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Seagulls’ six-try victory over Bont

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By Jonathan Twigg

FISHGUARD all but secured their Division 2 West status on Saturday (Mar 24) with a bonus point victory in their 34-20 defeat of Pontyberem.

The Seagulls ran in six tries to open up a nine point gap between themselves and the relegation trap door and now stand two points adrift of their visitors, who have played three games more both having notched six wins this season.

Led by hooker Gavin Walsh, Fishguard’s success can be attributed to a dominant forward performance where they were tenacious on the floor around the key battle ground of the rucks and mauls, controlling the scrum which put pressure on the visitors’ set piece and gained parity at the line out.

The back row of Chris Sousha, Luke Freebury and number 8 Simon James supported their more youthful back division by making the hard yards whilst being on hand to secure phase after phase of ball to keep the momentum going forward.

The opening score of this Travis Perkins sponsored game came after 13 minutes when flanker Sousha touched down, the try set up by debutant full back Robbie Jones, the Chairman’s son drafted in from the youth side and his pace, verve and confidence to run 40 meters reminiscent of a bygone era when ‘JJ’ himself flew down the wing.

James, centre Tom George and scrum half Andrew Williams supported man of the match Jones’ momentum where the mobility of home props Andrew Morillo and Ryan McVeigh saw them on the fringe of an exciting move.

Outside half Alun George, who had narrowly missed a penalty attempt four minutes earlier, landed the conversion, a feat he repeated five minutes later when centre Ben John finished off another passage of play with a mazy run over 30 metres with two hand offs, after James capitalised on a loose clearance from the Bont’s full back Rhodri Lewis, the number 8 setting flame haired winger Dylan Thomas, playing on permit from Crymych blazing down the touchline.

Pontyberem needed a foothold in the game but were reduced to 14 men when number 8 Wayne Williams was yellow carded by Cefn Cribwr based referee Huw David for a high tackle during the build up to the third try, skipper Walsh completing another forwarded orientated drive after ball had been secured in the line out by second row Gwilym Evans, who was instrumental in the driving maul alongside Morrillo and McVeigh.

The blue and black shirts sponsored by Jewsons gained some composure as the half time whistle approached, flanker Dion Robinson a go to man in the line out for hooker Ben Morris and scum half Adrian Williams pulling the strings to motivate his side as any good skipper should. Outside half Domonic Sauro slotted over a penalty as the home side strayed offside and their discipline in defence breached as they came from the side of rucks to illegally stop the visitors’ drives.

Number 8 Williams returned to the fray tidied up neatly at the base of a backwards moving scrum either side of half time, the early stages of the second half scrappy and unstructured much to the despair of passionate home coach Huw Evans, who could see the danger signs of the play suiting the Pontyberem game plan better.

The pack, with second row Matthew Lloyd and prop James Prosser marauding in midfield, put fellow prop Dan Suaro across the whitewash for Dominic to convert, alongside another penalty for 19-13.

Fishguard second row Jac Evans, a key line out man and ball carrier was lucky not to spend time in the sin bin when he tackled centre Gwion Jones in the air as the Pontyberem side had the wind both behind them in terms of play and figuratively in their sails, something Evans vociferously explained to his side as the final quarter approached.

His words were rewarded when the forwards secured a bonus point fourth try, Walsh getting his name on the score sheet for a second time burrowing through after James had set up the attacking ruck. Prosser responded for Pontyberem making yardage, supported by second row Alex Williams and back row man Pete Suaro, as the deficit was reduced to four points with a converted try for centre Dafydd Lloyd.

Experience counts: Try scoring skipper Gavin Walsh & Number 8 Simon James

Wingers Dave Evans and Rhys Armstrong had ball in hand for the ‘Bont’ with the game on a precipice, the next score crucial. It came to the home side as they took advantage of a turnover deep in their own half and young Jones backed his skill set and pace to create an overlap, centre George beautifully drawing the final defender on halfway to set winger Liam Wilkes away down the touchline to cross wide out with eight minutes remaining, to compensate for a similar move just minutes before when he was recalled for a foot in touch.

George didn’t have his kicking boots on in the second half but his maturity to influence open play, with confidence in the final throws of the game saw a sixth try a minute from the end, McVeigh the recipient as James, Freebury and Sousha came to the fore, certainly a backrow at this level to be on par with any.

