What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers won the first of their three pre-season friendlies when they beat English National One side Cinderford by six tries to four at Dockham Road on Saturday.
Despite being short of some seven squad members, Llandovery always had the edge in organisation, fitness and team work and it was only in the last minutes of the game that Cinderford scored two converted tries to make the result closer than it should have been.
Forwards Lloyd Phillips, Sion Jones, Craig Cross, Owen Evans, Nio Aiono and Matthew Harbut, along with backs Rob Walters and Aaron Warren, were Llandovery absentees through injury or commitments and most should be available for the next two warm up games against Pontypridd this Saturday and Bath on August 24.
The Forest of Dean side had finished last year in tremendous style in National One with a crushing 44-0 defeat of Coventry and expectations were high that they would beat Llandovery.
New signings ex-Gloucester centre Jack Adams and ex-Bristol fly half Mark Davies were in the side against the Drovers but it was the Welshmen that looked the more impressive right from the start, scoring an outstanding forward try after just six minutes when a line out take and concerted drive blew away the home defence for a try by prop Dean Howells.
Five more tries - from hooker Adam Yelland, centre Matthew Jacobs, scrum half Lee Rees, fly half James Garland and wing Chris Knight against two home efforts from centre Sheldon Stevens and flanker Kyle Frowen had the Drovers clear at 39-14 before very late efforts from centre Dewi Scourfield and Adams gave Cinderford some consolation and comfort.
Coaches Lyndon Lewis and Euros Evans were well pleased with the day's work and the performances of the 26 players used through the game.
“Cinderford finished in the top half of National One last year and have ambitions to finish near the top this year so the result is highly encouraging for us,” said Lewis.
“We have extended the squad this year because of extra commitments in the British and Irish Cup and are building up a strength in depth across the board,” added forwards coach Evans.
New signing and Ammanford Bryn Griffiths showed up well at lock and his experience with the Scarlets, Dragons and Blues should prove vital up front in the coming season.
He, lock Phil Day, No 8 Luke Kendall and flanker Shaun Miles looked fit and athletic throughout whilst there were nice touches from any number of backs including all four centres used, in Jack Roberts, Paul Davies, Sam Soul and Matthew Jacobs.
Scrum halves Lee Rees and Rhodri Williams dodged and darted to good effect, fly halves Cerith Rees and James Garland led the line well and wings Chris Knight, Andrew Claypole and Jake Randall were alert and dangerous.
The line outs and scrums were solid but there will be concern about some of the weak one on one tackling that leaked the tries, the lack of accuracy at kick offs, spilled ball in the contact area and the poor discipline in the yellow cards for Day and hooker Luke Lewis.
But all in all this was a promising start for the Drovers - Ponty's visit to Church Bank this Saturday will tell us more about Premiership prospects for 2012-2013.