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Dragonhearts edged out by Serbia

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SERBIA recorded a hard-fought 22-20 victory over Wales Dragonhearts in Belgrade on Wednesday afternoon (Oct 3).

It was the first of two tests between the two evenly matched sides. The try count was four-all with both sides each converting twice, and it was only Dzavid Jasari’s 60thminute penalty that gave the home side the win.

Wales selected all of their side from the country’s thriving community game following a successful three-side Origin series, whilst 13 of Serbia’s 17 play their rugby league in Belgrade, eight of them from the country’s champions Red Star, who will be entering the RFL Challenge Cup next season. Serbia also fielded three Australian-based players, two of whom scored tries, who were flown in readiness for Serbia’s full international against France on Sunday.

The home side took the lead on four minutes after Vladimir Milutinovic forced his way over with Milos Zogovic unable to convert.

Then Wales had a 6-4 advantage on 16 minutes after a Connah Harding try that Mike Hurley easily converted.

Serbia regained the lead from kick-off when Brandon Janjic scored near to the corner with Jasari missing the goal on this occasion.

Wales went back into the lead in the 24th minute after Brett Thomas scored in the corner. Hurley’s conversion attempt hit the crossbar and came out.

Serbia had the advantage again five minutes later when Stevan Stevanovic broke through and Jasari converted well.

Wales levelled just after the half-hour when Sam Pridgeon scored a well-worked try in the corner, making it another difficult kick for Hurley who swung the ball wide.

The score remained at 14-all at the break but Serbia regained the lead within a minute of the second half when Jonathan Kresst scored in the corner and Jasari did well to convert.

Wales were soon level. Following a penalty, Shane Lee went on a mazy run to set up Mark Jones to ground just right of the sticks with Hurley converting.

The game stopped for over five minutes after a collision left Wales’ Dafydd Jones having treatment and eventually needing to go off and have stiches – one of many stoppages for injuries and penalties in a half that lasted nearly 55 minutes. When play resumed on this occasion, Jasari kicked a penalty to edge Serbia into a 22-20 lead.

Wales pressed for a winner but the Serbian defence held out well under pressure in the final ten minutes, and when the Dragonhearts gave away a penalty whilst on the attack in the final minute of the game, that was that and the Serbs had secured their win.

Dragonhearts captain Mike Hurley said: “I thought we were the better side, especially in the first half, where it was just errors from us that let Serbia in. Our defence, up against a very big and physical side was outstanding. We stuck to our game plan and it worked, scoring three outstanding tries.

“The second half was a different story and after some positional changes due to injuries, we lost our shape and direction. However, our defence was again tireless and the boys really worked hard.

“The score reflected how close the game was and with Serbia kicking a penalty, it showed how fearful they were of us.

“I think we chased the win too early and with a bit more composure, discipline and structure we should have won the game. We all feel that was a game that got away.

“We will regroup get a couple of training session in and concentrate on the next game on Saturday.”

Sport

Collins’ stunner earns win for Veterans

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A STUNNING strike from Hakin left back Adam Collins ensured that the Veteran Vikings earned maximum points and remain top of the Welsh Veterans League after a hard fought 4-3 win at home to Coedeva Athletic last Sunday (Feb 17).

However, on a very windy day, the Vikings found themselves behind early on as Gareth Hinwood scored from the penalty spot.

Hakin were soon level though, when Stuart MacDonald set up Matthew Price to score from close range.

Richard Nash gave Hakin the lead scoring via a deflection and Paul Andrews levelled matters for Coedeva before the break, as his shot from distance also took a deflection.

Early in the second half, Michael McCarthy beat the Coedeva keeper to a ball to make it 3-2 from close range and almost immediately, Coedeva were level after another Gareth Hinwood penalty.

Inside the final quarter, a stunning left footed strike from Adam Collins found the top corner from distance to give Hakin the win.

Hakin next play on Sunday, March 3, at home to Swansea University in the semi-final of the Welsh Veterans Cup.

Hakin United: Jason Morgan, Nigel Armstrong, Richard Bland, Nigel Delaney, Adam Collins, Shaun Mills, Richard Nash, Stuart MacDonald, Michael McCarthy, Matthew Price, Leighton Edwards. Subs: Leigh Walters, Simon Rocke, Jamie Phillips, Gary Dawes.

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Sport

Saints do the double

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ST CLEARS completed the double over Neyland as they earned a 4-0 win on Saturday (Feb 16).

The Saints, who were forced into a re-shuffle at the back and without one of their midfielders, had beaten them 5-2 at home the previous week and Neyland would have been looking for some revenge.

However, it was the Saints who started strongly and took a deserved lead from a short corner. Jonny Thomas found Steve Thomas unmarked in the box and he headed home.

Both teams had chances to score but Saints keeper James Dickson made a few good saves to keep their 1-0 lead in tact.

The visitors eventually got the second goal of the game following good individual play by Will Evans.

Evans then added his second directly from a free kick to make it 3-0. They then rounded off a good day as Sean Seymour Davies latched onto a long ball to score and make it 4-0.

On Saturday (Feb 23), Neyland are away to Goodwick while St Clears welcome Merlins Bridge.

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Jones’ late drop goal earns win for Blues

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HAVERFORDWEST moved up to second place in League 3 West A on Saturday (Feb 16), as they beat Neyland with a late drop goal.

It was a tight game with both sides battling well but it was the Blues who went ahead early on as Craig Barnett scored a penalty.

Barnett then scored another soon after to put the visitors into a 0-6 lead and it remained that way until the half time whistle.

Early in the second half Neyland were back in it as they scored a penalty to make the score 3-6.

Mark Riley then put Neyland ahead as he was credited with a pushover try but the conversion was missed and the All Blacks led by two points.

Haverfordwest pushed on looking for a winning score and when a try wasn’t forthcoming the ball was sent back to Mikey Jones who kept calm to send a drop goal through the posts.

That put the Blues one point ahead at 8-9 and there was little time for the home side to respond.

The All Blacks do pick up the consolation of a losing bonus point but that will not do much to lift their spirits after they were dropped to fourth in the table following other results.

The Blues now sit second with Aberaeron breathing down their necks having played three games less.

There is no game on Saturday (Feb 23), as Wales take on England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

The sides return to action on Saturday, March 2, when Haverfordwest host Llanybydder and Neyland host St Davids.

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