What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
The Drovers secured a plum home 3rd round tie against Carmarthen Quins with this hard-earned win over a gritty Llanharan.
“Llanharan gave us a real test,” said President Phil Davies, “but our stronger scrummaging won the day in the end,” smiled the former Llandovery prop. “The strength and technique of our pack - and in particular all three props used in Owen Evans, Andrew Jones and Dorian Williams - eventually sapped their strength.”
The Division One East side belied their lowly league position by leading for over three quarters of the game against their Premiership opponents, only to concede a penalty try 13 minutes from time.
With the advantage of wind and rain, Llanharan established a 9-0 interval lead thanks to the grand organisation of their pack in which hooker Nathan Huish and the back row of Matthew Strong, Justin Benfield and Aled Llewellyn were outstanding.
A drop goal from fly-half Mike Thomas plus two penalties from scrum-half Chris Williams had rocked the Drovers. The Drovers had their backs to the wall in this first period but some sterling defensive work from the back row of Nio Aiono, Dean Fitzgerald and Lloyd Phillips helped keep the score down.
Centre Stuart Morris should have scored for Llandovery when he intercepted a loose pass but did not have the speed to run in from 65 metres.
The Drovers’ power scrum was to prove the difference after the break. No 8 Fitzgerald finished off a scrum drive with a converted try after 44 minutes but the Dairymen, boosted by a third Williams penalty, continued to harass like dervishes. Wing Nathan Rees made a try-saving tackle on centre Matthew Jacobs before the scrum power of home props Andrew Jones and Dorian Williams turned the tide in decisive fashion.
The Llanharan defence was brave and unselfish but with scrum half Gareth James dictating attacks at the base of the home scrum, the visitors spent all their time defending. The visiting pack was swept back at a close-range scrum and the penalty try, converted by skipper Cerith Rees, sneaked the Drovers into the last 16 and a mouth-watering local derby against the Quins.