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Wales end Autumn Internationals with win

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE final game of Wales Under Armour Autumn International series saw Wales beat South Africa 24-22 at the Principality Stadium on Saturday (Dec 2).

That was thanks to, in no small part, a man of the match performance from debutant Scarlets centre Hadeligh Parkes, three years to the day since the New Zealander signed for the Scarlets and become eligible for his adoptive county.

The hosts ended the series on a high with victory over the 2007 World Cup winners, their third consecutive such victory despite fielding a side which had seven changes from the opening game defeat 29-21 to Australia.

A forward-orientated outfit, the South African set piece couldn’t dominate a Welsh pack well led by skipper Alun Wyn Jones, where the embattlement of the mauls was an area of contention for French referee Jerome Garces.

Wales have tried this Autumn to play an open and expansive style favoured now by coach Warren Gatland although the jury is still out on whether it will see its rewards at the 2019 world cup.

The opportunity to expose both new and inexperienced players to international rugby was a bold one from Gatland where his plans were also hampered by injuries although he was aware that his army of English based players, Talupe Faletau apart couldn’t play in.

The pack chosen by Gatland, skipper Jones and Faletau apart mustered 66 caps between and epitomises how the Welsh management team viewed the games as ensuring Wales have strength in depth moving forward.

Saturday’s starting XV included seven Scarlets which kicked off the game, with another two appearing from the substitute’s bench. Centre Scott Williams, departing next season for the Ospreys, scored the opening try for the second successive week and erased any concern over his future selection in Welsh squads after he was omitted in the initial draft selection by Gatland.

Another to benefit from a run in an international jersey was winger Steff Evans who is mercurial with the ball in hand as spectators anticipate what he can produce but he is still at a schoolboy level when it comes to defensive work and tactical understanding.

That will develop as he builds a working relationship as part of a back three which must include former Scarlet Liam Williams and Leigh Halpenny who on Saturday had a welcome return to form as his prodigious accuracy with the boot had come under scrutiny.

Evans may find himself out of the side come the six nations as Hallam Amos would be ahead of him and George North would be in contention.

Parkes’ first game for his adopted country will be one to remember as he partnered club colleague Scott Williams and five Scarlets in the back line, a tribute to the work current Scarlets coaches, headed by Wayne Pivac are doing in West Wales.

The thirty year old makes key decisions with calm acuity and scored two first half tries after Williams had crossed the whitewash in the fifth minute.

Wales’ new style has struggled to score tries, having crossed the whitewash just five times prior to this game and the opening try came from Williams after a cross kick by Dan Biggar was caught by Amos who flew from out wide gaining 30m finding Williams on his shoulder to glide in from 20m and Halfpenny added the extras for 7-0.

Three minutes later following the Men of Harlech turning over possession outside the Springbok 22m box, Biggar cleverly varied his play putting in a deft grubber kick and Parkes collected from 10m capitalising on the visiting defence being at sixes and sevens, to score a debut try under the posts for 14-0.

The Springboks have struggled on their tour of the northern hemisphere, losing 38-3 to Ireland on their opening game and skipper Eben Etzabeth needed his side to get their A game in motion, where they were 5kg a man heavier upfront.

After 18 minutes but a prolonged review by the TMO saw Springboks hooker Malcolm Marx effort ruled out as he was deemed to have been held up over the line and their efforts were wasted when from the ensuing attacking Scrum 5 Williams intercepted to put Steff Evans off and running over 50m as play swung from one 22m box to the other.

Wales were in control and the dynamic Biggar rifled a bullet kick over 65m which forced full back Andries Coetzee to fall over the touchline and allow Wales the line out throw for another attacking position where Parks was strong and direct in looking to break the gain line.

South Africa lacked a leader behind the pack, where Marx scooped a low ball and combined well with back row man Siya Kolisi to gain 25m to establish a foothold in the game when a high tackle resulted in outside half Handre Pollard reducing the deficit to 14-3 after half an hour.

Two minutes later, Coetzee was far too relaxed in clearing the ball as Biggar charged down his kick, which resulted in a second try by Parkes when Faletau collected the bouncing ball and pop it inside for the Kiwi to score under the posts and a 21-3 lead.

Like the week before Wales had the majority of possession and territory but this week had turned this into points although worryingly for defence coach Shaun Edwards they allowed the visitors back into the game before half time when a break out of defence by winger Dillyn Leyds took play 50m up field where the kick ahead bounced kindly for fellow winger Warrick Gelant touchdown and Pollard convert for a half time score of 21-10.

