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Rugby season arrives

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PEMBROKESHIRE rugby teams will get their seasons underway on Saturday, September 1, with all hoping to have a successful season.

Championship side Narberth had an excellent 2017/18 campaign, finishing second in the table behind runaway leaders Pontypool.

They had 14 wins from their 22 games and they will be looking to go one better this time around. Narberth have played two friendlies prior to the season beating Felinfoel 29-0 and Principality Premiership side Llanelli 17-12.

The Otters begin their season away to Beddau and have already named their team with Nick Gale, Jack Price, Jonathan Rogers and Tom Powell all starting.

In League 1 West, last season’s escape artists Crymych will be looking to achieve a finish similar if not higher than the sixth place they achieved in May.

Crymych were bottom of the table at the end of 2017 with just one win but a remarkable second half of the season saw them pick up ten wins to secure their place in the Division.

They also welcome back Tristan Lewis from Whitland and on Saturday, they get their campaign underway against Tenby United in an exciting Pembrokeshire derby.

Return: Lloyd Thomas

Tenby have had a busy pre-season, making a number of new signings including Lloyd Thomas, a former youth product, who returns at Outside Half. Lloyd transferred to Mahurangi Rugby Club in New Zealand in 2013, representing their premier team 84 times in the North Harbour league and became a firm favourite.

19 year old Second Row Tom Barrass, in his first year out of youth has followed Ossie Boswell from Pembroke Dock to Tenby United having impressed during his 1st XV appearances last season.

Jack Broadhurst, last season’s Narberth Youth Captain and Player of the Year, has also signed having previously represented the Swifts section before heading to Narberth.

Whitland, promoted from League 2 West last season, will be looking to get their season off to a flying start when they take on Gorseinon at home on Saturday.

Gorseinon finished fifth last season and will provide a good test for the Borderers on their return to league 1.

Marc Jones will captain the side for tomorrow’s opener, with Nico Setaro, Scott Buird, Jack Mason and Josh Thomas all in the starting XV.

Fishguard finished last season in ninth place in League 2 West and they will be aiming to achieve a higher finish this time around.

The Seagulls won 18-14 in the Pembrokeshire Cup against Haverfordwest on Tuesday, providing a good test before the start of the season.

Pembroke won the League 3 West A title with just one defeat to their name and they will be eager to get underway in League 2 on Saturday.

Pembroke have welcomed back James Skeels, Daffy Lewis and Mark Williams to their squad and they will be aiming to replicate the achievements of Saturday’s opponents St Clears in their first season at this level.

St Clears enjoyed a successful first season in League 2 last time around and they will be aiming to improve on their eighth place finish.

The Saints parted ways with Head Coach Mike Jones in the summer but have welcomed Tim Poole as their new first team coach with Lee Glanville joining as Defence coach and Rhodri Jones as attack coach.

League 3 West A will once again be a tightly contested league this season with Milford Haven, Laugharne and Haverfordwest again in contention for promotion.

Milford finished second last season and with Pembroke now a league above, they will aiming to get off to a good start against Pembroke Dock Quins at Bierspool.

Nathan Williams has returned to lead Milford while Jamie Lewis will captain the side on the pitch and they will be hoping to have a successful season.

Likewise will be the Quins who had six wins to their name last season but they will be looking to improve on their eighth place finish.

Haverfordwest will also be aiming for a return to League 2 and will be led by captain Matthew Clark.

He is joined by fellow new signings Adam Clark, Craig Barnett, Ashley George, Jamie Barnett, Jack Clancy, Kern Cunningham and Jamie Plumb. All will be hoping they can help the Blues to improve on their fifth place finish from last season.

They begin against a Llangwm side who will be determined to get off the mark early in the season.

The Wasps played Neyland in the Pembrokeshire Cup on Tuesday and pushed them all the way before succumbing to a 29-10 defeat.

Neyland will also be looking to get the season off to a good start on Saturday but they face a long trip to Ceredigion to take on Tregaron.

They had an excellent 2017/18 season with ten wins from their twenty games to achieve a sixth place finish but level on points with Haverfordwest and they will be aiming to improve on that.

St Davids are without a game this weekend but they get their season underway next week (Sept 8) when they travel to Llangwm.

Sport

Veteran Vikings on top

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HAKIN United are top of the Welsh Veterans League following a 6-0 victory over Nelson Cavaliers at the Observatory last Sunday (Nov 11).

The result puts the Vikings one point ahead of current Champions Trefelin BGC, with the Port Talbot outfit having a game in hand.

However, last Sunday, despite the final score, It was Nelson that were missing the early chances with Hakin goalkeeper Jason Morgan saving a one on one and a penalty before Hakin took the lead midway through the first half.

