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Wales open 6 Nations with emphatic victory over Scotland

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WALES defeated Scotland 34-7 on Saturday (Feb 3) at the Principality Stadium with ten Scarlets in the starting line-up, plus former Pontyberem winger Josh Adams, now the Aviva Premiership top scorer for Worcester Warriors.

With the stadium roof closed it encapsulated a cauldron of emotion as the Natwest Six Nations championship got under way, with ten year old chorister Heddwin York, of Blaenavon Male Voice Choir leading the pre match build up. Later on the same day another son of Pontyberem was setting a championship record, with Nigel Owens referring his eighteenth game, at the Stade de France when Ireland came calling.

Winning the toss Scotland’s ‘Scarlet’ John Barclay got Finn Russell to kick off towards the City End and Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones sailed high to secure the ball, all before opposite number Jonny Gray had a barn storming 30 metre gallop and the afternoons tempo was set, with both Adams and fellow winger Steff Evans taking opportunities to run with ball in hand.

Not one person missed the tumultuous opening by perishing in the queues outside the ground, witnessing the opening try after five minutes; scrum half Gareth Davies intercepted a long pass and raced 70 meters towards the River Taf End to score wide out, full back Leigh Halfpenny converted.

Flanker Aaron Shingler set up a scintillating attack from the restart, featuring prop Rob Evans and Evans, who failed to catch a difficult pass from Skipper Jones with the try line at his mercy beneath the posts.

The Wales scrum won a free kick, opted for another scrum, outside half Rhys Patchell nearly reached the promised land before play swung back across the theatre of dreams and Halfpenny converted his own touchdown after 12 minutes.

Dream rugby or a defence coaches’ nightmare? Both sides played exhilarating rugby with ball in hand, as somewhere amongst this fantastic ‘hymn’ that the full house of 74,169 spectators enjoyed, a settling influence was needed.

Centres Hadeligh Parkes and Scott Williams brought that mantra to the ‘Dragons’ play, through their tackling which impacted on the Scarlets ‘front row’ of Evans, hooker Ken Owens and Samson Lee to turn the coal face red.

Having played just 25% of the game in the Scottish half coach Warren Gatland’s side built a more stable platform through phased play, nullifying Scottish momentum and hearts as they won turnover penalties.

Shingler was a key target in the lineout as the ‘Evans’ boys featured in beating despairing tackles. Halftime came and went with Wales driving forward through diminutive scrum half Davies, securing an early penalty which Halfpenny slotted over for three points.

Four Men Aloud had returned to the pitch for half time entertainment but the sweetest battle cry came from Shingler, the Hendy back row man secured a penalty on the halfway line, which the Gorseinon born kicker chalked up with confidence.

Max Boyce couldn’t have written bards to describe the expressive serenading from the stands to match the play, the Scottish talisman Stuart Hogg without influence as his peers made error after error. That ‘mould of solid gold, that once made Barry John’ hasn’t broken after all and the tint upon the flowing locks of Patchell shone as the outside half dictated play with speed, vision, kicks and tricks.

The game entered the final quarter with the Men of Harlech now dominating possession and territory and Patchells dart for the line saw Evans flick the ball to Halfpenny who crossed for his second converted try.

The flower of Scotland had wilted, the closed roof restricting their water of life as new breath revitalised the Dragons lungs, replacement hooker Wyn Jones plunge for the line ruled out by the TMO.

Aled Davies came on for his sixth cap, replacing his Scarlet team mate to feed the scrum and watch as it destroyed the now demoralised visiting pack with such ferocity it set the stadium alarms ringing towards heaven. Man of the match Shingler straightened the line with eight minutes left, Parkes made ground strongly and the flying Evans, back after an enforced lay off was airborne on the touch line to one handily place the ball for the bonus point converted try.

‘Feed me till I want no more’ was the cry from a baying Welsh crowd although Gatland et al were happy to take the Bread from Heaven to Twickenham next week. The ‘Prophet Max’ composed suitable vitriol decades before, to be retold with vigour by the travelling congregation heading to HQ on Saturday (Feb 10).

This game ended 34-7, replacement Pete Horne crossed for the Russell to convert after the Scott’s picked up a consolation score for their endeavours driving around the fringes, the customary handshakes occurred a minute later as Hadleigh put the ball off the Park and Wales took the spoils, bonus point included.

