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Otters seal bonus point victory

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By Jonathan Twigg

A GD Harries sponsored Narberth maintained their second place in the Championship at the Lewis Lloyd Ground on Saturday (October 28) with a bonus point 27-3 victory over bottom side Glynneath.

Head coach Sean Gale was delighted with the result saying his players ‘delivered all I asked of them’.

He added: “We were expecting a gritty performance from Glynneath but we knew we had a strong set piece which would allow us to maintain enough possession to press for victory. We are a developing side with many new faces gelling together and we are in the same position as last year. We could have been more clinical with our execution as we tried to keep the ball in hand but it’s important to remember we took maximum points.”

Defending into a strong breeze the dominant set piece came to the fore from the start as the Otters forwards disrupted their opponents scrum with captain Alex Jenkins and his fellow second row Ryan Banner winning the early line out battle.

Glynneath were robust in their tackling, rowing very close to a line which referee Chris Oliver monitored carefully. Full back Ianto Griffiths pinged over his first penalty attempt for an indiscretion after ten minutes when visiting hooker Craig Tennant was deemed to have committed a high a tackle.

Flanker Pat Roberts alongside props Bradley Davies and Tom Slater made inroads into the visitors’ territory and the pressure of swift hands and a visionary performance from outside half Jack Rogers eventually saw the game’s opening try just beyond the quarter of an hour mark.

Jenkins again won clean line out ball before picking up a pass after his fellow forwards went through several phases of gaining yards close to the halfway line. He made 20 metres before finding wing Liam Hutchings on the outside who drew the final man after a 25 metre blast, putting number 8 Richie Rees clear into the 22 and a 10-0 lead thanks to the trusty left boot of Griffiths extended.

Glynneath got themselves on the scoreboard five minutes later when centre Jack O’Reilly kicked a penalty in front of the posts after the home pack were guilty of putting hands in a ruck after Tennant and flanker James Perry drove the red and blacks back into the game.

Narberth’s game management suited the conditions as they defended a strong breeze, working around scrum half Nick Gales lead with close passing to their surrounding ‘pods’.

This frustrated the visitors with further indiscretions conceded as their passion affected their play and hooker Tennant saw yellow for holding the ball after a tackle ten metres short of his own line, from which Rogers set up an attacking line out.

The ball was moved around the field as the Otters burrowed for a try, which came with a minute of the half remaining.

Glynneath were punished after their scrum disintegrated without Tennant and Gale took a quick penalty to thrust towards the line, Roberts on his shoulder to set up time for Rogers to put a cross field kick into the hands of winger Hutchings to cross wide out, for a 15-3 half time lead.

An expectant home crowd anticipated the blue and blacks to cruise towards victory in the second period although this didn’t materialise as rugged defence accompanying a plethora of stoppages for injuries sustained by Glynneath prevented any continuity.

They failed to take the ball further than the home 22 yard line not allowing much action for the ‘Balcony sponsors’, The Glenn Hotel to watch over as their ‘mine host’ Slater plied his trade below.

For the final fifteen minutes the side who have popular entertainer Max Boyce as their President opted for uncontested scrums which diminished a threat from the back row of Roberts, Rees and flanker Tom Powell playing off the front foot.

Griffiths at full back was playing with a skills set which would fit at a higher level and the introduction of a dynamic replacement scrum half Lewys Gibby asked questions of a tiring side, with Hutchings and centre pairing Paul Davies and Joe Hutchings finding space to run into.

Replacement Ryan Davies finished off a move after man of the match Roberts again did the hard yards for a 20-3 lead and the finale was completed to cement the bonus point victory as the game edged towards its end as the flanker claimed a try of his own. He intercepted the ball as Glynneath ran the ball from deep and coasted in under the posts for Griffiths to convert.

Narberth make the trip to Port Talbot on Saturday (Nov 4) to take on Tata Steel, two places and two points below them.

Sport

Millers hold their nerve to send Neyland through

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HARRISON ALLEN Bowl Champions Neyland made it through to the quarter finals of the competition after they beat Haverfordwest with only two balls to spare on Thursday night (May 24).

Haverfordwest batted first but they were restricted to a total of 100-8 on an overcast evening.

Karl Rhead and Lee Summons both scored 1 before they departed early; Rhead caught by Andrew Miller off the bowling of Nathan Banner and Summons stumped by Sean Hannon off the bowling of brother Patrick.

That left Town on 9-2 but Simon Holliday and Danny Potter shared 27 runs for the third wicket partnership.

Holliday made 14 before he was superbly run out by Patrick Hannon and soon after Ben Field departed when he was caught by Gregg Miller off Patrick’s bowling.

Potter had made a score of 31 with four fours and a six but he was also run out, this time by Ashley Sutton, and Town had slipped to 56-5.

