Llandovery RFC v Newport RFC 25th November 2023 by John Evans
A visit to Llandovery is usually a challenge, never more so on the back of a loss to a local rival and when the Drovers are the reigning league champions. But, here we are, on the road to mid-Wales and our annual visit to Banc Yr Eglwys.
Nick Thomas had the chance to impress, starting in the second row alongside Josh Skinner, while Jonny Morris retained his centre berth, alongside Chay Foster-Smith. Tyler Olding was given a start at hooker, with Henry Palmer able to make an impact from the bench.
It was a bright, winters day, beautifully sunny but with an icy nip to the air. Indeed, it was time to dig out the Long Johns for the first time this season; the stand at Llandovery can be chilly in September!
Carwyn Penny kicked off this Indigo Premiership game, Newport attacking the clubhouse end of the ground. Ioan Davies caught the returned kick before Penny pulled the play to the left, out to Jonny Morris who took the double tackle, but, as the move went on, Newport knocked on and the scrum was set.
Drovers’ centre Rhodri Jones broke the Newport defensive line on 7 minutes and executed a delightful switch to scrum half Lee Rees. Newport regrouped and Rees was flattened, knocking on in the process, but the referee, Mr Keith David, judged that Elliot Frewen had hands in the ruck, and he was shown a yellow card. The Drovers kicked to the corner, but the attempted catch and drive was shunted towards the touch line by Newport. Llandovery were made to play, Rees popping the ball out to number 8, Jordan Evans. He was floored, Jonny Morris stepping across him to win the ball. Illegally, said Mr David. Rees took the quick tap, offloading to hooker Taylor Davies to barge across the line. Mr David took a moment, deciding that the ball hadn’t been lost in the act of scoring, before awarding the try. Jack Maynard, the dependable full-back, slotted the conversion to make the score Llandovery 7 Newport 0 on 9 minutes.
A cross-kick by Drovers’ outside half, Ioan Hughes, was caught and passed forward before Ioan Davies’ attempt to pass the ball away from danger went clearly forward. Newport got the go-forward at the Llandovery put-in, but a slip in the front row saw Mr David loft his arm and award the hosts another penalty. Ioan Hughes went to the corner, the catch and drive being the weapon of choice again. It worked this time, as Taylor Davies latched onto the back of the maul and crossed for the Drovers’ second try. Jack Maynard’s kick made a resounding ‘dink’ noise as it bounced away from the posts, making it Llandovery 12 Newport 0 on 20 minutes.
Elliot Frewen re-entered the game from the naughty step as Newport won their first penalty of the match, on 21 minutes. Carwyn Penny dictated play well, pushing the Black and Ambers left, then right. Confidence was building as Newport went through phase upon phase, inching upfield, into the Llandovery 22. The defence was excellent, but Newport stayed patient and continued pushing. Tyler Olding skipped through a challenge and carried Newport into the shadow of the posts, looping a pass out to Ioan Davies. He was tackled, but the Drovers knocked on in the process. The scrum was solid, and the Llandovery defence was up quickly, but one was a little too quick and strayed offside. Carwyn Penny planted Newport into the corner, terrace side. Josh Skinner was up before the maul crept forward. Che Hope broke left, then right, allowing Carwyn Penny to loft a ball out to Oli Andrew who accelerated into contact, barging three would-be tacklers across the line with him. Mr David took a moment before awarding the try. Carwyn Penny’s touchline conversion was excellent as Newport made the score 12-7 to the hosts on 33 minutes.
The Black and Ambers appeared to have shrugged off their early-game sluggishness, but Llandovery are so good that any mistake is capitalised on, and it became a period of one step forward, one step back for Newport.
A spell of kick-tennis may have profited Newport after a Drover took the ball back into his own 22 and kicked to touch. With an attacking lineout, Newport were poised. The centre pairing combined well and came within a few metres of the line, but the Black and Ambers were then nailed for offside. Llandovery tried to play, but the Newport defence snapped shut and the half ended as Ioan Davies forcibly escorted Llandovery winger Jac Davies into touch.
