John Kendrick reports:
An immense second half effort by the Llandovery pack playing into the strong wind ensured a vital three league points for the Drovers as they climbed from sixteenth to tenth in the Premier Division.
Director of Rugby at Church bank, Handel Davies, singled out lock Arwel Davies for particular praise, “He had an outstanding game, destroyed the Newbridge line out and was definitely the man of the match”.
Playing with the strong wind in the first half the Drovers ran in three tries, one of which was converted by prolific goal kicker Gareth Morgan. The home side, however, never looked convincing and were often pinned back in their own half by a livelier Newbridge side. The Llandovery first time tackles also left a lot to be desired and with the visitors scoring a converted try and a penalty they looked as if they would have the game wrapped up when they had the use of the wind in the second half.
The opening Llandovery try fell to Ioan Davies after some excellent inter-passing between forwards and backs. The full back came in on the angle and sliced through the defence to score under the posts with Gareth Morgan adding the conversion.
Two further first half tries for the Drovers, identical in their execution were scored by 18 year old youth winger Dafydd James. The student from Tregaron finding himself boxed in chipped over the defence, chased the kicks and grabbed the ball from under the noses of the flat footed defenders to touch down in the corner. This left the home side hanging on by 17-10 at the interval.
After the break the Llandovery forwards began to wake up and to impose their will on the Newbridge eight. The front row of Andrew Jones, Jon Owen and Dorian Williams gave their opposite numbers a hard time in the scrums and despite the visitors changing their props they could do little to prevent their scrum being badly disrupted.
With locks Tom Walker and Arwel Davies now dominating the lines out Newbridge found it difficult to build any cohesive attacks and try scoring looked beyond them as the home defence also tightened up considerably.
However despite these valiant efforts the home side were unable to prevent ace kicker Jon Williams adding to his penalty count. Using the strong wind he put over his second immediately after the start of the second half. This was soon followed by a third to bring the score to 17-16 with fifteen minutes left.
With six minutes left outside half Gareth Morgan was successful with his third attempt at a drop goal and Newbridge were left needing to score a try in the remaining minutes to snatch the game. With their pack under pressure this looked less and less likely and when Llandovery brought on fresh legs to the pack with Ian Boobyer being particularly prominent there was only one side likely to win.
This was put beyond any doubt in the fifth minute of injury time when full back Ioan Davies made a neat break through midfield and found Aisea Havili up in support. The Tongan winger used his speed to cruise through the defence and touch down under the posts. Gareth Morgan added the conversion to complete the scoring.
There remained only time for the referee to red card number eight and Newbridge try scorer Steve Evans for illegal use of the boot before he blew the full time whistle and left the small home crowd delighted with the outcome.