What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports:
Yet another big name scalp came Llandovery’s way when they beat the Black and Ambers by six tries to two at Church Bank. It was their fifth consecutive maximum points win and they stay at the top of the Premiership table. After wins over Cardiff, Neath, Bridgend and Swansea, they go into this week’s derby with Llanelli after the most successful start of any club in the history of the semi-professional league.
Not that this was an easy win as Newport led 19-17 in the 70th minute only to be eventually outdone by a brilliant burst of late scoring.
The Drovers will owe a debt to their darting bubble of enthusiasm at scrum half in Rhodri Williams. The 19 year old from nearby Ammanford grabbed two tries with a dash and aplomb that marks him out as a special talent and he is the league’s leading scorer, with six tries in five games. He will be such an odds on favourite to win the WRU Player of the Month award, that failure to win it will demand a stewards enquiry.
That said, Newport will be desperately disappointed with the final score as they gave as good as they got for most of the game. Newport secretary Dennis Bennett echoed many of the sentiments of the Newport contingent. “We looked the better side after the break and were near to going two scores ahead when a spilled pass and Llandovery counter attack cost us dear. We were up against a very good side but we will go away, confident that we will soon climb the table.”
Winning coach Lyndon Lewis was the first to admit he was concerned when his side trailed but took huge positives from the late burst of scoring to settle the issue in style. “Newport are a far better side than their league position suggests but our fitness and composure under pressure took us through in the end. Standards in the league keep improving and all twelve clubs are hugely competitive so we are delighted to keep our noses in front. It will be no easy task to maintain our current form but it’s an exciting time for club and town.”
In a vibrant Llandovery start wing Aaron Warren twice came close to scoring a try in the first few minutes, only for referee Bessant to then give Newport a string of penalties to relieve the pressure but it was the Drovers who drew first blood when a lovely floated pass from fly half Cerith Rees put Warren over wide out.
Scrum half Williams soon got Llandovery’s second try when he dashed away up the blind side without a hand laid on him.
But the game changed dramatically when Drovers centre Jack Roberts and Warren were both yellow carded in the space of five minutes. Roberts prevented a quick Newport throw in and it gave No 8 Hywel Stoddart the chance to drive over from the line out and reduce the leeway to 12-5. Sneddon soon added a penalty to leave it 12-8 at the interval, a score that had looked highly unlikely a few minutes before.
Sneddon brought Newport even closer with a penalty early in the second half just before Llandovery returned to 15 men.
Centre Matthew Jacobs finished off a patient build up to put the Drovers up to 17-11 after 53 minutes but the Black and Ambers hit back with a corner try from skipper and flanker Craig Attwell in the 66th minute.
The force was suddenly with the gritty visitors and another Sneddon penalty made it 19-17 before the outstanding Williams came to the rescue with a 30 metre dash after a good break from fly half replacement James Garland. Garland’s conversion made it 24-19 and it was the Drovers who finished with a real flourish. They upped the tempo with lock Bryn Griffiths outstanding up front and converted tries from wing Jake Randall and replacement prop Wyn Jones were a testament to their confidence and fitness.