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Hendy set up tense title run in with victory over Whitland

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By Jonathan Twigg

HENDY emerged from their battle of the champions with Whitland on Wednesday (May 2) winning 22-17 on a tranquil evening at Hendy Park.

Recognised by opponents throughout the division as the two teams who deserved to be playing at a higher level they produced an encounter not short on skill, passion and drama to which both camps can take acclaim from the spectacle provided in front of an appreciative crowd.

Amateur sportsmen and clubs thrive on games where their season hangs on the outcome, those long evenings during a rain soaked winter when their respective coaching teams planned like professionals, the next step in their quest for promotion.

In their 125th anniversary year, the Centreframe sponsored ‘green and red army’ showed their cards early, turning back a straight forward penalty attempt taking a scrum in front of the posts and outside half Rhydian Morris all but squirmed over the try line, Barry based referee Tom Spurrier ruling it out as he wasn’t convinced of the touchdown.

Morris did open the scoring with a well struck penalty, the work rate in the tight areas from lock Rhodri Hughes, flanker Richard Kinnear and number 8 Gavin Thomas, drawing visiting second row Dai Ebsworth over the ball, where both sides were ‘up for the game’.

Whitland settled and hassled scrum half Gruffyd Jones into a loose pass over Morris head in the goal area, setting a scrum which drew a penalty and outside half Nico Setaro set a line out five metres out.

Ebsworth took clean ball, the well drilled ‘green machine’ running in pods to roll around before number 8 Jack Mason was driven low over the line, Setaro landing the conversion, the credentials set for a game that had no parallels in terms of league rugby this season.

Players maybe be ‘categorised’ into Division 2 but their aptitude to absorb from their coaches and peers is without precedent, epitomised by scrum half Jones whose early loose pass was his only blemish in a high intensity game.

Home coaches Dorian Jones and Chris Morgan can call upon the expertise of the Shingler brothers, Aaron, a flying Welsh back row forward with the Scarlets and his brother, Cardiff Blues pivot Steven.  No pretence in the warm up; solid counsel, knowledgeable of what their charges can engross and the little details that turn games, fine-tuned.

Whitland didn’t arrive to be bridesmaids, their intention to run the ball evident with the calibre of inform winger Sean Coles lurking.  Scarlets academy player Scott Lloyd and Aaron Ebsworth on the wing were defensively strong, their efforts a principle of osmosis for their team mates, Hendy momentum nullified and skipper Marc Jones the catalyst to move forward with back row colleagues Ryan Morgan and Dan Evans.

Setaro, Lloyd and centre Gino Setaro brought full back Josh Thomas into the line, where he was direct, opening gaps and creating space with the visiting front five in support.

Props Aaron Mayne and Mike Ryan are not just anchors for a scrum with the experienced Raff Williams bedding down alongside an equally venerable Ebsworth, not that short of his own half century of birthdays, but still plying his trade alongside his nephew on the wing. Setaro took control, hoisting an up and under cross field, young Ebsworth winning the battle with his opposite number Tom Havard and the ball fell into the hands of Coles, looping off his wing to score a converted try.

14-3 wasn’t a fair reflection.  The home charges had chances, not taken where the pressure, even at this level showed. “Not clinical in the key areas” said Coach Chris Morgan post-match, the ball spilled at significant times, centres Iwan Mayze and Josh Davies alongside full back Jake Neuman dangerous with ball in hand. Neuman found space combining well with winger Dyfan Williams, their second wind evident, flanker Lloyd Morris strong in carrying the ball as was second row Ashley Banfield alongside Kinnear.

“We talked about territory” Morgan went on to explain about the half time huddle.  “We needed to make them play where it mattered and force mistakes, squeezing the game and then back our skill levels to capitalise.”  Never have truer words echoed around the village as Hendy came out with purpose in the second half.

Whitland were forced deeper into their own half and ‘the squeeze’ applied onto the key protagonists, forcing choices which the ‘green machine’ may not have had to make all season.  Touch kicks went awry, handling errors occurred, the ball lost at the central turnover area.  With a sniff of victory in the air the Hendy pack were on song, tight in the scrum as the front three, props Ben Bachup and Shaun Williams alongside hooker Chris Bowen came to the fore.

Whitland were wilting, unable to play their expansive game, firefighting the advancing throng, their tackle count mounting to stop ‘men of the match’ second row Hughes and centre Davies.

