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Scarlets in Seventh Heaven



By Jonathan Twigg

THE Scarlets won their fifth consecutive Guinness Pro 14 derby match of the season on Friday (Jan 5) at Parc y Scarlets against a young and inexperienced Dragons, 47-13.

The Gwent side, who have been defeated 24 times in the last 29 fixtures, started with 17 year old scum half Dan Babos and debutant flanker 18 year old Ben Roache but conceded seven tries as a rampant home side dominated the game.

The Scarlets remain on top of the Conference A table after this third derby victory in a ten day period, thanks to a 14-11 win on the 4G pitch at Cardiff Arms Park against the Blues and a last gasp try from flanker Josh MacLeod on the last Saturday of 2017 saw them triumph 12-9 over the Ospreys, despite playing for a long period with 14 men after the dismissal of Welsh winger Steff Evans for a tip tackle.

Coach Wayne Pivac, set his stall out at the start of the season for his charges to return with six victories over their Welsh rivals and they now head to Judgement Day VI on Saturday (April 28) to take on the Dragons in the final Derby match at the Principality Stadium.

No. 8 John Barclay had the honour of leading the team out on his one hundredth appearance and his was in the thick of the action from the off as outside half Dan Jones drew Pontyberem born winger Ioan Nicholas quickly into the game.

An early scoring opportunity came when Jones pinged a cross field kick into the space occupied by winger Tom Prydie who spurned the chance when pressurised in catching the ball by full back Carl Meyer.

Haverfordwest born Rob Evans worked some magic in the lose to start his back division at a quick pace through the hands where play moved seventy metres down field and skipper Ken Owens led the charge as his pack of forwards disrupted the visiting scrum.

It was the Dragons outside half Arwel Robson who opened the scoring with an offside penalty after 15 minutes before the home side responded through another Evans inspired move ram adrift when full back Rhys Patchell failed to find Kiwi born Welsh international Hadleigh Parkes as the play crabbed cross field.

Owens picked second row Steve Cummins out from a five metre line out allowing the forwards got some momentum and former Whitland flanker James Davies crossed wide out for Jones to land the extra two points with a magnificent conversion

Ten minutes later the home eight dominated the scrum set piece and drew another penalty which Jones kicked long down the touchline; the pattern of play for the evening was firmly set as the Scarlets were happy to track with their tried and tested dominance up front.

Owens found Barclay at the base of the line out from which Parkes broke the gain line allowing Jones to switch play, for centre the Steffan Hughes to put in a grubber kick and winger Pyrdie won the foot race to score, which Jones failed to convert.

Coach Bernard Jackman astutely changed both props for the visitors before his side suffered the ignominy of a yellow card having identified the need for an improvement before the game was lost completely but pressure on winger Pat Howard drew a yet another mistake after half an hour.

Owens found his target in the line out again and the ball went through several phases before Davies made 20 meters towards the posts and the pulled the cover defender into the mix for Jones to cross unopposed under the posts and convert his try for 19-3.

The Scarlets support play and handling made an effective and timeless display of attacking rugby appreciated by the knowledgeable crowd; this is a Region whose players hearts are firmly ensconced in the local environment capturing the life and blood of the community clubs across West Wales.  None more so than Hendy born flanker, Aaron Shingler a divide and conquer king on the floor to secure the ball.

Three tries to the good and the Black Dragons were unable to get out of their own half as the home side searched for the bonus point try before half time led by scrum half Aled Davies, who became a tad vigorous in his tackling as the game edged towards half time.  Full back josh Meyer stepped up and reduced the deficit from the half way line to 19-6 after outside half Robson had been replaced by Robson Blake.

The sides returned for the second half and a low key opening fizzed into life after seven minutes as replacement second row Rynard Landman’s first touch was a weighty size 12 right boot to carry play deep into Scarlets territory. The defence held firm with Shingler and Davies foraging well allowing Parkes to make good ground from first phase possession.

The Dragons were more involved in the play, primarily through Landman and his boiler house partner Joe Davies although there was little respite as Cummins barged through for the Scarlets, neatly popping an inside pass to Patchell who timed the final pass for Aled Davies to scamper in from 20 metres under the posts for a converted try and 26-6.

With the bonus point in the bag after eleven second half minutes another Haverfordian Simon Gardiner replaced Samson Lee in the front row for the scrum to be anchored by former Sir Thomas Picton School props; fitting in the year which sees their school becoming defunct and the new Haverfordwest High being born from the embers of their amalgamation with Tasker Milward.

