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Borderers win top two battle

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By Jonathan Twigg

AS top of the table clashes go the GD Harries sponsored Whitland’s 17-6 victory to step over Hendy and top of Division 2 West, at Parc Llwn Ty Gwyn on Saturday (October 14) was one where both sides were unable to execute their skills to dominate a fixture and the reverse game at the end of January may well decide where the Division 2 title rests come the end of the season.

Whitland scored the only try of the game as winger Sean Coles finished off a move where he was put into space by Johnnie Thomas after the Whitland back line capitalised on second half possession to take the game away from the visitors.

Full back Scott Newton, outside half Nico Setaro alongside Thomas triangulated superbly to put Coles and fellow winger Liam Price into space when they could and allow 18 year old debutant, Scarlets Academy and Welsh international Scott Lloyd opportunities to show his talent, nurtured from its infancy through the junior borderers set up.

Lloyd is a player who exudes confidence, not only in his undoubted ability but also in the philosophy that coaches Gareth Bennett and Dan Mason have instilled.

He has vision, pace and swift hands which bodes well for the future and he will be a welcome addition to the ‘green machine’ if his commitments elsewhere allow.  He was never isolated as a ball carrier where the experienced home pack of forwards ensuring his efforts secured the ball for other phases of play to materialise.

Centre Frame sponsored Hendy came onto the park with intent from the first kick off and were a side which looked well coached and drilled, which was unsurprising considering Aaron Shingler [Scarlets], Stephen Shingler [Blues] and Dorian Jenkins are assisting Chris Morgan.

Their defence line, based from full back Robbie Davies who used the outside post as his starting line, looked comfortable all afternoon, not only with his tacking but hands in fielding the hosts kicks and when running directly to gain yards.

Visiting kicker Josh Batcup opened the scoring when the Whitland forwards were penalised for killing the ball with a penalty from in front of the posts after fifteen minutes which was a just reward for his sides efforts.

Second row Ashley Banfield secured line out ball and the back row of Richard Kinnear, Matthew Wotherspoon and number 8 Gareth Thomas were on top in the lose play for Hendy although Batcup had missed a penalty in the third minute from the 10m line.

Hard working Whitland forwards: Skipper Marc Jones & Number 8 Jack Mason

Both sides looked to utilise a driving maul and handling errors occurred both in close contact and when the ball was given out to the back division as the competitiveness of a top of the table clash came to the fore.

Referee Jason Summers again allowed the players the opportunity to make the most of possession as neither captains, Marc Jones [Whitland] or Chris Bowen [Hendy] had sustained success when hitting their targets in line outs.

Perhaps more to do with the support the jumpers received in the line, both hookers were also at the forefront of an abrasive scrum set piece which secured an equalising penalty for outside half Nico Setaro after 20 minutes.

Until this point Hendy had the upper hand at the scrum and having established a base from which to work the ‘green machine’ saw number 8 Jack Mason alongside Jones mobilise the more experienced pack to then win the battle on the ground. Setaro, a gifted playmaker is also a decision maker he nudged his side forward to maintain both momentum and motivation.

The first half lacked periods of true quality and neither side managed to work their game plans to exploit opportunities, as both played close to the fringes and the offside line, giving little in terms of time or space.

Visiting flanker Mark Wotherspoon received a yellow card four minutes into the second half for a deliberate knock on after Lloyd and flanker Ben Kirk had combined in midfield, for Setaro put his side ahead 6-3.

Whitland sensed their ascendency with Setaro and Lloyd making half breaks to gain yardage allowing Thomas to put Coles in space with ground to run at in front of him, followed by another move where Mason, Newton and Price combined to make a telling insertion of over 40m.

From the resultant restart Mason set up second phase ball for scrum half Adam Davies to release the back line once more where some smooth handling allowed centre Thomas to draw the last defender and Coles made no mistake wide out for Whitland to lead 11-3.

Whitland had capitalised on their opponent’s reduction in numbers to good effect and when their own flanker Kirk was yellow carded after 58 minutes for entering a ruck from the side, Batcup reduced the deficit to 11-6.

Setaro dictated a slower pace to the game with Kirk off the field. Mason, Jones and the vastly experienced second rows Dai Ebsworth and Raff Williams were content to pick up and drive, which meant Hendy were starved of possession.

Setaro missed a straight forward kick when they were returned to a full playing compliment before striking another attempt cleanly through the posts after 65 minutes to extend the lead to 14-6.

