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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

Otters give Pooler a fright

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NARBERTH gave everything they had on Saturday (Jan 19), but it wasn’t enough to earn victory against Pontypool at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

Pontypool, unbeaten in 49 games, arrived with an army of loyal supporters to add to a large crowd eager to witness the clash. They were not disappointed for the Otters had no intention of giving way to the league leaders.

The Otters kicked off and for the next few minutes attacked Pooler in their half and on the halfway line. A scrum was called and the ball was served and in seconds the ball came out on the tight head. Pooler winger Lloyd Lewis gathered the ball and seeing his way to the line clear, raced up the far touchline for him to score an unconverted try.

The Otters restarted and it seemed a kicking duel was likely until Pontypool put the ball in touch. From the Otters lineout the ball was moved  from left to right with hooker Rhodri Owens breaking forward, Pooler brought him down but the Otters rucked well, Ryan Lane fed the ball to Jonathan Rogers who repeated the previous weeks drop goal with ease, bringing the score to 3-5.

There was then another kicking duel with Pooler chasing every kick while the Otters played for safety and kicked into touch. Pooler then set up a rolling maul before releasing fly half Mathew Lewis to place the ball into touch on the Otters 22.

Pooler continued to put the pressure on but the Otters stood up to it well. The visitors forced the Otters back into their 22, gaining a penalty at the breakdown and Mathew Lewis put the ball into touch on the 5 metre line by the clubhouse.

From the lineout they set up a rolling maul but the Otters pack were equal to the technique and thwarted Pooler and managed to get the ball to Jack Price who kicked down field before full back Geraint Walsh moved the ball to the opposite side of the field before the Otters closed him down.

Pooler were penalised for offside enabling Jonathan Rogers to kick into the Pooler 22. The Otters gaining the ball moved across from the stand side but the move broke down when the passed ball was dropped.

The Otters regained possession and Jack Price made a powerful break and although tackled he managed to forced his way through before slipping to the ground. At the ruck the Otters were again penalised.

Then on 27 minutes with Pooler in attack in the Otters half the ball broke loose and reacting quickly Nick Gale kicked the ball down field, the Pontypool winger was unable to control the ball enabling Nick to kick forward again and easily win the sprint to the touch down. He followed this with an excellent conversion to make it 10-5 to the Otters.

Pooler responded aggressively to finding themselves behind but the Otters defended with good organisation and equal aggression stopping every attempt to break through even at the scrum 10 metres from the Otters line, when Rhys Lane was able to put in a relieving kick into touch on his 22.

The Otters pack put pressure on Pooler enabling wing Will Lewis to kick ahead and break forward. He gathered the ball making many metres before being tackled.

Pooler were making much use of their heavier pack but a stout defence held them back. Close to half time Mathew Lewis kicked Pooler to the Otters corner. At the lineout a maul was formed but held back only for the Otters to be penalised and for Richard Rees to be sent to the sin bin.

The referee eventually blew for half time after playing six minutes injury time with the Otters 10-5 ahead.

The second half started with both full backs attempting a kicking duel before Ianto Griffiths put the ball into touch on halfway.

The difference between the two scrum halves beside age is that Lewys has a longer pass enabling Jonathan Rogers to position himself further back away from the Pooler back row. However, five minutes into the second half, Pooler levelled the score with an unconverted try by flanker Mikey Herbert who broke through the Otters defence to cross the line and touch down.

For the next 10 minutes Pooler stepped up their pressure in an aggressive manner with both defences putting in some brutal tackles. The Otters were awarded a penalty for Nick Gale to step up and successfully kick the Otters into a 3 point lead at 13-10.

A few minutes later, the Otters were defending another forceful Pooler attack when on their 22, there was an unfortunate injury affecting flanker Steffan Phillips. His cries of agony were heard around the ground and play stopped for 10 minutes while he received attention. A huge round of applause occurred when Steffan rose and was able, with assistance, to walk off the field with his right arm supported.

A scrum restarted the game, Pooler were awarded a penalty with which Mathew Lewis levelled the score at 13-13.

