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Whitland beat Saints in derby

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Whitland              31

St Clears               10

League 2 West

By Jonathan Twigg

THE Bois Pwll Trap sponsored Whitland side gained the bragging rights in the first league encounter against St Clears on Saturday (Sept 9) when they gained a bonus point victory at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn by running in four tries.

For the opening 20 minutes of the game the visiting ‘Boars’ found it difficult to establish a pattern which would give a platform from which scrum half Llyr Ebsworth and half back partner Shane Morgan could gain momentum.

Home skipper Marc Jones chose to keep the look for five points through dominant line outs play, turning down kickable penalty attempts. Second rows, veterans Dai Ebsworth and Raff Williams were the targets for hooker Jones in these early exchanges with the opening score arriving after six minutes when prop Aaron Mayne crashed over from close range following a pass by scrum half Adam Davies following second phase ball from the set piece.

This was a just reward for the opening period of pressure with outside half Nico Setaro pushing his conversion attempt across the goal and striking the left hand upright.

Centre Johnnie Thomas made space from the restart and with runners on his shoulder either side as he sped over the halfway line timed a pass to winger Sean Coles who was caught and bundled into touch 20m short of the whitewash by visiting skipper Matthew Lewis.

Whitland debutant Josh Thomas: Direct running at the St Clears defence

Geraint Jones did have an attempt at goal into a driving wind blowing towards the ‘Town’ end as number 8 Tomas Rees, Ebsworth and prop Alun Davies created the goal attempt when the home side were penalised by referee Jason Summers for offside.

Setaro scored to make it 8-0 after sixteen minutes when he struck a penalty from the 10m line which sailed through the posts as punishment for St Clears being offside at the ruck and both sets of forwards were happy to exchange pleasantries with each other as they wrestled for dominance.

After 25 minutes Morgan and Mike Georgiou were able to create an opening for outside centre Wayne Rice to break through into the Whitland 25, with the supporting Dafydd Waters pulled by home full back Scott Newton, resulting in another flurry of fists with Newton and second row Walters receiving yellow cards, but Jones couldn’t punish with three points.

Ebsworth, alongside flankers Dafydd Page and Courtney Bowman gained belief in their ability to keep the ball in hand and gaps emerged which allowed the visitors to create an attacking platform for the first time in the game, supported when skipper Lewis opted for Jones to kick for the corner as opposed to another difficult attempt at goal in the squally weather conditions.

Without influential veteran second row Carwyn Davies, being treated for an on field injury the ‘Boars’ won the ball through Rees and it was being recycled by his fellow forwards before they relinquished possession through stamping at the ruck, allowing Setaro to clear for Whitland from the danger area.

As half time approached Setaro stretched the lead with another penalty on 32 minutes after Jones, alongside the back row had moved the game into the St Clears 25 with some smooth handling, securing a penalty for offside.

From the restart, the ‘Engine Room’ of Williams and Ebsworth secured crucial yardage allowing Setaro space to run at the defence line, chip over, collect and from the ensuing ruck on 30m, slot over a penalty as St Clears were once again penalised for offside.

With both sides now back to full numbers and the scoreboard showing 17-3 in Whitland’s favour the next score was going to be decisive with five minutes of the half remaining, which came in a fortuitous way for Whitland when Ryan Michael gathered and ran in unopposed from 10m for Setaro to convert, making it 24-3 at half time.

That Michael was unopposed came about as Setaro set himself for a drop goal attempt, which was touched in flight by St Clears hands and it looped over the retreating Whitland forwards into his hands, with no St Clears cover around to prevent the score.

Credit to St Clears who emerged from the half time break with energy to use the elements in their favour, with heavy drizzle mixing with the wind allowing Davies and hooker Alan Proctor to make gains into home territory.

Walters, a sniping Ebsworth and Andrew Howells carried this momentum forward to pull Michael offside, from which Jones thumped the right hand upright from nearly 40m.

Further penalties followed for St Clears, with Morgan taking the initiative to keep the ball alive and play move back and forth across the pitch as St Clears drove forward but didn’t have the crucial points needed to influence the outcome of the game.

A line out on 20m was again secured by Davies, returning to the Club he served so well a decade ago and when the ball was released from the driving maul Morgan was held up two meters from the line.

A penalty for offside in front of the post was turned down by Lewis in favour of an attacking scrum, which wheeled around for number 8 Rees to pick up, put Ebsworth into a half gap and from the ensuing ruck Page was guided over the line by his fellow forwards, for Jones to add the extras.

