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Whitland remain unbeaten

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By Jonathan Twigg

“A HAPPY camp is a winning camp” according to Coach Gareth Bennett and the GD Harries sponsored ‘Green Machine’ of Whitland were in buoyant mood on Saturday (Nov 4) after they kept their unbeaten start to the season in tact after against previously unbeaten visitors Pontarddulais.

The Borders are committed to play a style of rugby where they are willing to play the situation which falls before them, where a precarious 9-7 lead at half time in the face of a swirling wind could have led to them wilting in the face of a side intent on leaving Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn with something to show for their efforts.

They scored the only try of the game two minutes before the break when winger Gethin Williams crossed wide out for fellow winger Paul Geary to add a majestic conversion to put the ‘Ambers’ 7-6 ahead, but had to settle for a losing bonus point as the home sides outside half Nico Setaro kicked them to victory with five penalties.

Setaro took a while to settle into the flow of the game as he was guilty of some poor tactical kicking as his side were second best in the early exchanges in all aspects.

The scrum found itself disrupted from the start, as skipper Marc Thomas lost one against the head and throughout the first half they continually failed to secure line out ball which would have allowed them a platform from which to play on the front foot.

Setaro missed an effort from just beyond the 22m line after six minutes before ‘The Bont’ lost influential Loose Head prop Andrew Williams two minutes later as he found himself exposed to some rough treatment on the floor and the ebb of the game swung in Whitland’s favour.

Hooker Thomas was tenacious in his tackling and driving play supported by the ‘boiler house’ veterans Raff Williams and 47 year old Dai Ebsworth.

Ebsworth experience of playing for three decades, including at Narberth was evident both on and off the ball as he became a go to man in the line out which led to a second penalty failed penalty attempt for Setaro after winger Liam Price had run over 25m with the ball in hand.

Fellow winger Sean Coles also combined in a sweeping 50m run with Price and the home pressure finally paid dividends midway through the half when Setaro’s penalty was successful after Pontyates referee Justin Thomas marched forward for ten metres after some dissent.

The visitors were penalised eight times in the first half, mainly for not releasing the player in the tackle as they slowed the game down with many on field injury assessments.

The tactics galvanised Thomas, Ebsworth, Number 8 Jack Mason and flanker Benji Kirk to put in the hard yards for their side and a second Setaro penalty after 32 minutes extended the lead.  Williams try came about thanks to second row Jordan Daniels and flanker Dean Courtney setting a platform for the winger to cross.

In time added on at the end of the first half a counter attack from their own half saw Setaro’s angled kick fielded by full back Aled Stone, a product of the Clubs junior and youth set up.  Instead of putting the ball out of play to end the half he tried to run from within touching distance of his own posts to be caught by the marauding home back row and the resultant penalty from wide out for not releasing allowed Setaro to lead his side from the field with a 9-7 cushion.

Centre Josh Thomas entered the fray after half time for Whitland as ball player Johnnie Thomas moved to the wing to replace Sean Coles, victim of a dead leg.

The second half game management from the home side saw them stifle any effort by Pontardullais to get ahead with some excellent handling and miss moves shipped the ball wide to winger Thomas and Price ensuring the game was played deep in the visitors territory.

Setaro and full back Scott Newton are composite ball handlers and kickers from hand, alongside Thomas and Price as they dictated both the tempo and tactical play which saw them combine and travel at times over sixty metres with ball in hand.

Coach Dan Mason was complimentary of this play as ‘the players are encouraged to express their ability at all times’.

He added: “There may have been a hangover from our last game at Tumble alongside nerves due to the ‘magnitude of the game’ at the start of the afternoon but we are all confident in our own and our team mates skills.  Bennett, added ‘there is no better feeling for a front five forward to get up from the battle on the floor to see the ball 40m downfield and it keeps a spring in our step and a smile on our faces.”

Replacement Thomas also added a new dimension to the play after the break by taking and carrying the ball to the first defender with fellow centre Alun Davies enjoying the freedom created to ensure Setaro and the back three could perform.

Flanker Ryan Michael was instrumental in leading a high defence line alongside scrum half Adam Davies who edged out his more experienced counterpart Adrian Killa or the visitors as the game wore on, which restricted the ability for Stone et al to run back from deep, resulting into the kicks into the hands of Newton, Setaro and Thomas.

Setaro landed two more penalties as the graft of his forwards put their side 15-7 ahead with ten minutes remaining although it could have been different had Geary not slipped when attempting a straight forward penalty attempt a minute later; he made amends with five minutes left after work from Daniels drew Michael offside as his side felt the loss just when his side most needed him most of Number 8 Jacob Miles, an attacking dynamo alongside his scrum half Killa all afternoon.

A vociferous visiting contingent in the stands became frustrated as the play couldn’t transfer to give their idols an opportunity to win the game where a Club spokesman at the end of the game praised ‘Whitland’s second half performance, which ended our unbeaten league start, although the losing bonus point may prove crucial as the season draws to its climax.”

The final word on an absorbing Whitland Ladies sponsored top of table encounter was left to Bennett. “As coaches it’s a case of osmosis as these players just want to take everything we are giving them onto the pitch.  We have no expectations beyond our next game and we are able to use players out of position when the need arises; our philosophy of trying to play rugby beyond our outside centre will remain.”

Next week Pontarddulais entertain St Clears whilst the unbeaten Green Machine travel to Mumbles to take on a side which were unable to field a team last weekend.

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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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