2002/2003 WRU National League Division 1
Llandovery 24 v 30 Aberavon
04 January 2003 - Church Bank, Llandovery

Match Report

Llandovery 24 - 30 Aberavon

Second-placed Aberavon showed the guts and determination to match their footballing skills when they came from 24-8 down to snatch a thrilling win at third-placed Llandovery. Proud team manager Eddie Jones succinctly summed up the Aberavon effort. "The Wizards are never dead until buried and we saw the will to win overcome the odds to claim one of our finest victories. And it sets us up nicely for the battle against the leaders Pontypool next Saturday"

Llandovery coach Iestyn Thomas was not exactly of Jones's opinion. "For 60 minutes we looked the champions, not Aberavon, then lost control of our own destiny and the defeat is one of the most disappointing of my career," said the former Harlequins and London Welsh coach.

What both Jones and Thomas failed to stress was the turnaround in fortunes brought about by the 48th-minute introduction of tighthead prop Michael Harris soon after Llandovery had taken a 24-8 lead. The scrummaging of the experienced Harris saw the Drovers lose seven put-ins - two for collapsing, three for delayed and crooked feeds and two to a wheel - and with it went their momentum.

Up till then Llandovery had looked the more accomplished side, leading 12-8 at half time. With Lyndon Bateman strong at the line-out and the Slovenian captain Luka Plesko busy in the loose, fly-half Gareth Jones's three penalties and drop goal had trumped an early try by No 8 Richard Morris and a penalty by fly-half Jamie Davies.

The Drovers confirmed their confidence by scoring two tries in four minutes early in the second half - a penalty try for a collapsed maul and a bustling effort from flanker Plesko.

Then on came Harris to wreak havoc and scrum-half Dan Hawkins put wing Lee Abdul over for a try, brilliantly converted by Davies in his 100th match for the club.

The body language on both sides changed noticeably as the Wizards pack, with lock Mervyn Meredith outstanding, took over helped by the temporary absence of both sin-binned home hooker Andrew Jones and blood-soaked prop Andrew Bryn Jones.

Hooker Jason Hyatt burrowed over from a concerted forward drive and Davies added a conversion and drop goal to take Aberavon ahead 25-24 before more forward pressure at scrum and loose drove the spent Drovers back for flanker Andrew Thomas to crash over near the end.

Team Sheets


Llandovery Aberavon