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Sport

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

Seasiders earn third win

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE Tenby Tourers sponsored Tenby United won their third game of their Division 1 West season when they beat Gorseinon on Saturday (Nov 18) at Heywood Lane 13-6 in a match sponsored by Sion Brace Construction.

The ‘Seasiders’ have found life in the division higher difficult at times this season but they played with accuracy, pace and an uncompromising attitude, attributes required to compete against teams plying their trade at this level.

Gorseinon, home club of Wales and Scarlets full back Leigh halfpenny arrived on an unbeaten six game run stretching back to the middle of September which included an away victory at the then unbeaten league leaders Dunvant progressing to the third round of the National Plate.

The Tenby side included three players on permit, all former ‘red and blacks, where Dan Colley from Pembroke came in on the wing, Pat Roberts, normally a flanker with championship side Narberth in the centre and Narberth team mate Jonathon Rogers at outside half.

Rogers brought to the table something perhaps the home side have missed on occasions in that he kept the ball going forward ensuring the game was played in the opposition areas, which was a huge motivation to his peers, especially the forwards who rose from the coal face with energy when they saw their efforts were rewarded.

Tenby’s Jonathan Rogers with the ball in hand

During the second half such was the dominance and game management applied from Tenby, Gorseinon struggled to get out of their own half for long periods. The Tenby forwards to a man were committed to the cause and took the slippery ball with confidence into the lion’s den and have the skill level to set the play or execute an off load to keep the ball alive.

Man of the match Jack Clancy would have devoured the steaks he received for his performance from Heywoods Butchers in Saundersfoot, as he made many crashing inroads to the heart of the Gorseinon defence, carrying for vital yards whilst also being like a fourth back row forward in hunting down the ball and pressurising the opposition into mistakes.

Tenby have a solid back row unit now Roy Osborne has returned from Carmarthen to dove tail in with Andrew Cooke and Barry Parsons, whose work rate was on par with Clancy.

This game was going to be won or lost on how the Tenby pack faced up to the bigger visiting forwards and alarm bells would have been ringing for coach Chris James early on as his side were nudged backwards in the scrums and needed to up their game to gain parity.

Respect came with the work off the ball in defence where props Lewis Davies and Rob Clarke were heavily involved, with young hooker Kyle Hamer who was also a key component in the offensive work of his side.

Hamer peeled off a line out on halfway to set play in motion for the opening score with Rogers left boot put Tenby in the danger zone.

Winger Moritz Neuman found Cooke on his shoulder as play went with speed into the Gorseinon 22 for centre Jack Guerrio to finish off a forty metre move under the gaze of gateman Des Brace for a 5-0 lead.

Gorseinon had an attacking flair, led by full back Andrew Steel who sought out space and wanted the ball in hand as often as he could. He found willing allies in scrum half Jack Gronow and winger Liam Cross who set the play in the Tenby half and skipper Sean Haycock had little hesitation in taking a scrum set piece when they were awarded a penalty.

Outside half Nick Popham and his centre Richard Rees couldn’t make the break through before Gronow slotted a straight forward penalty after second row Luke Dedman was caught offside to reduce the deficit to 5-3 after a quarter of an hour.

Tenby have an exciting backline who were able to exploit some missed tackles with skipper Johnnie Morgan not needing a second offering to run deep into the Gorseinon half, only to be called back for a miniscule foot in touch.

Clancy stole the line out where Parsons and Neuman stretched the home side across the field, where prop Davies and Cooke set up space for Roger to put a cross kick into the hands of Morgan on the opposite side, with space to canter across in the corner after twenty five minutes.

Referee Rob Hale who travelled from Ebbw Vale for the noon kick off took the opportunity to speak to captains about the back chat he was receiving from players who hadn’t heeded many penalties where they were marched back 10 meters and he identified issues with scrum halves Gronow and Matthew Morgans crooked feeds!

Rogers missed his second conversion attempt but Gronow added a second penalty just before half time where the indiscipline of the Tenby side would be an area of concern for coach James and his number 2 Andrew Morgan during the half time team talk.

The weather deteriorated during the second half, but it seemed to galvanise Tenby further, with Clancy, Davies and the back especially relishing the impact side of the game, which saw visiting prop Callum Steele leave the feel with a shoulder injury.

Knowing Rogers was bringing a calm acuity behind them with decision making the Tenby forwards needed no second invitation to do the hard yards, keeping the ball hemmed deep in the Gorseinon half for long periods.

Rogers missed a long range penalty although his ‘up and under’ were a cause of confusion which Cooke and Neuman capitalised on.

The game plan saw Osborne, Davies and Hamer play well with the ball in hand as did Haycock who set up one last thrust from the visitors to get an equalising score after Rogers extended the lead to 13-6 after centre Tim Payne strayed offside with five minutes to play.

