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Pembroke go top with derby success

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PEMBROKE moved to the top of League 3 West A with a comfortable 40-0 win over rivals Pembroke Dock Quins on Saturday (Dec 30) in front of one of the biggest crowds seen at Crickmarren for many years.

The Quins fielded a young side that has grown in confidence and experience as the season has progressed, whilst the home side, with a full squad available, came to this match brimming with confidence having only lost one League fixture during the season and being in the middle of an excellent Cup run.

However, as all regular supporters appreciate, form in these local derbies is not always the best indicator of the potential outcome. So the large, partisan, holiday crowd assembled with huge expectations of their respective squads.

The home side started well and were camped in the Quins half for most of the first ten minutes, testing their defensive resolve. The Quins forwards battled hard in the loose and managed a number of early defensive turn overs to deny the home side opportunities to press home their territorial advantage.

Then at the end of the first quarter, Pembroke were awarded a penalty for an infringement in the loose; from the ensuing scrum the ball was moved and after a number of phases, quick ball was fed to Sam Smith on the charge and he pierced a crowded defence to score near the posts, to a crescendo of noise form the home supporters. The try was converted by Sean Dalling.

Both sides then lost a player a piece, after Dom Coleman and Quins hooker Neil Brace had a brief altercation mid field and were yellow carded by referee David Emmanuel.

Over the next ten minutes the Quins pressed into Pembroke territory, but could not pierce an equally aggressive and determined home defence.

With only five minutes to go in this half, Pembroke pushed forward through a number of well-constructed phases, which saw prop Lloyd Davies link and make good ground in mid field before passing to the backs to move it wide; from a ruck close to the Quins line, quick ball was scooped up by Sam Smith, who fed a hungry Lloyd Davies on the charge to crash over for an unconverted, team try.

With their tails up in the last seconds of the half, Pembroke then created another opportunity, after counter attacking from deep in their half, winger Simon Stanford was put into space and he nimbly, swerved and sped past a number of defenders to score a superb individual effort from 35 metres out, which was ably converted by Toby Smith; leaving the score at half time deservedly at 19-0 to the home side.

The third quarter started much the same as the first, with Pembroke pushing the Quins into rear guard action and missing a golden opportunity to increase their score only minutes in, when Pembroke’s winger Barry John dropped the ball crossing the line, after a superb counter attacking drive from their own half.

After fifteen minutes both sides made a number of changes to put on fresh legs as the heavy ground took its toll.

Then right at the end of the third quarter, after a sustained attacking period, Pembroke’s dominant pack released quick ball from a ruck in the Quins twenty two, this was scooped up by replacement flanker Rhodri Walters, who made ground and fed scrum half Tom Lewis, who burst through a flat footed defence to go in under the posts for a well taken, unconverted try.

Minutes later Quins denied the hosts another try opportunity, when after No 10 Smith had kicked a Pembroke penalty deep into Quins territory, the visitors stole Pembroke’s lineout five metres out.

Pembroke maintained the pressure and minutes later were awarded a scrum five metres from the visitors line; scrum half Tom Lewis picked up the quick ball, broke wide and flat, fed Toby Smith running an acute angle and he ran through a bewildered defence to score from this training pitch move, which he duly converted himself.

The teams then lost another player each to yellow cards, as Cyle Weatherall and Hywel Baker were dismissed for their part in a short brawl.

Then with five or so minutes to go, Pembroke’s adventure was rewarded with another excellently constructed final try; from broken play in the middle of the field, the home side gathered possession, moved it wide, then back into mid field and finally wide again to replacement full back Ryan Wilkins, who gleefully crossed wide right for a converted try to cap a dominant, bonus point home performance.

Given the heavy ground, which had taken its toll on all of the players, both sides had served up a very entertaining spectacle for the large festive crowd, who showed their appreciation for both teams at the end of the game, which saw the home side victorious.

Sport

Greene’s double sinks Swifts

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MERLINS Bridge booked their place in the last 16 of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Dec 8) as they beat Monkton Swifts 3-0 at the Racecourse.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game that was played in blustery conditions which caused problems for both teams throughout the match.

Neither side was able to gain an upper hand in the first half but it was the Wizards who eventually took the lead shortly before half time.

A slip allowed Joe Leahy in and went one-on-one with the Swifts keeper before finding the back of the net.

The windy conditions continued in the second half and Will Haworth came close to doubling the home side’s lead but his shot was saved.

They then made it 2-0 as Haworth crossed from the left for Nathan Greene at the back post who headed low and into the net.

Peter Thomas then played a good one-two with Greene but Thomas sent his shot over the bar.

Greene could have had a second soon after but, after the Swifts keeper had come off his line, he could only send his effort over the bar.

He wasn’t to be denied his second however as a through ball set him up and he fired low into the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 3-0.

On Saturday (Dec 15), Merlins Bridge return to league action with a game against bottom side Milford United at Marble Hall.

Monkton Swifts will look to bounce back as they travel to Herbrandston.

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Bluebirds prepare for Pontypridd test

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HAVERFORDWEST County will be looking to progress to the next round of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday (Dec 8), when they welcome Pontypridd Town to the Bridge Meadow.

The Bluebirds enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win against Swansea University in the last round having previously beaten STM Sports 2-1 away from home in the first round.

They currently sit third in Welsh League Division 1 with seven wins from their ten games so far this season.

They will also be looking for another cup run having already reached the fourth round of the League Cup.

Visitors Pontypridd also enjoyed a thrilling 6-3 win in their second round game with Goytre and they also won 2-1 away from home against Llanidloes Town in the first round.

They may sit second from bottom in Division 1 of the Welsh Leagues but their cup run has shown that they should not be underestimated.

The game is a repeat of the third round tie from last year which Pontypridd won 3-1 and the Bluebirds will be looking to avenge that defeat.

This is the Bluebirds’ only home game in December so make sure you get down to the Bridge Meadow to show your support.

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Sport

Bowen wins Young Sportsman of the Year

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WELSH jockey, James Bowen, 17, has won the Carwyn James Young Sportsman of the Year Award at the Wales Sports Awards on Tuesday, December 4, at The Celtic Manor.

The Awards which are an annual amalgamation of BBC Cymru Wales and Sports Wales to make the biggest Welsh Sporting celebration of the year, it is intended to showcase the best of both elite and grassroot level of sporting achievement.

Speaking to James on his award he said: “It came as a bit of a shock to me, I didn’t realise I had done that well this year”.

Bowen, who has been racing for the past 18 months, at just 16 became the youngest rider to win the Coral Welsh Grand National in 2018 on Raz De Maree. He is no stranger when it comes to awards, recently collecting the Rising Star Award at the inaugural Welsh Horse Racing Awards at Chepstow Racecourse.

On his Rising Star Award James said: “It was exciting to win this award as it’s the first time these awards have been done at the racecourse”.

On his recent career highlights James added: “I would like to thank everybody who has worked with me over the years, and all the trainers who have helped me get here.”

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