Newcastle Emlyn 17
Ystrad Rhondda 25
THE NEWCASTLE EMLYN team did themselves and the hundreds of fans who travelled up the M4 proud on Sunday (May 3) in their first ever appearance in the Millennium Stadium. With the lead changing hands seven times the result was in doubt up until the final few minutes of this cracking encounter. The greatest pity was that the second half was played in a torrential downpour with the WRU only deciding to close the roof at the end of the game.
Ystrad Rhondda in the end proved to be the more powerful side and deserved their victory, scoring three tries to Emlyn’s one. With the rain pouring down both sides deserved a great deal of credit for their intent to play in conditions which did not suit running rugby. It was possibly the red and whites that suffered most as they attempted to move the ball wide throughout the second half in their attempts to break down the well organised Ystrad defence.
All the early pressure came from Ystrad who started positively and declined two kickable penalties, as they went for a try from two line outs and two scrums on the Emlyn line. They undoubtedly thought they could target the Emlyn scrum but the fit again props Dai Jones and Gethin Davies, aided by hooker Alex Williams, proved to be very solid in the set piece. It was from a line out that Emlyn were in fact extremely fortunate not to concede a try with the video referee ruling that Emlyn number eight Brynmor Jones had been able to halt an Ystrad forward millimetres from the line.
After twelve minutes Emlyn were finally able to relieve the pressure when centre Viv Jenkins was able to intercept a pass and set up a ruck, allowing full back Shaun Leonard to clear the ball to the half way line. In fact, against the run of play, it was Leonard who opened the scoring with a long range penalty after Ystrad were penalised for a high tackle.
With both sides in second place in their respective leagues this game was always going to be a tight affair decided by the side who made the fewest mistakes or moments of individual brilliance. The moment of brilliance came from the Ystrad full back David Gratton. From the restart the Emlyn clearance kick was not particularly well directed allowing outside half Rhys Truelove to gather the ball on the half way line in the middle of the pitch. Gratton took the pass and ran at the advancing Emlyn defenders, he chipped over their heads, caught the ball and rounded the only remaining Emlyn defender to score an unconverted try in the corner.
To their credit Emlyn did not allow this defensive lapse to upset them and proceeded, courtesy of the boots of outside half Rhidian Harries and Shaun Leonard, to spend a great deal of the half in Ystrad territory. From a line out just outside the Ystrad twenty two, an accurate throw by Williams saw second row Arwel Davies deliver perfect ball from the top of his jump to scrum half Mike Jones. He fed Rhidian Harries who spotted a gap in the Ystrad defence and went straight through it. Unfortunately for him the supporting centre Alun Howells could not quite get clear of a defender as he desperately attempted to get close to Harries. The outside half’s run was brought to a halt some seven metres out and when Emlyn were penalised at the resulting ruck Harries was left stricken on the ground. After lengthy treatment Harries was eventually carried from the field on a stretcher and Steffan Evans came on as a replacement for him.
Territorially Emlyn dominated this half but found it virtually impossible to break down the Ystrad defence. They did have a golden opportunity when centre Alun Howells made a nice outside break and fed full back Leonard on the narrow side. Unfortunately Leonard decided to attempt to chip kick the ball over the head of the remaining defender instead of feeding unmarked winger Dan Davies. The kick was charged down and Ystrad were able to clear the danger.
With half time approaching Emlyn finally managed to score a try. From a ruck on the right hand side of the field the ball was passed to Leonard standing in the outside half position. The full back perfectly judged his cross kick for winger Dan Davies to catch and manage to squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Emlyn attacked from the start of the second half and were unfortunate when, after some excellent driving play by the forwards led by Arwel Davies, the slippery ball shot out of a ruck on the Ystrad side allowing them to clear the ball downfield. Leonard extended Emlyn’s lead to six points with a well struck penalty soon after the restart but the heavy rain was beginning to have an effect on the game as the ball, for handling purposes, became like a bar of soap.
The next score belonged to Ystrad when their outside half Truelove chipped over the Emlyn defenders in a pre-planned move from a ruck for right winger Mathew Hurley to gather the ball. The winger was brought down short of the line and through the excellent work of open-side Owain Powell, who was comfortably Emlyn’s best player, Emlyn managed to turn the ball over. Unfortunately a poor clearance kick gave the men from the Rhondda the opportunity to attack Emlyn on the narrow side and left winger Chris Clayton crossed for a try excellently converted from wide out by outside half Rhys Truelove.
Their one point lead was short lived as from the kick off they were penalised and Shaun Leonard regained the lead for Emlyn with a penalty goal. Coach Marc Lloyd now brought on replacement Luke Kendall and the big number eight with Premiership experience started to take the game to Ystrad with some powerful surging runs. Leonard extended Emlyn’s lead when after runs by Kendall and Alun Howells, Ystrad, defending desperately, were penalised for off side and he kicked another penalty to extend Emlyn’s lead to five points.
