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No Christmas cheer for Crymych

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE final Crymych game before the Christmas break, sponsored by Haverfordwest Coin Machines, in Division 1 West on Saturday (Dec 16) saw leaders Dunvant maintain their position with a 38-7 victory at Parc Lloyd Thomas as the home side remain anchored to the foot of the table with six points from seven fixtures.

Dunvant came down from the Championship last season and have been a side who have enjoyed dining at the top table of Welsh rugby in years gone by, when their Broadacre home on the outskirts of Swansea became a fortress and they are in prime position for a swift return to that level if they continue their form in 2018.

Dunvant arrived at the foot of the Preseli Hills driven to ensure they didn’t return East with anything other than maximum points from this fixture and on winning the toss they chose to play with the elements at their back on the newly laid pitch, absorbing the ball in the wintry conditions and looking to punch holes through the home defence line.

The opening score came in a fortuitous way when home scrum half Dafydd Phillips pinged a flat pass back to his half back partner Jake Jenkins only to see it deflect off the head of visiting prop Connor Bucket for his team mate, flanker Ben Davies, on permit from Premiership side Swansea to slide over from 5m.

Winger Sam Evans duly converted from the left of the posts and it was Evans alongside centre Mitchell Ford who were eager to make inroads via the left channels as the yellow and greens dominated the possession.

Skipper Ford was vocal in his encouragement of the forwards who had dominance at the set piece scrum where the young Crymych pack couldn’t hold their opponents heavier and co-ordinated impact.

Home number 8 Osian Davies was required to pick up from the base of a pressurised scrum for most of the match and in the opening half the Dunvant back three were constantly able to isolate him and recycle the ball.

Further first half scores arrived through scrum half Ben Lay after Evans received the ball from elegant full back Sam Hawkes, before feeding second row Gethin John on the outside who popped a pass to Lay who ran around to touchdown under the posts for Evans to convert for 14-0.

Scrum half Phillips was an energy catalyst for the home side where his side were guilty of not ensuring their clearance kicks reached the safety of the touchline which allowed Hawkes, Evans and fellow winger Mark Robbins the opportunity to run the ball back.

In contrast visiting outside half Alan Williams Parry, a seventh generation player to wear the Dunvant colours constantly kept the pressure on the home side with deft kicks to ensure his forwards were hunting downfield for long periods in Crymych territory, which in the conditions was motivation enough for them.

Crymych did have a penalty attempt when number 8 Davies was held after being tackled only for Jenkins to push the opportunity wide after 25 minutes which only acted as a spur for the visitors to renew their focus and play in the Crymych 22m area.  Prop Callum Llewellyn on permit from Birchgrove was more than the cornerstone of the scrum set piece, where they gleaned penalties as he was in the thick of the offensive play which required Davies and his back row colleagues Sion Collella and Llyr Davies to tackle like demons for the Bulls.

The final score of the first half came with five minutes remaining on Ammanford based referee Jason Griffiths watch and was scored wide out by second row Gethin John to ensure his side started the second half 19-0 ahead, despite Evans missing the conversion and a last minute penalty attempt, which in the conditions meant it was probably more than enough to sustain victory.

The outcome of the game was certainly known just before a quarter of an hour of the second half when Hawkes entered the line after Llewellyn had set Williams Parry away on a thundering run down the channel.

He drew the gain line, dummied across Ford for co centre Danny Davies to break the first defence line and Hawkes rounded off the move for 24-0 and a visiting side bonus point. Crymych needed a foothold in the game which they found difficult as Williams Parry was definitive in his defensive kicking, playing rugby out of their danger area, a lesson Crymych may heed after their efforts in the first half.

The pendulum did sway towards the Bulls when after a period of forward pressure opposition flanker Davies was yellow carded for offside.

Phillips chose to take a tap penalty from which space opened enough for the young Davies to find a head of steam and break through from 10m and score under the posts for Jenkins to convert and reduce the score to 24-7.

A second Dunvant yellow card followed three minutes later to Ford for a high tackle which even under the new stricter code of officiating seemed harsh and replacement front row forward, veteran Andrew Fletcher enjoyed a run in the conditions which allowed him to roll back the years to his Cardigan heydays.

This impact from the bench served to ensure the visitors dug deeper and hooker Ceri Davies and prop Bucket did the hard graft to minimise any Crymych drives, with Williams Parry key in orchestrating his sides play.

He was responsible for initiating a 70m break away try, with some deft hands and support play to set his half back partner into space on the touchline and centre Danny Davies duly crossed for Evans to convert at 31-7.

Evans looked an accomplished player with ball hand, shrewd in reading the game situation and with an enduring accuracy when kicking goal; he also showed some astuteness with two minutes of play remaining, running onto a clearance 40m from the Crymych try line and showing football skills akin to Gareth Bale with a chip half- volley over the Cymych back line to then win the sprint for a touchdown.

He dragged himself out of the surrounding ditch after spraying into it such was his momentum to convert the try for a personal haul of 13 points and a maximum point victory for his side.

Coach Jay Parry was ‘full of praise for both sides for the match in the conditions, where the majority on show were local lads.”  He acknowledged they had left Crymych too much to do after opening up a 24-0 lead in the second half.

Home coach Neil Machin was frustrated by what he described as “Individual skills which let us down, where they punished us and at this level it’s a harsh lesson to learn.”

He added: “We never gave up and have a young team which is developing and with experience we will capitalise on sides going down in numbers.  We had Elaijah Torau and Rhys Davies packing down in the second row from our second string alongside a youth based back row and hooker Lee Grififths, all of whom are developing confidence.”