Skipper Etzebeth didn’t appear after the half time oranges, replaced by Oupa Mohoje and he galvanised the side alongside Marx and immediately reduced the deficit when Pollard scored an unconverted try 21-15.

Scarlets prop Rob Evans, an undoubted cornerstone of the Welsh side for years to come with an unbuckling presence at the set piece and a mantra as a silky, mobile ball handler, was replaced by team mate Wyn Jones and outside half Rhys Patchell appeared for an injured Biggar.

From his first touch Patchell was ‘Biggaresqe’ finding Amos with a cross field kick whilst being is all hands with tricks in the mix where he called the shots for a back line which now included six Scarlets in the back division.

Upfront another to establish a high profile in the Autumn Series, flanker Aaron Shingler was a tower of strength alongside his skipper Jones in securing line out ball, although he would have an honest reflection over the tackle area which became a key battle ground as the aerial game worked well to keep the red tide moving forward.

As the second half wore on the South African side came more into the ascendency to deservedly take the lead when centre Jesse Kriel, his sides current leading try scorer crossed wide out, before Pollard landed a superlative conversion for a 22-21 lead.

Wales for the second half had been off the pace and the momentum they derived in the first half to score three tries had dried up as they were starved of possession.

Tried and tested in previous games Wales sought out Faletau as a wide receiver as they tried to break up the games pattern, with Shingler leading a line out drive for a Halfpenny penalty to regain the lead 24-22 with 15 minutes left to the satisfaction of the majority of the 65317 crowd.

Kolisi was a strong presence for the green shirted Springboks whilst immense work from Wyn Jones in the loose was a welcome sight for his team mates as Patchell sent play back over half way line.

Winger Leyds, normally full back had an aura about him when running with ball in hand and there was an international debut at scrum half for Louis Schreuder where Jones was again to the fore with some thumping tackles in a sturdy Welsh defence.

For the final five minutes Wales required composure and guile, which came through a solid scrum and Patchell putting the ball deep into the opposition half to secure victory.

Thoughts move now to the Six nations championship, which will open on Saturday (Feb 3) when Gregor Townsend inspired Scotland are welcomed to Cardiff as Wales will look to develop from their fifth place in the table last season.

Scotland cannot be underestimated after their dismantling of Australia a fortnight ago whilst also running the All Blacks close the week before. If Wales come through that on the front foot they travel to Twickenham the week after for an evening kick off where Gatland will be picking his side on a ‘horses for courses’ format and the squad will be reflective of this.

Another stern test awaits the Welsh Dragons at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin when Ireland will be the opponents before a Cardiff return on Sunday March 11 against Italy for an afternoon kick off and the final game the following Saturday when ‘Les Blues’ are hosted for a 5pm kick off.

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Pembrokeshire claim Wynne Lloyd Final victory

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THE Wynne Lloyd Inter-District Youth Cup Final went the way of Pembrokeshire who beat Ceredigion 36-28 in a thrilling game at Parc Y Scarlets on Sunday (May 20).

It was first blood to Pembrokeshire who scored the opening try of the game through Jack Tucker but the conversion was wide.

Ceredigion then answered back as Iestyn Evans scored the try before Dylan Morgan added the extras to put Ceredigion 7-5 ahead.

The action was back and forth and Pembrokeshire soon went back ahead as Gino Setaro (Whitland) scored and Dan Evans added the extra two points.

Pembrokeshire began to pull away as Jack Broadhurst (Narberth) scored their third try of the game with the conversion going in off the post from Evans.

Geraint Powell (Narberth) then increased Pembrokeshire’s lead with Evans again sending the conversion through the posts to give his side a 26-7 half time lead.

Ceredigion fought back at the beginning of the second half as Iwan Bowden scored the try and Dylan Morgan added the extras.

Morgan then scored a try of his own and converted to bring Ceredigion back to within five points with the score at 26-21.

They then took the lead as Dylan Davies scored the try that brought them level and Dylan Evans then added the extra two points giving Ceredigion a 28-26 lead.

Whitland’s Dan Evans put the Pembrokeshire side back ahead with a penalty from 40 metres out and they led by a single point with time running out.

As Ceredigion pushed for a late try that would have seen them claim victory, it was Pembrokeshire who got the final score of the game as Prop Cole Barry (Haverfordwest), who had been on the field for eighty minutes, went over for the try and Evans put the seal on the victory with another conversion.

