Principality Premiership Llandovery 16 Llanelli 5
7:10am Wednesday 21st March 2012 in Sport
LLANDOVERY’S best season in the Premiership continued at Church Bank with a hardfought but thoroughly deserved win – their 15th in 22 league outings, writes Huw S Thomas.
They move up to second place in the table and are now in with a real chance of making the top three play-off spots.
They have four games remaining – two at home and two away – and coaches Lyndon Lewis and Euros Evans will know that four wins will almost certainly qualify them.
Llandovery’s next game is away to bottom club Tonmawr on March 31.
They then entertain the Carmarthen Quins on April 7, travel to Pontypridd on April 14, and will finish with the yetto- be-rearranged home game against Swansea – possibly on April 21.
The squad has been given time off this week before preparing in earnest for the game at Tonmawr.
Even the most fervent Llanelli supporters – including ex-Wales coach Gareth Jenkins – were ready to acknowledge that the Drovers were the better team on Friday night.
The Llandovery forwards carried the ball well and, when needed, defended with huge gusto to underline their growing confidence.
They were all outstanding in the second-half playing into the wind and rain with locks Phil Day and Shaun Jones, No 8 Damian Welch and replacement flanker Luke Kendall showing wonderful mobility and commitment to the cause.
The Drovers led 9-5 at the break thanks to three penalties from fly-half Cerith Rees against a break-out try by nippy wing Bowdy Davies.
It should have been more, but Rees missed two reasonable penalty chances and it looked as if the Drovers would be under pressure against the elements in the second half.
Scrum-half Justin James had posed a real threat for Llanelli and, with more ball, looked ready to be a real danger to Llandovery hopes.
But soon after the break, a great flowing movement in which centre Matthew Jacobs played a star role ended with flanker Shaun Miles driving over the Llanelli line for Rees to convert.
The home forwards continued to drive hard and true with Welch and Kendall making significant headway and the lead could have – should have – doubled or more.
A brilliant storming 20- metre run from 38-year-old prop Andrew Jones was halted inches from the line and then Day crossed only to lose the ball in the act of grounding it.
As it turned out, it mattered little as the home defence snuffed out any chance of a Llanelli come back with the vengeance that only a local derby can bring.