Like opposite number Davies, Newton was strong as the last line of defence all afternoon for Whitland, a key fielder of the ball from clearance kicks and set pieces and he was also influential at key times also to allow the extra player in midfield to create the opportunities for Price and Coles.

Hendy centre Kieran Ace also worked space for Dyfan Williams to have a run at the Whitland try line as hi side attempted to secure a footing in the game.

Price was equal to that challenge before Lloyd took the ball off Setaro with five minutes remaining to set up his side in the opposition 22. Mason was again dominant on the ground from the ensuing ruck and his work resulted in another penalty, for Setaro to step up and end the scoring on 17-6.

Hendy had no complaints from the result and coach Chris Morgan ‘praised the efforts of his side but reflected that a more experienced home side had deserved victory.

He said: “We have a lot of positives to build on from today and will look to take these into the game at Hendy Park against St Clears, but in truth we tried to play too much rugby in the wrong areas.”

Assistant coach Dan Mason was delighted to get the win saying: “We had to do the hard work to wear them down.  It was a dogged performance and we had to ensure we held possession when we had it and ensure we had the play in their territory. We have a back line this season which is confident in their own ability but today we needed players to stand up in the rough and tumble upfront, which we did.”

Whitland, top of the table make the trip to Parc Mynydd Mawr, Tumble, tomorrow (Oct 21), to play a side anchored the basement of the Division after their loss to Fishguard last week.

A point clear of Carmarthen Athletic the ‘Green Machine’ have a game in hand over them and Hendy but the next visitors to Parc Llwn Ty Gwyn will be another unbeaten side Pontardulais on the first Saturday in November, the visitors having two games in hand and lying four points off the top.

Both Clubs have established strong links in their communities, boasting a junior set up catering for age group rugby, capped off with resurgent youth sides.

Whitland youth, coached by Dominic Setaro and Phil Morgan and their counterparts from Hendy, under the guidance of Dai Davies and Carl Rees believe in the youngsters as the corner stone for their club.

With such strong foundations it is of little surprise they both also incorporate women’s rugby sides and girls under 15 sides, where the players then affiliated to the academies at the Scarlets and Ospreys.

Ultimately, debutants like 18 year old Lloyd will be one of many coming from these flourishing lower league clubs in the future.

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Impressive win for Mikey

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FISHGUARD boxer Mikey O’Sullivan secured an impressive victory over a top English opponent in the England v Wales international at Cannock at the weekend.

The Ysgol Bro Gwaun pupil, who boxes for Cardigan ABC, overcame Mike Smith (Pinewood Star ABC) on a split decision to help Wales to an 8-7 victory.

The result more than made up for the disappointment of O’Sullivan’s controversial points defeat against Luke Rodder in the previous Wales v England international.

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Wales survive Fiji scare to book quarter final place

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WALES booked their place in the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday as they survived a scare from Fiji.

The Fijians led 10-0 early on and 17-14 in the second half but a try hat trick from Josh Adams helped them eventually seal the victory.

Fiji made a bright start but a loose pass gave Wales possession. However, James Davies was then guilty of being offside and Fiji opted for a scrum near the try line.

They worked it to the right for Josua Tuisova who forced his way over despite the attentions of three Wales players. Ben Volavola missed the conversion from wide on the right but Fiji led 5-0 after the opening five minutes.

Wales thought they had scored a minute later when Josh Navidi went over but the ball had been knocked on earlier in the move.

Fiji then broke through again and Frank Lomani touched the ball down, but after checking with the TMO the pass to him was judged forwards.

The referee stayed with the TMO to check for foul play and it was Ken Owens who was yellow carded for a tip tackle.

Fiji didn’t let the disallowed try get to them and they again worked it to the right for Kini Murimurivalu who rolled over before touching down. Volavola’s conversion from out wide again was just wide.

Tevita Cavubati was then yellow carded for a shoulder charge to the back temporarily making it 14 vs 14.

After 18 minutes Dan Biggar kicked across field to the left for Josh Adams who took the ball well before touching down. Biggar then added the conversion from out wide to make it 10-7 to Fiji.

With 26 minutes gone the ball was played to Adams again who dived over but the TMO adjudged that Adams’ foot had just gone into touch.

Fiji were defending well and had forced Wales back but Semi Kunatani was guilty of being offside and was given a yellow card after a series of Fiji indiscretions.

With half an hour gone Wales, after looking to bulldoze their way over, passed out left to Adams again who this time went over for the try. Biggar was successful with the conversion again to give Wales a 14-10 lead.

