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Skudder’s try hat trick in Blues victory

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Written by Jonathan Twigg

HAVERFORDWEST travelled to Pill Parks, Llangwm on Saturday (Sept 23) and returned with a convincing 54-5 victory to keep their 100% Division 3A West league record intact thanks to a hat trick of tries from winger Ben Skudder.

Skudder was part of a back division which dominated the game for the ‘Blues’ as outside half Matthew Davies pulled the strings for centre pairing of Gareth John and Dane Pindair to cause problems all afternoon for the hosts.

In fairness to the Wasps they battled hard to the end and ensured their more ‘millionaire’ opponents didn’t get it all their own way as the scoreline suggests, especially in the game’s opening quarter when outside half Louis Murphy had three kickable penalty attempts to chalk his side on the scoreboard.

Llangwm, whilst disjointed in their phased build up play drew the Haverfordwest defence line into conceding numerous penalties.

Time after time the visitors were guilty of being penalised for over running the offside line or holding in the tackle, with referee Davies warning skipper Alun Harries of his concern.

An outline of the Blue inability to master the referees requirement resulted in occasions where they were marched back 10m for verbally berating his decisions, where fifteen penalties were conceded in the first 25 minutes. From one such offence of not releasing the player in the tackle centre John was sin binned with his side leading 7-0, after he had converted a fine try by full back Ollie Hughes.

Davies had pushed a 25m drop out deep into the Llangwm half which saw home full back Steve Picton caught by hooker Ryan Palmer as he ran the ball back on 12 minutes. Second row Adam Williams picked up and drove on from the ruck, before a half break from scrum half Richard James saw Pindair break through two tackles on the crash ball. The Blues forwards quickly recycled the ball for Davies to put Hughes in space and he rounded the covering tackles wide out to score.

An impatient Haverfordwest prevented them delivering a much larger winning margin as they endeavoured to push boundaries in the aim of scoring from early phase possession. Coaches Bruce Evans and Simon Le Petit would have been frustrated with this lack of composure which saw promising attacking movements halted by handling errors.

With John out of the game following his tackle to stop home centre Josh Hicks strong run over 30m through the midfield, it did have the desired effect to settle their play into a composed rhythm.

This resulted in the second score of the half, an opening effort for Skudder who responded to James’ tap and go from a penalty following a scrum offence for pushing early by the home pack.

Ben Skudder: A hat trick of tries for the Blues

Davies accepted the ball from James feeding dynamic flanker Morgan Layton, who rumbled 15m upfield before Pindair’s quick hands put full back Hughes in space.  He drew last man Picton with a beautiful timed pass to Skudder who raced over from 35m before Hughes slotted over the conversion in John’s absence.

Haverfordwest, buoyed by this second score when reduced to 14 men kept the same game plan causing Llangwm to miss tackles through Jack Griffiths, Hicks, Murphy and Picton which allowed Haverfordwest to dominate the territory as half time approached.

Back to full strength prop Ritchie Little was instrumental in setting a platform for Davies to dance over with five minutes of the half remaining, although John missed the simplest of his kicks to leave the half time score 19-0 in the Blues favour.

The second half started as the first had finished with the visitors on the front foot, although the game didn’t gain momentum with both packs at fault for ‘early engagement’ penalties which riled the partisan supporters of both camps.

Encounters between the two sides over the years have been feisty and the traditional ‘Bishop Cup’ fixtures on Boxing Day attracting four figures crowds revelling in their time out of the house during the Yule tide period.  Banter at these games is second to none and both sides buy into the occasion and raise their game.

‘Harfat’ landed their bonus point try as the hour mark approached after Hicks was isolated in possession and the ball swiftly moved out to the hands of Davies and John for Pindair to put winger Rhys Baker over towards the play park corner for John to superbly convert, where he didn’t miss another kick all afternoon.

The versatile Hicks, playing at Centre having started the season as a second row was taking the game to the visitors, where the rest of the home side, second Row Ashley James and skipper James Lewis apart failed to respond. Hicks surprisingly lacked some football skills when leading the foot race with James as he was quickest to respond to his skipper and hooker Aled Morgans work on the ground.

