John Kendrick reports:
A year ago Llandovery visited Rodney Parade and came away with a 6-3 hard won victory. Now, twelve months later it was a very different story with a crushing defeat as the Black and Ambers gained ample revenge. In truth the margin of victory didn’t flatter the home side and the margin could have been even greater if normally reliable kicker Dan Griffiths had been on form and the side hadn’t made so many handling errors in attack.
The much smaller Drovers pack was completely dominated by the larger, more powerful and livelier Newport eight and the visitors had to live off scraps of possession throughout the eighty minutes. When they did have the ball poor kicking options and the pressure applied by the home defence cut down on any real options for building an attacking platform.
Having lost in their two previous Principality games against Bridgend and Aberavon the Drovers once again find themselves in the all too familiar relegation zone and the pre-season optimism has all but disappeared. Conceding over 100 points in these three games and with an away trip to League leaders Llanelli next week, followed by a home game against Cardiff there appears to be little opportunity for quick a change in fortunes.
The Llandovery pack is small and lightweight compared with others found at this level, it lacks ball carriers and with little help from the Region forthcoming the lack of reliable possession will remain a barrier to success.
Within 2 minutes of the kick off the pattern for the rest of the game was established. A poorly directed chip kick out of defence was grabbed by the Newport attackers who fed the ball out to wing Mike Poole who crossed in the corner. This try was followed by three penalty goals from Dan Griffiths before tries from Craig Hill, Andrew Quick and Ian Evans rounded off the half. Dan Griffiths converted two and the home side went into the break leading by 33 points to nil.
Immediately after half time the Drovers supporters had a brief moment of hope when Number Eight Ioan Cunningham crossed for a try following a quickly taken penalty. However this was to be the last time the visitors threatened the home side's try line and the game soon settled into the pattern seen in the first half. The home team's dominant forwards maintained a plentiful supply of possession and gradually the Drovers' defence wilted under the pressure.
A further 3 tries followed by Jason Tovey, Nathan Williams and a second for Craig Hill, before the replacements got in on the act - Mike Burke coming on at full back, wing Tom Issacs and prop Gethin Robinson who sold an outrageous dummy on the 22 and scampered home untroubled by a tired defence. Dan Griffiths converted two of these six tries and the final whistle came as a great relief to the battered visitors.