SWANSEA 9 LLANDOVERY 35
By Huw S Thomas
This was Llandovery’s 23rd consecutive league and cup win over Swansea, a remarkable record that dates back to August 2010 when the All Whites won 37-16 at Church Bank writes Huw S Thomas
For once great Swansea the astonishing 13 years of pain and hurt continued on Friday night but they competed hard throughout against one of the Premiership’s top sides.
They more than held their own in the first half when Llandovery gave away eleven penalties in loose and tight, resulting in former Drover James Davies putting over three penalties in the 9th, 18th and 34th minutes.
The Drovers still led 14-9 at half time through their excellent close range ability to transform line outs into tries, fly half Ioan Hughes and hooker Craig Thomas squeezing over the line.
Hughes kicked two wide angled conversions but it took some terrific defence from the Drovers to stop a plethora of close range attacks by the All Whites just before half time.
“We were our own worst enemies in the first half “ said coach Euros Evans “with poor discipline stopping us gaining any momentum.”
“But we fixed that in the second half and with crisper possession were able to build up some nice attacks to stretch the Swansea defence.”
“It was vital to get a winning bonus point to get us back into second place in the Premiership table but there is a long way to go to secure that spot, with Merthyr a particular threat.”
The second half was a different story as the extra pace of the backs stretched the Swansea defence to its limits.
The forwards put more zip into their game with locks Griff Evans and Jack Jones along with No 8 Iestyn Rees leading the way and with better and cleaner ball, Llandovery were ready to attack from any position.
They shrugged off a yellow card for Hughes for a high tackle when a sweeping attack ended with centre Rhodri Jones chipping through for wing Aaron Warren to get his 99th try for the club.
Replacement Jack Maynard added the conversion and did likewise after a smart mid field move sent electric full back Harri Doel arrowing through under the posts.
Hughes returned from the sin bin to make amends with a break which ended with burly replacement prop Berian Watkins going in for a fifth try, improved upon by Maynard.
The All Whites were out on their legs and when replacement prop Tom Crockett was yellow carded, the only surprise was that the Drovers failed to add to their try tally in what, in the end, was a comfortable win.
With three tricky away games to come at Bridgend, Aberavon and Newport, former Swansea hooker Euros Evans realises full well that nothing is yet decided.
The remaining two home games- against Llanelli this Saturday and Swansea on April 8 – might well bring bonus point wins but the away games will be the key to Llandovery fortunes.
That said, the Drovers look hot favourites to finish in the top four but know that the advantage of finishing in the top two brings a home draw in the semi finals on May 6.
Merthyr, Ebbw Vale, Aberavon or even Newport could yet spoil the party.
Pens: J Davies (3)
Tries: I Hughes, C Thomas, Aaron Warren, H Doel, B Watkins
Cons: I Hughes (2), J Maynard (3)
Swansea: G O Rees; G J Rees, H Dirksen, K Charles, M Jenkins; R Lewis, J Davies; R Murphy, O Thomas, B Warren, T Davies, M Dodd, L Ellis-Jones, S Jenkins, S Bowden (capt)
Replacements G Williams, T Crockett, O Rees, E Hill, D Francis, H Nash, H James, W Wood
Llandovery: H Doel; R Wall, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, C Thomas, L Green, J Jones (capt), G Evans, L Pike, I Rees, J Evans
Replacements: R Guest, W Caron-Lewis, B Watkins, J Powell, T Poole, M Page, J Maynard, D Land