What the Papers Say - Huw S Thomas reports
Copyright Huw S Thomas, and used by kind permission of Huw S Thomas
The death on Thursday at the age of 37 of Llandovery’s former 2007 Cup winning lock Tom Walker cast a very dark shadow over this Tywi Valley derby. North Walian Walker played 164 games for the Drovers 2001-2009 - some partnering current Quins and former Llandovery lock Haydn Pugh - and all the players stood still in memory of the former Llandovery College player.
Pugh, who could not play because of a groin injury, paid a warm tribute to his old friend and colleague. “Tom was a rock of a man and player and to be taken away from us at the age of 37 is so unfair. He was a wonderfully no nonsense and hard grafting lock who was a pleasure to play with and whose advice and encouragement helped me enormously in my early days.”
The words were echoed by former Llandovery coach Iestyn Thomas who was in charge of the side that won the Welsh Cup in 2007. “No side can be good without a solid, selfless and utterly reliable second row and that was Tom. He was a key member of the side that beat Cardiff 20-18 in the 2007 Cup final and all connected with him as coaches and players will suffer the loss of a lovely man.”
As to the more mundane matters on the field, the decisive home victory clinched second place in the West Conference for the Drovers behind the leaders RGC 1404. It means that they will carry seven points forward into the post-Christmas 14-strong Premiership, with the Quins carrying forward six points.
All clubs will now play each other on either a home or away basis with the top team declared champions at the end of the competition on May 12.
Winning coach Euros Evans was sporting enough to both laud his team’s first half performance as well as The Quins’ second half rally.
“We controlled every phase in the first 40 minutes and could have been further ahead than 22-0,” said Evans. “We fell off the pace after the break but fair play to the Quins their driving play in the loose caused us huge problems. That said we restricted them to two tries and emphasised the role that our defence under coach Gareth Potter has played since the start of the season.”
In 14 games, the Drovers have conceded just 195 points – the only team to concede under 200 points - and only 21 tries, the best record of all 14 clubs in West and East.
Five penalties from fly half Jack Maynard and the conversion of a try by full back Rhys Jones made it 22-0 at the break before outstanding flanker Lewis Ellis-Jones got a converted try to make it 29-0.
The arrival of powerful prop Javan Sebastian heralded a Quins revival, and a yellow card for prop Llyr Green added to home concern. Tries from hooker Torin Myhil and a penalty try at a scrum gave respectability but little else to the score.