The midfield axis, John either side of the George brothers and Jones from full back bodes well for the Seagulls, thankfully for coach Evans, who has very little hair left to tear out. This isn’t down to alopecia, contributing for his entertaining apoplectic demeanour, knowing his side now go on their travels for the next four fixtures, heading next to Parc Gryffyd Jones for a key encounter with St Clears on Easter Saturday.

Pontyberem returned to the Gwendraeth Valley with nothing to show for their efforts on the Moors, having consolidated well on going 19-0 down, despite struggling in the scrum set piece, to have an opportunity to win the game. The key moment when they turned the ball over for Jones to open the play in his own 22 yard metre area a point of reflection, as they head to Loghour on Easter Saturday (Mar 31), the home side failing to fulfil their fixture at Hendy due to player numbers available.

That ensuing points deduction draws Loughor back into the group with the Bont, both hanging a lingering eye on the relegation trap door.

Sport

Otters continue winning run

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AFTER a week of wet and stormy days, and a wet start last Saturday (Dec 8), it was surprising that the game at Newbridge was still on and was one of only two games played in the Championship due to the state of the grounds.

Newbridge kicked off with the strong wind blowing diagonally across the pitch, for the first five minutes both teams persisted with a kicking dual before the Otters set up a promising movement passing the ball wide only to end with a forward pass.

After six minutes the Otters won a penalty, Nick Gale came forward to attempt a 40 metre kick which was just off target.

Initially, the Otters appeared to be penalised frequently at the breakdowns giving Newbridge opportunities to attack. From their line out Bridge moved the ball smartly with centre Mathew McGovern making a diagonal break only to be stopped in his tracks by the strong Otters defence.

At the breakdown Bridge offended enabling Jonathan Rogers to gain touch on the halfway line. From the lineout the ball moved across the threes to Ianto Griffiths who kicked for the corner only for the wind to hold it up and for Newbridge to call a mark. Their kick was gathered and returned, Newbridge again kicked and the Otters receiving the ball attacked but were stopped and at the breakdown the referee awarded the Otters a penalty just outside the 22 line.

Again Nick Gale came forward and at the last moment the wind moved the ball to the right of the posts. Newbridge kicked out, Ryan Bean gathered and made ground with Jack Price alongside, the ball was moved away from the stand side only for the slippery ball to be knocked on.

It became clear that the Otters pack had control of the tight with Newbridge being penalised and Jonathan Rogers attempting to find touch, Newbridge returned the kick, Ianto Griffiths gathered and raced forward, at the breakdown, the Otters retrieved the ball and moving right towards the stand passed to Nick Gale who raced forward and when tackled passed to Ryan Bean, he moved left and unfortunately the ball was adjudged to have been passed forward.

At the scrum Newbridge heeled and kicked the ball into touch. At this point Tom Kaijack had to leave the field, Bradley Davies came off the bench which resulted in Dan Jacobs moving over to tight head prop.

The game continued to see both teams attempting to gain ground, with both defences strong and when the movements made ground the slippery ball made handling more difficult and errors occurred. Penalties were occurring against both teams as the rucks became more intense.

Then on the half hour, Newbridge were again penalised enabling Jonathan Rogers to place the ball into touch on the stand side. At the lineout, Andrew Cooke caught the ball at the end of the lineout, feeding Rhys Lane who passed out only for Newbridge to halt the move and get penalised at the breakdown.

Again Nick Gale failed to find the target with his penalty kick. Conditions worsened as a very heavy shower descended on the proceedings. The Otters continued to attempt to make progress before the referee blew for half time with the game tied at 0 – 0.

Fly half Jonathan Rogers restarted the second half and immediately the Otters gained possession and advanced close to the line before Newbridge offend at the ruck. This time with a penalty kick in front of the posts Nick Gale easily kicked the ball through for a 0-3 lead.

Newbridge kicked off, again the Otters attacked but at the breakdowns the game was becoming a muddy scramble. This led to a further kicking dual which failed to create an opportunity for either side. Newbridge began to see a little more of the ball but were being repelled by the Otters.

On 60 minutes the Otters withdrew Andrew Cooke from the back row to be replaced by Steffan Phillps. At the lineout Alex Jenkins again proved his worth gaining good possession and occasionally winning the ball on the Newbridge throw.

