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Wanderers walloping of Crymych marred after fracas

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE WRU National leagues have copped some criticism since its inception in 1995, although this game in the shadow of Stradey Park, previous home of the Scarlets, showed the raw side of Club rugby at its uncompromising best and unfortunately its worst on Saturday (Jan 20).

Llanelli Wanderers emerged 44-12 victors over Crymych as both sides saw it as a crunch relegation encounter, the first at the ground since the renovation work undertaken by the community club.

The game was marred when Crymych prop Jason Nicholls took a punch when exposed in the scrum in the final minute and resulted in a trip to Morriston hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured eye socket, nose and cheekbone.

Both sides entered the fixture with players associated to their respective clubs; no permits, no dual registration which were not normally selected and both came to play the conditions set before them at the ‘Ranch’. It was Crymych who took on the challenge of playing against the wind and the slope, finding the tenacity of home flanker Steffan Tafetsauffer, No 8 Nicky Harries and scum half Josh Weeds difficult to deal with in the opening exchanges.

The visitors lost influential scrum half Jonathan Rogers at the end of the first quarter, which was pointless despite continual penalties awarded by Cwmtwrch based referee Efryn Morris-Roberts to the home side through the ten and twelve channels. Morris Roberts, originally from Bala and teaching in Ystradgynlais was frim in his opinions as the underfoot conditions played their part. He didn’t endear himself to the visiting support who question those marginal decisions vociferously and as the game wore on perhaps with tinted spectacles.

Outside half Jonathan George eventually landed a penalty after 22 minutes from in front of the posts to open the home sides account, which spurred the visiting ‘mountain men’ into action. Replacement scrum half Gareth Davies was a livewire and chose to take a quick tap penalty thirty metres from the Wanderers try line, feeding second row Rhys Davies who combined with flanker Aled Harries to send outside half Jake Jenkins the ball.

He drew in centres Carwyn and Ifan Phillips to make ground with ball in hand allowing No. 8 Guto Davies to pounce for the games opening try, converted by outside centre Ifan Phillips.

Crymych were on top at this stage, the home side reduced to 14 men after Harries was deemed to have overstepped the tolerance level of Morris Roberts, which allowed the visitors to secure a second try. Scrum half Davies once again took a quick penalty finding the try scorer Davies close at hand. Jenkins and the Phillips’s boys in midfield created space for full back Tomos Phillips who glided over unopposed for an unconverted try.

What epitomises club rugby best is the ability to expect the unexpected and on small decisions much wider consequences occur. As the half ended the Crymych forwards, minus teenage hooker Lee Griffiths who had been injured five minutes before lost possession when they should have put the ball clear of the touchline.

Photo by Darren Harries

The resultant turnover led to a penalty and the games second yellow card when flanker Sion collella trudged off for handling in the ruck.

Front ball to skipper James Bannister led to a drive down towards the new changing quarters, with replacement Ben Phillips touching down for an un converted try, as George effort clipped the upright for the second time in the half and 12-10 scoreline in favour of Crymych.

Replacement back row dynamo Zak France-Miller started the second period well carrying the ball, linking with his scrum half as their side tried to absorb the loss of Collella.

However, France -Miller saw his pass intercepted seven minutes into the half, which allowed centre Rhydian Morgan to scoot into the corner under pressure for an unconverted try. The Maroon shirted home side were on the charge as Bannisters second row colleague Ben Williams trampled 20 metres towards the line which put Morgan in for his second try of the afternoon, again unconverted by George.

The yellow card against Crymych had yielded three tries and fifteen points but perhaps most importantly the games and possibly Division 1 West survival in the Wanderers favour.

Crymych had lost their way, playing unstructured rugby at a tempo not suited to their game meaning they were losing the close quarter exchanges drawing incandescent commentary from diehard followers.

The home pack were buoyant with ball in hand and destructive in defence stopping the visitors in their tracks, ensuring they played the game deep in Crymych territory.

Last years Divisional runners up plundered in for their bonus point try from scrum half Josh Weeds after George had booted a penalty and Morris-Roberts reversed a free kick for back chat. Full back Lloyd Thomas crossed to finish a flowing handling move and George converted whilst also crossing the whitewash to make his travel from Cardiff worthwhile.

Flanker Sianco Morgan and man of the match Morgan crossed, the later completing a try hat trick which suggested the Max Boyce ballad relating to Morgan the Moon.

The Wanderers equivalent would have been atop of Pen Waun Twmpath after the game, 502 feet above sea level, bathed in white light and chewing a stick of Porthcawl rock. Toasted at the Ranch by Bethania and his colleagues with copious amounts of the local ale, Morgan’s team now stand 14 points clear of their opponents having lost just a single game since November 4, although a dark cloud may be hovering because of the Nicholls rumble.

They head across the Loughor bridge to tackle Gorseinon on Saturday (Jan 27); meanwhile Crymych must forget their WRU National Bowl quarter final at home to Ystalafera in March and reflect on their indiscipline as another crunch relegation fixture looms high when last seasons Division 1 West champions Kidwelly make an appearance at Parc Lloyd Thomas.

Sport

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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Late Smith penalty seals Pembroke win

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A LATE penalty from Toby Smith earned Pembroke a 15-13 victory in a hard-fought encounter with Pembrokeshire rivals Fishguard on Saturday (Dec 29).

It was an excellent game between two good teams with Pembroke feeling a little rusty having not played for three weeks while the heavy pitch suited a Fishguard side who were looking to avenge their narrow 16-17 defeat at home to Pembroke earlier in the season.

There was no sign of rustiness however as the home side started the game well and could have gone ahead but Johnny Palmer was held up over the line.

Sean Dalling also looked to be free but he was ankle tapped near the line and the Seagulls were able to recover.

Having weathered the early storm the Seagulls then took the lead as Andrew Williams touched down under the posts. Kial Keane then added the extra two points.

Pembroke responded well and were soon back on level terms as Dan Colley ran a good line off Toby Smith to touch the ball down under the posts. Smith then added the extras.

The home side then went ahead as a good break by Tom Lewis set up captain Scott Powell who crashed over. This time the conversion was missed by Pembroke held a 12-7 lead.

They could have had a third try soon after as Dan Colley touched down but it was ruled out for a marginal forward pass.

The Seagulls then narrowed the gap as Keane scored a penalty and the score at half time was 12-10 in Pembroke’s favour.

In the second half Fishguard came at Pembroke well and they took the lead with another penalty from Keane to make it 12-13 to the visitors.

It was an evenly contested half but it was Pembroke who had the final say as Smith sent a penalty through the posts in the last minute to seal a 15-13 victory.

Pembroke’s win keeps them fourth in the table and they will look for another win on Saturday (Jan 5) as they host Carmarthen Athletic.

Fishguard will look to get back to winning ways as they travel to Burry Port who sit just below them in the table.

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