Hughes injecting pace into their game and excellent No 8 Nathan Hart pounding away in the loose, Llanelli dominated possession and territory.
And with Llandovery either unable to get their hands on the ball or giving away penalties in an effort to do so, the game swung dramatically in the home side’s favour.
Replacement prop Rhys Davies crashed through and then Hughes got another try which with two conversions by full back Ioan Hughes brought it back to 29-36.
Llanelli strived for a fifth try of their own and the converted try that would give them a deserved draw only for the Drovers defence to hang on for dear life.
It was far from the perfect send off for 34-year-old fly half James Garland who made his 119th and very last appearance for Llandovery before hanging up his boots.
He played four seasons with the Drovers 2011-2015, then had a long spell at Aberavon whom he captained for two seasons before returning to Church Bank this season to take up an appointment as both backs coach and player.
He will be remembered as one of the Premiership’s most consistent and influential fly halves
in racking up close on 1,600 points for the two clubs in a long and successful career.
The Drovers led 22-12 at the break with two rumbling line out maul tries from stand out hooker Craig Thomas, plus others from No 8 Joe Powell and scrum half Lee Rees.
Centre Kristian Jones added the one conversion but the gap should have been greater, the Llandovery backs guilty of forcing miracle passes that ended up as forward passes or knock ons.
Tries went a begging on multiple occasions when Llanelli were really on the ropes in defending waves of attack
Flankers Rhys Jenkins and Luca Giannini replied for the home side, teenage fly half Tal Rees adding a conversion.
Rees pulled back a penalty before replacements in wing Ashley Evans and hooker Jamie Cox went over for converted tries before the Llanelli barrage which fell just short in a free flowing 10 try game
Not a great day then for the Drovers – “along with the home game against Bridgend our worse 20 minutes of the season” sighed centre Kristian Jones.
It will not over concern coach Euros Evans as he saw his charges move up to sixth place in the table on 29 points with the last game of the season – against Bridgend on April 30 –offering the possibility of a final fourth, even third placed spot, if other results go Llandovery’s way.
Tries: R Jenkins, L Giannini, R Davies, A Hughes
Cons: I Hughes (2), T Rees
Pen: T Rees
Tries: C Thomas (2). J Powell, L Rees, A Evans, J Cox
Cons: K Jones (3)
Llanelli: I Hughes; A Jiw- Walji, T Davies, J Lewis, H Button; T Rees, L Davies; S O’Connor, L Phillips-Taylor, M Iorwerth-Scott, A Hyndman, C Long, R Jenkins, N Hart (capt), LGiannini
Replacements: R Cherry, R Davies, T Zoogah, C Salmon, J Lewis, A Hughes, I Evans, M Page
Llandovery: LThomas; R Davies, R Jones, K Jones, A Warren; J Garland, L Rees; D Dallavalle, C Thomas, B Watkins, O Davies J Jones (capt), M Dallavalle, J Powell, J Evans
Replacements: T Pritchard, J Cox, J Carum-Lewis, L Pike, S Worrall, C Woodall, A Evans, S Maynard
Huw S Thomas
Rugby World Schools Editor 4 Maes y Coleg Llandovery Carms SA20 0HS 01550 720028 07866 553920