Nigel Owens was the man in the middle for the game and afterwards he Tweeted: “A pleasure to referee Ceredigion Yth 28 v Pembrokeshire Yth 36. Top quality game of rugby with some class players on both sides. Well done all, a credit to rugby.”

Also running the line were Pembrokeshire’s Thomas Carew and Ross Grieve.

Ceredigion Coach Justin Lloyd said: “It was a great occasion to be a part of for Ceredigion as we’ve only been set up for a few years and we’ve done really well to get to the final.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game against a strong Pembrokeshire side but I am super proud of the performance.

“Any neutrals who were watching the game would have seen a game played in Scarlets style. Both teams weren’t afraid to take any risks.”

Pembrokeshire coach Kenny Davies added: “It was a hell of a game of rugby and a great advert for west Wales rugby. Playing at Parc Y Scarlets with Nigel Owens being the referee made it an excellrnt occasion for all involved.

“We started the game well and were leading 26-7 at half time but they came back into it to lead. We then had a 40metre penalty from Whitland’s Dan Evans and we finished strongly to win it.

“Thanks to everyone involved, including Ceredigion, and I hope the players got a lot out of it”.

Photos by Darren Harries

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Cricket: Division 1 round up

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TOP of the table Neyland earned a fifth win of the season as they declared on 258-3 before bowling Johnston out for 72 on Saturday (May 16).

Nick Koomen and Henry Durrant were in unstoppable form as they both finished on unbeaten centuries before they were called in.

Johnston struggled in their reply as Andrew Miller took five wickets for the loss of 19 runs while Gary Lloyd also took two wickets for the loss of 21 runs.

 

WHITLAND scraped home by the finest of margins in their game at Burton as they reached their target with just one wicket still in hand.

Burton batted first and posted an excellent total of 220-4 from their 45 overs thanks in part to Richard James who top scored with 95 and Toby Hayman who batted well for his 50.

Whitland’s Matthew Davies took two wickets but conceded 65 runs while Steffan Jones (1-44) and Iestyn Scourfield (1-43) were the other wicket takers.

In reply, Burton took wickets at important moments as Jonathan Strawbridge was dismissed for 38 when he could have scored more.

Morgan Scale did his best to derail the Whitland innings with three wickets for the loss of 42 runs while Johnnie Scale (2-31) and Luke Hayman (2-34) both took two wickets.

Steffan Jones top scored for the visitors with 40 but it was Whitland’s final pair that were the heroes as they guided their side over the line with Matthew Davies scoring the winning runs.

 

CRESSELLY eased to a nine wicket win over St Ishmaels thanks to a half century from Adam Chandler.

Openers Peter Bradshaw and Jack Nicholas made a good start for the visitors putting on 35 runs for the first wicket. However, Tish soon slipped to 39-3 and Bradshaw and Harry Nicholas had to steady the ship and shared 45 runs for the fourth wicket in a good partnership.

Nicholas, who had hit four fours in a knock of 33, was then trapped leg before by Simon Cole. Bradshaw was finally removed as he was bowled by Matthew Lewis for a score of 42.

Lewis then took over as he had Palmer caught by Iwan Izzard for 19 and Kevin Bowen caught and bowled for a score of 6. The Cresselly bowled finished with excellent figures of 4-28.

Daniel Sutton and Adam Chandler shared 62 runs for the first wicket partnership as they made a good start.

Sutton was caught off the bowling of Jordan Milich for a score of 34 but Tish were unable to take any further wickets as Chandler (62 not out) and Simon Cole (36 not out) guided Cresselly to their target in the twentieth over.

 

HAVERFORDWEST remain unbeaten in Division 1 as they beat Kilgetty by seven wickets.

Kilgetty batted first but were all out for 139 as Johnny White (4-16) took four wickets before Town reached their target with time to spare.

Kurtis Marsh top scored for the visitors with 41 while Kyle Marsh added 26 runs while Lee Summons claimed three wickets for the loss of 62 runs for the home side.

Top run scorer Simon Holliday scored 62 before Lee Summons guided Town home, finishing unbeaten on 22.

 

LLANGWM kept their 100% home league record intact with a convincing 59 run victory over Lawrenny at Pill Parks with teenager Phil Llewellyn producing his maiden century.

It was a high scoring game as the home side blasted 276-2 with Llewellyn top scoring on 116. Noah Davies made 46 while Matthew Kiff finished not out on an excellent score of 83.

