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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.

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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Sport

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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Sport

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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