By: Paul Hopkins
A breathtaking first half display by Llandovery put a much changed Swansea team to the sword in the opening match of the Fosters Cup.
Both sides made plenty of changes to their regular Premiership sides with no fewer than eight players making their debut for the All Whites.
The Drovers started the brighter side and earned a penalty when the visitors’ defence failed to roll away after a tackle. Fly half James Davies kicked to the corner and number eight Richard Rees caught a lineout to send flanker Shaun Miles crashing through the defence, but he lost the ball forward.
Star winger Corey Baldwin picked up a loose ball and raced over half way with just one man to beat, but that was in the shape of centre Ewan Gully, who made a superb try saving tackle.
The home side took the lead on ten minutes when centre Craig Woodall made a mini break, with lock Jake Baker taking a crash ball in midfield. Baldwin was brought down with a high tackle and James Davies kicked the resulting penalty.
Moments later the home side grabbed the opening try when scrum half Scott Gibson took a quick tap penalty and found Miles in support. Lock Joe Powell then hacked on a loose ball with the chasing prop Scott Jenkins touching down in the corner. James Davies converted.
Swansea fly half Phil Jones was then penalised for holding on after the tackle and James Davies kicked for territory. From the lineout Powell drove up to the whitewash, before winger Shaun Pearce stretched over to score. James Davies converted.
Shortly after, Woodall was yellow carded for an off the ball challenge, but Swansea were unable to capitalise as the move broke down.
The Drovers came close to a third try when the pack mauled their way to the line, but the Whites’ pack managed to turn over possession.
A series of collapsed scrums left referee Sam Groves-White with little option but to send Swansea prop Mitchell Walsh to the sin-bin. The inevitable penalty try soon followed as the visitors’ pack was simply unable to compete at the set piece. James Davies converted.
Centre Rhodri Wall and prop Jamie Hughes linked up in midfield to start another attack for the Drovers and they were awarded a penalty when flanker Chris James was penalised for a high tackle on Baldwin as he sped towards the line. James was shown a yellow card and the Drovers opted for a close range scrum. That meant one thing – another penalty try for the home side, which James Davies converted.
A fifth try in the first half saw the All Whites staring down the abyss. This time Gibson began the attack with flanker Duane Eager and Miles in support, before Woodall glided through some poor tackling to score. James Davies converted.
Against the run of play Swansea had the final say of the half as they looked to salvage some pride. Lock Rhys Morgan collected lineout ball and a clever delayed pass by Phil Jones found Gully, who turned on the pace to sprint clear to score under the posts. Phil Jones converted.
Half-time:- Llandovery 38 Swansea 7
A completely transformed Swansea team took to the pitch after the interval as they went in search for some solace. First Walsh drove deep into the twenty-two, before he found James in support, forcing the Drovers offside in midfield. Phil Jones kicked to the corner, but the Llandovery pack stole the lineout.
A further indiscretion by the home side gave Phil Jones another opportunity to kick for territory. This time replacement lock Matthew Donohoe collected the lineout and was driven over for a try. Phil Jones converted.
Swansea then got back to within a few scores of their opponents when Phil Jones made a break in midfield with centre Ryan Evans on his shoulder in support. Flanker Andrew Hughes drove up to within five metres of the line, and number eight Rory Gallagher did the rest by crashing over for a try.
The Drovers put an end to any hopes of a full Swansea revival with some adventurous rugby as replacement winger Jack Parkinson began a counterattack out wide with Wall then sprinting up to the line, where he was tackled. However, he had the strength to offload a scoring pass to Parkinson. James Davies missed the conversion.
Powell and replacement lock Trystan Herdman orchestrated another attack from deep for the home side, but Baldwin was bundled into touch.
It looked almost certain that Woodall would score, but replacement winger Jac Wilson superbly tracked back to tackle him. The ball was recycled out wide, but Baldwin was again stopped in his tracks and dragged into touch.
Drovers hit the 50 mark with minutes left when replacement hooker Ryan Williams charged through a tiring Swansea defence to allow Wall to break through a tackle to score in the corner. James Davies converted.
Swansea rounded off a spirited second half display with a bonus point try when replacement hooker Jack Cambriani powered through a tackle and threw an inside pass for scrum half Mike Jones to score under the posts. Replacement fly half Julian Mogg converted.
Next up for Swansea is a trip to Carmarthen, while Llandovery host Llanelli, both in the Fosters Cup.
Full-time:- Llandovery 50 Swansea 26
Tries:- Scott Jenkins (12), Shaun Pearce (15), Penalty try (30, 35), Craig Woodall (39), Jack Parkinson (62), Rhodri Wall (79)
Cons:- James Davies (13, 16, 31, 36, 40, 80)
Pens:- James Davies (10)
Yellow cards:- Craig Woodall (18)
Tries:- Ewan Guully (40+3), Matthew Donohoe (45), Rory Gallagher (57), Mike Jones (80+4)
Cons:- Phil Jones (40+4, 46), Julian Mogg (80+5)
Yellow cards:- Mitchell Walsh (29), Chris James (34)
Venue:- Church Bank, Llandovery
Referee:- Sam Grove-White
Weather:- Clear, 11C
Man of the match:- Corey Baldwin
15 Owain Davies (rep: Rhodri Jones 62)
14 Corey Baldwin (rep: Jack Parkinson 59)
13 Rhodri Wall
12 Craig Woodall
11 Shaun Pearce
10 James Davies
9 Scott Gibson (rep: Alex Davies 59)
1 Jamie Hughes (rep: Bradley Davies 59)
2 Andrew Pritchard (rep: Ryan Williams 63)
3 Scott Jenkins (rep: Jamie Kaijaks 70)
4 Jake Baker (rep: Trystan Herdman 59)
5 Joe Powell
6 Duane Eager ©
7 Shaun Miles (rep: Emyr Price 50)
8 Richard Rees
16 Jamie Kaijaks
17 Bradley Davies
18 Trystan Herdman
19 Emyr Price
20 Ryan Williams
21 Rhodri Jones
22 Jack Parkinson
23 Alex Davies
15 Jon Bayliss
14 Andrew Claypole (rep: Jac Wilson 18)
13 Ryan Evans (rep: Lewis Humphreys 62)
12 Ewan Gully
11 Andrew Rees-Spowart
10 Phil Jones (rep: Julian Mogg 63)
9 Mike Jones
1 Dan Kenny (rep: Alistair Wade 62)
2 Alex Dunham (rep: Jack Cambriani 67)
3 Mitchell Walsh (rep: Fenton Holder 67)
4 Rhys Morgan
5 Ross Barnes (rep: Matthew Donohoe 41)
6 Chris James
7 Andrew Hughes (rep: Fenton Holder 29-39)
8 Rory Gallagher (rep: Ben Davies 58)
16 Jack Cambriani
17 Ali Wade
18 Fenton Holder
19 Matthew Donohoe
20 Ben Davies
21 Julian Mogg
22 Jac Wilson
23 Lewis Humphreys