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.
Cresselly knock out holders Neyland
THERE will be a new name on the Harrison Allen Trophy this year after holders Neyland were knocked out by Cresselly on Thursday night (Jun21).
Thursday’s game was a repeat of the 2017 final and Cresselly were keen to exact some revenge for that defeat.
However, such revenge seemed unlikely at the halfway stage as Cresselly were restricted to 112-8 from their 22 overs.
Dan Sutton and Alex Bayley made scores of 12 and 14 respectively before being bowled by Nathan Banner and Nick Koomen.
Iwan Izzard was caught of the bowling of Patrick Hannon and that left Cresselly on 37-3.
Adam Chandler and Phil Williams then shared 42 runs for the fourth wicket as they looked to get the home side going.
Chandler hit 26 for Cresselly but he gave his wicket away as he walked down the wicket to play a shot but he missed the ball and Sean Hannon had an easy stumping.
Ryan Lewis and Dan James were both out without scoring as Neyland continued to bowl well.
Phil Williams added 18 but he was one of three victims to Andrew Miller. Nathan Banner was the pick of the bowlers as he claimed four wickets while Nick Koomen also struck twice.
Neyland would have been confident of reaching their target but an equally as good performance in the field from Cresselly restricted their rivals to 107-7.
In their reply openers Paul Murray scored 12 and Patrick Bellerby added 10 as they shared 29 runs for the first wicket.
Murray was caught by Neilson Cole off the bowling of Mike Shaw and moments later Banner was heading back to the pavilion as he was run out by Ryan Lewis for a duck.
29-2 became 30-3 as Bellerby was caught by Sion Jenkins off the bowling of Lewis. He then claimed his second wicket as he broke a partnership of 15 between Nick Koomen and Gregg Miller with the latter caught behind by Cole.
Nick Koomen had made a patient 23 but was then bowled by Tom Arthur.
Henry Durrant and Scott Jones finished the innings not out on 21 and 23 respectively but it wasn’t enough to take Neyland over the line.
They needed 13 off the last over but were unable to knock off those runs as they finished six runs short of their target.
It means that Cresselly join Llangwm, Lawrenny and Narberth in the last four of the competition and the draw for the semi-finals will be made on Wednesday (Jun 27) at the County Cricket Club meeting.
Lawrenny and Narberth through to last four
LAWRENNY are through to the semi-finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl after they beat St Ishmaels in the quarter final on Tuesday (Jun 19).
Division 2 side Narberth also made it through after they beat Burton on with the last ball of the game. Burton had earlier posted 155-8 from their 22 overs.
Narberth were 85-3 at the halfway stage and scores of 42 from Kyle Quartermaine and 29 from Lewis Hough saw the home side through.
At St Ishmaels, it was the home side who batted first and they posted 157-9 in their 22 overs.
Peter Bradshaw and Jack Nicholas opened the batting with a 22 run partnership before Bradshaw was trapped leg before by Rob Williams.
Nicholas and Brennan Devonald then shared 50 runs for the second wicket as they looked to give their side a good platform to build on.
That partnership was broken when Nicholas was bowled by Brad-McDermott-Jenkins for a score of 34.
Tish then lost three more wickets in quick succession as Devonald was caught by Rob Williams off the bowling of McDermott-Jenkins for a score of 23.
Phil Cockburn was then caught by Ryan Morton off the bowling Jamie Lewis and Andrew Williams was then run out by a brilliant throw from Harry Thomas.
That left Tish on 83-5 but a partnership of 24 steadied the ship. Jon Pawlett was then bowled by Morton for a score of 10 but Danny Howells and Andrew Palmer shared another 22 runs for the seventh wicket.
Howells hit three fours and a six in his knock of 34 but was then caught by Joe Kidney off the bowling of McDermott-Jenkins .
He then went on to claim two more wickets of Danny Flynn and Andrew Pawlett, the first of which brought a spectacular catch from Thomas, to finish with excellent figures of 5-32.
Andrew Palmer finished not out on 28 as Tish reached 157-9.
Lawrenny lost Simon Cole early on in their reply as he was caught by Peter Bradshaw off the bowling of Jon Pawlett.
McDermott-Jenkins and Harry Thomas then shared 43 runs for the second wicket but that was brought to an end when the former was caught by Cockburn off the bowling of Andrew Palmer.
Thomas and James Phillips then shared another good partnership of 52 runs as they passed a hundred runs with only two wickets down.
Phillips hit four fours and three sixes in his knock of 42 but he was then caught by Devonald off the bowling of Andrew Pawlett.
Joe Kidney fell soon after when he was caught by Howells off the bowling of Palmer.
Thomas then shared 28 runs with Patrick Elliot who was then bowled by Andrew Pawlett for a score of 12.
Tish were unable to take any further wickets as Rob Williams finished not out on 9 and Thomas not out on 35 to see their side through to the semi-finals.
Wednesday’s semi-final sees Pembroke hosting Llangwm while on Thursday, Cresselly take on Neyland.
Town on top after beating Neyland
HAVERFORDWEST are the new leaders in Division 1 after they beat NEYLAND by seven wickets on Saturday (Jun 16).
Neyland batted first but were all out for 93 with Adam James taking four wickets for Town. Nick Koomen and Scott Jones both scored 16 but it wasn’t enough for the visitors.
Simon Holliday then finished not out on 39 while Ben Field also scored 39 as Town reached their target with seven wickets still in hand.
CRESSELLY slipped out of first place after they suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of LAWRENNY.
Lawrenny batted first and were all out for 184 with Harry Thomas top scoring on 59 and Simon Cole adding 27.
Phil Williams then top scored with 30 runs for Cresselly in their reply but four wickets from Brad McDermott-Jenkins saw Cresselly bowled out for 143.
WHITLAND moved up to third place in the table as they beat KILGETTY by seven wickets thanks to a half century from Dylan Blain.
Kilgetty batted first but were all out for 147 as Ben Harvey and Matthew Davies both took three wickets.
Liam Cullen scored 49 and Ross Hardy added 45 for Kilgetty while only one other batter made it into double figures.
Jonathan Strawbridge then scored 42 in reply for Whitland while Blain finished not out on 57 to guide his side to victory.
LLANGWM made light work of their game against bottom side JOHNSTON as they bowled them out for 75 with Steve James top scoring on 21.
Ollie Davies took five wickets for Llangwm who went on to reach their target inside 13 overs for the loss of just one wicket.
Noah Davies and Will Beresford shared 68 runs for the first wicket before Davies was out to the bowling of Nathan James for a score of 32.
Beresford finished not out on 41 as Llangwm sealed their fourth win of the season.
ST ISHMAELS picked up a welcome win as they beat BURTON by seven wickets to move out of the bottom two.
Burton reached 142-8 in their innings with Luke Hayman scoring 37 and Morgan Scale adding 28 late on.
Andrew Palmer took four wickets for Tish while Jonathan Pawlett also struck twice.
Tish then reached their target with Daniel Richard scoring 40 and Peter Bradshaw finishing not out on 70.
On Saturday, June 23, new leaders Haverfordwest will look to keep hold of top spot when they take on Burton.
Johnston face a strong Whitland side while Lawrenny are at home as they take on Kilgetty.
Cresselly will look to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat when they travel to Llangwm and Neyland will look to put an end to their recent losing streak as they host St Ishmaels.
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