The first scrum after the change in the back row saw the Otters push Newbridge back some 10 metres with the referee awarding them a penalty. From this kick, Jonathan Rogers put the Otters to within 5 metres of the try line. For an offence at the lineout Christian Francis the Newbridge number 8 received a yellow card and sent to the sin bin. The resultant penalty saw Jonathan Rogers place the ball into touch on the 5 metre line.

Alex Jenkins made a clean jump and take and immediately formed a maul which despite Newbridge efforts enabled the pack to cross the try line for Rhodri Owen to touch down. Nick Gale safely converted to give the Otters a 10-0 lead.

Sam Withers restarted the game and quickly gained possession. As they attacked the Otters were penalised for standing offside in defence. Withers kicked the penalty into touch on the far side near the 5 metre line.

From the lineout they set up a rolling maul, as the Otters attempted to hold the move, Newbridge threw in a few threequarters and crossed the line for centre Mathew McGovern to score, Sam Withers converted to bring the score to 7-10.

From the restart the Otters attacked in midfield only for Newbridge to wrench the ball as the players were going to ground and passed to McGovern who made an effective break only for the ball to end in touch. Newbridge showed determination to get ahead and the contact between players became quite intense with play just outside the Otters 22.

Newbridge’s yellow card returned,  but at a scrum, the Otters  heeled and on receiving the ball Jonathan Rogers made ground with his kick out of hand downfield. Newbridge offended and a scrum reset before the referee awarded the Otters a penalty as they over powered the Newbridge eight.

This time Nick Gale was successful with his penalty kick bringing the score to 7-13 on 75 minutes. Following this, Newbridge changed their front row and as a result the scrums became uncontested.

However the Otters controlled most of the remaining minutes of the game, playing safe and using Alex Jenkin superiority at the lineout. There was relief all round when the referee blew for full time.

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Veterans earn semi-final spot

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HAKIN United Over 40s finished 2018 by progressing to the semi-final of the Welsh Veterans Cup following a dramatic penalty shootout victory over Ferndale & District at the Observatory last Sunday (Dec 9).

The game itself was a very hard fought and competitive game with tempers boiling over on several occasions.

The Vikings were awarded a penalty inside the last ten minutes for a handball offence. Paul Jones scored from the spot to give Hakin the lead.

However, with virtually the last kick of the game, the ever dependable Jason Morgan in the Hakin goal made a rare mistake that gifted Ferndale & District a draw and a chance to win the tie on penalties.

However, it wasn’t to be for the visitors as Hakin emphatically scored all five of their spot kicks with Nigel Delaney, Nigel Armstrong, Michael McCarthy, Paul Jones and Matthew Price finding the back of the net to win 5-3 on penalties and earn a place in the semi-final.

Hakin United: Jason Morgan, Nigel Armstrong. Richard Bland, Nigel Delaney, Adam Collins, Shaun Mills, Stuart MacDonald, Richard Nash, Paul Jones, Michael McCarthy, Leigh Walters. Subs: Jamie Phillips, Gary Dawes, Matthew Price, Gerard Gray.

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Greene’s double sinks Swifts

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MERLINS Bridge booked their place in the last 16 of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Dec 8) as they beat Monkton Swifts 3-0 at the Racecourse.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game that was played in blustery conditions which caused problems for both teams throughout the match.

Neither side was able to gain an upper hand in the first half but it was the Wizards who eventually took the lead shortly before half time.

A slip allowed Joe Leahy in and went one-on-one with the Swifts keeper before finding the back of the net.

The windy conditions continued in the second half and Will Haworth came close to doubling the home side’s lead but his shot was saved.

They then made it 2-0 as Haworth crossed from the left for Nathan Greene at the back post who headed low and into the net.

Peter Thomas then played a good one-two with Greene but Thomas sent his shot over the bar.

Greene could have had a second soon after but, after the Swifts keeper had come off his line, he could only send his effort over the bar.

He wasn’t to be denied his second however as a through ball set him up and he fired low into the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 3-0.

On Saturday (Dec 15), Merlins Bridge return to league action with a game against bottom side Milford United at Marble Hall.

Monkton Swifts will look to bounce back as they travel to Herbrandston.

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