Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers qualified for next year’s British and Irish Cup with this decisive four tries to two win over the Wizards at the Talbot Athletic Ground.
In the first round of the Premiership play-offs, fifth placed Aberavon were warm favourites to get the better of eighth placed Llandovery. With the Wizards drafting in senior and academy Ospreys – including Wales lock Andy Lloyd - no one gave Llandovery much of a chance at a ground which is notoriously hard to win at.
But to the delight of the loyal band of travelling supporters, the Tywi Valley side roared back from a 12-10 interval to outplay Aberavon in the second half.
“Probably our best 40 minutes of the season,” smiled coach Rob Appleyard, “and a credit to the motivation and commitment of all at a great little club which I will be sorry to leave after two very happy years.”
As well as clinching a British and Irish Cup place, Llandovery now go forward to the next round of the play-offs when they play Pontypridd at Sardis Road on Monday evening. Victory there would take the Drovers into a play-off semi-final against Neath at the Gnoll.
Despite being under early pressure, it was Llandovery that took the lead with an interception try from all of 60 metres by scrum-half Gareth James plus a conversion and penalty from fly-half Cerith Rees.
The Wizards came back strongly to take a 12-10 interval lead thanks to two tries from centre Ashley Beck and a conversion from fly-half Jamie Davies. The lead stretched to 15-10 when replacement fly-half Matthew Jarvis knocked over a penalty but the Llandovery answer was swift and trenchant. The lively James took a quick tap penalty for Ajuwa to burst over for a converted try before the impressive Rees added a drop goal.
A second Jarvis penalty was to prove of little consequence as the Llandovery forwards controlled tight and loose against a dejected looking home side. Current Llandovery College pupil and Wales U20 prop Rhodri Jones was outstanding at scrum and loose to underline his huge potential but his fellow forwards were all to the fore in taking a firm grip on the game.
James got a second try after deft work from vastly underrated No 8 Dean Fitzgerald and then Ajuwa raced in under the posts after clever work from Rees.
Aberavon could not lift their game and with little wing Lee Rees a bubble of effervescent energy in loose play, the Drovers pulled clear in confident style to silence a stunned home crowd.
Ajuwa whizzed home from 35 metres for fly-half Rees to add a conversion and then a penalty for Llandovery to record their biggest ever away win at Aberavon.
Principality Building Society Premiership Play Offs:
Aberavon 18-35 Llandovery
Neath 34-3 Pontypridd
Swansea 60-19 Newport