WHITLAND’s march towards promotion to Division 1 West continued with a convincing bonus point 46-7 victory over Loughor at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn on Friday (Mar 16).
The ‘Green Machine’ ran in seven tries in total alongside a penalty and five conversions from captain Nico Setaro, the outside half having another fine game alongside dynamic flanker Ryan Morgan and man of the match, winger Sean Coles.
The speedster ran in a hat trick of first half tries as he put on the after burners to cause havoc amongst the visiting back line before crossing for the bonus point try early in the second half as he collected the ball on the halfway line before ‘jetting off’ on a mesmerising run once again leaving all and sundry in his wake.
Centre Johnnie Thomas scored the final try wide out after full back Scott Newton, in his last appearance before heading to Australia for a ‘gap year’ got on the score sheet and there was a resounding cheer from a hearty crowd when veteran second row Dai Ebsworth crashed over for his sides fifth try.
Whitland play the game with energy, ingenuity and guile guided by the magician at pivot, where the platform is set by the forwards which includes another veteran in the boiler house in Raff Williams.
Flanker Morgan, responsible for setting in motion the opening score as he took a clean catch at a line out in his own half before taking the opportunity to plough through the opposition tackles over 40 metres; fellow back row colleagues, number 8 Jack Mason and Danny Evans were on hand to recycle the ball allowing Setaro the time to put in a cross field kick, where Newton took the ball in his stride to draw winger Rhys Gear and set Cole away to scoot round under the posts for a 10-0 lead after 11 minutes.
Setaro, conducting the plan set by coaches Gareth Bennet and Jon Mason to ‘win the game first and foremost’ thrived off the acclaims as he pumped line kicks to turn the Loughor forwards on their heels, one 55 metre punt setting up the scenario of a Morgan catch and drive, recycled ball from scrum half Tom Parry through the hands of Centres Josh and Johnnie Thomas to Newton.
Cole received the ball 35 meters out and put in a kick over the top and collected as winger Josh Thomas fumbled the ball on his own line and a 17-0 lead after the first quarter was completed.
Cole’s hat trick came with four minutes of the half remaining as Setaro caught an up and under to call a ‘mark’ in his own 22 metre area, taking a quick tap and go which released winger Liam Price for a 30m gallop down the stand side where he could have been ‘Native River’ at Cheltenham earlier in the day.
Josh Thomas was direct in clearing out the opposition to set up the ball for the back line to again free Cole, whose kick ahead saw him out pace Newton and visiting centre Peter Smiriglia for the score and a 24-7 half time lead.
Loughor had scored their own converted try after half an hour as scrum half Tom Davies touched down following a sustained period of pressure, to capitalise on a yellow card for home flanker Evans as Irish referee Gerard English, based now in Porthcawl drew the home crowd to hum tunes from Welsh folk legend Max Boyce.
All levels of rugby now have teams well drilled and sensitive to opposition tactics and there is a fine line between defence and infringement, but being reduced by a player gives an advantage where a score often follows, something Bennet will be wary off as during the seasons climax.
Credit the green and whites, sponsored by GD Harries and Sons, as the forwards with props Aaron Mayne and Michael Ryan and front row colleague Gethin Lewis dominated the scrum set piece despite being a man down. The Loughor pack, for so long in the match strong and secure began to wilt as the second half points rattled up and not even a second yellow card to Josh Thomas for ‘crossing’ deep in the second half could halt the progress.
Bennett was able to put second row Trystan Lewis into the cauldron for a debut as the youngster returned after a two year recuperation from a knee reconstruction, the former Scarlets academy and Carmarthen Quins player getting a run out last week with Ferryside in readiness for his debut.
“Having set ourselves up for victory, I asked the players at half time to search for that bonus point try and for 20 minutes after the break we were excellent in our execution of play. I have a group of players who are not only fit but eager to play for each other, all of whom enjoy having the ball in hand” said a delighted Bennett post-match. “Sean (Coles) came into his own tonight and showed what he is capable of on firm ground, although I could talk up all nineteen players in the squad for their efforts.”
Whitland have nine fixtures remaining, sitting 11 points adrift of table toppers Hendy with three games in hand and the midweek meeting, scheduled for early May a potential ‘winner takes all’ encounter.
Equally important in the quest for promotion is the six point gap and game in hand they have over Pontarddulais in third place.
Bennet and Mason will prepare the side for their next fixture at relegation threatened Amman United on Saturday (Mar 24) before local rivals Fishguard visit Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn on Saturday (Apr 7).
It’s reassuring for chairman Jason Bowen to feel at home watching the games after he underwent major heart surgery in early March, the enigmatic smile and demeanour not effected by any stress as the green machine rumbles forward.
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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