Emlyn’s cause was not then helped when scrum half Mike Jones had to leave the field with an injury, necessitating Powell having to move to scrum half with Gareth Patterson coming on as a flanker. Ystrad began to empty their bench and the strength on their bench became apparent as their forwards began to take greater control of the game. In second row Nathan Hughes, they had a fine line out forward who dominated the front of the line out supplying them with a constant stream of possession, allowing them to set up numerous driving line outs from deep inside their own twenty two metre area.
The weather then played its part in the next Ystrad try when from a line out inside their own twenty two, the Emlyn pack supplied excellent ball back for it to be cleared. Unfortunately the slippery ball was dropped five metres from their own line. From the resulting scrum Ystrad number eight Liam Davies bulldozed over for a try converted by Truelove to give them a two point lead.
Emlyn continued trying to move the ball wide and use their speedy backs although handling had become something of a lottery. An Emlyn move broke down just inside the Ystrad half and they fly-hacked the ball downfield. Leonard covering across just managed to get to the ball ahead of the chasing backs as the ball crossed the touchline. Unable to stop he kicked the ball into the crowd only to find that bizarrely the referee penalised him for kicking the ball away stopping Ystrad from taking a quick throw in ! This was despite the fact that it would have been an Emlyn throw. Truelove stepped up and increased Ystrad’s lead to five points.
Strong runs by Kendall brought Emlyn back into the Ystrad twenty two and the number eight was brought down short of the line on two occasions. Using the forwards effectively Emlyn set up a number of rucks and then moved the ball wide only for Dan Davies to be tackled into touch inches from the Ystrad line.
Another attack saw the slippery ball spilled by an Emlyn player, picked up by winger Hurley who looked certain to score but for a fine covering tackle by Shaun Leonard. With time running out Emlyn’s efforts became even more desperate but the Ystrad pack were now fully in control of the game. When Emlyn were penalised at a ruck in front of their posts Truelove stepped up to convert the kick and give them their winning eight point margin.
Emlyn Will now be concentrating on their remaining league fixtures as they look to clinch the Division One West crown.
15 Shaun Leonard 14 Owen Francis 13 Alun Howells 12 Viv Jenkins 11 Dan Davies 10 Rhidian Harries 9 Mike Jones: 1 Dai Jones 2 Alex Williams 3 Gethin Davies 4 Dyfed Morgan 5 Arwel Davies 6 Joel James 7 Owain Powell 8 Brynmor Jones
16 Jack Parry 17 Bedwyr Davies 18 Gareth Lloyd 19 Tefion Davies 20 Gareth Patterson 21 Luke Kendall 22 Steffan Evans
Penybont secure Championship conference place
PENYBONT secured their place in the Championship Conference for the second phase of the JD Cymru Premier after they beat Haverfordwest County on Friday (Apr 2).
Manager Rhys Griffiths will have been delighted with his side, who, prior to Friday’s game, had already gained 11 more points this season than they had in the entirety of the 2019/20 season.
Ahead of the game, Haverfordwest knew they needed to win to stand a chance of moving into the top six.
A County win, coupled with a defeat for Caernarfon Town, could have seen them sneak into sixth place but it wasn’t to be for Wayne Jones’ men.
The Bont applied the pressure early on but were unable to test County keeper Matthew Turner.
There was concern for Turner shortly before the half hour mark as he claimed the ball but fell awkwardly under the challenge of Kane Owen.
After receiving treatment he was taken off to be replaced by Wojciech Gajda.
With 45 minutes on the clock the Bont had a corner which Owen floated in and it was Sam Snaith who got his head to it to score despite the best efforts of Gajda.
It was a big blow to the Bluebirds who would have hoped to have been level at the break.
Three minutes into the second half, Ben Fawcett forced his way through but his effort was blocked by the Bont defender.
On 53 minutes, the ball was played into the box from a free kick and sent back across goal to Snaith. He took one touch to flick the ball up in the air and acrobatically shoot towards goal but Gajda made an excellent save to keep his side in the game.
Five minutes later, the Bont doubled their lead as the ball was played to Mael Davies who sent a low driven shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
Sub Marcus Griffiths had an effort for the visitors but his shot towards the bottom left corner was tame and keeper Morris made a comfortable save.
With just over fifteen minutes to go, the ball was played forward for Fawcett but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot and saw his effort saved by the Bont keeper.
The Bluebirds won a series of corners with seven minutes remaining but they were unable to get an effort in as the Bont defended well.
As the clock ticked towards the 90, the Bluebirds’ task of scoring three goals to win the game became increasingly unlikely.
The Bont saw the game out to seal the win and they can now look forward to the second phase of the season in the Championship conference.
Pitch bookings for organised under 18s outdoor activity resume
PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is now able to accept outdoor pitch bookings for organised children’s outdoor activity.
It follows the Welsh Government allowing U18 organised sporting activity to resume.
All Council outdoor pitches are now taking bookings and the council is inviting all junior clubs to get in touch and to book their space.
Whatever your team sport, as long as you are delivering organised sports sessions for children, activities are fully risk assessed and you follow the safety guidelines specified by your sport’s governing body, the council is open and ready to welcome you back.