Skills taught in school were evident with the fifth try as play swayed back and forth before Shingler straightened the line to score another converted try, after Patchell, Nicholas and Hughes had been instrumental.

Pivac gave a run out to the replacements bench as the game developed into a rout where the words of former Scarlets captain Simon Easterby rang around the West Wales cauldron “In essence, I wanted to lead by example.” Such words are a suitable epitaph for current skipper, Ken Owens.

The livewire Wales Hooker was everywhere in his time on the turf, running through 60 minutes before giving way to the younger legs of Ryan Elais. 

Scarlets were playing simple yet effective rugby, driven on by the commanding voice of Pivac, whose expectations of high standards are the basis for the successes. The Dragons were on the back foot and conceding penalties to stop the forward dominance to little effect as replacement flanker Wil Boyd was the recipient of his sides efforts after another Cummins catch in the line out; a sixth try converted by Patchell for 40-6 with twenty minutes to play.

Patchell had moved into the first receiver position and was calling the shots with fast hands and quick feet, putting Jonathan Evans away and Rhys Jones slid in for a converted try to leave them three points shy of the half century.

The home side had runners appearing at will, with or more importantly without the ball as an obviously fatigued and demoralised Dragons side succumbed.  Patchel again put on the burners sweeping the ball across the pitch as Italian referee Marius Mitrea whistle penalised the Gwent side for offside.

Morgan Williams was guilty of an indiscretion for the home side in a brief foray into their territory with centre Jack Dixon raising spirits briefly on the cold night which quietened the 9347 crowd.

Turning down a straight forward penalty kick Angus O’Brien tried to get a nudge on as the Dragons plundered through numerous phases of tight play rewarded when Lloyd Fairbrother scrambled over for Blake to convert; 47-13 with seven minutes to play.

Patchell was nominated as man of the match as the dying embers of the game saw the Dragons enjoy the possession and territory, a little to late to affect the game result but enough for them to take some heart and soul from their visit to West Wales.


Goodwick set up Liberty final



GOODWICK United made it through to the West Wales Cup Final as they beat Carew 4-0 at the Bridge Meadow in Haverfordwest on Tuesday night (Mar 20).

It was a cold evening but that didn’t stop the fans turning out and a good number gathered to watch the game.

Two goals in the first five minutes from Matty Delaney set the Pheonix Boys on their way and a third before half time from brother Scott Delaney all but sealed their passage into the final.

Carew had been down by the same scoreline in the Senior Cup Semi-final just a few weeks ago and made a stirring second half comeback before being beaten 4-2. There was to be no repeat this time however, as a fourth goal from Adam Raymond all but ended any hopes the Rooks had of reaching the final.

It could have been a much different story as Sam Christopher’s shot went agonisingly wide of the post with only ten seconds on the clock.

But, with three minutes gone, the ball dropped kindly on the edge of the box for Matty Delaney and he volleyed the ball into the left hand corner of the goal to make it 1-0.

Just two minutes later they doubled their lead as Delaney again got ahead of the defenders to slide the ball home.

Johnny Horgan then did well to keep the ball in and set up a chance for Lee Hudgell but he sent his effort over the bar.

Chris O’Sullivan also saw a shot deflected wide as Goodwick continued to put the pressure on.

With just under half an hour gone O’Sullivan took a quick free kick which found Horgan on the edge of the box but his fierce drive was well tipped over by Carew keeper Tom Davies.

Three minutes later it was 3-0 as a scramble on the byline saw the ball squared into the box for Scott Delaney to knock into the roof of the net.

That all but ended Carew’s hopes of reaching the final as Goodwick saw out the remainder of the half and went in at the break with a comfortable lead.

Carew started the second half well and Scott Ferney saw an effort go over the bar before Alex Bayley and Jack Christopher both saw efforts saved by Goodwick keeper James Gwilt.

With twenty minutes to go Goodwick scored their fourth as the ball was tapped home by Adam Raymond.

They still went in search of more goals as Carew keeper Davies tipped an effort round the post before Matty Delaney shot over as he looked for his hat trick.

Jordan Griffiths also shot wide late on but it mattered little as the referee brought the game to a close meaning Goodwick had reached the final having last done in 2016.

They won the final on that occasion and they will be hoping they can repeat that feat once more.

