What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
It must have seemed like the start of the season for both Newport and Llandovery. Neither side would have been overwhelmed by their performance but the Drovers were pleased to take 5 points.
The bonus point win which moves them into fifth position in the table takes them into Saturday’s derby with Carmarthen Quins in a mood of quiet confidence.
“It was important to get this win,” said coach Lyndon Lewis. “More than taking us up the table, a haul of five points restores our confidence before two big holiday games against the Quins and Llanelli. We were very rusty in the first half but came through strongly in the second half to run out clear winners.”
Since April 2011, Llandovery have won six of the last seven games against the Black and Ambers, with one draw, and they rarely looked in danger of losing against a side that offered little other than hard working defence.
Of more immediate concern to both clubs was the erratic nature of this year’s league programme. Llandovery Chairman Handel Davies summed up the discontent of many Premiership clubs in a hard hitting programme address which must have made interesting reading for WRU Chairman Gareth Davies, a guest at the game of the Hen Borthmyn, the Llandovery Former Players Club.
“This and last season's fixture lists have been shambolic due to the number of empty weekends,” said Davies. “Surely the WRU must reconsider such ridiculously lengthy interruptions as currently exists for the eight Premiership teams that do not participate in the British and Irish Cup. It is having a detrimental effect not only on the players and their performance but also on the loyalty of supporters, whose habit has always been to watch their team play home and away on alternate weekends. Significantly, this in turn translates into a negative impact on income generation and cash flow, the lifeblood for a club’s survival. An urgent solution must be found to this issue before next season to protect the interest of clubs.”
Llandovery fly half James Garland and Newport full back Geraint O’Driscoll swapped a brace of penalties in the first quarter and, although the home side looked quicker behind the scrum, they were let down by their handling.
It was No 8 Richard Brooks who took them into the lead with a try from a close range line out, converted by Garland who then added a penalty to make it 16-6 at the break.
Llandovery’s handling continued to disappoint but a box kick from scrum half Lee Rees and kind bounce gave Garland the chance to pick up and race over in the corner.
A red card for Newport fly half Jamie Murphy for verbal abuse of referee Sean Brickell led to more tries from Scarlets full back Gareth Owen and replacement Richard Williams to take the Drovers home in a canter.