John Kendrick reports:
The end of March saw Llandovery in the ascendancy in their basement battle with Maesteg to avoid the single relegation spot at the foot of the Principality Premiership. With victories over Ebbw Vale and Bridgend, establishing a four point lead with a game in hand increased the optimism over avoiding the dreaded drop to Division 1.
Early April has, however, brought a dramatic change in fortunes with heavy defeats against Aberavon, 42-26, at the Talbot Athletic ground in mid-week followed by an even more disappointing defeat at the Memorial Ground where the Tywi Valley side slid to a 32-12 defeat at the hands of Glamorgan Wanderers, only two places above the Drovers.
Whilst some compensation could be gleaned from the fact that Aberavon are one of the form sides in the Principality and are still in the chase for honours the same could not be said for the defeat against the Wanderers, a side very much in the lower regions of the table, with recent form very hit and miss. This was a game the Drovers had hoped to target for league points.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs the home side were 7-0 up within five minutes when, attacking from deep, they created an overlap to send in wing Josh Hannam for a try converted by James Thomas. A second try followed shortly after when a successful line out drive saw Captain and prop Matthew Bolton awarded the touchdown, again converted by Thomas. With a further two penalties by Thomas and Rhys Jones the home side established a 20-0 lead within the first 15 minutes.
The Drovers pack was supplying plenty of good possession but the outside players failed to take advantage and there looked to be little understanding between the players, as poor handling and wrong options often resulted in a loss of ground when the ball was released. Worse came when the handling once again broke down and centre James Thomas grabbed an interception and raced in from 50 metres to touch down for a third try which he converted.
The Llandovery eight began to take more responsibility for control of the game and established some territorial advantage and were rewarded with two tries late in the first half. The first came from flanker Marc De Marigny followed by one from number eight Gareth Bennett. Gareth Morgan converted one.
Going into the second half 27-12 down, but now with the wind at their backs, there was still a chance the Drovers could rescue something from the game. The forwards gradually gained total control of the ball and establish a huge territorial advantage but dogged defence by the home side, allied with a mass of self inflicted handling errors by the visitors and a continued lack of fluency or cutting edge amongst the backs, saw no reward for their hard work.
Ironically the only score of the second half fell to the Wanderers. On a rare excursion into Drovers territory scrum half Lloyd Williams took advantage of some weak tackling to touchdown for a fourth bonus point try and any hopes of salvaging anything from this game were lost.
With Maesteg collecting a bonus point from their narrow defeat against Cardiff the battle for survival is very much back in the melting pot and the Drovers now have the difficult task of facing a Swansea side, who have won their last 10 league games, in their next game at Church Bank on Saturday.