With Hale playing through added time Popham had twice punted the ball into touch after the home forwards were penalised and play was set for a line out from 5 metres, which Nick Southgate secured, and his forwards got momentum.

Replacement hooker Joe Poole smuggled himself into the contact area for Tenby and the Swansea University undergraduate managed to wrestle the ball into his hands and emerge to the undoubted delight of his comrades who engulfed him when Hale blew for full time.

Coach Chris James shared that delight as he said: “It builds our campaign; it’s the first game in a sequence where we are aiming to go into 2018 close to the top of the division. We have come unstuck this year in games where we have made mistakes at crucial times and in impact areas which have cost us points but today we were magnificent in all areas.”

Having witnessed his side spend time in the opposition territory but not convert the pressure into points, James was philosophical in stating “we managed the game well, with Jonathon (Rogers) on permit from Narberth playing the game in the right areas and making calls which enabled us to be on the front foot all match. Credit to Gorseinon for the challenge they presented as Clancy, Lewis Davies, Kyle Hamer and the back row continually drove at them.”

Such was the intensity of the home play Gorseinon lost Callum Steel with a shoulder dislocation and second row Nick Southgate with an AC ligament injury as they made over seventy tackles in the second half. The Tenby backline “is purring” said James, “where the work Andrew (Morgan) puts in with handling at practice coming to fruition today and our defensive pattern and discipline restricted the opportunities we offered for Gorseinon, which ultimately led us to victory.”

Next up for Tenby will be a Pembrokeshire Cup Quarter final at Milford on Saturday (Dec 2) with a noon kick off again before they travel to Tycroes and Llanelli Wanderers in the lead up to Christmas, returning to Heywood Lane on Saturday (Dec 30) when Kidwelly will be the visitors.

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Holders through as Lawrenny beat Kilgetty in goal-fest

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By Jonathan Twigg

FIVE Second Division Cup ties took place on Saturday (Nov 18), with Saundersfoot Sports home match at the King George V field against current table toppers, Hakin United Reserves postponed as the bottom corner was deemed waterlogged by referee Charles Davies.

The winners of that tie will then travel to meet Solva at Glan Hafran in the Quarter Finals early next year as they were already through to the last eight stages as one of two Clubs to receive a bye.

Prendergast Villa were the second club to progress courtesy of a bye and they will welcome Lawrenny to the School Field after the bottom of the table side upturned the form book to overcame last season’s Division 3 champions and current promotion favourites Kilgetty 7-6.

Trailing on their own sports field 4-0 after 20 minutes and missing a plethora of players due to Adam Jenkins stag weekend, the Lawrenny side dug deep in appalling ground conditions and driving rain.

They battled themselves back to reduce the deficit to 4-2 at half time, with goals from centre midfielder Matt Lewis wide midfielder Joe Kidney. Centre forward Henry Lawrence scored the second visiting goal after his side had taken the lead through a deflected goal attempt, before Tom Baker and Lawrence opened a 4-0 lead.

The yellow and blue Kingsmore outfit then went 5-2 ahead with a strike from Brett Evans before the sides exchanged goals through home centre forward Jamie Phillips and Lawrence completed his hat trick.

The village side are made of stern stuff and they rolled up their black and gold sleeves to score three goals in five eventful minutes to set up a grandstand finish for the last ten minutes.

Playing away from their Clubhouse the ground was a tad better which allowed Phillips to net his second of the game, experienced Steve Campbell to level the scores and a minute later young winger Sam Davies to put them ahead for the first time in the keenly contested yet sporting local derby.

Kilgetty failed to square the game before referee Sean O’Connor blew for full time in the game sponsored by Morgan Construction, thanks to some heroic defending coupled with the quagmire in their own goal area and veteran goalkeeper Danny Harries being in top form.

St Clears hammered visitors Letterson 14-0 at the Leisure Centre ground having been set on their way by chirpy attacking midfielder Nathan Evans strike after 40 seconds.

The JRV Taxis sponsored game was over quickly as a contest as the Boars front three scored at will against a side who remained in Division 2 this season by default with Tenby withdrawing from Division 1 before a ball had been kicked in anger this season. Josh James led the way when he went nap for the claret and whites as Steve Thomas helped himself to four goals and the well-travelled Sean Seymour Davies bagged a hat trick alongside a visitor’s own goal.

Such was the one sided nature of the game skipper Martyn Thomas was a distant observer from centre back and his defence marshalled the opposition so well they only had fleeting forays into the danger zone.

