Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The first of the British and Irish Cup play-off games in the Scarlets region went to Llandovery who proved too strong all round for their Llanelli rivals. They won with a rousing second half performance when they scored three tries in the space of eight minutes and will now have to travel to Carmarthen next Saturday to take on the Quins to decide who will represent the region in this year’s Cup.
But the one shadow over proceedings is the possibility that, whatever the result on Saturday, the Scarlets will take over the responsibility of selecting a composite side that will represent the West Wales region in the Cup. The argument in favour of such a move is that the best players from the three sides will have a far better chance of competing with Leinster “A”, Jersey and Plymouth Albion in the very tough Pool 5 of the 24 strong competition.
On the evidence of yesterday’s match the Scarlets will have plenty of good players to choose from and particularly from Llandovery.
Llanelli struck first with a penalty from ex-Kidwelly fly half Stuart Morris following a scrum infringement and could have gone further ahead if wing Kyle Evans had not knocked on in sight of the Drovers’ try-line. Morris missed an angled penalty and the Drovers found it hard to break down a well organised blanket Llanelli defence in which the skipper Duane Eager was prominent.
Llanelli scrum half Justin James slipped through feeble tackling to score a fine solo try with a slashing break and dash from a line out. Fly half James Garland missed a straight penalty for the Drovers, who were making limited headway in the face of some ferocious tackling. Eager continued to lead his troops from the front and only a desperate tackle on full back Steffan Evans by his opposite number Rhys Williams prevented a second Llanelli try.
The Drovers eventually made a breakthrough from a set piece when a forward drive from a lineout saw hooker Emyr Phillips crash over and Garland convert to make it 8-7.
Llandovery lost skipper Phil Day to a yellow card just before half time but Morris let the Drovers off the hook when he failed with a reasonably easy kick. Garland missed a straight penalty soon after the break but Llanelli failed to make the extra man count.
On Day’s return Llandovery all but scored a second try through flanker Shaun Miles but took firm hold of the game when Eager was sin binned. No 8 Richard Brooks charged over from a pass by lock Bryn Griffiths, with Garland converting from the touch line, and then centre Matthew Jacobs slipped through under the posts for another converted try.
Home tails wagged confidently, Rhys Williams got a fourth home converted try and Llandovery were out of sight against tiring opponents. Llanelli got a consolation converted try by wing Josh Adams but ended up well beaten by the more inventive side.