Shortly before half time Fiji thought they had scored a third try but Volavola’s pass to Viliame Mata was forward.

Half time came with Wales winning 14-10 but the game was still very much in the balance.

Fiji started the second half well and came close to the line but James Davies turned the ball over after seven minutes to ease the pressure.

Davies was then penalised for stopping a drive and after an accumulation of penalties, he was shown a yellow card.

Fiji kicked to touch and set up a maul but after it was brought down near the line, referee Jerome Garces marched under the posts to award a penalty try.

That put the Fijians 17-14 ahead and Wales then lost Dan Biggar to a head injury. He and Liam Williams both went for a high ball with Biggar coming off worse. Biggar picked himself up but was replaced by Rhys Patchell.

Patchell was straight into the action as he scored a long-range penalty to bring the scores level.

Jonathan Davies then made a great break for the line and made a superb offload to Adams who dived over to touch the ball down. The try was checked by the TMO but Adams’ hat trick was soon confirmed. Patchell’s conversion came back off the post and the score stayed at 22-17.

Davies then limped off and he was replaced by Owen Watkin.

Fiji were keen to show that they were not out of the game and came forward again but gave away possession.

With ten minutes to go, Gareth Davies offloaded to Liam Williams who dived down near the posts to secure a bonus point for Wales. Patchell added the extras to put the men in red 29-17 ahead.

That try all but sealed the win for Wales and when the clock ticked past 80 minutes, they kicked into touch to bring the game to a close.

Wales take on Uruguay in their final pool game on Sunday (Oct 13), kick off at 9:15am.

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West Wales Cup: First round preview

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THIS Saturday the West Wales Cup gets underway once more with teams hopeful of a successful run to the Liberty Stadium for the final.

Merlins Bridge are the holders after they beat Carew in the final earlier this year and both have been given byes into the second round this season.

Last year marked the first time that two Pembrokeshire sides reached the final but will that happen again or will another team look to bring the county’s recent dominance to an end.

Goodwick United, Hakin United, Kidwelly Town and Tumble United are some of the other sides to receive byes to the second round.

Pembrokeshire League Champions Monkton Swifts begin their campaign away to Carmarthenshire Premier Division side Loughor Rovers.

The Swifts have made an unbeaten start to their league campaign while the Rovers have four wins from their opening seven games.

Carmarthenshire Premier League champions Trallwm host Swansea Division 1 side Penclawdd.

Both sides have had mixed starts to their season and will be keen to get their cup run going.

Neath League Division 1 side Cilfrew Rovers are the visitors to Fishguard on Saturday with both sides enjoying a good start to their respective seasons.

Clarbeston Road host Swansea League Division 2 side Cwmfelin Press and Neath Division 1 side Resolven are the visitors to Haverfordwest Cricket Club.

Pembrokeshire Division 2 side Herbrandston host Carmarthenshire Premier side Pengelli United.

Herbie have just one league win to their name so far this season while Pengelli have four wins from their opening seven games.

Swansea Division 1 outfit Morriston Town will visit Division 2 Hundleton in what will be a good test for the Pembrokeshire side.

Neyland host Neath Division 2 side Clydach Sports having sealed their first win of the season last weekend.

In two Pembrokeshire versus Carmarthenshire league ties, Letterston are at home to Evans and Williams while Pennar Robins host Dafen.

Dafen are second in Division 1 while the Robins are without a win so far this season.

Elsewhere, Kilgetty travel to Celtic Neath while Lawrenny travel to Bryn.

Division 2 Carmarthenshire side Abergwili host Division 1 FC Carmarthen while Carmarthen Town United host Wern.

Bancffosfelen were heavily beaten at the weekend and they will look to put that result behind them when they travel to Bonymaen Colts.

Premier Division Burry Port host Swansea League Division 3 side Cwm Albion Colts.

Photo by Darren Harries

Bwlch have only had one win in the league this season and they host Neath Premier Division side FC Clydach who themselves only have two wins to their name so far.

Carmarthen Stars host Pontardawe while Pembrey host Cambrian.

Felinfoel earned a win in their last game in Division 1 and they go up against Carmarthen Premier side Pontarddulais.

Trostre are also at home as they take on Jersey Marine while Seaside travel to Sandfields.

St Ishmaels are away as they take on Gorseinon Athletic, Milford United travel to Murton Rovers and Narberth host Ynystawe.

Good luck to all sides involved.

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