Jonathan Sealy also had his spot kick well saved in the bottom left corner by veteran David Lawrence who was responsible for keeping the score to 14-0 with some excellent saves, although home manager Scott Page saw his side waste numerous opportunities.

Reward for the St Clears win will see them travel to the Racecourse to take on current Cup holders Merlin’s Bridge Reserves, buoyed by the return to the Carmarthenshire town of defender Dorian Davies from West Dragons.

Hundleton: Pictured before their Senior Cup game, were beaten by Merlins Bridge on Saturday

The Glenn Hotel sponsored Bridge overcame Hundleton 4-3 at the Village playing field in a scrappy encounter with veteran front man Aaron Devine opening the scoring for the Wizards before Kai Roberts on the right wing put them 2-0 ahead. Jack Phillips pulled one back for the Pembroke village side before half time and the introduction of stoic centre midfielder Lloyd Wilson set the scene for a titanic second half encounter.

With six players under the age of 18 in their starting 11 the Bridge thrived in the battle and sixteen year old left winger Ben Davies extended the lead to 3-1 after 52 minutes.

Another sixteen year old, Josh Thomas made it 4-1 after an hour of play when he struck from his position playing behind Devine and Curtis Hicks grew in stature as the game progressed. Playing in the centre of midfield Hicks dominated in the air and sprayed passes which belied the underfoot conditions in a man of the match performance.

With 10 minutes remaining winger Joe Buckle reduced the score to 4-2 and striker Dylan Davies scored to make the final few minutes a tense affair for the inexperienced visitors who were thankful for the composure to 51 year old goalkeeper Aaron Riley.

Riley made a string of fine saves to roll back the years as his experience as a Welsh league player with Haverfordwest County, albeit as a winger came to the fore, before referee Kevin Millich blew for full time.

St Ishmaels travelled to Pill Parks to take on a Llangwm side who progressed to Division 2 following three promotions in four years, but bowed out 2-0 in their first foray into the cup competition refereed by Karl Davies.

Tish scored a goal in each half with player manager Andrew Howells tapping in at the far post after nearly 30 minutes of the first half thanks to some excellent work wide out from Ieuan Hawkins. Home goalkeeper Ashley Bevans, standing between the sticks for his twin brother Anthony who was away training with the Royal Navy did well behind a back four led by veteran left back Gary Reynolds.

Glen Hewer, Dan Thomas and Martin John supported Reynolds in keeping the attacks at bay as the visiting midfield got the upper hand in the difficult conditions. In a game of few clear cut opportunities the tie was put to bed by Hawkins who capitalised on good wing play from Joseph Bates as in the first half to find space at the far post to score.

St Ishmaels will welcome Fishguard Sports to the Recreation ground, after they overcame Johnston 4-1 at Tregroes Park. The Sports were always in control of the game and led the ‘Tigers’ 2-0 thanks to strikes from former Goodwick midfielder Lewis Banks and Ryan Howells just before the half time whistle from referee Keith Amos.

Stand-in goalkeeper Lewis Boswell was blameless for the goals as the home side dominated possession against a side which lifted the West Wales Intermediate Cup just four seasons ago and they had a chance through striker Ryan Doyle just after the break when he should have pulled the score back to 2-1 when he was one on one with goal keeper.

The game went 4-0 to the Sports through defensive mistakes by centre back Jack Bevans, who lost his footing allowing Banks to score his second of the game before he was robbed close to his own 18 yard box and Matt Harries walked the ball into the net.

Doyle pulled a consolation back with a sumptuous strike before the end for Johnston who will now concentrate on pulling themselves away from second bottom of the league and the ignominy of successive relegations.

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Goodwick and Hakin earn place in fifth round

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GOODWICK United and Hakin United both kept the Pembrokeshire flag flying high on Saturday (Nov 18), as they booked their places in the fifth round of the FAW Trophy.

The Pembrokeshire League rivals have both been in excellent form so far this season and were well deserving of their fourth round victories.

Hakin United beat Caerphilly Athletic 3-2 thanks to two goals from Justin Harding and another from Ben Steele.

Goodwick United also won away beating Ynysddu Welfare 1-0 thanks to a goal from Adam Raymond.

The Vikings reached the fourth round after an 8-1 away to Cwmcarn Athletic after earlier wins against Pencoed Athletic and Bonymaen Colts.

Goodwick United beat Swansea League side Penlan 3-2 in the third round following wins over Rockspur and Ynystawe in the first two rounds.

The draw for the fifth round was made on Monday and saw Goodwick drawn at home while Hakin will play away once more.

Goodwick United were drawn at home to Penydarren BGC of the South Wales Alliance League.

Hakin United were drawn away to Llangefni Town who are currently top of the Welsh Alliance League.

Those ties will be played on Saturday, January 13, 2018.

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