Llandovery were predictably far too strong for bottom-placed Neath, running in six tries to bring their season’s try tally to 33 after just seven games.
LLANDOVERY 38 - NEATH 7
REPORT BY HUW S THOMAS
They join Ebbw Vale on 29 points and return to the top of the Premiership table by dint of having scored more tries than the Steelmen who are one of three Gwent clubs – along with Pontypool and Newport - on the heels of the Drovers
Gone are the days when the Welsh All Blacks were the most feared club side in Wales and beyond under the formidable Brian Thomas but the old international would have been proud to see his grandson and fellow second row, Jack Jones, captain the Drovers with such gusto and heart.
It was against Neath - town of his birth - that the 30-year-old Jones scored his first try for the Drovers back in 2017 and since then, he has been the outstanding forward in the club’s success, culminating in the winning of the Indigo Premiership in May of this year.
Along with his vice captain Lee Rees, he stands out as a player whose talents the regions have failed to fully identify over the years, such a fault that the new EDC will hopefully rectify.
Neath included two former Drovers who gave great service to the Carmarthenshire club over the years in centres, captain Ryan Evans and Kristian Jones.
Jones was particularly valued as a player who was comfortable at full back, centre and fly half and scored 293 points for the Drovers in 114 appearances (2017-2023).
And Evans marked his return to Church Bank with a try under the Llandovery posts.
It was scant consolation as Llandovery cantered to another easy win to reclaim the top spot in the Premiership.
“Another satisfying performance after resting a few front line players,” said coach Euros Evans.
“And it was great to see the contribution of the likes of Dafydd Land - Lee Rees’ understudy at scrum half - and the back to fitness duo of hooker Taylor Davies and prop Llyr Green.
“We see the squad just as important as the starting line up if we are to compete for honours.”
Evans again rotated his squad, resting top flight players in centre Adam Warren and flanker Stuart Worrall as well as benching half backs Lee Rees and Ioan Hughes.
It mattered little as tries from flanker Jordan Evans, prop Berian Watkins and No 8 Joe Powell, plus conversions from full back Jack Maynard made it 21-0 at the break.
The fast improving 21-year-old Evans opened the scoring with a weaving solo effort run that took him past three defenders on his way to the try line.
The burly Watkins finished off a classic line-out drive before Powell went over from the back of a scrum when Neath had been reduced to 14 men with the sin binning of lock Tom John.
Neath No 8 David Griggs made a few bullocking runs to keep the Llandovery defence on their toes but it was very much one-way traffic in the first half.
To Neath’s credit, they not only the weathered the storm of home attacks but built up enough momentum after the break to see fly half Steff Williams put in a cut out pass to send skipper Evans arrowing in under the posts.
Williams converted and Neath stayed bravely in the game, with their tackling saving further punishment for a good 20 minutes.
As well as Dafydd Land had played at scrum half, the tempo of the game changed with the introduction of Lee Rees and partner Ioan Hughes.
Straight running, swifter passing and better angles of support stretched the tiring Mourners defence to and fro.
Three tries in the last quarter of an hour came through young centre Macs Page, Man of the Match Jordan Evans and replacement centre Gabe McDonald to clinch a sixth win in seven outings.
Page raced in under the posts after swift handling out wide, Evans grabbed a try following a line-out move and McDonald took a reverse pass from Maynard to squeeze in at the corner.
The Drovers face a real challenge on Friday night when they play Bridgend at the Brewery Field (KO 7:30pm).
The Ravens pushed Ebbw Vale all the way on Saturday before going down 18-16 to a 78th-minute penalty try.
Tries: J Evans (2), B Watkins, J Powell, M Page, G McDonald
Cons: J Maynard (4)
Try: R Evans
Con: S Williams