What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers had a real chance to go back to the top of the Premiership on Saturday but were well beaten by a well organised and very competitive Cross Keys.
With Aberavon going down to the Quins, and Neath losing to Newport, Llandovery needed a home win to secure top spot but they were very much second best to a Cross Keys side that recorded its sixth consecutive away win.
Both clubs were celebrating the fact that their coaches – Lyndon Lewis (Llandovery) and Greg Woods (Cross Keys) – have been appointed to help Aberavon’s Simon King prepare a Premiership XV against Georgia on March 27. But it was Woods who had the smile on his face after seeing his charges dominate the contact area and show more cohesion and zip than the strangely lethargic Drovers.
It was a keen disappointment for the many former Llandovery RFC committee men – including 92 year old Tom Morton - who had gathered for a pre-match lunch and reunion. “We are not happy with that performance,“ said coach Lewis, ”and threw away a golden chance to move up the table. We did not have the run of the ball and some of the refereeing decisions were a mystery but we are a far better side than we showed.”
The Drovers had not played a Premiership match since beating Bedwas at the end of January and they looked rusty and out of sorts for most of the game. With a difficult away game at Bridgend this Friday and the visit of Llanelli on March 16, things will not be easy to turn around after this poor display.
A blustery wind gave Llandovery a big advantage in the first half and centre Jack Roberts got an early try after Keys full back Gareth David had failed to control the ball. Fly half James Garland added the easy conversion but Keys soon cut the deficit to 7-5 when lock Dan Hodge charged down a kick from home scrum half Rhodri Williams.
The Keys forwards had a clear edge in tight and loose playing into the wind, and their domination of the contact area continually kept the Drovers on the back foot. Garland did make it 10-5 with a 40 metre penalty before going off injured but good interplay amongst the forwards deservedly got a second Keys try from Hodge, to tie the scores.
Home full back Lee Rees was disallowed a try after a forward pass from centre Matthew Jacobs and replacement Cerith Rees missed a 30 metre penalty just before the break. Luke Williams and Gareth David worked wing Nathan Trowbridge over wide out early in the second half and the Keys would have gone further ahead if Dean Gunter had put over a 30 metre penalty. With No 8 Rhys Williams putting in a superb running and tackling performance in the loose, Keys kept a tight hold on the game.
Llandovery wing Sam Soul, full back Lee Rees and centre Matthew Jacobs did their utmost to break the deadlock but, despite desperate attacks from deep, the visitors were deserved winners.