With both sides making substitutions the game as a spectacle became disjointed and the weather didn’t help the tired minds as there were ball handling errors which prevented either side establishing any sustained impetus.

Whitland do possess a back division which has thoughtful and skilful three quarters, who play off each other to create chances for their outside runners; typified when Newton entered the line from a slick pass from Setaro on 70 minutes, popping the ball to Josh Thomas who crashed through the defence line.

The ball was recycled quickly allowing Setaro and Newton to create space for Johnnie Thomas to glide through and from 35m out once again time a pass to the Coles who raced clear, avoiding the despairing effort of last man Lewis to touchdown under the posts for the bonus point try. Setaro ended the games scoring on 31-10.

Whitland coaches Gareth Bennet and Dan Mason were happy to secure a bonus point victory when they spoke after the match. “It was a niggly game which we expected” said Mason “but credit to our lads for holding their composure and backing their own ability when the game demanded.”  Bennett was also praise worthy of his sides “efforts to keep the ball in hand, which produced four tries and a maximum point haul from the game.  The fourth try built around our midfield ball handlers resulted in seven points and was just reward for the boy’s efforts.”

Visiting coach Mike Jones acknowledged his side found it difficult to get into the game in the first quarter as the step up in standard meant they “took time to adjust to their new surroundings.”   He went further to “praise all my players for their efforts as we did get opportunities in difficult positions and on another day the three missed penalties pop over and the game is different at 17-12.  We made too many errors and Whitland have an experienced side which disrupted our ability to use front foot ball.”

When the game was completed both teams received resounding applause from a large and appreciative crowd of more than 800, buoyed from the half time singing of match sponsor Cor Meibion Hendy-Gwyn.

Whitland travel to Trinity Fields tomorrow to take on Carmarthen Athletic, the only other unbeaten side in the division alongside themselves, after they beat Fishguard 28-21 at the Moor last Saturday.  Experienced level three official Andrew Miles from Hook, will oversee this top of the table fixture.

Sport

Rugby and Girlguiding join forces to provide new opportunities

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WELSH Rugby is joining forces with Girlguiding Cymru to offer new opportunities to girls across Wales.

As the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women, Girlguiding conduct an annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey, collecting the views of girls and young women aged 7 to 21 across the UK on a wide range of issues.

The latest survey revealed that girls and young women are encountering gender stereotypes in all areas of their lives – from their peers to the media, causing them to change their behaviour because of the pressure they feel to be or act a certain way. 55% of girls ages 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think.

When asked what sports girls aged 11 to 21 want to do at school, 22% want to play rugby. Through the newly found partnership with Girlguiding Cymru, the WRU is looking forward to introducing rugby to girls who do not have the chance to participate through school and show them that girls can play rugby regardless of their gender.

Members of all sections of Girlguiding Cymru (starting with Rainbows) will now be able to work towards a Welsh Rugby badge, guide leaders have been put through a WRU coaching qualification in order to start introducing rugby games within their girlguiding units, and there will be opportunities to link up with girls-only summer clusters around Wales.

Wales Women international and rugby sevens Olympian Jasmine Joyce, a former guide herself, is an ambassador for the scheme. She said: “When I was in the guides, the activities tended to mainly involve arts and crafts and problem solving so I think this is a brilliant addition for girlguiding. You make some of your best friends in rugby, and it’s great that we’re working with the clusters to provide new opportunities for guides to get involved in our game.”

Anne Mary Simpson is a 16 year old Young Sports Leader for Gwent Girlguiding. She said: “I’m keen to join a rugby club myself after getting a taste for it on the training day. It’s fun and so energetic, I think it’s something the girls will really enjoy, especially at their age.”

Penny Christie From Second Narberth Browies added: “I think it’s brilliant. We can teach the girls how to work as a team. It’s good for their health and it’s so much fun, our girls will really love it, they are up for anything and this opportunity will be amazing.”

Gabriella Doyle, Sports Development Officer for Girlguiding Cymru said: “After receiving a Calls4Action grant from Sport Wales, we have been able to provide new opportunities for thousands of our members and a ‘Give it a go’ attitude with regards to getting more young women and children engaged in sport and physical literacy.

“Rugby is such a momentous occasion in Wales, the women’s team have done so well so it’s great that our members can be part of this too. We know that our members are very excited about this partnership with Welsh Rugby Union and it could help change the perceptions for many young girls across Wales.”

