Swalec Cup Final
Llandovery 25 Carmarthen Quins 18
The all Carmarthenshire Swalec Cup final went the way of the Drovers who beat their old rivals in a tumultuous, nerve-tingler of a game at the Principality Stadium writes Huw S Thomas
It was Llandovery’s second capture of the national cup following their 20-18 win over Cardiff in 2007 and hard earned in front of over half the 2000 population of the little market town.
The Drovers now switch their attention to the Premiership play offs when they entertain Ebbw Vale this Sunday with the winners of that game destined to face Pontypridd in the final at Sardis Road on May 15.
As winners of the National Sevens and the Swalec Cup, the Drovers have a famous treble in sight but will be the first to admit that the Quins pushed them to the very limit.
A neutral would have been hard pushed to spot which team had finished second in the Premiership table and which one second from bottom.
Indeed if the Quins had finished better and chosen different options in the first half they would have had a good lead but after the break the Llandovery forwards with lock Matthew Harbut outstanding competed better at the breakdown and the backs upped the speed and tempo of the match.
Coach Euros Evans had accurately predicted a tight and tense match between two clubs who knew so much about each other.
“We lifted our game after being under a lot of pressure from an ultra competitive side who got in our faces and stopped us going forward.” said coach Euros Evans.
“We were never at our best but the vital try by scrum half Rhodri Davies just after half time was a huge boost.”
Llandovery also survived three yellow cards through the course of the evening but remarkably scored tries in the absence of first flanker Stuart Worrall and then full back Will Thomas.
It was 6-6 at half time with Llandovery lucky to be level after fly half Jack Maynard had kicked two penalties to cancel out two by opposite number Craig Evans.
The flying Davies finished off a run by wing Sam Soul with a converted try but when Will Thomas was yellow carded in saving a try with an illegal tackle on wing Gavin Thomas, the Quins were level with a penalty try.
A wonderfully skilful pass from replacement prop Berian Watkins put Llandovery 20-13 up and when replacement hooker Dafydd Hughes slipped the defence, replacement centre Craig Woodall was put in by centre Matthew Jacobs to stretch the lead to 25-13.
To their credit, the Quins rallied once again when lock Bryn Griffiths became the third Drover to be sin binned and a cross kick by replacement fly half Dan Jones got yet another replacement Iolo Evans in at the corner.
But it was too late to stop the Drovers enjoying another momentous and memorable day at the home of Welsh rugby.