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Tenby trounce Tycroes

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By Jonathan Twigg

TENBY TOURERS sponsored Tenby United completed their home fixtures on Saturday (Apr 7) with an emphatic 47-5 demolishment of relegated Tycroes, running in six tries alongside 17 points from the boot of full back Craig Barnett.

Referee Lloyd Hughes from Taibach, Port Talbot was empathetic in keeping the game flowing on an excellent surface despite the horrendous recent weather, allowing both teams the opportunity to run with ball in hand with advantage, his demeanour one of autocratic control which has seen the engineer perform at championship level this season.

The red and blacks have stumbled in recent times, perhaps due to a shortage of front row forwards since injury ruled prop out Lewis Davies, although the return of former player Andrew Evans from Loughborough has helped the home side.

They had to elect to go for a passive scrummage set piece for the final minutes of the game much to the disgruntlement of the travelling visiting support, meaning very little as the game had been comprehensively put to bed.

Hooker Joe Poole was the Heywood Butchers man of the match for his all round play which saw Tenby dominate the line out, his throwing accuracy supported by robust action on the fringes of the gain line and high tackle count, which undid the Ammanford village sides dominant start.

Poole, a student at Swansea University also had a magnetic pair of hands to offload passes before contact, a mantra which coaches Chris James and Andrew Morgan have instilled throughout the team.

Led by Johnnie Morgan at outside half it took a quarter of an hour for his side to open the scoring, weathering the black shirted visitors driving play, where they turned down three points from in front of the posts after outside half James Owen long range penalty attempt after three minutes bounced off the cross bar from the halfway line.

Man of the match: Tenby Hooker Joe Poole

Flanker Andrew Cooke, like Poole was in the thick of the defensive number 8 Darryl John was held up over the try line, the ensuing scrum set piece saw the home eight establish a game marker from which they had a platform from which to build, winger Jordan Asparrassa scooting down the touchline as he combined well with diminutive scrum half Matthew Morgan.

Both had excellent games running with ball in hand and willing to take the opposition on from the front foot, rewarded with touchdowns and without Poole’s work rate off the ball may well have tucked into the steaks from Heywoods Butchers themselves.

Skipper Luke Hansford scored the opening try just after the first quarter, as his fellow forwards controlled possession driving forward in pods, well drilled and setting the ball back on a plate for Morgan to use.

The flankers touchdown close to the posts came when he clambered through the strewn bodies to cross, full back Craig Barnett landing the conversion, which he did again four minutes later after robust centre Pat Roberts broke through some weak opposition tackling to run in from 20 metres as the ground beneath him held firm after the sterling work undertaken by Boots of Lydstep who manicure the ground.

A killer third try came two minutes before the interval, when Barnett entered the line at pace and timed his pass beautifully to draw the final man and allow winger Yannik Parker to pin back his ears and cross unopposed, Barnett completed the scoring meaning the second period was about the ‘Seasiders’ ensuring maximum points with a bonus point fourth try.

This was achieved within five minutes of the restart, centre Moritz Neuman the catalyst, working well with his skipper Morgan at outside half, Poole linking into the traffic alongside Roberts and number 8 Roy Osborne, who was credited with the all-important score.

An appreciative crowd led by the match sponsors Scaffold 2000 alongside the ‘scoreborad regulars’ minded little that Barnett’s conversion struck the left upright as Tycroes visibly tired allowing Tenby to dictate the play, at pace and with vision as the Morgan brothers, alongside Parker took opportunities to turn the opposition on their heels.

Evans and his fellow prop Ethan Morgan continue to ensure set piece parity as Luke Dedman and replacement second row Jack Clancy stood tall in the line out, Poole with a nigh on perfect throwing record and Cooke able to link play between forwards and backs superbly.

Centre Elean Griffiths was instrumental in stemming the tide for Tycroes, but neither he or his back three could stem the try count, Asparrassa showing a clear pair of heels to touchdown and scrum half Morgan breaking clear with runners either side as options, he sold a lovely dummy to full back Scott Bowen to race clear from 25 metres.

Barnett had converted before Tycores centre Matthew Lemon scrambled over wide out after some sustained driving from his forwards with number 8 John a strong ball carrier, some pride restored for the divisions bottom of the table side.

Coaches Chris James and Andrew Morgan have brought an attacking game plan to Heywood Lane over the past two seasons, encouraging the ball when possible to be kept out of contact areas and running space, Cooke and Roberts combining well which released Asparrassa once again, to score, Barnett missed the difficult conversion as Tenby had to opt for passive scrums for the final throws of the game and from a defensive set piece on their own five metre line Osborne picked up at the base and set his back division in motion.

Handling at pace with the vision to attack space they spread the ball through the hands and when play switched back across the field second row Deadman was able to race 20 metres from the half way line, drawing the cover defence and popping a pass to Osborne to round off a length of the field play which he started, Barnett adding the coup de grace before Hughes shrill blast ended the home fixtures for the season at Heywood Lane.

