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Seasiders earn third win

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE Tenby Tourers sponsored Tenby United won their third game of their Division 1 West season when they beat Gorseinon on Saturday (Nov 18) at Heywood Lane 13-6 in a match sponsored by Sion Brace Construction.

The ‘Seasiders’ have found life in the division higher difficult at times this season but they played with accuracy, pace and an uncompromising attitude, attributes required to compete against teams plying their trade at this level.

Gorseinon, home club of Wales and Scarlets full back Leigh halfpenny arrived on an unbeaten six game run stretching back to the middle of September which included an away victory at the then unbeaten league leaders Dunvant progressing to the third round of the National Plate.

The Tenby side included three players on permit, all former ‘red and blacks, where Dan Colley from Pembroke came in on the wing, Pat Roberts, normally a flanker with championship side Narberth in the centre and Narberth team mate Jonathon Rogers at outside half.

Rogers brought to the table something perhaps the home side have missed on occasions in that he kept the ball going forward ensuring the game was played in the opposition areas, which was a huge motivation to his peers, especially the forwards who rose from the coal face with energy when they saw their efforts were rewarded.

Tenby’s Jonathan Rogers with the ball in hand

During the second half such was the dominance and game management applied from Tenby, Gorseinon struggled to get out of their own half for long periods. The Tenby forwards to a man were committed to the cause and took the slippery ball with confidence into the lion’s den and have the skill level to set the play or execute an off load to keep the ball alive.

Man of the match Jack Clancy would have devoured the steaks he received for his performance from Heywoods Butchers in Saundersfoot, as he made many crashing inroads to the heart of the Gorseinon defence, carrying for vital yards whilst also being like a fourth back row forward in hunting down the ball and pressurising the opposition into mistakes.

Tenby have a solid back row unit now Roy Osborne has returned from Carmarthen to dove tail in with Andrew Cooke and Barry Parsons, whose work rate was on par with Clancy.

This game was going to be won or lost on how the Tenby pack faced up to the bigger visiting forwards and alarm bells would have been ringing for coach Chris James early on as his side were nudged backwards in the scrums and needed to up their game to gain parity.

Respect came with the work off the ball in defence where props Lewis Davies and Rob Clarke were heavily involved, with young hooker Kyle Hamer who was also a key component in the offensive work of his side.

Hamer peeled off a line out on halfway to set play in motion for the opening score with Rogers left boot put Tenby in the danger zone.

Winger Moritz Neuman found Cooke on his shoulder as play went with speed into the Gorseinon 22 for centre Jack Guerrio to finish off a forty metre move under the gaze of gateman Des Brace for a 5-0 lead.

Gorseinon had an attacking flair, led by full back Andrew Steel who sought out space and wanted the ball in hand as often as he could. He found willing allies in scrum half Jack Gronow and winger Liam Cross who set the play in the Tenby half and skipper Sean Haycock had little hesitation in taking a scrum set piece when they were awarded a penalty.

Outside half Nick Popham and his centre Richard Rees couldn’t make the break through before Gronow slotted a straight forward penalty after second row Luke Dedman was caught offside to reduce the deficit to 5-3 after a quarter of an hour.

Tenby have an exciting backline who were able to exploit some missed tackles with skipper Johnnie Morgan not needing a second offering to run deep into the Gorseinon half, only to be called back for a miniscule foot in touch.

Clancy stole the line out where Parsons and Neuman stretched the home side across the field, where prop Davies and Cooke set up space for Roger to put a cross kick into the hands of Morgan on the opposite side, with space to canter across in the corner after twenty five minutes.

Referee Rob Hale who travelled from Ebbw Vale for the noon kick off took the opportunity to speak to captains about the back chat he was receiving from players who hadn’t heeded many penalties where they were marched back 10 meters and he identified issues with scrum halves Gronow and Matthew Morgans crooked feeds!

Rogers missed his second conversion attempt but Gronow added a second penalty just before half time where the indiscipline of the Tenby side would be an area of concern for coach James and his number 2 Andrew Morgan during the half time team talk.

The weather deteriorated during the second half, but it seemed to galvanise Tenby further, with Clancy, Davies and the back especially relishing the impact side of the game, which saw visiting prop Callum Steele leave the feel with a shoulder injury.

Knowing Rogers was bringing a calm acuity behind them with decision making the Tenby forwards needed no second invitation to do the hard yards, keeping the ball hemmed deep in the Gorseinon half for long periods.

Rogers missed a long range penalty although his ‘up and under’ were a cause of confusion which Cooke and Neuman capitalised on.