Stuart MacDonald broke down the left and set up Matthew Price for a tap in to make it 1-0.

Minutes later, Hakin doubled their lead as Michael McCarthy headed home a MacDonald corner.

Just before half time, McCarthy put Price in the clear and the striker hammered a shot into the bottom corner to make it 3-0.

Early in the second half, Nelson missed another penalty before Price set up McCarthy to score from close range.

Ali Davies put Leigh Walters through to lift the ball over the keeper for number five and the same two players combined again for Walters to score his second, beating the keeper at his post.

Hakin next play in the Welsh Veterans Cup Preliminary Round away to Pencoed Athletic on Sunday (Nov 25).

Hakin United: Jason Morgan, Gerard Gray, Nigel Delaney, Richard Bland, Adam Collins, Ali Davies, Shaun Mills, Richard Nash, Michael McCarthy, Leigh Waters, Leighton Edwards. Subs: Nigel Armstrong, Matthew Price, Stuart MacDonald, Jamie Phillips, Gary Dawes.

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Sport

Blues too good for Neyland

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HAVERFORDWEST closed the gap to leaders Neyland as they condemned them to a second defeat in as many games on Saturday (Nov 10).

The Blues made a good start and it was Craig Barnett who put them into the lead with a try which he then converted. Barnett then added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Haverfordwest continued to put the pressure on and Barnett extended their lead with a penalty.

Barnett then added two further penalties before half time to give his side a 16-0 lead at the break.

Both sides had chances to score at the start of the second half but errors meant the score stayed the same.

Patrick Bellerby came close to scoring for the All Blacks but Haverfordwest defended well to keep him out.

At the other end a Neyland clearance kick was blocked and kicked on with Barnett giving chase but he was beaten to the ball by Bellerby and Neyland were able to clear.

The visitors then went up the other end and came close to scoring but they gave the ball away. The referee was not happy with the scrums and after three attempts gave a penalty to Neyland from which Luke Griffiths-Dawes dived over. George Evans sent the resulting penalty wide.

Any thoughts Neyland had of making a comeback were quickly dashed as Jamie Zambas increased the home side’s lead with a converted try.

Neyland did pull another try back late on through Craig Power and Evans converted but it wasn’t enough as the Blues saw the game out.

The All Blacks are still top of the table but Haverfordwest are now just a point behind. Milford lie in third, two points behind with two games in hand on their rivals.

The teams are next in action on Saturday, November 24, when leaders Neyland travel to St Davids and Haverfordwest are also away to Llanybydder.

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Bluebirds through in thriller

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HAVERFORDWEST County scored late on to seal their progress into round three of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday (Nov 10) as they beat Swansea University 4-3 at the Bridge Meadow.

A good crowd gathered for the game and they witnessed a thriller as the Bluebirds went two goals up only for Swansea to peg them back to 2-2 before half time.

Sean Pemberton grabbed the winning goal late on and the home side will now look forward to their third round tie.

The home side looked to take an early advantage and they made the breakthrough after ten minutes when Lee Trundle played an excellent ball into the middle for Ben Fawcett who fired into the bottom left corner.

Nine minutes later it was 2-0 the ball was played through for Trundle who ran onto it and fired in to the bottom left from the penalty spot.

It looked as if the Bluebirds might go in at half time with the lead but Swansea were soon back into it with ten minutes to go.

The Uni side won a corner and after it wasn’t cleared properly the ball fell to Declan McAde who rifled the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box.

They weren’t done there and three minutes later the ball was played into the box and was touched in by the unfortunate Tim Hicks with the Uni’s Levi Houapeu in close proximity.

There was still time for more first half drama and it came a minute later when Trundle again played the ball through for Fawcett who scored his second of the game.

The Students were then given a penalty after Houapeu was fouled but keeper Steve Hall made an excellent save to keep the score at 3-2.

Hall was called upon in the second half to keep his side ahead with more good saves while at the other end Danny Williams came close to scoring.

With ten minutes to go the Students brought themselves back level as Houapeu put the ball in the net and all of a sudden an upset was on the cards.

It looked as if extra time would be needed but two minutes from the end Jack Wilson threw the ball into the box for Sean Pemberton who drove the ball in.

The Bluebirds saw the game out and the whistle brought an end to a thrilling cup tie.

The draw for Round three was made on Monday (Nov 12), and the Bluebirds were drawn at home against fellow Welsh League Division 1 side Pontypridd Town.

Before that they will return to action in Division 1 on Saturday (Nov 17) as they travel to fourth placed Cwmbran Celtic.

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