Half Time Llandovery RFC 12 Newport RFC 7
Ioan Hughes got the game back underway for Llandovery, Oli Andrew picking up the palmed ball allowing Newport to play. Chay Foster-Smith straightened the line before Ben Roach powered in to contact. Che Hope lofted the ball forward, but Jack Maynard was waiting for it. In their over-eagerness to retrieve the ball, Newport strayed offside. Llandovery kicked to ease the pressure, but it was then that Mr David awarded his first line out not straight’ call of the afternoon. With Newport seemingly off the hook, it was frustrating that this had became Mr David’s new favourite law, as it was the Black and Ambers who were picked up for this. From the scrum, the ball popped to wing Aaron Warren, who showed admirable strength and guile to power into the Newport tacklers and bustle over for a try. Jack Maynard added the two-pointer, making it Llandovery 19 Newport 7 on 46 minutes.
Jac Lloyd replaced Carwyn Penny just before Newport were penalised again for holding onto the ball in the tackle. Maynard lined up a shot at goal, from about 27 metres, right hand side, making the score Llandovery 22 Newport 7 on 50 minutes.
Tyler Olding made a tidy break on 54 minutes, setting off alarm bells in the Drovers’ defence, but Tylers pop pass to the left ended up in Llandovery hands, and another half-chance evaporated. However, great ingenuity from newly moustachioed Ioan Davies saw the kick to touch remain in play and Newport could attack again.
Rhys Jenkins and Aaron Dowse came on for Josh Reid and Tom Workman as Jac Lloyd put in an excellent touch-finder that eased the pressure on the Newport defence and put Newport back in the Llandovery half.
Newport won a penalty on 64 minutes, prompting Jac Lloyd to go to the corner again. With the lineout just 5 metres out, the maul was set, but Llandovery second row, Joe Powell, somehow, appeared on the Newport side, ball in hand. Jonny Morris was on hand, as usual, to regain possession as he was first across the tackled player.
Olly Woodman came on for Oli Andrew on 70 minutes. Jac Lloyd placed a superb kick just metres from the Drovers line from a penalty. Predictably, the maul collapsed and the ball became wrapped up, affording the Drovers the turnover, to their visible delight.
Steam was rising from the backs of the two heavyweight packs as the temperature began to drop and the distant moon slowly became bolder.
Things got worse for Newport, and quickly. Che Hope was shown the Black and Amber’s second yellow card of the afternoon, for not retreating ten metres following another penalty award to the hosts. Ioan Hughes banged Llandovery into the corner, terrace side. Captain Jack Jones claimed the lineout ball before prop Craig Thomas broke left from the maul and crashed over for his side’s try-bonus point score. Jack Maynard crowned the score with a kick to make it Llandovery 29 Newport 7 on 76 minutes.
Olly Woodman was injured whilst taking the restart catch cleanly, the ball being worked around before Ioan Davies was ushered into touch. He was replaced by prop Liam Newstead, Luke Crane already being on the field having replace Elliot Frewen, whilst Jon Verrier had replaced Nick Thomas. Bizarrely, this left Newport fielding no wings at all.
Newport did exert some late pressure, winning a penalty near the 22-metre line. Llandovery replacement Nathan Hart petulantly kicked the ball away to prevent a Newport quick tap, earning himself a yellow card in the process. Newport went to the corner, looking for a consolation score, but the Llandovery forwards were permitted to roam where they liked without fear of penalty. The Drovers took full advantage and closed the game out, taking the five league points and putting them in the bank, cementing their place at the top of the Indigo Premiership. Credit to them, they’re going to be very difficult to stop this season.
Newport are back in the saddle next Saturday, December 2nd, when they face newly promoted Neath RFC at Newport Stadium. It will be the Welsh All Black’s first visit to our new home; we need to make it awkward for our guests and make sure it’s a Black and Amber victory! It’s also Newport RFC’s last home game before Christmas so, if you want to pick up your Black and Amber goodies to go under the tree, then Saturday is the day to do it! Come along, bring your mates, and shout for a Newport RFC win!
Come on, Newport!
Onwards and upwards Newport.
Your City. Your Colours. Your Club
Final Score – Llandovery RFC 29 Newport RFC 7
Newport RFC Player of the Match – George Young