Momentum with Hendy, Morris missed a penalty awarded by the Championship graded referee.  Spurrier was a key player in the game, being ‘seen but not heard’, emphatic in his control but empathetic to the occasion, calling misdemeanours, although Morris was unable to transfer them into points. Neuman nearly crossed wide out as the home crowd vocal presence could be heard along the M4 corridor driving Hendy on, motivation if ever their heroes needed it.

Hughes once again claimed the ball off the top at a line out, seeing it set by the marauding home forwards, Morris releasing Neuman once more on a canter, the full back freeing Havard in space and fellow winger Williams touched down wide out for 14-10.

Gareth Bennett and Dan Mason, the Whitland gurus sensed the warning signals, making changes to stem the tide and revitalise their mantra.  Not shrinking violets, the duo like their counterparts Jones and Morgan are years ahead of the game, innovative but humble of their contribution to local rugby. “A bitter pill to swallow tonight” stated Bennett, “but we go again on Saturday.  Credit to Hendy, they won the game, did their homework on us and we congratulate them on their victory.  The title is still there for us, two wins from our final fixtures will see to that and we have a collective team spirit which drives us on.”

Their changes did force play from end to end, Whitland having opportunities whilst Hendy were not rewarded with penalty goal attempts, needing their cargo to step forward. Baccup and Hughes were ploughing an unrivalled furrow, hooker Bowen taking a pop pass back from the line out to put his side into the lead 15-14, now a true reflection of the game.

Hendy, in their quest for the title knew they needed a bonus point to go with the victory which was there for the taking. Williams, standing tall out wide and number 8 Thomas now a terrier to equal Whitland skipper Jones around the Park.

It was Thomas tenacity which set the play for Neuman to cross the whitewash as the game entered its final ten minutes, calmness personified as the full back powered over, Morris getting his name on the scoresheet with the conversion.

Whitland replacement centre Josh Thomas had an impact down the inside channel but his side had let slip their efforts during a fine first half display.  One more try would see the home side take a bonus point victory and leave Whitland with nothing for their performance, something the ‘eyes up rugby’ pushed by Bennet and Mason required.

Setaro, taking in the drama that had unfolded, quiet by his standards all evening had the opportunity to glean a point, the final kick of the game sailing through the uprights to reduce the deficit to five points, taking a point for his side which could turn out to be vital come the final whistle in ten days’ time.

Hendy take on Loughor on Wednesday (May 9) knowing they need a bonus point victory and hope Whitland slip up in their final two fixtures if they harbour any aspirations of lifting silverware. The Borderers travel to Fishguard on Saturday (May 5) before hosting Mumbles at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn the following Saturday.

Victory on the Moors against the Seagulls ensures the destiny of the title lies with them still, although the only other side to lower their colours besides Hendy this season were the team from the ‘Gateway to the Gower’.

Expect the GD Harries sponsored grandstand to be overflowing for the blockbuster, the ‘green machine’ putting behind any mental fatigue from recent games. League title opportunities are few and far between, the opportunity to be the bride and not the bridesmaid one to savour; an occasion befitting of an epic division 2 season out west.

Sport

Pembrokeshire claim Wynne Lloyd Final victory

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THE Wynne Lloyd Inter-District Youth Cup Final went the way of Pembrokeshire who beat Ceredigion 36-28 in a thrilling game at Parc Y Scarlets on Sunday (May 20).

It was first blood to Pembrokeshire who scored the opening try of the game through Jack Tucker but the conversion was wide.

Ceredigion then answered back as Iestyn Evans scored the try before Dylan Morgan added the extras to put Ceredigion 7-5 ahead.

The action was back and forth and Pembrokeshire soon went back ahead as Gino Setaro (Whitland) scored and Dan Evans added the extra two points.

Pembrokeshire began to pull away as Jack Broadhurst (Narberth) scored their third try of the game with the conversion going in off the post from Evans.

Geraint Powell (Narberth) then increased Pembrokeshire’s lead with Evans again sending the conversion through the posts to give his side a 26-7 half time lead.

Ceredigion fought back at the beginning of the second half as Iwan Bowden scored the try and Dylan Morgan added the extras.

Morgan then scored a try of his own and converted to bring Ceredigion back to within five points with the score at 26-21.

They then took the lead as Dylan Davies scored the try that brought them level and Dylan Evans then added the extra two points giving Ceredigion a 28-26 lead.

Whitland’s Dan Evans put the Pembrokeshire side back ahead with a penalty from 40 metres out and they led by a single point with time running out.

