John Kendrick gives a Club perspective and, in 'What the Papers say', Huw S Thomas reports
John Kendrick reports:
At last the victory everyone at Church Bank was desperately looking for – and a victory in the local derby with our rivals Carmarthen Quins couldn’t have been better. A victory that came deep in injury time after a pulsating game where the lead changed hands six times.
Former top referee Clive Norling watching the game thoroughly enjoyed the encounter – he described it as “a great advert for the Premiership and far better than the Ospreys game that I watched on Friday night”. He also praised the refereeing of Colin Kirkhouse who was also watched by former Llandovery Captain and top referee Huw Lewis and former International referee Cenydd Thomas who both considered the referee to have had a good game.
The Drovers have hopefully learned the lesson of not giving vast numbers of penalties away after their first three games in which penalty kicks had a direct effect on their inability to gain victories. This time it was Carmarthen who got on the wrong end of penalties and, with illegal taking out of a Llandovery player about to score a try in the corner, they conceded a penalty try converted by Cerith Rees. In addition a yellow card for the offence for experienced scrum half Silio Martens added to their problems.
Finally in the 84th minute former Drover and current Carmarthen openside suggested that the referee was being less than fair in his role. Up stepped Cerith Rees and from wide out on the 10m line, keeping his nerve, the outside half fired the kick straight through the middle of the posts turning a Carmarthen lead of 23-21 into a 24-23 lead for the home side. There was only time for the kick off to be taken and held before the final whistle blew.
In the opening exchanges kickers Cerith Rees and Gareth Cull both converted 2 penalties before Carmarthen prop Simon Gardner finishing off a good movement crossed for the game’s opening try. Gareth Cull converted and no further scoring came in the final 20 minutes of the first half although both sides opened at every opportunity as the game moved from end to end and the half finished with the visitors leading 13-6.
During this period Matthew Harbut who had replaced Gyles Vaughan, sidelined with a stomach bug, in the second row was himself injured and young Ed Siggery an 18 year old back row player came on into the second row. To his great credit the youngster never took a backward step during the rest of the game and coach Rob Appleyard was quick to praise him for his efforts.
An early second half penalty from Cerith Rees reduced the lead and then came the penalty try and yellow card in the 57th minute. Powerful wing Joe Ajuwa made deep inroads into the visitors' half but was tackled just short of the line and as the supporting Drover was about to pick up and dive over he was taken out by Martens. With the Cerith Rees conversion the Drovers now led by 16 points to 13.
The lead changed hands again when some poor decision making by the Drovers in defence allowed centre Jason Harries through for a second Quins try. With an excellent kick from near the touchline Gareth Cull converted. Back came the Drovers and again it was the winger Joe Ajuwa causing problem for the Quins defence as he powered his way over for an individual try and the lead , 21-20 for the home side.
One could sense that in a game like this there could be further scores and then in the 75th minute the Drovers were penalised and immaculate kicker Gareth Cull put over the penalty and gave the visitors what looked like being the winning score. Then came the drama of the ending – a kick ahead by Carmarthen was excellently and intelligently caught by winger Lee Rees who stood with one foot already in touch as he took the ball, causing the line out to be back on the 10m line in the Quins half. The rest is history and the whole of the Drovers supporters, management and players were delighted with this first victory of 2009/2010.
What the Papers say:
Huw S Thomas reports:
In as exciting and finely balanced a game as one could wish to see, Llandovery gained their first win of the season in injury time.
Neither side deserved to lose this keenly-fought Tywi Valley derby and it took an outstanding penalty from fly-half Cerith Rees to seal the Llandovery win.
In a game that swung to and fro in exciting and sometimes frantic fashion, the Quins led 23-21 but crucially lost their discipline with just two minutes remaining. When a Quins forward made it abundantly clear to referee Colin Kirkhouse that he disagreed with a decision, up stepped Rees to land a 40 metre penalty with rare aplomb.
The lead had changed six times but there it stopped, with the Llandovery forwards winding down the clock to guarantee the first league win of the season for the Drovers.
Llandovery coach Rob Appleyard was sporting enough to admit that it was anyone’s game but praised his side for their fortitude. "We lost in cruel fashion the week before when a late penalty came back off the crossbar but this time the gods smiled on us. All credit to Cerith for keeping his cool but if we won the game it was down to vastly improved discipline on the one hand and far better work at the breakdown on the other. Psychologically, it was vital to get our first win in four games and we also climb two places up the table after the defeats of Pontypool and Bedwas."
Quins team manager Steffan Thomas bemoaned the team’s lack of discipline in the second half when scrum-half Sililo Martens was yellow carded and Llandovery were gifted a penalty at the end. "We thought we had it in the bag at half time and although Llandovery fought their way back well, we should have battened down the hatches when leading in injury time."
The clever money was on a Carmarthen win at the end of the first half. Their forwards had produced quicker ball, scrum-half Martens and fly-half Gareth Cull combined well and wing Richard Carter was a continual threat on the right. Good continuity and patience produced a fine team try for prop Simon Gardner and with Cull adding seven points with the boot to just six from Rees, it was 13-6 at the break.
Llandovery were twice denied tries for centre Rhys Williams and will of the wisp wing Lee Rees but the score was a fair reflection of play.
The Drovers pack found new life and momentum after the break, lock Louie Tonkin and No 8 Josh Turnbull playing huge parts in the revival and within a quarter of an hour, Llandovery were ahead 16-13. Rees kicked a penalty and full-back Howard Thomas was tackled early by Martens for referee Kirkhouse to give a penalty try, converted by Rees.
Martens was yellow carded but against expectation centre Jason Harries ran hard and fast to get a try, converted by Cull to regain the lead at 20-16.
Up then popped home crowd favourite wing Joe Ajuwa to finish off two drives by his pack only for Cull to restore the lead with his third penalty.
The Drovers threw everything at the Quins defence with Ajuwa a danger every time he touched the ball and when it looked as if the Quins would hang on, referee Kirkhouse gave Rees the chance he did not squander.
Llandovery ratings compiled by Huw S Thomas: H Thomas 7; J Ajuwa 8, D Rogers 6, R Williams 6, L Rees 7; C Rees 7, G James 6; P Edwards 7, A Yelland (capt) 6 (rep K Allen 7), C Cross 6, M Harbut 6 (rep E Siggery 6), L Tonkin 8, N Aiono 6, J Turnbull 8, J Edwards 7 (rep G Williams 6)