What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
Llandovery suffered one of their heaviest defeats for many a season in going down to a pumped up Merthyr at The Wern’s astro turf all weather pitch.
After losing 42-24 at Pontypridd in their previous Premiership Top 8 game, the Drovers were outplayed by a Merthyr side that had too much quality in all positions.
The Drovers are now in sixth position in the eight-strong Tier One League with just four points from three games and will not be in league action until April 8 when they face a difficult game at second placed Bedwas.
To have any chance of making the four team play offs they will then need to win all three remaining home games against Aberavon (April 15), Ebbw Vale (April 29) and Carmarthen Quins (May 6).
Under the eye of benefactor Stan Thomas, the classy Ironmen ran in eleven tries - six in the first half, five in the second – and full back Matthew Jarvis missed just the one conversion on a day that the Drovers will quickly want to forget.
One grain of comfort was in the fact that the Drovers were missing six front line players against the favourites to do a Tier One and Welsh Cup double. Forwards Richard Brooks, Dean Howells, Greg Cunniffe and Duane Eager were away attending the wedding of former Drover Ian Brooks, skipper Phil Day is still injured as is scrum half Rhodri Davies.
A patched up pack that fielded a callow front row of 19/20 year olds in Jamie Hughes, Matthew Moore and Scott Jenkins could not cope with the speed and dynamism of a Merthyr Pack that included new signing, five times capped Welsh international lock Lou Reed. The 29 year old played for the Drovers on five occasions in 2008-2009, when at the Scarlets, before spells with the Blues and Sale Sharks.
Reed, hooker Rhys Williams and props Gary Powell and Nathan Trevett are all former Blues and, with an outstanding back row in Tom Daley, Phil Rees and Sennybridge's Osian Davies in top form in the loose, an under-strength Llandovery had little hope of victory against such class.
The noon kick off looked momentarily to have suited the Drovers when scrum half Lee Rees –their best player on the day - ran elusively and Jenkins crossed for fly half Jack Maynard to convert for a 16th minute 7-0 lead.
But Merthyr were stung into action and ran in four tries in a quarter of an hour through very quick wing Kyle Evans, Daley twice and skipper Craig Locke.
Never-say-die centre Rhodri Jones got a converted try back after good work from Llandovery’s best forward flanker Stuart Worrall and centre Richard Smith but Kyle Evans and centre Martyn Thomas punished more woeful defence to make it 42-14 at the break.
Merthyr dominance up front continued to give their direct backs bags of opportunities and Rees, wing Richard Carter with a brace, replacement Gavin Dacey and Daley for his hat trick left an outclassed and outpaced Llandovery reeling.