For more information, to make your booking and to get started please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your club name, the sport you will be training for, the number of players who will be attending along with the days and times you would like to book for.
Please also add your name and contact details along with the space you will be booking and, importantly, the leisure centre you wish to book for.
Further news on facility re-opening will be released as it happens. Check www.pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk and follow Pembrokeshire Leisure on Facebook for updates, news and ways to keep yourself healthy.
A 48-7 victory over Italy leaves Wales a win from the Grand Slam
IT was always going to be a tough game for the Italian side, but now it is official, Wales are one win away from the Grand Slam!
Wales scored seven tries through Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, Ken Owens (2), George North, Callum Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit as they secured a comfortable Six Nations win in Rome.
The unbeaten tournament leaders reeled off a third successive bonus-point victory to increase pressure on their rivals for silverware. Italy meanwhile are staring down the barrel at another Wooden Spoon – they haven’t won a Six Nations match since 2015.
STILL A BIT OF WORK TO DO
The Welsh captain, Alun Wyn Jones, who is just one win away from winning his fourth Six Nations Grand Slam told S4C: “We were pretty clinical, particularly in the first half.
“We’re a tad frustrated with the second half but it’s a case of job done and plenty to work on.
“The excitement I feel every time I pull on this red jersey is insurmountable, so I’m looking forward to getting back to it on Monday and preparing for next weekend.”
Jones added: “It’s job done, but there’s still a bit to work on.”
Another heavy defeat will again raise the inevitable questions about Italy’s position in the Six Nations and whether there should be relegation.
The facts speak for themselves.
Today marked a 31st successive defeat for the Azzurri in the competition, with their last victory coming against Scotland in 2015.
Italy have not managed a home Six Nations win for eight years, with 20 successive losses.
Italy have conceded 187 points and 26 tries in four games this year.
Italy: Trulla, Bellini, Brex, Canna, Ioane, Garbisi, Varney; Fischetti, Bigi (capt), Zilocchi, Cannone, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.
Replacements: Fabiani for Ioane (7-18), Lovotti for Fischetti (65) Riccioni for Zilocchi (33), Lazzaroni for Cannone (52), Mbanda for Meyer (26-36), Violi for Varney (63), Mori for Garbisi (54) Padovani for Trulla (44).
Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, J Davies, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; W Jones, Owens, Tomas Francis, Hill, AW Jones (capt), Navidi, Tipuric, Faletau.
Replacements: Dee for Owens (54), Carre for W Jones (57), Brown for Francis (45), Ball for AW Jones (54), Wainwright for Faletau (51), L Williams for G Davies (52), Sheedy for Biggar (52), Halaholo for North (46)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Touch judges: Pascal Gauzere (France) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
Surely it was discipline that was the main problem for Italy.
Mistakes and an incredible ability to give away stupid penalties, as a series of needless errors allowed the visitors to build an insurmountable lead early on.
It all started with Paolo Garbisi sending the ball dead from the kick-off before Luca Bigi infringed at the breakdown. The captain then cynically stopped a Gareth Davies quick tap and was duly yellow carded. Against 14 men, Wales built up an advantage they would not relinquish as the visitors won the game before it had really started. It was not a good example from the skipper and is symptomatic of where the Italians are currently at.
Arguably since before the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour, the back has struggled for form, leading many to question whether that was it for the Welsh centurion. Although he is only 28, it must be remembered that North has been around at the top level for a long time and there is only so much the body can take in modern day rugby. However, the move into the midfield seems to have given him a new lease of life.
To the surprise of many, Callum Sheedy did not start against Italy after his superb performance versus England. Instead, it was the much criticised Dan Biggar who continued at fly-half and produced a significantly improved display before giving way to the Bristol playmaker in the second period. Sheedy was also excellent when he came on and it leaves Wayne Pivac with a decision to make going forward. No doubt, Biggar will start next week against France – albeit the head coach is not afraid of making a big call – but the 25-year-old is certainly not far off the first XV.
Much has been said and written about the Azzurri’s continued presence in the Six Nations and based on the evidence in this fixture, they really shouldn’t be playing in a competition of this stature. Franco Smith’s charges were never at the races with Wales racing into a 22-0 lead midway through the half without really breaking a sweat. Italy hardly threatened on attack – especially during the first half – and it looked like it was a case of men against boys for large periods of this Test. The result means they have now lost 31 matches on the trot, which is the longest losing streak in the history of the Championship, and they last tasted victory in a Round Three clash against Scotland in 2015. The time is now ripe for tournament organisers to reconsider their participation.
Although Italy were never in this encounter, Wales deserve plenty of credit as they impressed for the entire game and made full use of the opportunities which were presented to them.
Pivac will be delighted with the clinical fashion with which his players went about their business and they had their bonus point in the bag by the half-hour mark after Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau and Ken Owens (2) crossed for tries. Despite leading 27-0 at the interval, Wales did not take their foot of the pedal with North also crossing the whitewash soon after the restart and although Monty Ioane scored a try for the hosts, that was a mere blip as Wales continued to dominate and sealed their win with five-pointers from Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit.
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