James on conclusion of the game said: “No negatives from the performance as we put together a complete team performance, where the players were never afraid to back their own skills set. We have been on a losing run stretching over the international period but always maintained confidence in our style of rugby and we can look forward to our final four fixtures on the road without fear.”

The first of those sees them travel to the Ranch on Saturday (Apr 21) to take on Llanelli Wanderers before heading to Parc Lloyd Thomas the week after to tackle Crymych, both sides sitting below Tenby in the league table and needing a full head of steam to overhaul them.

Sport

Scarlets’ late surge sees off Ospreys

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Pro-14 Conference B

Ospreys 14 – Scarlets 16

 
A LATE try from Angus O’Brien secured the derby day spoils in a nail-biting Guinness PRO14 Boxing Day clash against the Ospreys.
The Ospreys, playing as the official ‘home’ team at Parc y Scarlets, had led for the majority of a tense contest.
But with 71 minutes on the clock, a superb off-load from replacement Blade Thomson paved the way for full-back O’Brien to slice through and dive over for the crucial score.
Man of the match Dan Jones added the conversion to put the Scarlets in front for the first time and the West Walians were able to finish the match on the front foot to claim the annual festive bragging rights and a crucial win to keep them in the hunt in the Conference B standings.
O’Brien hadn’t been named in the original match-day 23, but was brought in at the 11th hour as a replacement for Johnny McNicholl.
In blustery conditions, Scarlets enjoyed the early pressure, but despite hammering away at the Ospreys line were unable to come away with any points.
Instead, it was the Ospreys who were first on the board after 14 minutes through the boot of fly-half Stephen Myler.
The opening quarter was proving a cagey affair with both sides unable to get any momentum going.
A moment of individual brilliance from scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams, who dummied and sprinted clear from 40 metres, extended the Ospreys’ lead on 22 minutes, but the Scarlets’ response was swift with Jones landing a penalty straight from the kick-off.
Jones hit the upright with another attempt, then a pin-point cross-field kick from Steff Hughes just evaded the grasp of wing Steff Evans with the line at his mercy.
A powerful scrum on the stroke of half-time led to a long-range penalty chance, but O’Brien’s strike drifted wide with the Ospreys going in ahead 8-3 at the break.
Myler extended his side’s lead early in the second half, but Jones kept Scarlets in it with his kicking out of hand and off the floor.
Two more penalties from the Carmarthen fly-half to one from Myler made it 14-9 going into the final 10 minutes.
Then the Scarlets struck.
With Thomson having a big impact off the bench, the back-rower plucked a ball out of the sky as the Scarlets surged forward. He was involved again soon after, producing a sublime pass to O’Brien who cut a great angle to the posts.
With only two points in it, the Scarlets showed their composure to make their way downfield and set up camp in ‘home’ territory for the final minutes, denying the Ospreys any chance to snatch the win.

Glenn Delaney reflected on the absence of fans from the stadium.
“You go back 12 months and there were 15,000 people here and I don’t think I have experienced anything like it. This place was electric.
“I say it every week, we are very fortunate to be in the position we are and we are only here by virtue of the supporters of this great club. We want the fans back here as soon as possible.
“Hopefully, they found a chance to shout at the TV screens, get involved and share the experience. The derby season is passionate, the only thing we are missing is the people. We must get the people back into the game, they would have loved the occasion.”
On the performance, while Glenn Delaney was ‘delighted’ with the win, he added: “There is plenty for us to work on. We stayed in the game and that’s what you have to do in a derby.
“There were a lot of things we weren’t happy about in terms of our skillsets and penalty count, we were very ill-disciplined and we need to correct that. We were putting pressure on ourselves. We were trying to play and we were quite close on a couple of occasions, a couple of pass-kicks almost went to hand.
“Probably not having a game for a week or so showed, our timing was a bit off; we have had a couple of disjointed weeks, we looked a bit rusty. I thought the Ospreys were excellent, put us under pressure and took their points well.”
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Scarlets slay Dragons

