By Huw S Thomas at Tredegar Close

Under the watchful eye of new Warden Dominic Findlay, Llandovery College made light of the bitter cold and sporadic sleet to sweep to one of their best ever wins over their old and traditional rivals.

The invitation side was, in its defence, experimental and inexperienced – with selectors trying out new faces in their ongoing search to find talent for the approaching Easter tour to Portugal – and found it difficult to get enough possession against the well organised Lilywhites.

Team Manager Johnny Watkins was very impressed by Llandovery’s superior team work but was ready to praise his side.

“We had 12 new faces in the team and could never establish any rhythm against a very good Llandovery side but the boys stuck to the task with a will and with a bit of luck we could nave sneaked two tries at the end.”

“We will have some more experienced and older players back for the International Tournament in Portugal where we have enjoyed a lot of success over the years.”

The annual fixture between the College and Crawshay’s has been going on through thick and thin since 1929 with the invitation side often dishing out a drumming to the independent school, particularly in the days when the likes of senior Welsh internationals of the stature of Clive Rowlands, Derek Quinnell and Phil Bennett were in their line ups.

Those days disappeared when Crawshay’s were stopped from fielding men against schoolboy sides because of safety issues and their youth team gladly took over the fixture at the end of the last century.

Although Crawshay’s fought hard and trailed by just 10-7 at the break there was never any doubt about who were going to win this game once the second half was under way.

College coach and former Heineken European Cup winner with Bath, Nathan Thomas – himself an Old Llandoverian – was delighted with the win.

“We have rarely beaten Crawshay’s by a margin of over 20 points and to give some 25 boys game time was particularly encouraging for the future” said the former Wales flanker who took over  the running of College rugby last year from long serving coach Iestyn Thomas.

“All our back division are due to return next year and now that the 15 a side games are over for the season we can concentrate on seven a side starting in February with the Brecon Sevens.”

In the space of five thrilling minutes the Llandovery back, spearheaded by second half replacement half backs Archie Hughes and Alex Wainwright, ran in three tries to settle the issue in conclusive fashion

Scarlets U18 scrum half Hughes box-chipped a ball right into the path of replacement wing Louis Rees and then took advantage of a thrust by outstanding home flanker and captain Ben Gregory to run in under the posts.

Fellow Scarlet Wainwright converted and then in the twinkling of an eye took advantage of a break from centre Olly Fish to score a converted try against the stunned visitors.

Crawshay’s kept at it to the end with No 8 Jack Lewis (Stourport College), lock Lewis Thomas (Cwmbran) and prop Lewis Ellar (Burryport) battling away bravely.

A couple of close range line outs even kept the Llandovery defence busy and honest but a  run out of defence by Fish put paid to any remaining hopes of a consolation try.

Man of the Match Gregory – part of a powerful back row alongside No 8 James Morton and flanker Tobey Banfield-Lee – had opened the Llandovery scoring with a try right from the kick off, gathering a loose ball to power away to the corner before Crawshay’s enjoyed a good ten minutes of possession and territory to take the lead.

Skipper and scrum half Evan Wheeler (Ystrad Rhondda) and fly half Gethin Rosser gave their outside backs plenty of ball and full back Osian Hill (Ysgol Preseli) and wing Tom Morgan (Gwernyfed) made some threatening runs.

The midfield however found the Lilywhites defence too tight but the pack exerted enough close range pressure for prop Ellar to burrow through for a try, converted by Monmouth School rugby scholar Rosser.

Just before half time Gregory finished a sweeping Llandovery attack in the best movement of the match.

After the dashing Fish had slashed through the middle, he found quick support in scrum half Jacob Evans, picked up the return pass and then fed Gregory who ploughed through any cover for a 10-7 interval lead.

Llandovery were irrepressible after the break with the three tries in five minutes knocking the stuffing out of the visitors.


Llandovery College

Tries: B Gregory (2), L Rees, A Hughes, A Wainwright

Cons: A Wainwright (2)

Crawshay’s Welsh

Try: L Ellar

Con: G Rosser


Crawshays squad

Osian Hill Ysgol Preseli
Tom Morgan Gwernyfed RFC
Dylan Robson Ysgol Bro Edern/ Rumney RFC
Rhodri Williams Gwernyfed RFC
Lewis Ames Ysgol Bro Edern
Geraint Edwards Seven Sisters
Gethin Rosser Monmouth School
Evan Wheeler Ystrad Rhondda RFC
Ryan Williams Christ College Brecon
Carwyn Walker Dowlais RFC
Jack Lewis Welsh Exiles / Stourport College
Ben Evans Ysgol Bro Dinefwr
Taine Morgan Ysgol Preseli
Lewis Thomas Cwmbran RFC
Dylan James Merthyr RFC
Euan Griffiths Ysgol Bro Edern/Rumney RFC
Arwel Hughes Merthyr RFC
Lewis Ellar Burry Port RFC
Brychan Fish Ysgol Bro Dinefwr
Ben Mansfield Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi
Joe Cowell Coleg Gwent – Cross Keys

Spencer O’Connell                              Ebbw Vale Coll/Brynmawr


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