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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

Dock and Herbie battling for Division 3 promotion

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IN Division 3 of the Pembroke County Cricket League, Carew Seconds are already promoted but there is a close battle between Pembroke Dock and Herbrandston for second place.

Carew Seconds will go up as champions should they win their game away to Haverfordwest Thirds, who themselves are fighting to avoid the drop into Division 4.

Pembroke Dock go into Saturday’s (Aug 18) games with a ten point leader over third place Herbrandston and a win, coupled with defeat for Herbrandston could see them promoted.

However, a win for both teams will send the battle to the final game of the season which will see Herbie travelling to Neyland Seconds and Pembroke Dock at home to Lamphey.

On Saturday, Pembroke Dock are away to mid-table side Narberth Seconds while Herbrandston travel to Llechryd Seconds.

At the other end, Neyland Seconds go to Llanrhian in a bid to secure their Division 3 safety as they sit just four points above second from bottom Haverfordwest Thirds.

Lawrenny Seconds, themselves only fifteen points above the bottom two, face another crucial game away to Lamphey.

All to play for in Division 4

With the exception of Laugharne who have already been crowned Division 4 Champions, it is still all to play for in Division 4.

Just three points separates second and third placed teams Llangwm Seconds and Llanrhian Seconds with the two teams set to fight it out at Pill Parks this weekend.

A win for Llangwm will see them earn promotion but a Llanrhian win will keep things alive going into the final game of the season.

Division 4 Champions Laugharne are away as they take on bottom side Hundleton who are still in with a chance of getting out of the bottom two.

They sit just sixteen points below third from bottom Saundersfoot and a win could see them move of the bottom.

Second from bottom Burton Seconds are without a game after Johnston’s second team withdrew from the league earlier in the season meaning a win for Saundersfoot Seconds could relegate both Burton and Hundleton.

Saundersfoot Seconds take on Hook Seconds while St Ishmaels Seconds face Crymych.

Division 5 up for grabs

It could not be closer in Division 5 with just 18 points separating the top five sides. Pembroke Seconds currently occupy top spot with a nine point advantage over Carew Thirds.

Pembroke travel to Neyland Thirds on Saturday in their last game of the season knowing a win will set them on course for the Division 5 title. They must then wait to find out if they will be crowned Champions of Division 5.

Carew Thirds play Stackpole Seconds waiting in the wings should Pembroke slip up in their game.

Third placed Kilgetty Seconds are away as they take on Pembroke Dock Seconds while Cresselly Thirds are without a game.

Fifth placed Haverfordwest Fourths are away to Whitland Thirds with the visitors still in with a chance of promotion should other results go their way.

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Three horse race at the top

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GOING into the penultimate round of Cricket fixtures just seven points separates the top three teams in Division 1.

Haverfordwest hold a slender two point advantage over second placed Cresselly going into Saturday’s (Aug 18) fixtures.

Not to be ruled out are Neyland and they face a tough test against fourth placed Whitland.

Neyland will be keen to keep the pressure on with victory knowing that they take on Haverfordwest in the last game of the season (Aug 25).

Whitland meanwhile will be aiming to keep themselves in fourth place knowing that a defeat could let in Lawrenny who take on St Ishmaels.

Haverfordwest are at home as they take on Llangwm and will be looking to put themselves in the best position possible going into that final game.

Cresselly’s last game saw them lift the Harrison Allen Trophy and they will be keen to keep up that winning momentum.

Cresselly are away to Kilgetty, who are fighting for their Division 1 survival, in what will be another exciting game.

Kilgetty are 38 points above second from bottom Burton with two games left to play and a win will see them safe and Burton relegated.

However, a win for Burton against already relegated Johnston, coupled with defeat for Kilgetty, will see them close the gap to their relegation rivals.

That will set up an exciting final day with Burton at home to St Ishmaels and Kilgetty away to Whitland.

Who will join Carew in Division 1?

In Division 2, Carew are already promoted as Champions and one of two teams will be joining them next season.

Saundersfoot currently occupy second place and hold a 36-point lead over third placed Kilgetty.

