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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

Bluebirds awarded promotion to the Cymru Premier League

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Paul Davies MS and David Hughes during a visit to Haverfordwest County AFC before lockdown restrictions were introduced in Wales

HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY AFC have secured their promotion to the Cymru Premier League.

Following the Football Association of Wales (FAW) decision back in March to curtail all domestic football throughout Wales, many teams have waited in angst for clarification on how the promotion and relegation process would be decided.

The FAW, confirmed on Tuesday, June 16, using the ‘average points per game’ method that Haverfordwest County AFC had done enough to be promoted to the Cymru Premier for the upcoming 2020/2021 season.

Taking to their website to confirm the news, the club said “It is nothing less than Wayne, the coaching staff, players, board and volunteers deserve after a fantastic effort last season.

“It has been a long wait to learn our fate, but the club and its staff have worked tirelessly on and off the pitch to ensure we had as much in place as possible, and following the announcement we can now hit the ground running and prepare for next season.

“We cannot wait to welcome the best teams in Wales to The Bridge Meadow!”

Local Member of the Welsh Parliament Paul Davies has also added his congratulations to Haverfordwest County AFC on their promotion back to the JD Cymru Premier League.

Commenting on the achievement, Paul Davies said “It’s great that Haverfordwest County will once again compete in the Premier National League of Wales with the likes of The New Saints, Barry Town and newly crowned champions Connah’s Quay Nomads. The management and players have done a fantastic job in gaining promotion from the JD Cymru South League.”

“With the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium widely regarded as being one of the top grounds in Welsh non-league football, it’s only fitting that the Bluebirds will be back in the premier division.”

“I would also take the opportunity to thank David Hughes and Rob Davies for the work they have done as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the club respectively. I have known David for a number of years and he has worked tirelessly for the club. I’m delighted to learn that both David and Rob will stay on the Board as Robert Edwards takes over as Chairman. Their knowledge and experience will be vital moving forward into this exciting new era.”

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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