What the Papers Say – Huw S Thomas reports:
The Drovers did the double over Cardiff with this comfortable six tries to one win at the Arms Park. Cardiff have not beaten Llandovery since November 2010 and never looked likely to do so against the very much in-form Drovers.
The bonus point victory was enough for the Drovers to leapfrog Carmarthen Quins into second place and trail leaders Pontypridd by just two points as the season draws to an exciting conclusion. The Easter Saturday meeting between Quins and Drovers at the Park has the makings of a mighty match, with the winners likely to claim a play-off spot.
Llandovery played with confidence and no little bravado and did exceptionally well to win this game so easily with a much depleted side. Only three of the side that beat Cardiff 14-10 at the start of the season started this game but there was an abundance of ambition in the performance of so many of the incoming players.
Llandovery coaches Lyndon Lewis and Euros Evans were justifiably proud of the result. “A team is only as good as its squad and I cannot speak highly enough of players who have stepped up to the mark in the Cup win over Ebbw Vale last week and this week’s comfortable defeat of Cardiff,” said Lewis.
Every man jack from 1 to 23 contributed to the Drovers’ cause in a fine display of attacking rugby.
Full back Mike Evans showed dash and verve, big Sam Soul burst through tackles on the wing, centres Rhodri Jones and Craig Woodall were as sharp in attack as they were solid in defence, little Lee Evans kicked a 45 metre penalty whilst half backs Gareth Rees and Ian Brooks combined smoothly and controlled tactics with aplomb.
Up front Dorian Williams bulldozed upfield, Tom Ball bounced around the park and Dean Howells completed a fine front row. Richard Catchpole, playing his first full 80 minutes for the club, kept going till the end and formed a productive second row unit with the ever improving Llew Jones.
The back row of skipper Phil Day, abrasive No 8 Richard Brooks and Lawrence Reynolds were everywhere in the action, with Day rightly voted Man of the Match for his selfless leadership in attack and defence.
Replacements too played their part, with the veteran Andrew Jones, hooker Luke Lewis, prop Dexter Thomas, Sean Miles and Jake Baker adding vim and vigour to proceedings.
And it was a tribute to the work of Athletic coach Geraint Williams that two young local boys, in wing Joe Morgan and flanker Craig Davies, never looked out of place when they stepped onto the famous Arms Park pitch.
In perfect spring conditions Cardiff took the initiative and twice went for lineouts instead of kicking for goal, only for well organised Llandovery defence to hold firm. Centre Will Rees-Hole was within inches of scoring but it was the Drovers who took the lead with a long range penalty from wing Lee Evans.
Cardiff fly half Jack Maynard was just wide with a drop goal but Llandovery should have got the opening try after a great run and catch from Mike Evans and support from Phil Day had set up a prime attacking position. The Drovers were not to be denied and a good run and offload from bustling Craig Woodall sent Sam Soul in under the posts for Ian Brooks to convert.
Llandovery looked the more confident with ball in hand, skipper Day leading from the front, and a high tackle on him let Brooks stretch the lead to 13-0 with a straight penalty. Rees-Hole was guilty of hanging on to the ball with men outside him and Maynard failed with a touchline penalty as the half drew to a close. Tom Williams ran hard to threaten an opening Cardiff score but the Drovers were good value for their 13-0 interval lead.
Cardiff re-started well with prop Lewis Smout finishing off a series of close range attacks with a corner try, converted by Maynard. The reply was immediate, with multiple hands putting Mike Evans in for a converted try, and things got better for the eager visitors when Llew Jones dived over at the end of a Day pass to make it 25-7.
Cardiff could find little fluency in the face of some tough tackling and the Drovers rattled off two quick tries through Dean Howells and the quite excellent Soul. Cardiff were spent and replacement Sean Miles got a sixth try to round off a great second half performance by the Drovers.