This was followed a few minutes later with the Otters regaining the lead with another Nick Gale penalty.

The Otters continued their attempts to break through the Pooler defence and a diagonal break by Keiron Jones saw him tackled 5 metres from the try line. A successful ruck saw Jonathan Rogers throw a long pass which reached Nick Gale who raced towards the line before being pulled down, via the ruck the ball was moved quickly towards the clubhouse when Pooler were penalised for lying offside.

The Otters kicked to the corner at the lineout forming a maul but the possession was lost enabling Pooler to force their way downfield. On 76 minutes they were awarded a penalty, Mathew Lewis kicked to touch into the Otters 22.

At the lineout they formed a maul before quickly releasing the ball with Mathew Lewis managing to break the defensive wall and score an unconverted try. The score was now 16-18.

Unfortunately the Otters kick out on the half way line went directly into touch. Thus enabling Pooler to scrummage and retain the ball.

Otters defence coach Jon Dodd commented: “It was a very hard game, very physical. We probably gave Pontypool the hardest game of the season, we are disappointed we lost. Everything went to the game plan. There was more kicking and chasing than we normally do but that was because of the quality of Pontypool.

“Defensively we were very good but we spent long periods of time without the ball and it took its toll. We took our breakaway try very well but there were other chances we might have taken. We played excellently and for the spectator it was a good game to watch. The team from 1 to 15 put in a very good performance today. Nick Gale with his place kicking was excellent and kept us going. So with those thoughts in mind we can go forward in the remaining games and win them all.”

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Ruthless Mariners power past Saints

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MILFORD Haven put in a ruthless display as they scored seventeen tries to beat St Davids 119-5 at the Obs on Saturday (Jan 5).

The Mariners were right at it from the kick off and did not let up as they held a 63-5 lead at the break.

James Trueman scored a hat trick of tries for the home side and he also went on to kick each of his 17 conversion attempts for a club record haul of 49 points.

Dan Jenkins also crossed for three tries while Dan Birch, Sam Dolling and Brandon Cooper all scored twice for the home side.

The Saints, to their credit, kept going and were rewarded in the first half when Josh Strangwood crossed for a try.

Jamie Lewis, Dewi Williams, Ryan Mansell, Dan McClelland and Steve Martin all got their names on the scoresheet to seal an emphatic victory.

The win keeps Milford top of the table by a point from rivals Neyland and on Saturday (Jan 12), they will face a sterner test as they travel to Laugharne.

The Saints remain third from bottom in the table and on Saturday they are at home to third placed Haverfordwest.

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Trundle leaves Bluebirds

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HAVERFORDWEST County have confirmed that star signing Lee Trundle has left the club.

The news was announced on Sunday, December 30, and the former Swansea City player has since signed for Welsh League Division 3 side Trefelin BGC.

In a statement released by the Bluebirds they thank Lee for his time at the club in which he scored 12 goals in all competitions.

A spokesperson for the club said: “Due to increasing work commitments, Lee Trundle has decided to leave Haverfordwest County and his last game was on Friday evening (Dec 28) at Ton Pentre where he scored two goals taking his tally for the Bluebirds to twelve in all competitions this season.

“Whist his stay at our club was shorter than we would have hoped, we fully understand his decision and everyone at the football club would like to thank Lee for his time here and the way he has conducted himself both on and off the field of play. Lee leaves with our sincere best wishes.”

Lee commented on Haverfordwest County’s Facebook page saying: “Good luck the rest of the season boys. Great club run by great people. Wish you all the best on the race for the league title this year.”

Fans of the club have also commented saying they are ‘gutted’ to see him leave and that he will be missed.

As well as Swansea, Lee has also played for Wrexham, Bristol City and Leeds United in his career.

It was announced in May 2018 that Trundle would be joining the Bluebirds having helped Llanelli Town to promotion to the Welsh Premier League.

Lee now joins a team that sit top of Division 3 and his inclusion is likely to give a further boost to their promotion hopes.

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