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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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Pembroke and Crymych learn Bowl and Plate opponents

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PEMBROKESHIRE sides Crymych and Pembroke have learned their opponents in the next rounds of the WRU Plate and Bowl respectively.

Crymych will play the winners of the tie between Cwmgors and Penallta who play each other two days before Christmas on Saturday, December 23.

Pembroke meanwhile have been drawn away to COBRA in the last 16 of the WRU Bowl.

League 1 West side Crymych put in an excellent performance on Saturday (Dec 9) as they beat Tondu 27-25 in a thrilling encounter in the third round of the WRU Plate.

Luke Rogers and Matthew Davies both scored late tries for Crymych to put them into the lead and they held on to go through.

Pembroke were in action in the WRU Bowl against Carmarthenshire side Laugharne and battled well to come away with an excellent 32-22 victory.

Dom Colman, Dan Colley, Tom Lewis, Luke Hartland and Toby Smith were all on the score sheet for Pembroke as they played well throughout the match.

Sadly for Whitland, they bowed out of the WRU Plate as they were beaten 27-24 at home by Nant Conwy.

All Plate and Bowl ties will take place on Saturday, January 13.

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Winter Nationals success for Pembrokeshire swimmers

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY SWIMMING (PCS) took away 13 medals from the Swim Wales Winter Nationals held at the Wales National Pool over the weekend of Friday (Dec 1) to Sunday (Dec 3).

The National championships were an opportunity for the countries best swimmers to post times as they aimed to achieve qualification for the Commonwealth Games next year on the Gold Coast, Australia.

The Pembrokeshire team, led by coach Craig Nelson and his Assistant Sam Jones returned with five gold, four silvers and four bronze medals, where Jones proudly commented: “Overall the Championships were another great display from the swimmers, as they developed our success from the Summer Open Meet in August.

“These results ensure we are now seen as a force to be reckoned with in Wales as we were competing against the best in Wales at all age groups and it was the first experience for our newest squad members to compete at this level.”

The Pembrokeshire coaches have also worked hard to build a team spirit off the pool deck, where the training sessions whilst being physically challenging are times when there is also an opportunity for some rest and recuperation.

“Sunday was Funday at the Championships” laughed Jones “and we were definitely one of the teams who entered into the Christmas spirit, where swimmers, coaches, parents and Swim Wales officials from the County dressed in their Christmas clobber.

“Such opportunities build the confidence and enjoyment of the whole squad and the hours of training the swimmers put in are rewarded in the window of opportunity when we can all enjoy the moment, before returning to the rigours of training and focusing again, even with Christmas approaching.”

Swim Wales Winter Welsh Meet 2017 Finals Results

Rory Andrews: (11-12) 50m Freestyle 7th; 200m Butterfly Silver medal; 200m Freestyle Silver medal;  100m Freestyle Bronze medal; 50m Freestyle 8th

Sean Barrett: (14-15) 50m Breast stroke Bronze medal; 200m Butterfly 4th; 100m Breast stroke Gold medal

Charlotte Whalley: (13-14) 200m Backstroke Silver medal; 200m Freestyle 8th; 50m Freestyle 7th; 100m Backstroke Gold medal; 50m Backstroke Gold medal

Arabella Haley: (15-16) 200m Backstroke Gold medal

Henry White: 200m Backstroke (13-14) 8th

Rhys Davies: 200m Backstroke (open) Gold; 100m Breaststroke 4th; 50m Backstroke 5th

Louisa Twigg: 200m Butterfly (15-16) Bronze Medal; 200m IM Silver medal; 200m Breast stroke Bronze medal

Josh McDowell: (11-12) 200m IM 7th; 100m Breast stroke 4th

Bethan Jones: (13-14) 50m Butterfly 8th

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40 not out for Haverfordwest Cricket Club

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HAVERFORDWEST Cricket Club celebrated the 40th Anniversary of their Clubhouse on the Racecourse on Friday (Dec 8) when over 90 people attended an event which also raised funds for Prostate Cancer.

