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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 pays tribute to Tommo

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TRIBUTES have poured in following the news that popular Scarlets match-day announcer Andrew ‘Tommo’ Thomas has passed away at the age of 53.
Tommo was a huge character at Parc y Scarlets on match-day, bringing his infectious personality to the mic.
An official statement from the Scarlets said: “We are devastated to hear that the voice of Parc y Scarlets, Andrew ‘Tommo’ Thomas, has passed away suddenly.
“Tommo was a hugely popular figure as the Parc y Scarlets match-day announcer, a passionate Scarlets fan who brought his character and energy to every match.”
Scarlets chaplain Reverend Eldon Phillips said: “We are devastated to hear this tragic news. Tommo loved the Scarlets and put his heart and soul into his role as our match-day announcer.
“A huge character, he was much loved by supporters, players and staff.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Donna and son Cian at this sad time.”
Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney said: “This is desperately sad news. Tommo will be greatly missed by us all. I’ll miss his smile, energy and passion. Gone too soon, much love to his family at this terrible time.”
Attack coach Richard Whiffin tweeted: “Incredibly sad news. Tommo will be greatly missed by us all. Will miss his match day hugs! Love to his friends & family at this terrible time.”
Referee Nigel Owens took to social media to say: “Rwy methu credu y peth. Well I am devastated. A great man and a true friend. I Cant beleive it. Cydymdeimlad dwys iw wraig ar mab ac ir teulu I gyd. Bydd colled enfawr ar ei ol. Always had a smile on his face. RIP Tommo
Tommo was hugely popular with Scarlets players who posted tributes on their own personal social media pages.
Springbok Uzair Cassiem said: “Devastated by the news of your passing! Always got the biggest smile, big handshake before and after games! To the family and friends of Andrew Tommo Thomas, condolences from my family and myself.
Wales prop Rob Evans said: “Really sad to hear the news about Tommo tonight. Thoughts are with his family, a great man full of laughs.”
Former Scarlets captain Rupert Moon said: “Lost a great friend @TOMMORADIO …… my brother by another mother. Thoughts with his family & all his many friends. Sleep well buddy. Big boys do cry.”
Another ex-Scarlets skipper Matthew Rees said: “Can’t believe the news coming from west tonight. Tommo you were a true gent. PYS will never be the same!!”
Former Scarlets full-back Morgan Stoddart said: “Hearing of the passing of @TOMMORADIO, dreadful news. What a great man. He brought laughter to any room he entered. Will be remembered and missed. #TrueScarlet
Title-winning Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne, now with Munster, said: “Very sad news to hear of the passing of Tommo. An absolute gentleman, a passionate Welshman, and a true Scarlet.”
Among the other former players to pay their tributes were Kieron Fonotia, Michael Tagicakibau, Ryan Lamb, Rhys Thomas and Gareth Maule, while messages of condolence came from Cardiff Blues, Dragons and Ospreys,
Dragons hooker Richard Hibbard said: “Really sad news, RIP Tommo. What a great bloke.”
Tommo was also a popular radio presenter. He had been with BBC Radio Cymru between 2014 and 2018. He then left to present a daily program on Nation Broadcasting station. In 2011 he won the Radio Presenter of the Year award for his work on Nation stations in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
Rhuanedd Richards, Editor of BBC Radio Cymru, said: “Tommo was proud of his roots and a unique broadcaster who loved to entertain his audience on Radio Cymru. With his powerful voice and larger than life personality, his love for his family, west Wales and of course the Scarlets were a great influence on his broadcasting.”

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Crymych win at new home

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Crymych 132- 3 defeated Hundleton 74-7
IT WAS a happy start to Crymych CC’s new life at Ysgol Y Preseli playing fields as the home side brushed aside Hundleton in the Alan Brown Cup.
The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl first, with the pitch showing signs of Monday’s heavy rain. Crymych opened with captain Sam Kurtz and chairman Rhodri Lewis, who started steady after a couple of tight overs from B Adams and S Williams (1-12). Both batsmen rotated the strike early on before Lewis chipped a ball to Peter Fox off Williams’ bowling for 7.
Kurtz then lifted the tempo with some boundaries, after Rich Thorne departed for 2, cleaned bowled by Stapleton (1-24). Osian Wyn the next batsman in as Kurtz reached his 50 in only 31 balls, having been dropped early on. Kurtz departed for 87, bowled by B Adams (1-42). Wyn and new batsman Dan Griffiths (3) then ran hard between the wickets in the final overs as the home side set the visitors 133 to win.
Hundleton’s reply got off to a rocky start as opening bowler Ioan Davies clean bowled both S McNiffe (1) and B Adams (0). Peter Fox caused the homeside some concern though, as he struck a couple of big sixes on his way to 24, before being caught and bowled by Dan Griffiths.
J Williams carried his bat for most of the innings, but as he looked to lift the run rate he was stumped by Kurtz, off Dan Jones’ slow stuff. Tight bowling from Wyn (1-14) and Ali Davies (1-6) Both Humphries and Lockyer departed without troubling the scorers with Griffiths clean bowling the latter for final figures of 2-13.
UMPIRE Dave Brandon
Crymych 132-3: Sam Kurtz 87; Osian Wyn 20*
B Adams 1-42; S Williams 1-12; C Stapleton 1-24
Hundelton 74-7: P Fox 24; J Williams 25
Dan Griffiths 2-13, Ioan Davies 2-9, Osian Wyn 1-14, Ali Davies 1-6, Dan Jones 1-16
Crymych win by 58 runs

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Swans grab last gasp play-off spot

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WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).

Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.

The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.

The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.

And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.

The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.

Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.

The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.

But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.

John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.

Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.

Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.

Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.

But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.

However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.

Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.

With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.

Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.

With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.

Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.

However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.

Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.

Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.

They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.

The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.

And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.

Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.

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