Huw S Thomas reports:
The Premiership’s in-form team of the moment swept aside poor Pontypool with a great wave of attacking rugby.
The Drovers had posted notice of their potential by scoring seven tries against Aberavon last week but they went three tries better at the Park against a Pooler side that never recovered from conceding a fourth minute interception try to centre Rhys Williams.
The words of stunned Pontypool coach Jared Lougher - standing in for work-tied head coach Gareth Lintern - summed up the view of many at Pontypool Park. "The Drovers are the best side we have played this season and when we helped them along with a sloppy opening quarter, the result was never in doubt" said Lougher. "We made basic errors early on and when there are so many potent runners in their ranks, that was tantamount to suicide. I would be very surprised if they do not make the play-offs at the end of the season."
The Llandovery backs - prompted by half-backs Rob Walters and the impressive Cerith Rees - went round, through and past the home backs with an ease that embarrassed watching Pooler legends Ray Prosser and Graham Price.
Most of the Llandovery tries were thrilling affairs from deep inside their own half. In centres Joe Ajuwa and Rhys Williams they had strong line-breakers, an exciting counter-attacker in Howard Thomas and workaholic wings in Ifan Evans and Matthew Jacobs.
Add the solidity of the front five in which young prop Owen Evans was outstanding to the potent contribution of the back-row of Nio Aiono, Josh Turnbull and Johnathan Edwards, and Llandovery were irresistible.
"Our very best display of the season" said coach Rob Appleyard. "We have now scored 31 tries in nine games - last year our season’s total in 26 games was 35 - and everyone is enjoying their rugby. It was great to have raucous vocal backing from the newly formed supporters club and the players acknowledged that fact by running in some terrific tries. Let’s not get carried way as they are tougher challenges ahead but myself and Lyndon (Lewis) are excited at the potential of this side."
And rightly so, given the huge improvement in performance in recent weeks. Up front, the set pieces have become more solid, the contact area more organised, the ball carrier better protected and turnovers radically reduced. So too the penalty count, and all this has given the backs the time and space to show their obvious class.
And it was uplifting too, to see them run and handle whenever the opportunity arose rather than be tempted to engage Pontypool in a stagnant game of aerial ping-pong.
The Drovers had a bonus point tucked away inside 24 minutes after Williams, Thomas, Edwards and Ajuwa had ripped through a flimsy home defence and by half-time further scores from a penalty try and a second from the bustling Williams had them 40-7 up. All Pooler had to show in the face of Llandovery brilliance was a mundane close range try from a line out by skipper Geraint Morris and they were saved from extreme embarrassment after the break by multiple Llandovery substitutions and injuries which reduced them to 13 fit men.
Rees, replacement wing Lee Rees - from 80 metres - Ajuwa and the non-stop Edwards got further tries to seal a stunning victory, prop Jamie Jeune and lock Sam Pailor replying without any significance for the punch-drunk losers.
Fly-half Cerith Rees was voted Principality Man of the Match for his astute handling of possession, solo try and personal tally of 21 points
*** The Drovers travel to Ebbw Vale this Saturday in search of their third win on the trot. The supporters bus is already full but anyone interested in going on a second bus should register their interest with the club on 01550 721000.
Llandovery ratings by Huw S Thomas: H Thomas 8 (N Clapham 5); I Evans 7 (L Rees 7), J Ajuwa 8, R Williams 8, M Jacobs 7; C Rees 8, R Walters (capt) 7 (G James 7); O Evans 7, E Phillips 7 (A Yelland 7), P Edwards 6 (C Cross 7), R Gierat 7, G Vaughan 7 (S Martin 6), N Aiono 7 (M Harbut 6), J Turnbull 8, J Edwards 8