The mountain men will travel now up the coast road for a fixture against Aberystwyth on Saturday (Dec 30), hoping for a return to the side for the injured centre Ifan Phillips and a direction where game management may reap its rewards against a home side in mid table after a 22-7 defeat in Penclawdd on Saturday.

Sport

Vikings smash seven past Clarby to lift Senior Cup

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HAKIN United lifted the Senior Cup for the first time since 2012 as they put in an excellent second half performance to thump Clarbeston Road 7-1 on Saturday (Apr 21).

The Vikings had raced into a two goal lead but Clarbeston Road’s Tom Reubens pulled a goal back as the game was evenly poised at 2-1 at half time.

However Hakin smashed in a further five goals in the second half to put the result beyond doubt.

Justin Harding: Scored and set up a goal for Hakin

The game was only three minutes old when Hakin’s Leigh Marchant sent a cross into the box which Clarby keeper Lee Scott flapped at before his defenders cleared the danger.

The first goal came on eight minutes and it was a goal worthy of gracing any final stage. Nicky Woodrow flicked the ball up and volleyed the ball into the back of the net, leaving the keeper with no chance.

Adam John then saw a shot blocked before Ben Fawcett made his way through a couple of defenders before firing into the net to double Hakin’s lead.

John was then sent through on goal and he beat the keeper to the ball but Clarby’s defenders got back to snuff out the danger.

With 22 minutes gone, Clarbeston Road got themselves back in the game as Jason Griffiths crossed the ball into the middle for Tom Reubens who squeezed the ball under Adrian Devonald and into the net.

Leigh Marchant then saw a cross hit the bar as the action switched back and forth before Clarby won a series of corners but were unable to find the net.

On the stroke of half time, Justin Harding crossed into the box for Wilson but his shot was saved.

It remained 2-1 at half time and both sides were still very much in with a chance of winning the Cup.

Clarbeston Road came close to equalising three minutes into the second half as Matthew Davies beat the keeper to the ball but he lost sight of the ball as it bounced in the air and Hakin were able to clear the danger.

Challenge: Players of both sides go for the ball

Ten minutes later, Hakin added a third goal as Harding sent a free kick into the box and Nicky Woodrow got a touch on it to divert it into the net.

With just over an hour gone, Ryan Wilson crossed into the box for Ben Fawcett and his header went in despite Scott getting a touch to it.

Four minutes later the game was as good as over as Harding fired the ball into the top corner with Scott again getting a touch on it.

Hakin continued to attack and with ten minutes to go they made it six as Woodrow side-volleyed in his third goal to complete his hat trick.

John then sent a free kick into the box but Daniel Armstrong’s header was well tipped over the bar by Scott.

However, just moments later it was seven as the ball fell to Jack Wilson on the edge of the box and he drilled it low into the bottom left corner of the net.

That was the end of the scoring and it left referee James Olyott, who had an excellent game in the middle, to blow the whistle for full time.

It sparked wild celebrations amongst the Hakin players and supporters as they sealed a first Senior Cup win since 2012.

Hakin’s Ben Fawcett was named man of the match and Kristian Bennett picked up the trophy for the first time as a manager.

Winning manager: Kristian Bennett

Speaking after the match, Kristian said: “I am just overwhelmed, I couldn’t have asked for a better performance in the final. Give Clarby some credit they battled back and it was anybody’s game but in the second half the boys smashed some good goals in.

“I did rip into them at half time, just because we gave the goal away and let them back in the game when we were well on top, that’s all it takes and Clarby Road are a good side.

“It’s brilliant, first Senior Cup as a manager, total new feeling but absolutely awesome.”

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Pembroke replace Cardiff in Bowl Final

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PEMBROKE will take part in the final of the WRU Bowl after all after semi-final opponents Cardiff University were found to have breached the competition’s eligibility rules.

The National Bowl Final will take place on Sunday, April 29, at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Pembroke were beaten by Cardiff in the semi-final but lodged an appeal following the game.

Pembroke, whose Youth team will compete in today’s National Youth Plate Final v Tondu (Principality Stadium, 1.15pm) will now face Porthcawl in next week’s National Bowl Final in the first of the National Finals Day encounters (1pm), Nant Conwy play Brynmawr in the National Plate Final (3.15pm) and Merthyr play Newport in the National Cup Final (5.35pm).

All three finals will be broadcast by S4C and tickets for National Finals Day are available on www.wru.wales/tickets

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Carew earn deserved win

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CAREW earned a deserved 3-1 victory on Friday night (Apr 20) as they beat Neyland thanks to goals from Jordan Richards, Sam Christopher and Alex Bayley.

It also means that the Rooks are still very much in with a chance of finishing third in the league as they, Merlins Bridge and Clarbeston Road are all locked on 39 points.

Jordan Richards gave the hosts the lead in the first half and it could have been much more for the home side if they had taken some of their chances.

Instead it remained 1-0 at half time and Neyland were still in with a chance of getting something out of the game.

Alex Bayley came close to scoring for the Rooks after he beat a tackle to run into the box before cutting side but his effort was saved by the Neyland keeper.

Neyland then brought themselves level as Jake Booth slid the ball across the box and Geraint Rees was on hand to tap the ball in.

Jordan Richards then did well to keep hold of the ball on the by-line before passing to Sam Christopher who fired past the keeper.

Bayley was causing problems for the Neyland defenders and he brushed past one of them before firing low into the bottom corner of the net to make it 3-1.

Neyland looked to get back into the game late on but Carew held on for the three points.

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