The players had made a statement, to those who had prophesied pre-match but more importantly to the ‘Great Redeemer’ whose well-trodden path around Jordon and intrinsic belief in them was justly rewarded.

Sport

Otters beat Llanelli in friendly

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NARBERTH warmed up for the new Championship season with a 17-12 victory over Principality Premiership side Llanelli on Saturday (Aug 18).

Despite the wet weather a good crowd gathered to watch the game and it wasn’t long before the visitors took the lead.

They won a line out and from that Elgan Lewis bundled his way over for the opening try of the game. The conversion was missed and the score stayed at 5-0 to the visitors.

Narberth looked to respond but Gethin Gibby dropped a pass when it looked like they could have scored.

With sixteen minutes gone the Otters managed to get themselves on the scoreboard as they came close to scoring near the posts before working the ball out right for Steff Phillips who slid over. The conversion was missed.

Moments later a good move that started on the right saw the ball played out to Nick Gale who kicked ahead for Gibby to run onto and touch the ball down. Gale then kicked the conversion in tough conditions to make it 12-5.

Llanelli looked to hit back and after Narberth were penalised for a high tackle, they kicked to touch looking to set up another try.

However, Narberth defended their line well and were able to keep Llanelli out, eventually winning the ball back following a Llanelli infringement.

It remained 12-5 at half time but Llanelli continued to look for further scores as the second half got underway.

They had a number of chances but they were unable to take their chances and they were soon made to pay.

With ten minutes to go Narberth turned the ball over and Lewys Gibby ran away with the ball to touch down to make it 17-5. The conversion was missed but it mattered little as the home side had all but secured victory.

Llanelli did pull a try back in the closing minutes as Liam Smith touched down but it was just a consolation for the visitors. Leon Randell added the conversion.

The game finished 17-12 to the Otters with both teams using their full complement of players as they get ready for the new season.

Narberth begin their season on Saturday, September 1, away to Beddau in the first game of the Championship season.

Llanelli also begin their Premiership season on the same date with a home game against Ebbw Vale.

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Koomen sets up Final date with Ammanford

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NEYLAND’s Nick Koomen starred with bat and ball as he helped his side to victory over Ynysygerwn in the semi-final of the Welsh Cup on Sunday (Aug 19).

They will now play Ammanford in the final on Sunday, September 2, at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff.

Neyland’s South Wales Premier League opponents were invited to bat first after the home side won the toss.

With conditions favouring the bowlers Neyland were able to restrict Ynysygerwn to 106 all out inside 37 overs.

Sean Hannon made the breakthrough early on as he caught and bowled Aaron Ace on a duck and Nathan Banner then had Gareth Davies caught by Patrick Bellerby on a score of 3.

Hannon returned and had Adam Bray caught by Andrew Miller on a score of 4 as they reduced Ynysygerwn to 16-3.

Yuvraj Odedra and Alex McCormack offered some resistance with a stand of 34 but that came to an end whey Odedra was run out by Ashley Sutton on a score of 25 that included two fours and a six.

McCormack hit three fours in his knock of 18 but he was then stumped by Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Miller was not done there as he then had Adam Davies caught by Geraint Rees and Nathan Davies caught by Bellerby, bout out without scoring.

That saw them slip to 68-7 but Joshua Griffiths and Gavin John shared another 38 runs to take their side over a century of runs.

Griffiths hit five fours in a knock of 23 but he was then run out by Ashley Sutton and Nick Koomen then bowled John on a score of 17.

Koomen then had Patrick O’Brien stumped by Hannon as Ynysygerwen’s innings came to a close with them all out on 106.

Neyland lost opener Gregg Miller early in their reply when he was caught and bowled by Yuvraj Odedra but a stand of 71 between Koomen and Andrew Miller set the home side on their way to victory.

Miller played his way to a patient score of 19 before he was caught by Nathan Davies off the bowling of Craig Evans.

Koomen reached his half century having hit six fours and two sixes but he was then caught by Gareth Davies off the bowling of Evans as Neyland were reduced to 81-3.

Patrick O’Brien then had Ashley Sutton caught by Gavin John on a score of 6 but despite their best efforts, they were unable to take any further wickets.

Nathan Banner finished not out on 8 while Patrick Bellerby hit a six to win the game for Neyland and send them into the final.

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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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