As Ceredigion pushed for a late try that would have seen them claim victory, it was Pembrokeshire who got the final score of the game as Prop Cole Barry (Haverfordwest), who had been on the field for eighty minutes, went over for the try and Evans put the seal on the victory with another conversion.

Nigel Owens was the man in the middle for the game and afterwards he Tweeted: “A pleasure to referee Ceredigion Yth 28 v Pembrokeshire Yth 36. Top quality game of rugby with some class players on both sides. Well done all, a credit to rugby.”

Also running the line were Pembrokeshire’s Thomas Carew and Ross Grieve.

Ceredigion Coach Justin Lloyd said: “It was a great occasion to be a part of for Ceredigion as we’ve only been set up for a few years and we’ve done really well to get to the final.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game against a strong Pembrokeshire side but I am super proud of the performance.

“Any neutrals who were watching the game would have seen a game played in Scarlets style. Both teams weren’t afraid to take any risks.”

Pembrokeshire coach Kenny Davies added: “It was a hell of a game of rugby and a great advert for west Wales rugby. Playing at Parc Y Scarlets with Nigel Owens being the referee made it an excellrnt occasion for all involved.

“We started the game well and were leading 26-7 at half time but they came back into it to lead. We then had a 40metre penalty from Whitland’s Dan Evans and we finished strongly to win it.

“Thanks to everyone involved, including Ceredigion, and I hope the players got a lot out of it”.

Photos by Darren Harries

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Sport

Cricket: Division 1 round up

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TOP of the table Neyland earned a fifth win of the season as they declared on 258-3 before bowling Johnston out for 72 on Saturday (May 16).

Nick Koomen and Henry Durrant were in unstoppable form as they both finished on unbeaten centuries before they were called in.

Johnston struggled in their reply as Andrew Miller took five wickets for the loss of 19 runs while Gary Lloyd also took two wickets for the loss of 21 runs.

 

WHITLAND scraped home by the finest of margins in their game at Burton as they reached their target with just one wicket still in hand.

Burton batted first and posted an excellent total of 220-4 from their 45 overs thanks in part to Richard James who top scored with 95 and Toby Hayman who batted well for his 50.

Whitland’s Matthew Davies took two wickets but conceded 65 runs while Steffan Jones (1-44) and Iestyn Scourfield (1-43) were the other wicket takers.

In reply, Burton took wickets at important moments as Jonathan Strawbridge was dismissed for 38 when he could have scored more.

Morgan Scale did his best to derail the Whitland innings with three wickets for the loss of 42 runs while Johnnie Scale (2-31) and Luke Hayman (2-34) both took two wickets.

Steffan Jones top scored for the visitors with 40 but it was Whitland’s final pair that were the heroes as they guided their side over the line with Matthew Davies scoring the winning runs.

 

CRESSELLY eased to a nine wicket win over St Ishmaels thanks to a half century from Adam Chandler.

Openers Peter Bradshaw and Jack Nicholas made a good start for the visitors putting on 35 runs for the first wicket. However, Tish soon slipped to 39-3 and Bradshaw and Harry Nicholas had to steady the ship and shared 45 runs for the fourth wicket in a good partnership.

Nicholas, who had hit four fours in a knock of 33, was then trapped leg before by Simon Cole. Bradshaw was finally removed as he was bowled by Matthew Lewis for a score of 42.

Lewis then took over as he had Palmer caught by Iwan Izzard for 19 and Kevin Bowen caught and bowled for a score of 6. The Cresselly bowled finished with excellent figures of 4-28.

Daniel Sutton and Adam Chandler shared 62 runs for the first wicket partnership as they made a good start.

Sutton was caught off the bowling of Jordan Milich for a score of 34 but Tish were unable to take any further wickets as Chandler (62 not out) and Simon Cole (36 not out) guided Cresselly to their target in the twentieth over.

 

HAVERFORDWEST remain unbeaten in Division 1 as they beat Kilgetty by seven wickets.

Kilgetty batted first but were all out for 139 as Johnny White (4-16) took four wickets before Town reached their target with time to spare.

Kurtis Marsh top scored for the visitors with 41 while Kyle Marsh added 26 runs while Lee Summons claimed three wickets for the loss of 62 runs for the home side.

Top run scorer Simon Holliday scored 62 before Lee Summons guided Town home, finishing unbeaten on 22.

 

LLANGWM kept their 100% home league record intact with a convincing 59 run victory over Lawrenny at Pill Parks with teenager Phil Llewellyn producing his maiden century.

