What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers had not beaten Cross Keys since March 6 2010 (19-16) at Church Bank but they rectified that in style last Friday night with an outstanding five tries to two win over the tough men from Gwent.
Victory was established by a great first half performance which blew away Keys’ opposition in thrilling style with backs and forwards combining smoothly to fashion tries for centre Jack Roberts (2) and wing Sam Soul.
The comprehensive win kept alive Llandovery dream of reaching a playoff spot and it sets up an exciting finale to the season. With six games left to play, Llandovery are one of five sides that are fighting for two play off spots, given that runaway leaders Pontypridd will claim top spot. The order at the top of the table after the weekend’s results is Pontypridd, Bedwas, Cross Keys, Llandovery, Llanelli and Carmarthen Quins but all that could change radically over the next seven weeks or so.
The Drovers have very important away games against rivals Carmarthen Quins (March 30) and Bedwas (April 27) as well as travelling to Swansea (date to be fixed) and Bridgend (March 23). They have just two home games left against Aberavon (date to be fixed) and Neath (April 20).
On Friday’s performance they must have a very good chance of making the top three now that good ground conditions are returning in favour of their free running approach.
Coach Lyndon Lewis was delighted to see his charges return to top form: “Recent results when losses could have been wins made the boys determined to get back on track and this win against a side we have found difficult to beat in recent years will do our confidence the world of good.”
The whole back division on Friday played with the élan and verve of the early part of the season with full back Chris Knight, centre Jack Roberts and half backs Lee Rees and James Garland playing probably their best games of the season. Roberts’s first try was a magnificent team effort with the ball travelling with speed and accuracy through a multitude of hands before the little pocket battleship sprinted clear of despairing tacklers. Garland’s tactical kicking was top class and he also put over a dozen points from kicks that were far from easy.
The pack too played with huge gusto to not only contain the fierce Keys forwards but to fearlessly take the game to them. The neutering of Keys skipper Rob Nash was vital to the win, with the Llandovery forwards targeting the well known nuisance with some ferocious clean outs at the contact area.
Skipper Phil Day, Kieran Murphy and Richard Brooks formed a dynamic back row, locks Bryn Griffiths and Shaun Jones put themselves about with renewed vigour whilst the front row of Wyn Jones, Luke Lewis and veteran Andrew Jones scrummaged hard and carried well.
A word too for the eight replacements who carried on the well prepared groundwork with a refreshing eagerness.
Soul’s second half try made by a run and beautifully judged kick from Rees brought the bonus point and, although Keys rallied with a brace of tries, replacement Shaun Miles finished off pressure in nipping through 12 minutes from time without a hand laid on him.
Principality Premiership Man of the Match: James Garland (Llandovery)