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Seasiders sink Aber

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By Jonathan Twigg

TENBY welcomed an Aberystwyth team, which boasted the best defensive record having conceded just one try on average in Division 1 West this season, to Heywood Lane on Saturday (Sept 30) and ran out 33-7 winners scoring four tries to secure maximum points in a fully committed performance.

Not having played each other for twelve seasons in a league fixture, home skipper Johnnie Morgan elected for his side to play against the elements in the first period, where heavy rain before kick-off and a driving wind off the sea meant the hosts would have to be at their best defensively to keep the ‘Bluebears’ at bay.

Tenby did more than that as they showed a willingness to move the Jewsons sponsored ball through the hands of their back division

The Aberystwyth side relied heavily on keeping the ball close to their pack of forwards although scrum half Gruf Jones was often passing over 20m to the aligned ‘pods’ which restricted the pace and drive which his side required to penetrate the stoic home defence, where young hooker Kyle Hamer and prop Rob Luly stood out alongside the back row of Andrew Cooke, Barry Parsons and number 8 Roy Osborn.

Using the wind, territory was with Aber during the first half with centre Tom Evans creating an opportunity through some strong running for wing Gwern Penri, who spilled the scoring pass with the line beckoning.

The handling error was something the visitors suffered from throughout the game and may have been a reason why they kept the ball tight, although both Jones and his half back partner Llyr Thomas may well reflect on their game management further.

Winger Josh Thomas, playing on permit from Whitland made ground into the home midfield close to the midway point of the first half, combining in midfield with Evans and linking in hooker Owain Bonsall to where a resultant penalty attempt by Thomas was missed.

The opening score of the game came after 22 minutes when Tenby second row Dewi Davies secured lineout ball outside his 22m line, allowing full back Morgan to clear the ball 40m upfield.

The home pack caught opposition full back Casmir Yandell on the halfway line and wrestled possession back to scrum half Matthew Morgan to make 15m as he danced around the periphery of the ensuing ruck.

His pass found the hands of supporting half back partner Ashley Sutton who escaped the clutches of would be tacklers to run in from 30m under the posts and convert his try’

The half continued in the same pattern for Aber as they tried to run ball back from their own half when perhaps some leadership from the half backs to play in the 22m may have reaped rewards; number 8 Lee Evan managed to put Carwyn Evans in space but his hands let him down, as did Penri when he had a 10m clear run to the line for him to spill the crucial pass.

Referee Justin Williams had given both sides every opportunity to play as he used advantage and consistently applied the laws for the teams to know who was in charge and following his whistle to start the second half, with the elements in their favour and leading 7-0 Tenby took advantage straight away from the kick off when Lee Gower spilled Sutton’s restart.

After several phases of play deep in their opponents 22, Sutton pinged a drop goal wide of the posts before a second try was scored through the hands of Yanik Parker.

The winger rounded off a move where Hamer, Clarke created a channel for centre Jack Guerreio to enter at pace and put Parker beyond the last defender although Sutton could add the extras as he pushed the conversion across the posts.

Aber, through Bonsall and Evans, had a pack of forwards which had parity with their home counterparts in the loose and at line outs, plus dominating the scrum, where they had considerable advantage to push the home eight backwards.

Not being able to capitalise on this, a third Tenby try arrived as they gained possession deep in their own half.

Mathew Morgan took the ball off Parker before centre Moritz Neuman was one on one against Yandell as Full-back Jonny Morgan appeared outside him to create the extra man and score under the posts. Sutton added the conversion for a confident home side to lead 19-0, putting behind them the three defeats they have encountered in a row,

The bonus point came for the now dominant home side, who had stopped another Aber forward drive through Evans, Bonsall and Robbie Parry, returning the ball to the opposition 22.

Second row Williams secured crucial ball and his fellow forwards went through four phases of controlled drives before Osborne burrowed his way over the line for Sutton to again convert.

Aber came back once again through Bonsall, whose efforts made him stand out for the visitors, from which the ball was recycled across the line.

Thomas was hauled down just short of the line by Sutton, as Tenby reshuffled their back line all game to let their heavy hitters cover the inside channels and Sutton didn’t let the side down with his tackle.

Tenby were guilty of some handling errors as they made replacements during the final quarter, and from one such misplay Aber had an attacking 5m scrum from which the home eight pushed through once again the home pack, which captain Lee ‘Truck’ Evans picked up at the base of the scrum and touch down for Thomas to drop through the conversion.

The restart for Aber was once again a disaster as prop Jamie Plumbridge and second row Bryn Shepherd lacked communication and the loose ball was thrust into the hands of a marauding Tenby pack.

Establishing a strong attacking platform through several rucks centre Neuman set up the final scoring move with a strong run, where Sutton looped around prop Rob Clarke to the offload the ball to replacement winger Jordan Asparrasa who potted over and Sutton added the coup de grace to a fine Tenby performance.

Home coach Chris James was jubilant in his post-match analysis ‘as his side stood up to the task. We worked hard on our defence game this week in training after some less than brilliant performances which have cost us dearly, but today we were excellent. Johnnie [Morgan] elected to play into the elements on winning the toss and it set us up from the start, with strong tackles and a well organised defence line.”

James went on that to say: “We worked hard to gain parity against a renowned physical visiting set of forwards and we were able to develop as the second half went on, so much so we dictated much of the final part of the game when the heavens opened.

Prop Rob Luly epitomised our work rate as he kept his composure in our under pressure scrum whilst also being a stand out performer in the loose, so he will enjoy the steaks provided by Heywoods Butchers as he was deservedly man of the match.”

Tenby head to Llanelli Wanderers tomorrow (Oct 7) in a WRU Plate match against a side they defeated 42-23 on the opening day of the season.

Aber head coach Andrew Barlow acknowledged his side “didn’t take advantage of the wind in the first half as we tried to run from deep when perhaps we should have played the percentage game more.

“It hasn’t helped that we have a few injuries in our back line and today we had a back three who not trained together, but no excuses as we were roundly defeated against a side who play good rugby on an outstanding surface, despite the weather.”

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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