The game plan saw Osborne, Davies and Hamer play well with the ball in hand as did Haycock who set up one last thrust from the visitors to get an equalising score after Rogers extended the lead to 13-6 after centre Tim Payne strayed offside with five minutes to play.

With Hale playing through added time Popham had twice punted the ball into touch after the home forwards were penalised and play was set for a line out from 5 metres, which Nick Southgate secured, and his forwards got momentum.

Replacement hooker Joe Poole smuggled himself into the contact area for Tenby and the Swansea University undergraduate managed to wrestle the ball into his hands and emerge to the undoubted delight of his comrades who engulfed him when Hale blew for full time.

Coach Chris James shared that delight as he said: “It builds our campaign; it’s the first game in a sequence where we are aiming to go into 2018 close to the top of the division. We have come unstuck this year in games where we have made mistakes at crucial times and in impact areas which have cost us points but today we were magnificent in all areas.”

Having witnessed his side spend time in the opposition territory but not convert the pressure into points, James was philosophical in stating “we managed the game well, with Jonathon (Rogers) on permit from Narberth playing the game in the right areas and making calls which enabled us to be on the front foot all match. Credit to Gorseinon for the challenge they presented as Clancy, Lewis Davies, Kyle Hamer and the back row continually drove at them.”

Such was the intensity of the home play Gorseinon lost Callum Steel with a shoulder dislocation and second row Nick Southgate with an AC ligament injury as they made over seventy tackles in the second half. The Tenby backline “is purring” said James, “where the work Andrew (Morgan) puts in with handling at practice coming to fruition today and our defensive pattern and discipline restricted the opportunities we offered for Gorseinon, which ultimately led us to victory.”

Next up for Tenby will be a Pembrokeshire Cup Quarter final at Milford on Saturday (Dec 2) with a noon kick off again before they travel to Tycroes and Llanelli Wanderers in the lead up to Christmas, returning to Heywood Lane on Saturday (Dec 30) when Kidwelly will be the visitors.

Sport

Merlins Bridge and Clarbeston Road set for Senior Cup semi-final

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TONIGHT (Feb 21) sees the first Senior Cup semi-final taking place at the Bridge Meadow Stadium in Haverfordwest and it promises to be an excellent game.

Merlins Bridge face Clarbeston Road in a repeat of the 2017 final which the Wizards won and they won’t want to release their grip on the trophy just yet.

However, Clarbeston Road were a Division 2 side back then, and now in Division 1, they will be keen to show how far they have come in just under a year.

Clarby got to this stage after surviving a scare in the third round as they beat second division Hundleton 3-2, thanks to a last minute goal from Jason Griffiths. The Road had earlier wins against St Clears and Fishguard Sports.

The Wizards eased into the last four after thumping Angle 7-0 after previous wins against Solva and Lamphey.

Action from the 2017 Senior Cup Final between Merlins Bridge and Clarbeston Road

Neither side has been tested to the full from their earlier games, with the exception of Clarby against Hundleton, in the competition and tonight is set to be a real test for both teams.

A look at the league table indicates it will be a close game with Merlins Bridge sitting fourth and Clarbeston Road sitting two points behind in fifth, albeit having played four games more.

The teams come into the game having played just once so far this year due to the bad weather across the county.

Clarbeston Road got back into the swing of things on Saturday (Feb 17), with a 6-0 thumping of Milford United, a win which coach Matthew Ellis described as a ‘Nice game to get back into things before the semi-final’.

Jason Griffiths scored a hat trick in that game to take his tally of goals for the season to 19 and the Wizards will do well to keep him quiet tonight.

Merlins Bridge were in West Wales Cup action at the weekend for their first game since December 16 and they beat Port Tennant Colts 1-0 thanks to a Luke Hayward penalty.

The cup mentality the Bridge had on Saturday will still be with them tonight which could work in their favour.

The teams are yet to meet in the league this season so the game could go either way.

The winner will go on to the final where they will play the winner of the second semi-final, which also takes place at the Meadow next Wednesday (Feb 28), between Hakin United and Carew.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7pm so make sure you get to the Bridge Meadow to support your team.

Good luck to both and may the best team win.

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Sport

Antwhistle praises Pembrokeshire’s best

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GRAEME ANTWHISTLE, Head Coach of Swim Wales visited Pembrokeshire County Swimming for a two day review of their development pathway on Thursday (Feb 7) and Friday (Feb 9).

