Drovers win exciting finale

Despite it being a disruptive season with some postponements, along with a period of limited crowds, Llandovery were the visitors to Parc y Scarlets for Llanelli’s final game of the season.
An emotional evening for two club stalwarts, with James Garland playing his final game for the Drovers and Jonny Lewis leading Llanelli out in his final game for the club.
Lewis was playing his 235th game, scoring 47 tries along the way. He’d also added 13 conversions and 9 penalties to give a personal tally of 288 points during his 13 year-long career with Llanelli RFC.
In spite of the results this season, with the RFC notching up just one win, the number of young players who have been given the opportunity to play rugby at this level has to be commended, with number of try bonus points secured, a testament to the typical Llanelli-esq. style of rugby that has been played.
Very much an evenly balanced first half, the Drovers dominated the second half to build up a 21 point advantage. However, two tries scored in quick succession from the hosts along with an impressive late attack left Llanelli unfortunate not to secure a draw in this local derby.

Llanelli were under pressure from the start, with the Drovers pressing in the home twenty-two. A penalty offered them the opportunity for posts, but they opted for the corner. The line-out was secured and an effective rolling maul resulted in Hooker, Craig Thomas crossing for the first try of the evening. The conversion was missed.

Llanelli 0-5 Llandovery
However, lovely hands from the Llanelli backs saw them break into the visitors’ twenty-two. The Drovers were pinged and Llanelli opted to take it quickly, with Ryan Jenkins driving over from close range. Tal Rees added the conversion to put Llanelli ahead.
Llanelli 7-5 Llandovery
But a series of penalties saw Llandovery back in the Llanelli red zone. Again, they opted to kick for the corner, securing the ball and driving towards the whitewash, with Craig Thomas claiming his brace. Kristian Jones was wide with his conversion attempt.
Llanelli 7-10 Llandovery
The visitors extended their lead with Joe Powell crossing in the corner, but again they were unable to add the conversion.
Llanelli 7-15 Llandovery
A great kick downfield from Llanelli saw them take full advantage of a Drovers error attempting to keep the ball in play. With the line-out secured the hosts recycled the ball well, gaining good ground before Luca Giannini squeezed over in the corner. Rees’ conversion attempt sailed just wide.
Llanelli 12-15 Llandovery
Llandovery secured the bonus point with Lee Rees managing to kick ahead with the ball coming off his knee, before gathering and racing over the whitewash.
After a discussion with the officials, the try was allowed. Kristian Jones added the conversion.
Llanelli 12-22 Llandovery
A turnover on halfway offered the hosts another try scoring opportunity as play went deep into the twenty-two, but possession was lost with the whitewash in sight as the half drew to a close.
Llanelli 12-22 Llandovery
Llanelli were awarded a penalty right at the start of the second half after the Drovers were pinged for holding on in the tackle. A well-struck penalty from Tal Rees cut Llandovery’s lead to one score.
Llanelli 15-22 Llandovery
The visitors looked likely to hit right back, but a forward pass and subsequent penalty at the scrum for Llanelli saw the hosts in a great attacking position with a line-out on the twenty-two, but they were unable to capitalise.
Llanelli again came close, but the ball was lost forward and on this occasion, the Drovers were able to find gaps in the Llanelli defence before the ball was spread wide to replacement, Ashley Evans who raced over unopposed. Jones slotted over the extras.
Llanelli 15-29 Llandovery
Llanelli’s woes continued with Ashleigh Hydman shown a red card and Jordan Evans from Llandovery a yellow card for an off-the ball scuffle. The subsequent penalty for the Drovers saw them secure the line-out and drive towards the whitewash. The initial defence from Llanelli was good, eventually forcing the visitors to spread the ball, but a yellow card for Chris Long saw Llanelli down to 13 men.
Llandovery kicked for the corner and took full advantage of their extra man, with Jamie Cox claiming the try. Kristian Jones slotted over the conversion.
Llanelli 15-36 Llandovery
But Llanelli showed their character as they continued to attack at every opportunity, inching towards the whitewash before Rhys Davies powred over. Ioan Hughes added the extras.
Llanelli 22 – 36
From the re-start, Llanelli again demonstrated their attacking DNA, taking full advantage of a break in midfield, with replacement, Archie Hughes crossing for the bonus point try. Ioan Hughes again added the conversion to put the hosts to within seven points.
Llanelli 29-36 Llandovery
With the second ticking down to the end of the game, Llanelli kept the ball in play from their twenty-two, working through numerous impressive phases as they attempted to gain a well-fought draw, but despite their endeavours the Drovers held on for the win.
Llanelli 29-36
Llanelli…Tries – Ryan Jenkins, Luca Giannini, Rhys Davies, Archie Hughes
Conversions – Tal Rees, Ioan Hughes (2)
Penalty – Tal Rees
YC – Chris Long
RC – Ashleigh Hyndman
Llandovery…Tries – Craig Thomas (2), Joe Powell, Lee Rees, Ashley Evans, Jamie Cox
Conversions – Kristian Jones (3)
YC – Jordan Evans

Report by Helen Davies