LLANDOVERY 52 SWANSEA 24
This was Llandovery’s 24th 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. Pic: Ian Williams
For Swansea the 13 years of pain and hurt continued and even with a large number of young Ospreys, they found life difficult throughout against the Premiership leaders.
The Drovers remain top with just two away games left to play – at Aberavon and Newport, both of whom have fighting chances of a top four finish.
The bonus point win keeps the Drovers in first spot but they have played one game more than their closest pursuers Cardiff and Merthyr.
Whatever happens in the next few weeks, they are now assured of a top four spot and a place in the semi-final play offs on May 7.
The Drovers were irrepressible throughout under the tireless leadership of lock and skipper Jack Jones and the non-stop prompting of ebullient scrum half Lee Rees.
They also had the Premiership’s leading scorer in full back Jack Maynard in fine form scoring a try, penalty and six conversions for a personal tally of 20 points.
A watching trio of well known Welsh figures – ex Wales internationals in lock Derwyn Jones and fly half James Hook plus ex Welsh coach Mike Ruddock – must have been well impressed by the quality of Llandovery play.
The All Whites fielded what was, to all effects, an Ospreys “A” side with players of experience in both URC and Wales U20 competitions but they failed to gel against a side that knew exactly what it was doing , where it was going and was confident in all it did.
Coach Euros Evans rated then first half performance of his side as possibly the best for some years.
“The boys were immensely focussed at the prospect of taking on a side with players on professional contracts” said Evans.
“What the result shows is that the top sides in the Premiership can not only compete but get the better of opposition which on paper is superior.”
Evans’s comments suggest that the Premiership is the way that Welsh rugby should be going below the fully professional level to develop players who are playing regularly at a competitive level.
A Swansea spokesman grumpily pointed out the fact that Swansea scrum half Matthew Aubrey had played just half a dozen or so games in the season and that it was unfair on him to be suddenly expected to outshine the best scrum half in the Premiership in Llandovery’s brilliant little Lee Rees.
It also begged the question of why the 32 year old Rees had himself been ignored by his own region all these years when at the prime of his form, including playing 35 times for the Wales 7s side.
The writing was on the all for the All Whites in the opening exchanges.
A break out of defence, led by Rees all but ended with a Llandovery try before wing Callum Dodd squeezed over out wide, full back Jack Maynard converting.
The All Whites hit back immediately when centre Jamie Davies picked up a loose ball in midfield to sprint home from 35 metres.
A Maynard penalty made it 10-5 in a very fast and open game and great support play between backs and forwards worked centre Rhodri Jones over for a second converted home try.
Swansea were under the pump and had to tackle ferociously to keep out the Drovers whose quick, accurate and fluent passing stretched the defence time after time.
The front row of Jamie Hughes, Craig Thomas and Llyr Green had the better of the Swansea three whilst skipper Jones and back row Griff Evans won quality line out ball.
The pressure was bound to tell and – sure enough – the visitors conceded a penalty try for bringing down a driving maul.
Lock Lewis Jones – son of watching Derwyn Jones – went into the sin bin for his action and Maynard then sniped over after a lively Rees dart from a scrum.
It was the bonus point try, converted by the full back himself to establish a 31-5 interval lead for the rampant Drovers.
Early after the break, Swansea and Wales U20s fly half Dan Edwards’s break made a try for Swansea centre Tom Florence, converted by Davies, but when both No 8 Morgan Morse and Davies were yellow carded for infringements near their own posts, home fly half Ioan Hughes went strolling in.
All action prop Jamie Hughes powered through before Llandovery poured on replacements and Swansea got a consolation try from replacement scrum half Harvey Nash, converted by fly half Dan Edwards.
The Drovers got to 50 when lock and skipper Jack Jones swept over wide out, Maynard finishing a faultless day with a touchline conversion to take his season’s Premiership tally to 186 points.
Swansea grit was rewarded with a bonus point when replacement Kieran Charles went over in the last play of the 76 point day.
*** Llandovery travel to Aberavon on Saturday, just one point ahead of Cardiff who face a tricky trip to Carmarthen Quins.
Tries: C Dodd, R Jones, pen try, J Maynard, I Hughes, J Hughes, J Jones
Cons: J Maynard (6)
Pen: J Maynard
Tries: J Davies, T Florence, H Nash, K Charles
Cons: J Davies, D Edwards
Star Choice: Jamie Hughes (Llandovery)
Llandovery:J Maynard; C Dodd, Adam Warren, R Jones, Aaron Warren; I Hughes, L Rees; J Hughes, C Thomas, L Green, J Jones (capt), J Powell, G Evans, O Davies, J Evans
Replacements: R Guest, W Caron-Lewis, B Watkins, S Worrall, L Pike, I Phillips, K Jones, D Land
Swansea: Swansea: M Nagy; G O Rees, T Florence, J Davies, H Houston; D Edwards, M Aubrey; G Phillips, O Thomas, B Warren, T Davies, M Dodd, S Moore, M Morse, C Bowden (capt)
Replacements L Lloyd, C Jones, R Henry, L Jones, S Jenkins, H Nash, K Charles, M Jenkins, W Wood
2022/2023 Indigo Premiership