Swim Wales work closely with their Regional Development Centres where Antwhistle has a critical friend role towards supporting Pembrokeshire Head Coach Craig Nelson and his Assistant Sam Jones who are working with the best swimmers in Pembrokeshire.

The overall aim is one of driving forward a pathway for producing success on the international stage, with the Governing Body offering opportunities to all swimmers in the Principality to reach that goal.

Pembrokeshire County is an integral cog in this wheel where swimmers in the National Performance squad and National Development squad are on his radar and from his recent visit he commented, “I’m impressed with the progress with swimmers from Pembrokeshire, where it was a noted success their performances at the Swim Wales Welsh Winter Open.”

Prior to taking up his position with Swim Wales Antwhistle was High Performance Coach for British Swimming based at Bath National Centre, an impressive credential for a man who has been coaching for over two decades.

Antwhistle has guided athletes such as Michael Jamieson, Jazz Carlin, Siobhan O’Connor and Andrew Willis to a combined 5 Olympic silver medals, attending high profile events on behalf of Great Britain at the European Youth Olympic Games, European Junior Championships, World Junior Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games.

Antwhistle has an abundance of skills, knowledge and a positive personality where his enthusiasm rubs off on swimmers, coaches and parents as Swim Wales strive to develop their performance pathway for clubs and coaches.

Antwhistle went on to say: “The progress of Pembrokeshire swimmers is clearly visible from when I last visited in November; credit to the squad for taking on board the messages of both support and challenges that I have set them as they are responding.

“If they can see the progress within their training and recognise what they are doing well whilst also having an objective view of the areas they need to improve, then they can believe in themselves to deliver the performance they deserve at next month’s Easter National championships.”

The Pembrokeshire squads have the support of a volunteer committee, headed by Chairman Paul Hayley (Tenby Dolphins), who works closely with the coaching team, Swim Wales and Pembrokeshire Leisure who are funding partners in the initiative.

Recent developments have seen the swimmers working under the guidance of Strength and Academy Wales and Claire Davies [Physiologist] to provide the best opportunity for achieving success.

Antiwhistle concluded: “The biggest challenge is to maintain focus as all of the ten performance clubs in Wales are now receiving this level of support and we are aiming for the sport to become ever more competitive.”

With Swimming on such a high in the County, the performance programme is attracting swimmers who weren’t previously based in the County which shows there is no better time to join the umbrella pathway for swimming.

Young people, after completing Wave 6 of the Learn to Swim programme can join one of six development clubs (Pembroke & District; Tenby Dolphin; Haverfordwest Seals; Milford Tigers; Fishguard Flyers and Preseli Panthers) and could then progress to the Performance Squads and possibly International success.

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Sport

Biggar, Williams and Halfpenny in Wales team to face Ireland

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WALES have made three changes to their starting XV to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (KO 14.15) with British & Irish Lions trio Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny all returning to the side.

Biggar has recovered from a shoulder injury to make his 61st appearance for his country and will line up alongside Gareth Davies at half-back.

Halfpenny and Williams join Steff Evans in the back-three with Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams continuing their partnership in the midfield.

Wales have named an unchanged pack for the trip to Dublin.  The all-Scarlets front-row of Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee feature for a third consecutive game.  Cory Hill partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row.

“It is great to be able to bring so much experience back into the starting XV and into the backline,” said head coach Warren Gatland, who will take charge of Wales for the 100th time.

“It is the first week we have had everyone in the ‘green’ in terms of availability which is a nice luxury to have and a positive ahead of what is a very important test match against a very good Ireland side.

“We have been pleased with the depth we have developed in the back-three and pleased with how those players have gone but having the experience of Dan, Liam and Leigh coming back in is hugely important.

“We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too.”

Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis are named as the front-row replacements with Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric completing the forward contingent.  Aled Davies, Gareth Anscombe and George North provide the back-line cover.

Wales Team to play Ireland:

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (75 Caps)

Liam Williams (Saracens) (45 Caps)

Scott Williams (Scarlets) (53 Caps)

Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (3 Caps)

Steff Evans (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (60 Caps)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (29 Caps)

Rob Evans (Scarlets) (22 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (54 Caps)

Samson Lee (Scarlets) (35 Caps)

Cory Hill (Dragons) (12 Caps)

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (115 Caps) CAPT

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (15 Caps)

Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (9 Caps)

Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) (19 Caps)

Replacements:

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (4 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (28 Caps)

Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (59 Caps)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (54 Caps)

Aled Davies (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (13 Caps)

George North (Northampton Saints) (70 Caps)

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