The strong running centre did get his sides score on 65 minutes when a poor kick from Pindair was collected by number 8 Ian Griffiths who with his fellow back row of James Lewis, skipper and namesake, playing on permit from Whitland allowed Hicks some momentum in midfield.  He left John and Skudder in his wake as he thundered over from 25m, with Picton missing the conversion.

The smarting Blues quickly regrouped after allowing their defences to be breached and two minutes later from a scrum, Davies and John combined to put Pindair into space and he broke a tackle from Gavin Jenkins to stroll in from 15m and the lead was 33-5.

With ten minutes remaining Skudder scored his second try after good work again by hooker Palmer on the floor ensured space was created wide out for Skudder to finish under the posts.

Home second row James again came to the fore, in his first game of the season to allow his side to gain territory from their limited possession, with the game drifting towards a mundane finish as fitness impacted on the skill level alongside the continual run of replacements.

The final score of the afternoon came with a minute of play remaining, after a mazy Baker run over 35m resulted in a Llangwm scrum as Josh Atherton was penalised for holding the ball.

The Blues pack managed to get ‘one against the head’ allowing skipper Harries to pick up from the base of the scrum, feeding the ball back inside to James to get a pass away to the ‘loitering’ Skudder who pinned back his ears over 20m for his hattrick and push the scoreboard over the 50 point mark.

Coaching gurus Evans and Le Petit were delighted with the win post-match, identifying the work rate of flanker Layton in the same breath as Skudder for his finishing and ball players Davies and Hughes for their awareness in getting the ball wide to players in space. “We didn’t want to get embroiled in a dog fight, which many of these local derbies can become” said Evans. “Our game plan was disrupted, maybe by the occasion as we weren’t willing to build the phases required to create the scoring opportunities.”

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Chairman’s disappointment at Haverfordwest County AFC v Cefn Druids game postponement

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TODAY’S match (Sept 12) between Haverfordwest County AFC and Cefn Druids has been postponed.

The club’s chairman, Robert Edwards, said that he was disappointed to learn the news and stated that the club had followed every single FAW regulation and protocol to the letter.

In an official statement, Mr Edwards said: “The club are extremely disappointed to learn of the postponement of today’s match versus Cefn Druids. It has been a summer of change at the club and we were all looking forward to seeing our hard work played out on the pitch today. The ground staff, coaching team, and Club Secretary have worked tirelessly for the last few weeks, so I am bitterly disappointed for them, and cannot thank them enough for their effort and dedication.

“We would like to make it clear that our club has followed every single FAW regulation and protocol to the letter. Since the resumption of training, we ensured that all rules within the Return to Play guidelines were followed during their respective phases, all players and staff have completed Benchmark COVID-19 questionnaires, and we have spent the previous few weeks guaranteeing that The Bridge Meadow Stadium is a safe environment for football to resume, as per FAW guidelines.

“At all our pre-season games, we ensured that they were correctly sanctioned, and once again, all protocols were followed. We will continue our hard work to ensure that all rules are followed at our club and look forward to getting our campaign underway against Cardiff Met on Tuesday.
“We will not make any further public comment as a club and will be liaising directly with FAW on this matter.”

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Rooks triumph at Treleet

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Alec Colley Cup Final
Carew (95 for 8 and 103 for 8) beat
St Ishmaels (64 for 9 and 106 for 8)
by 29 runs

FAVOURITES Carew won the Alec Cup Final at Treleet on Sunday, August 30, but not without St Ishmael’s second-string showing that they were not be taken lightly.

The decisive period of the match was both sides’ first innings.

Batting first in tricky conditions, Carew struggled against accurate Tish bowling from the outset, with only opener Nick Scourfield providing resistance among the top order batters. And it wasn’t as if Tish didn’t have the chance to deny Carew even that as Danny Flynn dropped Scourfield off opening bowler Kevin Bowen in the Final’s first over.

As it was, Carew stumbled to 45-6 with only five overs of their first knock remaining. It wasn’t until Dai Rees joined Scourfield that the scoring’s tempo increased. Rees hit three sixes on his way to an invaluable 24 before Flynn’s catch off Stuart Carpenter’s bowling. Scourfield also increased his previously sedate progress to add four boundaries in what proved a vital partnership with Rees that helped Carew close on 95-8.