The WRU believes there is a place for everyone in rugby and is keen to work with Girlguiding to provide new opportunities and make connections with the girls-only clusters around Wales.

Katy Evans, WRU Game Changer for Women and Girls said: “The collaboration with Girlguiding will help both organisations in our aims to provide more opportunities for girls and young women, in terms of playing, but also coaching or volunteering. Hopefully we can help create some new role models for the guides and encourage more women and girls into our game.”

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County Cricket fixtures released

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THE fixtures for the 2018 season of the Pembroke County Cricket League have been released with the first games being played on Sunday, April 22.

Last season the Division 1 title picture was thrown into chaos as Carew declared on 18-1 meaning nearest challengers Cresselly would not be able to win the title.

Carew were subsequently relegated to Division 2 for the way in which they achieved the title and they have been given an intriguing local derby to start things off on the first day, against Division 3 champions Cresselly Seconds.

Back in Division 1, Cresselly’s first team are at home as they take on Division 2 champions Llangwm in what will be a tough test for the visitors.

Fellow promoted side Burton start with a home game but they will face a strong Haverfordwest team.

Kilgetty, who survived relegation because of Carew’s demotion, will start at home against Lawrenny.

St Ishmaels welcome Neyland and Whitland are at home as they take on Johnston.

Elsewhere in Division 2, Narberth, who finished third last season will take on newly promoted Hook.

Relegated Pembroke start with an away game as they travel to Haverfordwest Seconds.

Llechryd are at home to Whitland II and Saundersfoot play Stackpole.

Llanrhian will start life in Division 3 with an away game against Lamphey while Herbrandston, who just missed out on promotion last year, face Haverfordwest Thirds.

Lawrenny II start with a local derby against Carew Seconds while Division 4 Champions Llechryd Seconds are away to Pembroke Dock.

Fellow promoted side Narberth Seconds are away as they take on Neyland Seconds.

Last season’s Division 5 Champions Laugharne begin their Division 4 campaign with a game away to Llanrhian Seconds.

Crymych are at home against Burton Seconds while Hook Seconds face St Ishmaels Seconds.

Johnston Seconds who were relegated from the third division will start with a home game against Hundleton.

Llangwm Second will start at home to Saundersfoot Seconds.

In Division 5, Carew Thirds start with a home game against Kilgetty Seconds.

Haverfordwest’s fourth team are at home to Neyland’s third team and Stackpole Seconds are at home to Cresselly’s third team.

Finally there is a local derby as Pembroke Seconds host Pembroke Dock Seconds.

The second round of fixtures will also take place on a Sunday the following week before reverting to the traditional Saturday fixtures from Saturday, May 5.

A full list of fixtures for each Division can be found on the Pembroke County Cricket Club Website.

The Pembroke County Cricket Club AGM is set to take place on Wednesday, February 28, with a number of proposals set to be voted on.

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Croft warms up with big win

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CARDIGAN ABC’s Ioan Croft launched his build-up towards this season’s championships with a notable win over Ibraheem Sulemaan in a Wales Select v England Select match at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on Saturday (Feb 10).

Now campaigning at 57 kg, the Crymych southpaw began strongly and proceeded to hold the centre of the ring for most of the fight, throwing sharp and accurate combinations mixed with his usual solid defence.

“I felt he won comfortably and was surprised when he was awarded a split,” Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft said afterwards.

“For me, it was almost a technically perfect fight where Ioan took the lead and was in control almost from start to finish.

“It was his first fight of three minutes per round and he did show signs of tiredness at the end of the second, but had recovered to some extent by the third.”

Unfortunately, twin brother Garan lost his chance for a Three Nations challenge later this season when he was on the receiving end of a unanimous points decision against George Bance, a short, powerful hooker.

Although the Crymych 16-year-old boxed well in the first round, his English opponent dragged him into a scrappy, close range fight in the second.

“I was very disappointed,” commented Croft senior. “Garan was boxing so well before Christmas and now seems to have fallen back into his old scrappy ways – we have some work to do to get him back on track.”

Promising Cardigan ABC schoolboy Mikey O’Sullivan was edged out on a split decision against Dominic Janes (Splott ABC) at Splott’s Conservative Club the previous night.

In what proved an intense encounter, O’Sullivan landed some strong right hands in a contest which could have gone either way.

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