What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The Drovers had enough chances to win this rousing Scarlets region local derby but despite huge pressure on the Llanelli line in the second half they only managed the one try to Llanelli’s four. The late try from Richard Catchpole was nothing short of sensational as the 6’4”, 17 stone lock skipped through from 15 metres with side steps that would have been the envy of Phil Bennett himself.
The try, converted by James Garland, who ended up with 17 points – a feat emulated by Llanelli centre Frazier Climo - brought the Drovers to 25-22.
In a hectic finale, Llandovery went for the win and tried to run ball from their own line only to lose possession and let flanker Lewis Rawlins crash through for a killer converted try.
Llandovery’s two internationals – scrum half Rhodri Williams and centre Adam Warren - were prominent throughout but the Llanelli defence in which the back row of Lewis Rawlins, Craig Price and Owain Morgan were outstanding, produced a fine defensive performance.
Llandovery coach Lyndon Lewis was not a happy man, flummoxed by some of referee Sean Brickell’s decisions. “We dominated possession (66%) and territory (56%) but could not turn pressure into enough points. Captain Phil Day had a great game and carried the ball tirelessly. We could have won that game but we did not have the rub of the green. A few crucial decisions went against us, which is very disappointing. The New Zealand centre kicked superbly for Llanelli but I must say that Llandovery's James Garland was a match for him on the day. We are pleased with our positive approach to the game and feel that we did not get our just reward. Llanelli defended well and played a low risk game and they capitalised on some basic errors in our game. A result of too many errors and a few poor decisions. We have to put these behind us and move on to the next challenge.”
The most contentious decision came at the start of the second half when Llandovery trailed 20-12 but were on constant attack. Tries from Johnny Lewis and Frazier Climo, who added 10 points with the boot, had bettered four James Garland penalties in a tight first half but the Drovers swarmed to attack as soon as the second half started.
Full back Lee Rees slashed through the Llanelli midfield and his delicate chip ahead was scooped up by wing Richard Williams who dived over in the corner. A thumbs up from the touch judge was accompanied by the appropriate roar from the home crowd only for the arriving Brickell to rule the slightest of knock ons and overrule his assistant.
Garland brought the Drovers to 20-15 with a penalty, before Llanelli wing Kyle Evans and Catchpole swapped tries to make it 25-22 as tension built.
Llandovery looked the more dangerous but when they risked a long range attack, they lost possession and it gave Rawlins the chance to drive over for a fourth and bonus point try. It also deprived the Drovers of a consolation losing bonus point that they really very much deserved on the run of play.