What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
With Llandovery losing to bottom side Newport and Llanelli overwhelmed 51-0 by Ebbw Vale last week, the season will now draw to a disappointing close for both West Wales clubs with a derby clash at Parc y Scarlets. The two clubs had high hopes of a top of the table finish back in September but will both end in the bottom half, regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
The Drovers have had a curate’s egg of a season – an indeterminate mixture of good and bad – but will want to finish above their regional rivals in coach Lyndon Lewis’s last match before his move to Aberavon. The Drovers are currently in eighth spot, ahead of ninth-placed Llanelli by four points, meaning they need one or possibly two points to keep ahead of Llanelli who enjoy a better try count.
Last Saturday the Drovers went down to agonising defeat when a contentious try nine minutes into injury time by full back Llywarch ap Myrddin gave Newport the narrowest of wins. The West Walians were heading for their tenth win of the season when they led 18-17 and then 21-17 after two James Garland penalties only to let the North Walian dive over in the corner in the last move of the game.
Despite the win, the Black and Ambers remain bottom of the table but it was little consolation for a Llandovery side that let the win slip through their fingers. Worries continue over Llandovery ill-discipline, prop Greg Cunniffe yellow carded this time for a scrum offence which ended with a penalty try.
It was 10-10 at the break with a Llandovery converted try from wing Aaron Warren cancelled out by the penalty try, home full back Geraint O’Driscoll and Garland swapping penalties. The Drovers should have been comfortably clear but their back division was guilty of poor decision making and a selfish stubbornness to release better-positioned supporting players.
Newport centre Dominic Franchi carved an opening before the ball was recycled for ap Myrddin to cross for a converted try. The Drovers kept their composure to work in No 8 Richard Brooks wide out to close the gap to 17-15 before Garland stroked over two penalties to make it odds on an away win.
But poor cover and a lack of concentration were to prove costly when ap Myrddin went over at the death to leave the Drovers with just a losing bonus point.