Brad McDermott Jenkins and Rob Williams claimed the wickets for Lawrenny but they struggled to keep the scoring down.

Williams then scored 60 in reply while Simon Cole added 69 runs but Llangwm’s bowlers were in superb form. Noah Davies took three wickets for the loss of 56 runs while Matthew Kiff also took three wickets.

Ollie Davies (2-37), Luke Brock (1-46) and Llewellyn (1-20) also took valuable wickets as they claimed an excellent win.

 

ON Saturday, May 26, Burton take on Cresselly while Kilgetty are at home as they take on leaders Neyland.

Lawrenny host Johnston, Tish play Llangwm and Whitland are at home as they take on Haverfordwest.

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Division 1 review: Neyland on top

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WITH four wins from four, Neyland are currently top of Division 1 of the Pembrokeshire League going into the fifth round of games.

Last week (May 12) it was Paul Murray who again starred for Neyland scoring 76 not out to help his team to a five wicket win over Cresselly.

Adam Chandler top scored for the visitors with 64 while Iwan Izzard scored 31 and Dan Sutton added another 30 runs as Cresselly posted 167-6.

Andrew Miller took four of the six wickets to fall and finished with figures of 4-34.

Nathan Banner added 37 runs for the home side but it was Murray who could not be stopped as Neyland earned a fourth victory in a row.

SIMON Holliday took his tally of runs for the season to 398 as he finished not out on 81 to help Haverfordwest to a nine wicket victory over Johnston on Saturday (May 12).

The in-form batsman also took two wickets as Johnston were bowled out for 125.

Johnston batted first after winning the toss but they were reduced to 68-8 with only four of their batsmen making it into double figures. Some late hitting also made sure they got past 100 runs.

Lee Summons also finished not out with a knock of 34 that included four fours and a six. Holliday hit 12 fours and a six in his innings.

Lee Summons bowling for Haverfordwest at Johnston

LLANGWM had to hold on for a draw in their game with Kilgetty on Saturday, as they fell short of their target.

Kilgetty batted first and made an excellent total of 225-5 from their allotted overs with Kurtis Marsh top scoring on 82 for the home side.

Ross Hardy also played well for his knock of 40 while Jack Parkinson finished well as he was not out on 51.

Will Beresford scored 39 and Richard Brock finished not out on 41 but it was not enough for Llangwm as they finished thirty runs short of their target.

Parkinson also performed well with the ball in hand as he took three wickets for the loss of 27 runs.

WHITLAND were denied an outright win by a stubborn St Ishmaels last wicket partnership as their game ended in a draw on Saturday.

Batting first, the Borderers were soon in trouble at 23 for 3. It was then that captain Iestyn Scourfield and Mathew Davies came together in a stand of 128.

Scourfield had 6 fours in his knock of 56, while Davies had 12 fours in his 80 not out. Nathan Evans gave the innings late impetus with a hard-hitting 35.

Leading the bowling attack for Tish was Andrew Palmer with 3 for 40.

After the interval, St Ishmaels lost wickets at regular intervals with only Dan Howells (35), Andrew Palmer (27) and Harry Nicholls (15 not out) getting into double figures.

Whitland were, however, unable to take the final wicket to gain the win, despite the best efforts of left-armer Ben Harvey with 4 for 27 and spinner Dylan Blain with 4 for 45.

The visitors finished well short of their target with 134 for 9.

LAWRENNY earned their second win of the season on Saturday, as they beat Burton by 27 runs.

The home side batted first but were all out for 158 following some good bowling from Burton. Lawrenny then produced a similarly excellent bowling display to pick up the victory.

Harry Thomas top scored for his side with 39 runs while Simon Cole was not far behind on 38.

Rob Williams finished not out on 27 as he helped his side post a total which they would have been confident of defending.

Burton’s Morgan Scale was the pick of the bowlers as he took four wickets for the loss of 27 runs.

In reply, Richard Jones top scored for the visitors with 37 runs while Morgan Scale added a further 27 runs.

That was as good as it got for Burton as Rob Williams bowled excellently to take four wickets for the loss of only 21 runs. Harry Thomas also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-21.

On Saturday (May 19), Burton are at home to Whitland and Cresselly will look to bounce back from defeat last week when they take on St Ishmaels.

Haverfordwest take on Kilgetty, Llangwm face Lawrenny at Pill Parks while leaders Neyland take on bottom side Johnston.

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