For the seventh successive season Llandovery failed to record a victory at the Talbot Athletic ground finally succumbing to an Aberavon side that were flattered by the winning margin.
With Lyndon Bateman, Tal Selly, Rob Walters and Neil Clapham unavailable for the game the Drovers suffered another blow when goal kicking full back Stuart Harries was ruled out following a fitness test ten minutes before the kick off. The Llandovery side were actually in the lead briefly at the start of the game with two Ben Matthews penalties and later were looking likely to save the game at 18-13 when two basic errors gifted ten points to the home side and with it any chance of a comeback.
The first try of the afternoon was scored by ex Merthyr player Kristian Owen when, following good work from the pack, the wing put a neat grubber kick past the visitors’ full back and won the race for the touchdown. Outside half Jamie Davies converted with a fine kick to record the first of his twenty point haul and give Aberavon the lead at 7-6.
Home full back Ricky Price was the next to score with a well worked corner try. The Aberavon forwards worked several driving mauls and rucks gradually sucking in the Drovers’ defenders until they released the ball to their outside backs with a three man overlap. Former Wales centre Gareth Jones was impressive in the centre for the home side with both his charging runs and good ball distribution but the tackling and covering of the whole Llandovery side was a credit to their commitment and a Jamie Davies penalty was the only addition to the score with the home side leading 15-6 at half time.
Immediately after the break Jamie Davies kicked his second penalty which was followed by the best try of the match. Centre Tracy Lewis broke through Gareth Jones tackle and burst fifty metres up field where supporting co-centre Rhodri Gomer Davies took a well flighted pass to finish off with a try under the posts. Ben Matthews converted to make the score 18-13.
Llandovery who were now looking the morn impressive side finished off their own chances straight from the kick off. Instead of clearing the ball it was passed across the field without any player wanting to take responsibility until eventually it was thrown to the round forr the Aberavon replacement centre Chris Perry with his first touch to scoop it up and score under the posts to give Jamie Davies an easy conversion. A second passing mix -up resulted in an offside and Jamie Davies kicked his third penalty to put the match beyond the Drovers’ hopes.
A final Jamie Davies try which he converted himself and an unconverted Llandovery try from outside half Herman Bosman completed the scoring leaving Aberavon with their 100% record intact and the Drovers disappointed that their own errors had such a marked effect on the final outcome.
Additional notes from our Programme:
With the continued absence of Neil Clapham and Gary Beaumont Morgan our problems increased when Rob Walters trod on a nail and was unable to play, Ceri Davies was injured and Tal Selly and Lyndon Bateman were called into the Llanelli and Neath squads respectively. The final blow came 10 minutes before the match when Stuart Harries failed a fitness test. On the up-side Jamie Roberts made his first appearance of the season as did Canadian lock Jamie Cudmore. Both came on as replacements and look as if they will have significant parts to play in future games.
However to be fair to the rest of our squad they took on one of the best teams in the Division and played very well for much of the game and the final score in no way reflects their efforts nor the pattern of play. To be fair the Aberavon side were better, particularly up front, but we had our chances in a good, well contested, open match.
With the game approaching the final quarter and the score at 18-13 the Drovers looked to be in with a chance of winning for the first time in seven outings to the Talbot Athletic Ground. But once again our old problem of lack of concentration - or thought - led to unforced errors and within minutes the score stood at 28-13 and out of our reach.
We have now leaked 71 points in our three games, twice as many as the target set by coach lestyn Thomas. The bad aspect is that many of these points were not scored as a result of good play by the opposition but our own careless efforts. To really fulfil our potential this is one aspect of our game that must be tightened up. Even at this early stage there are only six teams with a higher points against score. Yet the talent is here - only four sides have scored more tries. Let’s hope for a tighter defence (against Tondu) today.