Llandovery chalked up their tenth win of the season against the team that had beaten them by the odd point in 47 in the opening game of the season and were full value for what was, in the end, a comfortable win. The Drovers played well in the first third of this very entertaining game, poorly in the second third and then finished with a flourish to win in a canter against competitive but one paced opponents whose greatest virtue was the driving loose play of their bulky pack.
‘We relaxed too much after such a good start,” said coach Iestyn Thomas “and it’s something we are acutely aware of. We will not get away with it when we face the classier sides in the Division but I was pleased with the way we gave the ball plenty of air. At least we are trying to play a 15 man game and the players are enjoying it.”
When the ever improving Drovers, busy, alert and constructive, took an early 18-0 lead, it looked as if they could run up a very big score and wreak heavy revenge on the Gwent side who had pipped them 24-23 at Blackwood thanks to a last minute drop goal by fly half Martin Jones. They scored two cracking tries, the first beautifully constructed by half backs Jamie Roberts and Neil Clapham who opened up the defence for centre Herman Bosman, and the second came through a sniping dart and dive by back to form scrum half Jamie Roberts.
With ex Ystradgynlais and Dunvant full back Stuart Harries adding a conversion and two penalties to break through 200 points for the season, and Blackwood hardly sniffing the ball, the crowd bayed for more points. But Blackwood are made of sterner stuff and led by the Sims brothers, No.8 Jamie and lock Wayne, they muscled their wav back into the game as Llandovery seriously lost concentration. Fly half Chris Lay kicked two penalties and just before half time a line out taken by former Llandovery lock and captain Ian Jones fashioned a close range try for flanker David Tomsa. Lay converted and when he kicked an early penalty in the second half to bring Blackwood to 18-16 the game looked to be suddenly slipping away from the over confident Drovers.
Lay even missed a fairly simple kick to take Blackwood into the lead but crucial substitutions revitalised Llandovery. New flanker Wayne Beynon injected urgency in the loose and when he pinched crucial loose ball from the Blackwood midfield Harries kicked a 50 metre goal. The eager Lyndon Bateman was both destructive and constructive at the line out and with fly half Clapham now given the time that he enjoyed early on in the game, the Drovers changed back into top gear.
Clapham, who must have hugely impressed Newport’s Director of Coaching Allan Lewis, raced through trailing bodies for a brilliant individual try and the evergreen Chris Davies, playing as well as ever at No 8, finished off a careful build up to burrow through for a trademark try. The composed Harries, whose goal kicking has been a revelation since he arrived at Church Bank, knocked over two more conversions and two penalties, one from the half way line for a final taIly of 21 points and the Drovers sauntered home in the mood that they had shown early on in the day.