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Scarlets seal victory over Connaught

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By Jonathan Twigg

SCARLETS won their Guinness Pro 14 encounter on Friday (Sept 29) at Parc Y Scarlets 34-27 against a spirited Connaught side in a game which saw the teams share nine tries and secure maximum points.

The first half saw seven of those tries, with the Scarlets leading 26-22 thanks to their fourth try of the night, scored by British & Irish Lions full back Leigh Halfpenny.

The Scarlets had opened the scoring after seven minutes following a clean line out ball from second row David Bulbring, where the ball was moved out to an advancing Rhys Patchell, the outside half running a high attacking line, from which he popped the ball into the hands of centre Jonathan Davies, who broke his tackle and created enough space for winger Johnny Mcnicholl to circle around under the posts for Halfpenny to convert.

From the restart, secured by home flanker Wil Boyde the Scarlets moved the ball along their back division until an unfortunate mix up in midfield between centres Scott Williams and Davies saw the ball pop into the hands of outside half Jack Carty who ran in unopposed under the posts and convert his own try.

The mix up typified the game where many errors restricted the momentum in play, with an expectation that both sides would have been frustrated by their inability to take control of the game despite the fact they served up a nine try thriller.

Wales full back Halfpenny also missed two attempts at goal, the first a conversion of man of the match Stefan Evans try on 17 minutes.

The winger was on hand to finish a move which the Scarlets ran nine passes of play before Williams opened the space for Evans to dance around and finish from 40m out.

With Wales coach Warren Gatland and his management team in the stands Evans has now put himself into the slot to be involved in the Autumn International series as the diminutive winger expressed his desire and hunger to run at the opposition defence line, reflecting images of Shane Williams in his heyday.

Carty brought the score back to 12-10 with a penalty conceded from the scrum, with replacement prop Dylan Evans guilty having just come on for Wales international Rob Evans, side lined with a head injury.

Smarting from the setback of losing Evans and three points the Scarlets won possession back as the half hour mark approached thanks to the endeavours of skipper Ken Owens who charged down a clearance from full back Darragh Leader.

Number 8 Will Boyde combined with Josh McCleod and replacement Evans before further good work from Aaron Shingler and Jake Ball put flanker McCleod clear allowing Rhys Patchell to accept an inside pass from Steff Evans to score and Halfpenny to find his kicking boots gain and convert after missing a 40m penalty on 11 minutes.

Referee Nigel Owens took an age to award the try as the TMO viewed numerous angles of the play much to the discontent of the crowd and whilst applauding the innovative way technology can ‘get the decision right’ thought must be given to keeping the game live.

Connaught came back with a try after some sustained phases of play through their pack to release winger Cian Kelleher after good hands from centre Bundee Aki which Carty converted and a mistake from Mcnicholl allowed visiting number 8 John Muldoon to charge 45m through the midfield, linking well with Aki who was tackled and the ball recycled through the efforts of flanker Jarred Butler allowing winger Tim O’Halloran to score an unconverted try.

With the Scarlets behind for the first time in the match with two minutes of the half remaining the they managed to work space once again for Evans to set his wheels in motion and he drew the covering defence for Halfpenny to score and convert for a half time lead of 26-22.

The second half became a much dourer affair as both coaching teams rung the changes and the handling mistakes which epitomised the absorbing first period were there for the 7693 spectators to witness.

Halfpenny extended the lead close to the hour mark with a penalty as Aki was penalised for a double movement in the tackle, with the game drifting aimlessly as both sides were guilty of kicking possession away to allow them to regroup their defensive patterns.

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac used all his replacements, the last of which was prop Simon Gardiner, who returned to a Scarlets shirt with just under ten minutes remaining.

The former Wales Under 21 star last played for the Region in September 2011 and after a journey which took him around Britain he has this season put in some excellent performances for Llanelli in the Principality Premiership and deservedly earned a recall to the match day squad.

On 74 minutes Connaught brought themselves back into contention of winning the game thanks to a second unconverted try by O’Halloran after he combined well with fellow wing Kelleher before the crescendo for a nervous home crowd saw replacement back row Irishman Tadhg Bierne stride over after second row Jake Ball collected the ball in midfield and make a 30m unopposed run, for Halfpenny to convert and the game end 36-27.

On Saturday (Oct 7), the Scarlets take on rivals Ospreys in the Pro 14 at the Liberty Stadium, before welcoming Cardiff Blues to Park Y Scarlets at the end of the month after they travel to Toulouse and entertain Bath in the European Cup.

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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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