A date for the final has not yet been set but Goodwick will play the winners of the tie between Bwlch and Penlan Club.

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P1 SuperStock World Champions Honoured in Monaco



TWELVE months ago, Sam and Daisy Coleman arrived back at Heathrow on an Air India flight and the customs officer asked if they had anything to declare. “We certainly have” replied Daisy excitedly. “We’re world champions!” To reinforce the point, Sam reached into his holdall and pulled out an impressive trophy.

A week earlier the brother and sister, who were the reigning P1 SuperStock UK champions, had left their home in Pembrokeshire to fly to Mumbai to join powerboat racers from eight counties to compete in the inaugural UIM P1 SuperStock World Championship.

This weekend they travelled to Monaco, along with other 2017 UIM world champions of offshore and circuit racing, to receive their accolade at the annual UIM Awards Giving Gala at the Salle des Etoiles, Sporting Monte-Carlo.

The event celebrates the best ravers and successes of last season and is attended by more than 450 guests from sport, business, the boating industry and international media.

As they awaited the afternoon press conference, Sam and Daisy’s thoughts went back to the event in Mumbai last year that was the culmination of six years developing a new paradigm for the best P1 SuperStock racers in the world in a superb setting.

Tens of thousands of spectators around the natural amphitheatre of Mumbai’s splendid, sweeping bay, together with millions of live viewers worldwide of Sony ESPN’s live television coverage, enjoyed by three days of intense racing as Powerboat P1 made its first visit to India.

Sam and Daisy completed a clean sweep of victories on the opening day and were applauded by the international media core as they entered the evening press conference.

They attributed their success to fitness, setting consistent lap times and detailed race preparation. “It was a very technical course and essential to seek out clear water and choose the right line when you’re racing in a pack of 12 boats on a never-seen-before race track on water formed by an extraordinary 6,500 red and yellow buoys” explained Daisy. “Selecting when to take the compulsory pit lap was also crucial” she added.

The finale to the weekend in Mumbai was an energy-sapping 50-minute race in a temperature of 35 degrees, and the Coleman’s again recorded a hat-trick of victories to lift the world championship crown.

“We’re honoured to be here in Monte-Carlo to collect our award” said Sam as he entered the Salle des Etoiles with his sister. “The exceptional success of the inaugural Mumbai event shows that powerboat racing can be a thrilling sport that is capable of engaging sizeable new audiences.”

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West Wales Cup Semi-final preview: Goodwick United v Carew



TONIGHT sees Goodwick United take on Carew for a place in the West Wales Cup Final at the Bridge Meadow in Haverfordwest.

Goodwick reached the final in 2016 and went on to win it so they know what it takes to make it.

Carew last reached the semi-finals of this competition in 1972 but were beaten on that occasion and they will be hoping they can go one better this time around.

A date at the Liberty Stadium awaits either side so both will be keen to create a little bit of history when they step out onto the pitch tonight.

Goodwick reached the semi-final on Saturday (Mar 17) as they beat Swansea side Ystradgynlais 2-0 thanks to goals from Jordan Griffiths and Matty Delaney.

They also beat Ystradgynlais on their route to the final in 2016 so they will be hoping history can repeat itself this year.

The Pheonix Boys overcame Hakin United in round 4 as they came out on top with a 4-3 win in what was a thrilling encounter.

They beat CRC Rangers 3-0 in the third round, Kilvey Fords by the same score line in the second after easing to a 7-0 win over St Clears in the first round.

Carew also proved that west was best in their Quarter-final as they beat Giants Grave 5-2 the previous Saturday (Mar 10).

The Rooks disposed of Bonymaen Colts in the fourth round with a 2-0 win away from home after beating Carmarthenshire side Evans & Williams 5-0 in round three.

In the second round Carew won 4-1 away to Glynneath Town following a 5-1 win over North End in the first round.

Carew also warmed up well for the semi-final as they rested players but still came away with a 4-1 win at home to Narberth with Scott Ferney scoring a hat trick.

The Rooks will be hoping for a better showing at the Bridge Meadow this time around having been beaten 4-2 by Hakin in the Senior Cup Semi-final just a few weeks ago.

The sides have met once already this season with Goodwick coming out on top with a 3-1 win at Pheonix Park.

Whatever happens, tonight’s game is sure to be another epic battle so make sure you get down to the Bridge Meadow for a 7:30pm kick off.

Good luck to both sides.

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