Drovers on ice as freeze bites
7:00am Wednesday 23rd January 2013 in Sport
THERE was keen disappointment in Drovers circles when Saturday’s British and Irish Cup game against Nottingham was postponed on Friday afternoon due to the adverse weather conditions, writes Huw S Thomas.
The Drovers had been due to play on Saturday night at Meadow Lane – home of Football League Division One club Notts County - but a 3.30pm pitch inspection by a RFU panel referee declared the frozen ground unplayable on safety grounds.
No date has as yet been announced for the rearranged game in which the Drovers need just one point to get through to the last eight.
On 20 league points, they are five points ahead of Nottingham (15) who must not only beat Llandovery but score four tries in the process, stop Llandovery from scoring four tries and also beat the Welshmen by ten points or more to go through on the better points aggregate.
At the moment Llandovery are on + 42 and Nottingham + 23 so if Nottingham were to win say 22-12, then Llandovery would end up on +32 and Nottingham on +33.
Llandovery Chairman Handel Davies reflected the mood of the club.
“We have a real chance of qualifying alongside the likes of Newcastle Falcons, Bedford and Leinster and that is a source of huge pride for both a club and town of our size.
“Such clubs operate on far bigger budgets so we can justifiably be delighted at getting as far as we have,” added Davies.
“We were all keyed up to give it a real go against Nottingham and qualify for the quarterfinals, but the weather beat us and we will just have to wait and see and prepare anew.
“We are in Swalec Cup action at Bedwas this Saturday so must set our minds on that.
“It would be nice to get to the Millennium Stadium again after our momentous win over Cardiff in 2007 but Bedwas are the team of the season so far and sit on top of the Premiership”
Davies was too modest to put forward any suggestion that Llandovery might rival Bedwas in achievement but the Drovers’ early season form was quite brilliant at times.
They made their best ever start in the Principality Premiership in September by reeling off an incredible five consecutive wins against five of Wales’ most famous old clubs.
Defeats of Cardiff (48-22), Neath (37-17), Bridgend (37-12), Swansea (25-20) and Newport (38-19) rocketed the Towy Valley club to the top of the table after gaining maximum bonus point wins in the month.
The Drovers became the first side since the formation of the Premiership to reel off five full house wins, and this on a rugby budget which is comfortably the smallest in the league.
The Drovers are well coached on the field by Lyndon Lewis and Euros Evans and well run off the field where president Phil Davies and chairman Handel Davies have been the great driving forces behind ground and facility improvements nearing £1million.
Most of the players are from the immediate locality and are old boys of nearby schools Llandovery College, Pantycelyn HS, Tregib CS in Llandeilo, and Amman Valley.
As a feeder club for the Scarlets they have provided the regional side with some outstanding young prospects of late, including hooker Emyr Phillips, No 8 Kieran Murphy, scrum half Rhodri Williams and centre Adam Warren.
In addition, prop Owen Evans – son of ex-Wales prop Ricky Evans - signed for the Gwent Dragons in November.
The Drovers have slipped slightly after such a terrific start to the campaign and have lost three and drawn three out of their 13 games but are still handily placed in fourth, still eyeing a top three position which would take them into the end of season play-offs.
And with still an interest in both the B and I Cup and Swalec Cup the Drovers have very much to look forward to in the coming months.