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Pro-14 Conference B
Scarlets 20 – Dragons 3
SCARLETS started 2021 as they ended 2020 with a Welsh derby victory at Parc y Scarlets.
Tries from man-of-the-match Sione Kalamafoni and replacement Sam Costelow, combined with the boot of Dan Jones ensured Glenn Delaney’s side made it a festive double to move them up to second in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 standings.
The Scarlets weren’t at their free-flowing best and will be frustrated by the amount of handling errors and ill-discipline in their performance, but the winning run continues ahead of next week’s clash with Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Despite a rare dry night in Llanelli, the opening 40 minutes was littered with errors from both sides and it meant the game had little flow.
The Scarlets enjoyed plenty of possession and territory, but too often passes failed to go to hand.
It was the Dragons who were first on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty from the boot of ex-Scarlet Josh Lewis.
Wales lock Jake Ball limped off moments later with a knee injury to be replaced by Tevita Ratuva, while Wyn Jones, on his 100th appearance, also left the field for a head assessment.
The outstanding Kalamafoni made a powerful surge up the middle of the field to put the Scarlets on the offensive, but again a promising move broke down.
Dan Jones levelled matters on 29 minutes, then added another penalty on the stroke of half-time after a quick tap from Kieran Hardy.
The Scarlets continued to enjoy the better of play in the second period, but had to wait until 57 minutes for the game’s first try.
More pressure led to Gareth Davies being taken out off the ball and Dragons lock Matthew Screech being shown yellow by referee Nigel Owens.
Scarlets went for the corner instead of the shot at goal and a well-worked training move saw Kalamafoni charge across the whitewash for his first try in Scarlets colours, a score converted by Jones.
With former Scarlet Rhodri Williams adding a spark, Dragons looked for an immediate response, but a brilliant turnover from Ratuva snuffed out the threat.
Then in the final play, replacement Sam Costelow picked up a loose ball, sped through the gap and around the final defender for a superb solo score, with the Wales U20s fly-half adding the conversion for good measure.
After the hard-fought win, Scarlets coach Glenn Delaney said: “I suppose it was a compelling contest of a different nature. You saw a lot of kicking battles going on, neither team wanted to give the other counter-attacking opportunities.
“I thought defensively we were very resolute, I never felt we were in danger on our goal-line, it was a bit stop-start with a couple of drop balls, but I am delighted to get the win and we did create a bit more in the second half.
“With these derby games, I am learning every time we play one, they all seem to be pretty much like this and perhaps bring out the best and worst in us because of the individual competition and contest.
“We would have liked to have done a bit more with the ball and the attacking breakdown with us was poor, the Dragons turned over a bit of ball there so we need to be better in that area and make sure when we make the breaks we are able to capitalise.”

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Wales Women building cohesion at start of big year

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Cohesion was the focus for new Wales Women head coach Warren Abrahams during his first training camp of 2021.

Having been in post just over a month, Abrahams has spent time watching the Welsh performances in the Allianz Premier 15s and getting to know players and staff but the two-day camp was a welcome opportunity for quality face to face time with an enlarged training squad.

“We achieved our key aims on the weekend. The main thing was to learn more about the players. The more we understand them as individuals and as a team, that’s where we can make them better as players.

“The ultimate goal at the moment is to develop cohesion. We have to have the right people and make sure we work incredibly hard on those relationships between players and with management. Everything is tailored to making the team better and we also had some meaningful conversations around the legacy this team wants to leave for the next generation of Welsh women’s rugby and this team has to be the role model for that. That is a long-term goal.”

Abrahams is buoyed by what he’s seen so far. The vast majority of this training squad play in the Allianz Premiership and our players aren’t just making up the numbers. They’re putting down some big markers – just look at Kayleigh Powell and Hannah Jones who both earned a Player of the Match recently and Jaz Joyce who was Player of the Month for December. We’re really proud of how well our players are doing, it’s great for the programme and those experiences are just going to make them better.”

Siwan Lillicrap added, “It’s been nice to get together so soon in the New Year – the first step in a huge year ahead. The focus this weekend was on building a foundation and exploring what we’ve got as a squad.

“I think we absolutely achieved that, the relationships are developing along with a confidence in the squad . It’s been a tough, challenging camp but that’s what you want as we build towards the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup.”

Lillicrap welcomed the input of the new-look coaching team, former Wales captain and Colwyn Bay head coach Rachel Taylor coming in as national skills coach and former Ireland international and Penclawdd forwards coach Sophie Spence joining the set-up as Wales’ World Rugby coaching intern.

“Warren has been very inspirational for us already. It feels like he’s been in post much longer as we’ve done a lot of work on zoom already. It’s great to have Rachel on board. She’s a role model for many of us with what’s she’s done on the field as Wales captain and off it as a coach and Sophie too with her international experience and coaching knowledge.”

Training squad:
Forwards: Abbie Fleming, Alisha Butchers, Gwen Crabb, Georgia Evans, Cerys Hale, Cara Hope, Molly Kelly, Natalia John, Manon Johnes, Kelsey Jones, Beth Lewis, Siwan Lillicrap, Robyn Lock, Shona Powell-Hughes, Donna Rose, Caryl Thomas, Meg Webb, Teleri Wyn Davies
Backs: Alecs Donovan, Beth Huntley, Bryonie King, Courtney Keight, Jade Knight, Caitlin Lewis, Lisa Neumann, Hannah Jones, Jasmine Joyce, Kayleigh Powell, Paige Randall, Jess Roberts, Gemma Rowland, Lauren Smyth, Elinor Snowsill, Robyn Wilkins, Flo Williams

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