Saturday (Aug 18), sees Saundersfoot travel to Carew in what will be another excellent game. Carew may already be champions but having not lost all season, they will be determined to finish unbeaten.

Prior to last week’s games being abandoned Saundersfoot had won their last seven games, their last defeat coming against Carew, and they will be keen to show why they are gunning for promotion.

Defeat for Saundersfoot would then allow Narberth to close the gap should they beat Cresselly Seconds.

Haverfordwest Seconds sit fourth going into Saturday’s games and they will be keen to stay there with victory away to Hook. A win for Hook could see them go above Haverfordwest into fourth place.

At the other end, Whitland Seconds are already relegated but they could still have a say in who joins them in Division 3 as they host Stackpole.

Stackpole are just four points from safety and a positive result could be enough to see move out of the bottom two should Llechryd lose their game away to Pembroke.

Pembroke are not quite safe themselves with a 34 point game between them and Stackpole but a win could see them secure their Division 2 status for 2019.

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Neyland through to Welsh Cup semi-finals

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NEYLAND are through to the Semi-finals of the Welsh Cup, where they will play Ynysygerwn, after beating Penarth by nine runs on Sunday (Aug 12).

South Wales Premier League side Penarth won the toss and chose to field first in the game that was reduced to thirty overs aside following rain earlier in the day.

Neyland lost opener Nic Koomen early on when he was bowled by Nathan Piddock for a score of 2.

Andrew Miller joined Gregg Miller at the crease and the pair shared 60 runs for the second wicket as they got their side going.

Richard Skone made the breakthrough for Penarth as he bowled Gregg on a score of 35 which included four boundaries.

Ashley Sutton only scored three before he was back in the hut as he was stumped by Jack Thomas off the bowling of Skone.

Miller then shared another 29 runs with Henry Durrant before the latter was caught by Thomas off the bowling of Morgan Humphreys on a score of 14.

Miller hit three fours in his score of 42 but he was then caught by Ryan Sylvester off the bowling of Skone leaving Neyland on 119-5.

The remainder of Neyland’s batsmen could only add another 23 runs between them as Skone returned to take his fourth wicket when he caught and bowled Scott Jones on a score of 9. He later added to his four wickets with the run out of George Evans (7).

Stephen Murray scored 1 before he fell to the bowling of Humphreys while Sean Hannon scored 6 before he was bowled by Sylvester.

Alex Langrish wrapped up the innings as he had Callum Power stumped by Jack Thomas to leave Neyland all out on 142, with Mr Extras contributing 19 of those runs.

Neyland knew they would need to do well to defend their total and they made a good start as Jack Thomas and Ryan Sylvester both found themselves back in the pavilion early on.

Thomas was caught by George Evans off the bowling of Sean Hannon while Sylvester was caught by Andrew Miller off the bowling of Henry Durrant.

That left Penarth on 11-2 but Richard Skone and Nick Morgan shared 32 runs for the third wicket as they looked to hit back.

Hannon made the breakthrough as he had Morgan caught by Andrew Miller on a score of 13. He then struck again as he had Jonathan Davies caught by Nic Koomen on a score of 6.

Geraint Rees then picked up his first wicket as he had Tom Sidford caught by Hannon and Penarth were reduced to 59-5.

Skone and Jamie Hitchen shared 26 runs for the sixth wicket as they tried to swing the game in their favour but Hitchen was then caught and bowled by Andrew Miller on a score of 15.

Skone and Alex Langrish added 19 runs but Miller again made the breakthrough as he had Langrish caught by Ashley Sutton on a score of 8.

Soon after Skone, who had made his way to a score of 40 with two fours, was caught by Gregg Miller off the bowling of Nic Koomen and Penarth slipped to 105-8.

Rees then bowled Morgan Humphreys on a score of 1 and although Will Skone and Nathan Piddock finished not out on scores of 15 and 9 respectively, Neyland had done enough to win the game as Penarth finished short on 133-9.

Neyland will now play Ynysygerwn in the semi-final at the Atheltic Ground on Sunday (Aug 19), with the winner going on to play either Ammanford or Cardiff in the final.

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