St Ishmaels got off to a rotten a start as Carew’s bowlers exploited conditions. Their innings limped along without a major partnership and only opener Robbie Thomas, along with Steve Williams and Flynn made double figures.

Carew skipper Barry Evans used his nous to end with four wickets, while Kerry Waters applied the squeeze by conceding only ten runs in his spell for the wicket of Ieuan Hawkins. At the end of twenty overs, Tish had struggled to a meagre 64-9, conceding a thirty one run lead to Carew.

With opener Nick Scourfield suffering from a hamstring injury, Carew pressed Morgan Grieve up the order to partner Brian Hall and the pair started off brightly but were separated by Steve Williams before Kevin Bowen claimed Hall’s wicket. St Ishmaels exerted real pressure on the Carew batsmen, with Steve Williams claiming an excellent 3-16.

Carew were indebted to another late innings rally, again featuring Rees, this time in a partnership with Simon Wood. Wood batted cleverly and mixed powerful strokes with some excellent cricket shots on his way to unbeaten 40. Carew’s innings closed on 103-8, setting the underdogs a challenging 135 to win.

After their first innings’ travails, such a chase seemed highly unlikely for Tish. However, Flynn and Rhead were steady at the start before the former’s dismissal by Simon Wood (3-27). Kevin Bowen then gave Tish some real hope with a dashing 25 runs before being caught by Haydn Shapcott off skipper Barry Evans’ slow left-armers.

A rapid-fire partnership of 28 between Ieuan Hawkins and Steve Williams could not stop the inevitable, as Carew had too many runs and just too much experience to lose the match on a tricky drying surface, left damp by recent heavy rain and overnight showers. Tish never gave up fighting and showed real grit and determination before their second innings closed on 106-8, leaving Carew winners by 29 runs.
Umpires Jonathan Willington and Allan Hansen chose Simon Wood as the Man of the Match, a new trophy sponsored by Neyland CC in memory of their late clubman Martin Rees which was presented by Neyland Cricket Club’s Chair, Martin Jones.

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Cricket: Neyland win Harrison Allen

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A BRILLIANT recovery in the field during Haverfordwest’s first innings laid the foundations for a convincing Neyland victory at Cresselly this afternoon.
Neyland, batting first, carved and scampered their way to 142 in their first innings.
Haverfordwest’s reply started in brutal fashion, as Adam James smashed the bowling to all parts, peppering the boundary with a succession of massive hits on his way to a quick fire 34. With the fourth over of the Haverfordwest innings not yet finished, the Town were on 54 and looking like they would set all sorts of scoring records.
Andrew Miller and, particularly, Ross Hardy established a measure of control and sharp fielding squeezed the Haverfordwest batsmen, cutting off boundaries and harrying the batsmen into mistakes.
Neyland reeled in the Town batsmen so successfully that, having looked on course at first for a mammoth score and then a big first-innings lead, they got a slender eight-run lead to take into their second innings.
Neyland started slowly in their second innings before Ashley Sutton and Patrick Bellerby began to step on the gas after Nick Koomen went early. They were particularly severe on veteran spinner Clive Tucker, who took heavy punishment from the pair.
Their good work was carried on by Nathan Banner, who belted a series of massive sixes off Simon Holliday and Clive Tucker, as Neyland posted a massive 214 runs, setting an imposing 222 target.
Despite a rapid start by Potter and an injured Adam James in their second innings, as soon as wickets started to fall, they kept on tumbling as Neyland were sharp in the field and Ross Hardy bowled with great control from the difficult Pavillion End.
The introduction of Andrew Miller from the School End saw him pick up the wicket of Ben Field, who mishit a gentle catch to extra cover.
With him, Haverfordwest’s faint last hope vanished and their innings stuttered to 103-9 leaving them 119 runs adrift and Neyland as Bowl champions.
For his batting in both innings and brilliant fielding, Ashley Sutton was named man of the match.

FULL REPORT IN THIS FRIDAY’S HERALD

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