It was a high scoring game as the home side blasted 276-2 with Llewellyn top scoring on 116. Noah Davies made 46 while Matthew Kiff finished not out on an excellent score of 83.

Brad McDermott Jenkins and Rob Williams claimed the wickets for Lawrenny but they struggled to keep the scoring down.

Williams then scored 60 in reply while Simon Cole added 69 runs but Llangwm’s bowlers were in superb form. Noah Davies took three wickets for the loss of 56 runs while Matthew Kiff also took three wickets.

Ollie Davies (2-37), Luke Brock (1-46) and Llewellyn (1-20) also took valuable wickets as they claimed an excellent win.

 

ON Saturday, May 26, Burton take on Cresselly while Kilgetty are at home as they take on leaders Neyland.

Lawrenny host Johnston, Tish play Llangwm and Whitland are at home as they take on Haverfordwest.

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Division 1 review: Neyland on top

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WITH four wins from four, Neyland are currently top of Division 1 of the Pembrokeshire League going into the fifth round of games.

Last week (May 12) it was Paul Murray who again starred for Neyland scoring 76 not out to help his team to a five wicket win over Cresselly.

Adam Chandler top scored for the visitors with 64 while Iwan Izzard scored 31 and Dan Sutton added another 30 runs as Cresselly posted 167-6.

Andrew Miller took four of the six wickets to fall and finished with figures of 4-34.

Nathan Banner added 37 runs for the home side but it was Murray who could not be stopped as Neyland earned a fourth victory in a row.

SIMON Holliday took his tally of runs for the season to 398 as he finished not out on 81 to help Haverfordwest to a nine wicket victory over Johnston on Saturday (May 12).

The in-form batsman also took two wickets as Johnston were bowled out for 125.

Johnston batted first after winning the toss but they were reduced to 68-8 with only four of their batsmen making it into double figures. Some late hitting also made sure they got past 100 runs.

Lee Summons also finished not out with a knock of 34 that included four fours and a six. Holliday hit 12 fours and a six in his innings.

Lee Summons bowling for Haverfordwest at Johnston

LLANGWM had to hold on for a draw in their game with Kilgetty on Saturday, as they fell short of their target.

Kilgetty batted first and made an excellent total of 225-5 from their allotted overs with Kurtis Marsh top scoring on 82 for the home side.

Ross Hardy also played well for his knock of 40 while Jack Parkinson finished well as he was not out on 51.

Will Beresford scored 39 and Richard Brock finished not out on 41 but it was not enough for Llangwm as they finished thirty runs short of their target.

Parkinson also performed well with the ball in hand as he took three wickets for the loss of 27 runs.

WHITLAND were denied an outright win by a stubborn St Ishmaels last wicket partnership as their game ended in a draw on Saturday.

Batting first, the Borderers were soon in trouble at 23 for 3. It was then that captain Iestyn Scourfield and Mathew Davies came together in a stand of 128.

Scourfield had 6 fours in his knock of 56, while Davies had 12 fours in his 80 not out. Nathan Evans gave the innings late impetus with a hard-hitting 35.

Leading the bowling attack for Tish was Andrew Palmer with 3 for 40.

After the interval, St Ishmaels lost wickets at regular intervals with only Dan Howells (35), Andrew Palmer (27) and Harry Nicholls (15 not out) getting into double figures.

Whitland were, however, unable to take the final wicket to gain the win, despite the best efforts of left-armer Ben Harvey with 4 for 27 and spinner Dylan Blain with 4 for 45.

The visitors finished well short of their target with 134 for 9.

LAWRENNY earned their second win of the season on Saturday, as they beat Burton by 27 runs.

The home side batted first but were all out for 158 following some good bowling from Burton. Lawrenny then produced a similarly excellent bowling display to pick up the victory.

Harry Thomas top scored for his side with 39 runs while Simon Cole was not far behind on 38.

Rob Williams finished not out on 27 as he helped his side post a total which they would have been confident of defending.

Burton’s Morgan Scale was the pick of the bowlers as he took four wickets for the loss of 27 runs.

In reply, Richard Jones top scored for the visitors with 37 runs while Morgan Scale added a further 27 runs.

That was as good as it got for Burton as Rob Williams bowled excellently to take four wickets for the loss of only 21 runs. Harry Thomas also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-21.

On Saturday (May 19), Burton are at home to Whitland and Cresselly will look to bounce back from defeat last week when they take on St Ishmaels.

Haverfordwest take on Kilgetty, Llangwm face Lawrenny at Pill Parks while leaders Neyland take on bottom side Johnston.

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