Jake Merry was then caught by Banner off the bowling of Henry Durrant for a score of 5 while Adam James smashed a six in his score of 11 before he was caught by Durrant off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Archie Thomas did likewise in his score of 11 from eight balls but he was then bowled by Durrant.

That saw Town fall to 80-8 but Kieran O’Connor and Huw Scriven shared 20 runs to take Town to their total.

O’Connor finished unbeaten on 9 while Scriven smashed a six off the last ball to finish not out on 11 and take Town to three figures.

Neyland lost Paul Murray early in their reply when he was caught by Merry off the bowling of Adam James for a score of 6.

Nick Koomen and Ashley Sutton then shared a partnership of 20 before Sutton was bowled by James.

Koomen and Banner then shared 19 runs but that partnership came to an end when Banner was stumped by Scriven off the bowling of O’Connor for a score of 8.

Soon after Koomen, who had hit three fours and a six in a knock of 31, fell in the same manner as Banner and Neyland were left on 60-4.

Henry Durrant and Patrick Bellerby then swung the game back in Neyland’s favour with a good partnership of 25.

That came to an end when Bellerby was caught by Rhead off the bowling of Holliday for a score of 21 from 12 balls which included a four and two sixes.

Scriven then picked up his third stumping as he removed Durrant for a score of 11 to the bowling of Holliday.

That was the end of the wickets however as Gregg and Andrew Miller saw Neyland home, finishing not out on 6 and 7 respectively, with only two balls to spare.

The draw for the quarter finals will be made on Wednesday, May 30, at the next meeting of the County Cricket Club.

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Sport

Grandstand finish sees Croft take Silver

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A GRANDSTAND finish by Cardigan boxer Ioan Croft came just too late to capture the gold medal at the Three Nations tournament at Motherwell’s huge Ravenscraig Sports Centre at the weekend.

The 16-year-old from Crymych had been bidding to secure a second Three Nations crown to emulate his success of 2015.

And the fact that Croft beat Scotsman Nicholas Devlin in the semi-finals – the opponent he had defeated en route to Three Nations glory three years previously – appeared to be a good omen.

However, pitted against England’s Joe Tyres in the final, southpaw Croft appeared to pay the price for an over-cautious start.

With the English boy seemingly taking the first round, Croft started getting into his stride in the second.

The Welsh teenager appeared to gain the upper hand in the third and final session, catching Tyres with a variety of good clean shots.

Yet it was not quite enough to make up for his slow start and a crestfallen Croft dropped a 4-1 split decision.

“It was very disappointing,” the boxer’s dad, Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft, said afterwards. “I thought he’d just done enough to win.”

Although Croft had struggled to make the 56kg limit, his father refused to cite that as an excuse. “I’m not sure weight is all to blame,” he said.

“Ioan’s been finishing strong at the end of every round and his third round is always his best.

“He just takes a little while to get the measure of his opponent, which isn’t such a bad thing, although on this occasion it probably cost him the fight.

“Joe has had something like 75 bouts, only lost 12, and was 13 months older. Ioan’s had 62 and lost 10 so it was a good match.”

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Sport

Young Otters secure Griffiths Cup win

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NARBERTH were victorious in the Griffiths Cup on Tuesday night (May 22), as they beat Crymych 26-24 in a thrilling game that neither side deserved to lose.

The game was played at Neyland’s Athletic Ground and a good crowd was in attendance to watch rugby’s future stars.

The young Otters took the lead early on in the first half as Dylan Walsh went over for the opening try of the game and Lewis Hough’s conversion was successful.

Crymych then levelled matters as Rhodri George went over for the try before Harri Williams added the extra two points.

Kieran Allen then put Narberth back ahead with another try but the conversion was missed and the Otters held a 12-7 lead.

Shortly before half time, Crymych took the lead for the first time as Dafydd Griffiths went over for the try and Harri Williams added the extras.

It meant Crymych held a 14-12 lead at the break but the game was still there for the taking.

In the second half, Narberth re-took the lead as Kieran Allen scored his second try of the game and Llew Jones added the conversion.

Crymych came back to within two points of their opponents as Harri Williams landed a penalty to make it 19-17.

The Otters then extended their lead as they came forward and the ball was offloaded for Griff Evans who dived in under the posts for an excellent try. Llew Jones then added the conversion to make it 26-17 to the Otters.

Crymych responded well and put pressure on the Otters. That pressure eventually told as they worked the ball out to the right for Illan Phillips who burst through the tackles to touch the ball down. Harri Williams added the extras from just inside the half to make it 26-24.

It was Narberth who finished strongly but a penalty went wide and they then came close to scoring a try which would have sealed the game but a knock on 5 metres out halted their attack.

Crymych looked for a late score but Narberth kept them out well and when they turned the ball over with the eighty minutes up, they kicked the ball out to spark wild celebrations amongst the players and coaches.

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