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Drovers rout closes gap at summit

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Principality Premiership

Neath 8

Llandovery 80

Rhodri Davies: Hat-trick for Llandovery man

Rhodri Davies: Hat-trick for Llandovery man

JUST THREE points separate the top five in the Principality Premiership as Llandovery turned the heat up on current league leaders Pontypridd with an emphatic victory against fellow west Wales side Neath.

There was a fast and furious start, with both sides looking to throw the ball around but being met by equally stern defences.

Twice the ball was held up in the contact area as players flooded the tackle zone, looking to get underneath the ball carrier and force the turnover. It was from one such turnover that Llandovery struck for their first try. A wellset driving maul from the visitors, sucked in the Neath pack before scrum half, Rhodri Davies broke into space down the blindside. His pace and a nice left foot step were enough for the No.9 to dive in for the first points of the night.

The next try of the match for the visitors followed five minutes later. Fullback Will Thomas, slicing through some very suspect midfield defence, before slipping the pass infield for scrum half Davies who cantered in for his second. Maynard added the extras and extended their lead to 16 points.

Neath were immediately caught offside at the restart, giving the Drovers another chance to attack. Lex Botha on the Llandovery wing found himself in some space in the wide channel and he powered into the Neath 22.

A series of sloppy penalties from the home team kept the pressure on and the ball in Llandovery hands; it didn’t take long for them to make the most of it. Again the space was found in the Blacks midfield and a good pop pass off the floor found the welcome arms of centre Matthew Jacobs and he forced his way over the line.

The home side were struggling to keep ball in hand, and some careless play handed possession back to a Llandovery team who looked like they were hitting top gear. Again the midfield defence from Neath was found wanting and fly half Maynard was easily able to carve his way through before finding his winger Sam Soul to dive in at the corner.

With only half an hour played and Llandovery 28 points up, the Welsh All Blacks desperately needed to consolidate and try to create some pressure in the visitor’s half. As the break drew closer that’s exactly what they did. Keeping the ball tight Neath began to force penalties and eventually the referee lost his patience sending Llandovery openside Shaun Miles into the sin bin.

It came to full back Bramwell to take the initiative, taking a quick tap from yet another Llandovery penalty he burrowed under the posts to get the home team off the mark and with fly half Price adding the extras the score at half time was 8-28, with Neath showing some fight to get back into the contest.

After the break though it was one-way traffic as the visitors ran in 52 unanswered points.

After a series of pick and go’s second row Matthew Harbut drove his way over from short range to extend the Llandovery advantage before flier Lex Botha had the gas to make it to the try line from inside his own half. The Neath disgruntlement both on and off the field was palpable as Maynard added the extras to take the lead out to 44 points.

Five minutes later and Neath were once again buried deep in their own 22 with frustrations beginning to mount.

Leon Ward, Neath replacement flanker was dismissed to the sin bin, compounding their situation and in his absence Llandovery once more crossed the try line. From the back of an advancing scrum, Rhodri Davies darted down the blindside into acres of space to touch down for a well deserved hat trick and cap an excellent display from the speedy half back.

The Neath covering defence had to scramble across field as repeatedly as Llandovery were easily able to break out wide, before another simple offload in the middle of the pitch sent Drover replacement Mike Evans in to bring up 58 points. Full back Aaron Bramwell took a blow to the neck in the process and was forced to leave the field amid some concern as the night went from bad to worse for the Blacks.

Llandovery piled on the misery with three more tries in the final four minutes, including a spectacular end to end effort finished off by replacement Richard Rees to cap off a wretched evening for the home side and bring the final score 8-80.

Teams:

Neath: 15 Aaron Bramwell; 14 Ed Howley, 13 Ryan Evans, 12 Iwan Evans, 11 Josh Jones; 10 Luke Price, 9 Rhodri Cole; 1 Aaron Coundley, 2 Aled Morris, 3 Joel Ringer 4 Rhys Jones 5 Jon Barley; 6 Josh Cole, 8 Calum Davies, 7 Jordan Collier

Replacements: Nicky Downs, Keiran Mattocks, Geraint James, Jonny Griffiths, Craig Price, Chris Morgans, Dean Howell, Aaron Grabham

Llandovery: 15. Will Thomas 14. Lex Botha 13. Matthew Jacobs 12. Rhodri Jones 11. Sam Soul 10. Jack Maynard 9. Rhodri Davies: 1. Wyn Jones 2. Luke Lewis (captain) 3. Greg Cunniffe 4. Phil Day 5. Matthew Harbut 6. Stuart Worrall 7. Shaun Miles 8. Richard Brooks

Replacements: 16. Berian Watkins 17. Dean Howells 18. Bryn Griffiths 19. Richard Rees 20. Tom Ball 21. Mike Evans 22. James Davies 23. Lee Rees

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Sport

Gealey holds nerve to send Stars to victory

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NEW DOCK STARS earned their first win of the season on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Bynea 29-30 in a thrilling encounter.

The Dock held a 20-12 lead at half time and were ahead going into the final stages.

Bynea thought they had won the game when a late score put them 29-27 in front.

However, the Stars hit back with time running out and Adam Gealey scored a penalty to win the game for his side.

That gave him a personal haul of 15 points having already scored with two penalties and three conversions.

Dylan Jones scored two tries for the visitors and Jordan Evans got the other.

Bynea’s George MacDonald scored a hat trick of tries and Finlay Cooke also crossed the whitewash once.

James Branson added three conversions and one penalty.

It was a thrilling encounter as both sides belied their positions at the foot of the table.

On Saturday, January 22, the Stars travel to Llandybie while Bynea host Betws.

Photo by Darren Harries

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Furnace seal second win

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FURNACE UNITED earned their second win of the League 3 West B season on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Llandybie.

Daf Green scored for the Cherries with other tries coming from Joe Qualters-Jones, Myles Harries, Joe Pugh and Jonny Roberts.

Green was successful with three of five conversion attempts and he also added a penalty.

Furnace held a 13-5 lead at half time as Llandybie scored an unconverted try in each half.

Ioan Rees and Josh Watkins scored the tries for the visitors.

On Saturday, January 22, Furnace United travel to Llandeilo while Llandybie host New Dock Stars.

PHOTO by Darren Harries

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Saunders stars as Llangennech beat Gowerton

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LLANGENNECH remain unbeaten in League 1 West after they won 33-16 away at Gowerton on Saturday (Jan 15).

Liam Hutchings put the visitors ahead with the first try of the game and Tom Neale added the extras.

Gowerton then got themselves on the scoreboard with a penalty but Llangennech were soon back on the attack.

Jordan Saunders was next to go over and Neale again added the extras.

Gowerton reduced the arrears once more with another penalty and the visitors held a 14-6 lead when the half time whistle went.

Gowerton scored another penalty early in the second half to keep themselves in the game.

However, Llangennech kept applying the pressure and they soon had their third try with Saunders going over for his second and Neale adding his third conversion to make it 21-9.

Saunders then completed his hat trick to also earn his side a bonus point.

Gowerton responded with a converted try to bring the score back to 16-26 but it was the visitors who had the last word.

Greg George scored their fifth try of the game and Neale converted to complete the scoring.

Saunders was named man of the match for his try hat trick and the win sees them move on to 25 points, six points above second placed Newcastle Emlyn.

The sides are next in action on Saturday, January 29, when Llangennech host third placed Felinfoel while Gowerton travel to Aberystwyth.

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