What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
In the opening game of the WRU’s new Fosters Challenge Cup last Wednesday, Llandovery and the Quins drew in an exciting and entertaining tie at Church Bank.
The Drovers looked to be heading for victory when they led 22-8 in the 10th minute of injury time only to see their old rivals grab two very quick tries from full back Gavin Thomas and prop Gethin Robinson and see replacement fly half Craig Evans put over the crucial conversion.
The Challenge Cup involves all 12 Premiership sides and offers upcoming players the chance to contend for places in the Principality Premiership. Llandovery had the more inexperienced players but the coaching trio of Euros Evans, Simon Davies and Gareth Potter were delighted with their performances.
Behind the scrum Steffan Marshall looked accomplished at fly half, centre Craig Woodall ran and tackled hard whilst wing Rhodri Wall grabbed a brace of excellent tries to show his finishing flair. Up front prop Berian Watkins, hooker Dafydd Hughes, both locks Jake Baker and Jake Simm and the back row of Andy Green, Joe Powell and Richie Rees competed with gusto against more experienced opponents.
The Quins too gave game time to young players with hooker Ifan Phillips – watched by father and former Wales hooker Kevin –and prop Steffan Thomas confirming their promise.
Making light of the wet conditions, the Drovers opened up for Marshall to send wing Rhodri Wall striding home with a lovely inside pass. Wall then capitalised on a strong run by centre Mike Evans to finish off a fine combined handling move with his second try with just 12 minutes gone.
A charged down kick gave the Quins the momentum to drive over for a try by flanker Wayne Williams converted by fly half Dale Ford. A yellow card for flanker Williams put the visitors’ defence under pressure but it held on to go into the break 14-8 down.
Phillips put in a storming run for the Quins before his opposite number Dafydd Hughes was yellow carded. The Drovers pulled further ahead when a clever dummy from prop Berian Watkins brought him an unexpected try to the delight of the home crowd.
From there on the Drovers looked to be holding on but the arrival of old hands in centre Rhys Williams, fly half Craig Evans and lock Haydn Pugh swung the game the Quins way. When Gavin Thomas got a try in the 91st minute, the odds were still on a home win but Llandovery replacement Matthew Harbut got a yellow card with 30 seconds left. Quins won the line out for prop Gethin Robinson to cross and replacement Craig Evans put over the none too easy conversion to tie the scores with the last kick of the game.