What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery dreams of being the first ever side to do the Premiership Grand Slam survived after this narrow but deserved Swalec Cup win over Cardiff. The Drovers won the Fosters National Sevens back in August and still have the unprecedented - albeit outside - chance of adding the Premiership, Challenge Cup and Swalec Cup.
That said, they were mightily relieved to pip Cardiff after the first Cup meeting between the two sides since their historic 20-18 Final win at the Millennium Stadium in 2007.
The Drovers and the Blue and Blacks slugged it out toe to toe in the Church Bank mud before the current Premiership leaders got narrowly home through three penalties from fly half Jack Maynard against two from opposite number James Thomas.
Coach Euros Evans admitted that the heavy underfoot conditions did not suit the side’s style but was delighted with the second half control of the pack and tactical acumen of half backs Rhodri Davies and Jack Maynard.
“It was most encouraging to see that we can cope with such dreadful conditions and adapt our tactical game accordingly. Such challenges are part and parcel of the fabric of the game and it will be particularly beneficial for the rugby development of the whole side and particularly for young forwards like hooker Dafydd Hughes and lock Jake Baker.”
The 20 year old Hughes and 21 year old Baker had huge support up front from lock Bryn Griffiths and the back row of Stuart Worrall, Richard Brooks and Richard Rees, whilst Davies and Maynard hardly put a foot wrong with their use of the ball after the break.
Cardiff certainly had the better of the first half with their domination of territory and possession. Fly half James Thomas varied his kicks cleverly to keep Llandovery on the turn and centre Luke Ford – son of former Cardiff and Wales wing Steve Ford – and wing Terry Gee made a few darting runs. But for all their good field positions they found the home try-line impregnable and could only manage a Thomas penalty which was answered by one from Maynard.
In the second half the home pack edged the scrums, where props Wyn Jones, Greg Cunniffe and replacement Berian Watkins were a force, and also won the battle of the loose.
The tide turned and Maynard kicked two penalties for a 9-3 lead and although Cardiff dragged themselves back into the game with a Thomas penalty, the Drovers battened down the hatches in the darkening gloom.