What the Papers Say - Tom Hughes reports:
The Drovers went down to their first defeat since October 15 when Cross Keys had the edge up front in wet and muddy conditions at Pandy Park. A fine run of five consecutive wins came to an end at a ground where Llandovery have seldom won but they remain top of the Premiership, albeit having played two more games than their nearest pursuers.
At the exact half way point in the season, they are two points ahead of Aberavon, who could only draw at Bridgend, three points ahead of Neath, who beat Bedwas, and four points clear of Pontypridd who surprisingly lost at Llanelli.
“We are naturally disappointed to see our winning run come to an end,” said club chairman Handel Davies, “but if you had said at the start of the season that the Drovers would be leading the table at the halfway stage, we would have bitten your hand off.”
“The heavy conditions did not suit our style of play and we struggled in the tight against a typically feisty and hard working Keys pack who had a very impressive front row. The Keys forward relished the boggy conditions but, having said that, there was not all that much to choose between the two sides.”
Cross Keys led 3-0 at the break after ex-Llandovery College fly-half Matthew Jones had put over a very early first half penalty whilst a former Llandovery College captain in Drovers fly-half Cerith Rees failed with a very kickable penalty.
The Llandovery line out was shaky early on but improved as the game wore on.
Despite being under pressure from the Keys front row of Richard Cornock, Gerwyn Price and Marc Jones, the Drovers had fair possession and territory for most of the second half but chances were few and far between for both sides. No 8 Kieran Murphy, prop Owen Evans, flanker Nio Aiono and replacement hooker Luke Lewis – on for skipper Adam Yelland – battled away in the wind and rain to keep their side in contention.
A Rees penalty dropped just under the bar but the game’s only try came some fifteen minutes from time when a catch and drive at a line out saw the home pack surge over for a try attributed to skipper and flanker Rob Nash, the one-capped Jones converting.
With wing Lee Rees moving to scrum-half to liven up the attack, Llandovery looked for a face saving bonus point and but it was Matthew Jones who finished off proceedings with a very late penalty to consign the Drovers to their first defeat in seven games.
The Drovers take a rest this week-end with the Wales v Australia game on at the Millennium Stadium but will return to league action on December 10 when bottom but one side Pontypool will be the visitors to Church Bank.