Drovers prove their best in the west
8:00am Wednesday 10th October 2012 in Sport
Principality Premiership Llandovery 32 Llanelli 22 EVERYBODY at Church Bank agreed that “west was best” but the question of “who” was the prize for the winners of this eagerly anticipated derby, writes Huw S Thomas.
It turned out to be top of the table Llandovery who chalked up their sixth straight bonus point win of the season in beating the Scarlets by four tries to one.
Outstanding for the winners were three former Amman Valley CS pupils in scrum half Rhodri Williams, lock Bryn Griffiths and man of the match flanker Shaun Miles.
Some great running rugby from both sides – true to the tradition of old Stradey Park - was fine entertainment for home and away supporters alike and it was a brilliant scoring spate of three converted tries in six minutes in the middle of the second half that got the Drovers home.
Llanelli looked comfortable when they went 15-8 up going into the last quarter and few in the biggest Church Bank crowd of the season could have predicted such a result at half time.
Llanelli team manager Anthony Buchanan was sporting enough to concede that the Drovers were the better side on the day.
“We fancied our chances at half time,” said the former Wales 1987 World Cup prop, “but that spate of second half scoring knocked the stuffing out of us.”
The visitors had enjoyed a clear edge in the loose where the bulky back five of skipper and lock Adam Powell, Australian import Jake Ball, Ed Price, Stuart Leach and Duane Eager ruled the roost.
Four penalties from full back Jordan Williams had trumped a penalty from fly half James Garland and a rather fortunate kindbounce try from centre Adam Warren.
And when fly half Owen Williams – standing in as goal kicker for the sinbinned Jordan Williams - landed a 60-metre penalty early after the break, there were no takers on a Llandovery win.
But improvement at the set piece, the crafty guidance of experienced replacement fly half Cerith Rees and a huge commitment at the breakdown, where Garnswllt’s Miles and replacement Luke Kendall continually caught the eye, turned things around.
Backs and forwards combined in thrilling style to run in three stunning tries between the 59th and 65th minutes.
It was not so much poor defensive work but an inability to stay with the pace of the game that undid the visitors.
Scrum half Rhodri Williams, twinkle-toed full back Lee Rees and centres Warren and Jack Roberts – the latter a target for Exeter Chiefs – gambolled around like spring lambs against a tiring and heavier Llanelli to help rattle up 21 points in double quick time.
Prop Owen Evans - in his last game for the Drovers on the way to a new contract with the Dragons – gangly lock Sion Jones and the irrepressible bundle of energy that is Miles all crossed at the end of sweeping movements that brought the crowd to its feet.
To their credit Llanelli refused to lie downand centre Nic Reynolds caused problems, only to see the home defence commit themselves to the cause with huge gusto.
Cerith Rees added the points and kicked a good goal before wing Kristian Phillips claimed a consolation touchdown in injury time.