WANDERERS OFF TO A FINE START
LLANELLI Wanderers are gearing up for their return to action at Gowerton on Saturday looking to continue a decent start to the campaign in Division One West.
The Stradey Park club have won four and lost two of their first six matches and are currently fifth in the table, nine points back on leaders and last season’s champions Felinfoel.
They also have a game in hand on all of the top three sides, including second-placed Gowerton, ahead of the weekend clash.
The Wanderers have also progressed to the third round of the WRU National Plate where they have been handed a tough-looking trip to 2014 runners-up and One East Central table-toppers Rhiwbina.
John Davies’s side have certainly responded well after what was, by their own admission, a disappointing eighth-placed finished last season, having finished runners-up in 201617.
The new campaign has already brought home victories over Hendy, Tenby United and Dunvant as well as a win at Kidwelly, while they were narrowly beaten 10-6 at home by Felinfoel on the opening day and also went down narrowly 14-13 at Gorseinon.
In the Plate, the Wanderers got the better of Brynaman 22-15 in round two after a walkover against Tycroes in the first round.
“On the whole we’re pleased with the start,” said secretary Richard Keenan.
“After a disappointing season last year the targets were to finish in the top four and to reach the quarter-finals of the Plate competition.
“We were bitterly disappointed to lose the first game to Felinfoel as it was a game we should have won that day, and also speaking to Felinfoel, they also stated that they were lucky to win it.
“Hendy was a great local derby,” he added. “It was a really hard, physical game of rugby with two big disciplined packs going hammer and tongs.
“We were 21-10 down with 15 minutes to go and came back to win 2221 with a last kick of the game conversion. That, for the coaches, was the most pleasing result.”
The Wanderers lost talented backs Jonathan George and Dafydd Daniel to Felinfoel before the season started as well as flanker Shaun Edwards to Llangennech.
That, though, has given youth a chance to shine, with Lewis Jones at full-back, winger Jordan Evans and Lloyd Thomas at No. 10 all making an impact so far.
Keenan continued: “We were disappointed to lose those boys but there’s no sour grapes, they’ve gone on to better themselves and we’ve shuffled our pack.
“Lewis, who was in youth last season, and Jordan, who is still a youth player this season, have both been exceptional and really adapted well to Division One rugby.
“Lloyd has switched from full-back to outside-half and he’s controlling it really well for us.
“I think of our squad that played Brynaman, 19 of them have come through our junior ranks.
“Our captain James Bannister is in his 31st season with the club this year, having started when he was five!
“Last season we were in the middle of the redevelopment of our changes rooms and building a clubhouse which hit snag after snag.
“We didn’t play at home until after Christmas, we were playing on the college pitch and local park pitch and everything that could have wrong with the development went wrong, but we’re pleased that’s behind us and things are looking good at the moment off the field too.”
The Wanderers also have one eye on their Plate trip to Rhiwbina on December 8 when a place in the last 16 will be at stake.
“It’s a tough draw, particularly up there,” continued Keenan. “But I was talking to someone last week and, as they said, Llanelli Wanderers are also a good side and we shouldn’t hold any fear going up there.”
Llanelli Wanderers’ Benjamin Williams tries to break through the Kidwelly defence in a game last season.