John Kendrick reports:
Having defeated Aberavon by 46-31 in their previous home game Llanharan were optimistic of securing a repeat performance when they entertained the Drovers at the Dairy Field. By the end of the game it was Llandovery coach Iestyn Thomas who had the biggest smile on his face after witnessing his side complete a 6 tries to nil demolition of their fellow Premier strugglers.
“With a good number of players returning after long lay offs through injury this was probably the strongest squad that we have been able to select all season and more accurately reflects the true ability of the side” was the happy coach's comment. He selected out for praise the back row of Arwel Davies, Ceri Davies and particularly open side Matthew Jeffries whom he considered to be the ‘Man of Match’, having an outstanding game.
Playing against the wind in the first half the Drovers looked dangerous in open play with centres Rhodri Davies and Steve Thomas looking particularly impressive as they cut the gain line on numerous occasions. Unfortunately a series of handling errors and penalties against them prevented the team from making full use of these openings.
It was left to prolific goal kicker Gareth Morgan, also returning for his first game after an 8 week absence through injury, to open the score with a well struck penalty, followed soon after by a drop goal. Two penalties by Llanharan fly-half Dai Owen kept the scores equal until the 30th minute when the opening try was recorded.
A quickly taken tap penalty by scrum half Rob Walters, appearing in his first game after an appendix operation, caught the home defence off balance and as he raced through he found hooker Aled Gravelle up in support to take a well timed pass and cross for a try, converted by Gareth Morgan.
The hooker was again in action 5 minutes later when, following a good series of fast rucks and passing amongst forwards and backs, he found himself taking the ball in centre field. Showing a rare turn of speed he raced 35 metres to outpace the Llanharan defence and touch down in the corner. A third Llanharan penalty by Dai Owen brought the half time score to 18-9 in favour of the visitors.
The second half was a procession as Llandovery ran in 4 more tries in a points total of 37 without reply.
The first try of the second period saw Aled Gravelle complete his hat-trick. The hooker, whose line-out throwing was immaculate throughout the game, ripped the ball from a maul and before anyone realised what was happening had scampered over under the posts.
The fourth try was down to captain and number 8 Ceri Davies. From a 5 metre scrum the Drovers pack shoved Llanharan back over their try line and, with the ball well controlled, it was a simple touch down. Gareth Morgan converted both second half tries, kicked two more penalties and a second drop goal to record a personal tally of 21 points.
In the final ten minutes, with the Drovers throwing the ball around at every opportunity, wing Ifan Evans was on hand to run in the final two tries, both of which were converted by Ioan Davies to round off the second half rout.
On the day there was a huge gulf in class between the two sides and 'The Dairymen’, promoted as winners of Division 1 last season, look very likely to return back there at the end of this season as they crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season. They had no answer to the fluid, open play and inter-passing of a Drovers side giving their best performance of the season, who sought to avoid contact at all times, laying the ball off in the tackle and taking it wide at every opportunity.
A well earned victory which should surely give the Tywi Valley side renewed confidence in their battle against relegation.