John Kendrick reports:
Llandovery eased themselves into the sixth round of the Konica-Minolta Cup with a comfortable 50 points to 10 victory over Nantyffyllon of Division three South West scoring seven tries against one in the process at Church Bank.
The visitors' forwards gave a good account of themselves particularly in the early stages but behind the scrum it was a different story. As Bernard Colston secretary of Nantyfyfllon said after the game “speed is all important and your backs were much faster than ours”.
Despite a lot of early pressure it took 20 minutes before the Drovers were able to record their first try. Inevitably this went to top points scorer Jon Elrick who jinked his way through the defence to score under the posts. He converted his own try to add to the penalty goal he had converted in the opening minutes to establish a 10-0 lead for the home side.
The lead was extended when Number 8 Gareth Bennett, impressive throughout, picked up the ball from the back of the scrum in the Drovers 22 to break the first line of defence. The ball was then spread wide to the threes who swept downfield where supporting full back Howard Thomas came up into the line to finish off the move with a second try. Elrick sent the conversion sailing through the posts from the touchline.
On 40 minutes ‘Nanty’ opened their account with a Lee Bumford penalty, but were put further behind in injury time when lock Steve Covington, showing neat skills, dummied his way over for the third try, once again converted by Elrick to complete the scoring for the first half with the Drovers having a comfortable 24-3 lead.
After the break the superior fitness of the Premier Division side began to count and as both sides made substitutions the gulf between them increased. The visitors put themselves further under pressure when they had outside half Lee Bumford and flanker Ryan Osgood yellow carded for technical ball killing offences and were reduced to 13 men for a time.
Four more tries followed, two from wing Ioan Davies, and one apiece for flanker Dafydd Jones and replacement flanker Iwan Davies. The surprise was that Jon Elrick missed converting one of these tries as he built up a personal points tally of 20 points. The North Harbour player has now contributed a most impressive 103 points to the Drovers' cause in his last 6 games.
This game provided ‘light relief’ for the Drovers in their battle to avoid relegation from the Premier Division and they now go into the draw for the next round with all 14 Premiership sides who dominated proceedings against sides from lower divisions. Comprehensive defeats for Division one leaders Newbridge (East) and Bonymaen (West) show the gap that has opened up between the top league and those below.
Next week it will be back to the reality of the premiership when the Drovers face a trip to the Gnoll to take on third placed side Neath. In the home match earlier in the season Llandovery suffered a 13-27 reverse but will be looking to continue the good form shown in the last league match with the defeat of Newport.