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Scarlets try-fest secures semi-final place

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SCARLETS welcomed Toyota Cheetahs to Parc y Scarlets for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series quarter-final on Saturday (May 5) looking for a victory to keep the Championship-retaining run alive.

A beautiful Spring evening was the perfect touch for a final home game of the season as the Scarlets faithful came along to say a fond farewell to the individuals moving on at the end of the season.

The home side crossed the whitewash for six fantastic tries as the sun set on Parc y Scarlets’ season and the team didn’t disappoint putting in one final performance to keep the home winning record alive.

Scarlets got the scoreboard ticking over after five minutes of play with winger Steff Evans crossing in the corner. The ball came out from a Cheetahs line out as play continued despite an injury to Rob Evans in midfield. Rhys Patchell and Hadleigh Parkes made strong breaks through centre field and made the all-important territorial gains putting Evans in over the whitewash. Halfpenny added the conversion.

A penalty then came Scarlets’ way just inside Cheetahs territory as the game headed towards the quarter of an hour mark. Halfpenny stepped up for the long range penalty but the ball hit the upright and the Cheetahs looked to play from deep. Scarlets are on heightened alert and Tadhg Beirne wins the turnover in their 22. They were given another penalty and Halfpenny made amends for his earlier miss to make it 10-0.

Photo by Darren Harries

Within a few minutes Scarlets were back on the rampage from inside their own half as Gareth Davies gets the ball away from the scrum. Centre Parkes motored up the outside and finds Halfpenny in support who cuts a great line to the whitewash before converting his own try.

Cheetahs then got their first points on the board after 21 minutes of play with outside half Johan Goosen slotting a penalty.

Halfpenny was replaced by Dan Jones and Patchell stepped up for a long range penalty. He has the range, just like Halfpenny did earlier on in the half, but it sailed just wide of the upright.

With just a few minutes remaining in the first half Steff Evans made a wonderful break in midfield. He danced around five or six Cheetahs defenders, frees himself, puts in a chip over the top and scores a second try! Patchell added the conversion and the Scarlets looked comfortable with a 24-3 half time lead.

Scarlets fired in to action early on in the second half with a try from winger Tom Prydie. The Scarlets put the Cheetahs under huge pressure in their half and after scrum half Gareth Davies was replaced by Jonathan Evans the Scarlets pack got the ball flowing through the hands with Scott Williams putting in a wonderful pass before Prydie touches down under the posts. Patchell added the conversion.

Wyn Jones made a return to the field on the 45 minute mark, his first game since the Six Nations campaign when he injured his hamstring.

Whilst John Barclay receives a standing ovation from the entire ground, including the coaching staff, captain Ken Owens goes and scores from the rolling maul for their fifth try of the evening with Patchell converting.

Replacement scrum half Jonathan Evans crossed for the region’s sixth try on the hour mark as he dashed towards the whitewash from the 22 line. He dives in time to touch down and Scarlets go 43-3 ahead.

With fifteen minutes remaining Tadhg Beirne was replaced by Aaron Shingler. An emotional send off as Parc y Scarlets erupts. Every man, woman and child were on their feet.

Scott Williams leaves the field of play at Parc y Scarlets for the last time as a Scarlet. Another emotional farewell.

The Cheetahs cross the whitewash with ten minutes remaining after frantic defensive work by the Scarlets. The TMO is called upon for foul play earlier on in the phase where Tom Prydie is manhandled without the ball and the try was disallowed.

It was the Cheetahs who finished the game strongly with fullback Clayton Blommetjies scoring Cheetahs’ only try of the evening.

That was the last action of the games and the Scarlets sealed an impressive 43-8 win. They now go on to play Glasgow Warriors at the Scotstoun Stadium on Friday, May 18.

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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Domestic football at all levels in Wales suspended

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THE FOOTBALL Association of Wales has today (13 March) taken the decision to suspend domestic football at all levels in Wales with immediate effect until April 4 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The intention at this time will be to resume the football schedule depending on the medical advice and conditions from the relevant authorities at that time.

The FAW is fully aware of the impact this will have on the domestic game but the health and safety of all fans, players, volunteers and stakeholders are of paramount importance.

The FAW will continue to monitor this situation on a day-by-day basis and will continue to provide updates when appropriate.

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