Haverfordwest, who are the oldest cricket club in Wales and will be celebrating their bi centenary in 2024 welcomed Glamorgan CCC President Alan Jones as guest speaker, who was accompanied by the well-respected St Helens Balconier John Williams .

The Clubhouse was officially opened in 1977 by former Glamorgan captain Wilfred Wooller, although the Clubs own President Jim Williams pulled the first pint in an unofficial opening for the Town Mayor, former Club Captain and player Don Twigg MBE.

The Clubhouse extension was officially opened by Jones, who at that time in 1982 was the Glamorgan opening batsmen and his return was greeted warmly, alongside fellow guests, Mayor Alan Buckfield and his wife Gill and Pembroke County Cricket Club Chairman Paul Webb and his wife Janice.

The Mayor had welcomed guests to his Parlour for an official visit prior to them arriving for the excellent fare provided by Pete and Kay, after which Jones regaled those present with memories of his cricketing days with Glamorgan and answered numerous questions which came from the floor, hosted by MC Bill Carne.

Amongst the throng of past and present players memories were shared of Harrison Allen triumphs alongside historic days which included the opening of the current ground in 1981 when a Mayor XI, led Peter Lewis played against the Clubs First XI.

Young an Old: Alan Jones pictured with Don Twigg MBE, oldest surviving Club Captain and Evan Watts, current Welsh U13 international

This followed a game between the then Youth XI, captained by Alan Sexton taking on a ‘past players side’ in the September sunshine, captained by Alfie Webb the then Chairman of Preseli District Council.

Another game which stood out in the memories of those present was one when a Sam Whitbred Lord Taveners XI, captained by Tom Cartwright and including Jones alongside other icons of the game in 1986 when the Town were led by wicketkeeper/batsman Phil Jones.

Haverfordwest also had a strong history of touring, taking in places around Gloucestershire, Hereford and South Wales but also travelled to play Perth, the oldest cricket club in Scotland in 1979.

They went further afield in 1986 to tour America, returning unbeaten from Philadelphia where current Glamorgan CEO and former County and England opening batsman Hugh Morris was a tour member and current first team player Ben Field a youthful six year old!

The host club, Haverford based at Meirion, Pennsylvania royally welcomed the tourists with dinners, official welcomes and fun days but the cricketers ensured they reserved enough energy to record three victories.

Haverfordwest also welcomed West Indian Henderson Springer as a professional between 1992 and 1995 and won three consecutive first division titles, a Harrison Allen Bowl, DR Morris Cup, two Alec Colley Cups, an Ormond Youth triumph but lost to Briton Ferry Steel in the Welsh Cup final at Ebbw Vale.

During that period Springer accumulated 2937 runs with a highest score of 92, took 43 catches and 168 wickets, with his best being 4-5 from 815.4 overs bowled.

He was also revered as a catalyst in attracting youngsters to the Club for coaching and the Bajan, who went on to coach the West Indian side after successfully leading his native Barbados in the Currie Cup and ‘Springs’ remains in close contact with many stalwarts from ‘yester-year’.

Haverfordwest currently have four senior teams playing in the Pembrokeshire League, age group teams from their Under 19’s down to Under 9s in their ‘Blue Lightning’ Youth section and are also the current Pembrokeshire Indoor campions and will be playing Gorseinon Cricket club shortly to see who would represent Wales in the National Indoor Championships at Edgbaston.

The evening gave an opportunity for Clubs award winners to receive their trophies but the main winner was Prostrate Cancer, who received a substantial donation from the evening.

Roger Thomas, the Cricket secretary who co-ordinated the evening stated: “It’s been a super night and the laughter from young and old was great to listen to. We have donated to the Professional Players Benevolent Fund as Alan wouldn’t accept anything from us tonight and of course we are proud to contribute to the Pembrokeshire branch of Prostate Cancer.

“We couldn’t have done this tonight without the unstinting work carried out by Mark Coneybeare, our Club steward and I’m looking forward to building on the success of tonight as we approach our bicentenary in 2024 and then the 50th Anniversary in 2027.”

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