Llandovery final whistle

Llandovery players celebrate at the final whistle at cardiff Arms Park. Pic: S4C

They Think It’s All Drover . . . It Is Now As Llandovery Humble Cardiff At Arms Park

By Paul Jones

Llandovery scrum-half Lee Rees described his team as “relentless” after their dominant 24-8 win over favourites Cardiff in the Indigo Premiership final.

It is the first time in their history that the Drovers have been champions at this level, but they thoroughly derserved their 24-8 triumph against a Cardiff side who had finished ahead of them in the regular season.

Two tries from Rees earned Llandovery the title of the ‘Best Club in Wales’ as he led the Drovers to a win over the reigning Indigo Premiership champions at the Arms Park.

“I am so proud of the boys, it was an unbelievable performance,” said Rees.

“We had a fast start and we caught Cardiff a bit cold. But we just kept coming and were relentless. I am not surprised with the way we then defended because we dug in and just wanted it more than they did.

“I have been at this club since 2009 and it has always been a goal of mine to win this trophy and become champions. We have played 24 games to win this – and we have won most of them, so it feels like a nice reward.”

Twice Rees appeared in support of Aaron Warren to take an inside scoring pass to put his side in total control.

Euros Evans’ side had finished as runners-up to Cardiff in the regular league season, but proved too good for them in a hard-fought final played in sweltering conditions.

It was the first time in their 145-year history that the Drovers had been crowned Indigo Prem champions.

Cardiff head coach Steve Law had described the Drovers as a bit of a bogey team for his side and came into the game knowing it would take maximum effort for his players to hold onto their title.

The reigning champions started well enough, were more accurate than they had been in their semi-final win over Newport the previous weekend, but couldn’t find a way through the well organised Llandovery defence.

The home side kept the ball in hand and kept running hard at the Drovers defence, but the first real dent of the game came after 12 minutes when Ioan Hughes hoisted the ball and Harri Doel chased hard to regather in the air.

Cardiff came over the top at the ruck and Jack Maynard opened the scoring with a 35 metre penalty against the club with who he won the title the previous season.
The full back doubled the lead three minutes later and then added the extras to a beautifully constructed try from scrum half Rees.

Cardiff lost their third line-out of the opening half and Llandovery latched onto the over throw. They spread the ball wide to the right and Aaron Warren found a hole in the stretched home defence.

The wing sped into the 22 and found Rees inside him. A simple pass let the scrum half scamper to the posts for the try that Maynard improved before adding a third penalty.

Having started confidently, Cardiff were now all at sea and an injury to Wales U20 Harrison James didn’t help.

He stayed on and was able to finally get his side on the board a minute before half-time with a penalty conceded by Warren close to his posts.

That made it 16-3 to Llandovery at the break and they were full value for their lead.

They came with a plan that seemed to be built on the performance they had put in against their hosts in their league meeting at Church Bank when they won 37-20 in March.

There was greater urgency in the Cardiff effort at the start of the second half, but the Drovers refused to be intimidated. They met fire with fire up front and Jack Jones’ pack ruled the roost at the line-out.

They also produced some venom at scrum time 13 minutes into the second half. Cardiff had worked their way down to within five metres and lost yet another line-out.

They stayed in the red zone and won a penalty at scrum time. They went for another and found themselves being shunted off their own ball to lose their best chance of the game.

Llandovery then picked up a couple of penalties to get themselves down into the home 22 and it took everything the Blue & Blacks had to keep them out from a succession of driving line outs.

As it became a greater and greater uphill struggle for the champions, things got even worse when they lost centre Aaran Pinches to a yellow card at the start of the third quarter for a tip tackle.

The space Pinches should have patrolled was exploited by Warren as he went on a lengthy run from his own 10-metre line deep into Cardiff territory.

Rees appeared on his inside and his second try sealed the deal.

Ryan Wilkins conjured up a kick-and-chase try for Cardiff, but a fourth Maynard penalty warded off any late danger.

Scorers: Cardiff: Try: R Wilkins; Pen: H James.

Llandovery: Tries: L Rees 2; Con: J Maynard; Pens: J Maynard 4

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