What a difference in a year! Last season in their penultimate league game against Merthyr the Drovers obtained the vital points that secured division 1 rugby once again and consigned Gwent club Abertillery to division 2, whereas this game resulted in them achieving their pre-season objective of a place in the top six.
The game started off with a bang. Within two minutes Tracy Lewis had burst through for a try converted by Stuart Harries, followed quickly by unconverted tries from Herman Bosman and Neil Clapham so that within 9 minutes of the kick off the Drovers led by 17-0. This possibly caused a certain amount of over-confidence, which allied with Merthyr adopting spoiling tactics, much of it illegal and leniently refereed, resulted in a low standard game, which despite the large score, left both the Llandovery players and coaches dissatisfied with the manner of the victory.
To be fair to the Ironmen, with only three of their first team squad left following the well publicised ‘walk-out’, they fought tenaciously, with the final score not reflecting the work and effort they had put in. In fact they were unlucky not to score on at least one occasion, but this showed up the difference in the sides, for as soon as Llandovery did manage to build an attack, they frequently scored, which went someway to highlight the difference in power and pace between the two teams.
After the initial burst of scoring, Harries added a penalty and Bosman scored a second try to leave the half time score at 25-0. At the break the league’s record point scorer Stuart Harries was forced off with a hand injury, having added 5 more points to bring the all time league record up to 415. He was replaced by Glyn Davies who joined brother Iwan in the side. Later a third brother Ceri came on for all three to play together for the first time in a league game.
After the break Herman Bosman crossed for a third try, Neil Clapham for a second and further tries from hooker Andrew Jones and winger loan Davies brought the try count up to eight. Gary Williams converted three to bring the final total up to 51. This brings the Drovers’ total points for the league to 909 and establishes Neil Clapham as the leading try scorer, with 16 from 32 games. Coaching organiser Geraint Williams and First XV coach Iestyn Thomas both expressed satisfaction at the way the season had progressed and feel that the squad is good enough to make a genuine challenge for a higher position again in the 2002/3 season The squad will now embark on a pre-season training trip to Ireland in August when two warm up games will take place.