What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The Drovers got to within a point of joint Premiership leaders Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale with this crushing bonus point win over Neath at The Gnoll. They are on 60 points and in third spot but are pursued closely by Newport, Aberavon and Cross Keys , with just four games to play.
Dependable and rock solid up front, quick and inventive behind the scrum, Llandovery were in a different class to the one paced All Blacks who were a shadow of the side that once was. The Drovers ran in 11 tries to bring their season’s tally to 65 after 18 games and their defence let in just the one try to confirm their status as the Premiership’s most difficult to break down.
The Drovers remain the only side to concede under 300 points – just 264 to be exact – to prove what a well balanced side they have become. Much credit must go to defence coach Gareth Potter and strength and conditioning coach Lloyd Phillips for adding the hard edge to the natural free flowing game that the side embraces.
The game against Neath was already won inside 27 minutes when four tries had confirmed the bonus point, two of the tries coming from Man of the Match and scrum half Rhodri Davies, the others to wing Sam Soul and centre Matthew Jacobs.
Davies’s startling acceleration ripped the Neath defence apart and he went on to complete a hat trick in the second half before being replaced by the equally quick Lee Rees.
It was also a great day for Llandovery’s Flying Doctor, Sam Soul who got three well taken tries. So too for prop Greg Cunniffe who had an outstanding game in set and loose – the only survivor from the game eight seasons ago when Llandovery lost 80-0 at the Gnoll.
How times change - the All Blacks would now be already relegated if the Premiership had not been ring fenced this year whilst Llandovery are right in the mix to make the play offs and are only two games away from a Swalec Cup final.
The Drovers led 28-8 at half time then ran in seven more tries including ones from lock Matthew Harbut, South African wing Lex Botha and replacements Mike Evans and Richie Rees.
Fly half Jack Maynard kicked four conversions, his replacement Jamie Davies three, to inflict on Neath their heaviest ever defeat at the Gnoll.