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Otters topple the leaders

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NARBERTH superbly toppled Championship leaders Cardiff Met on Saturday (Oct 27) as they came away with a 16-13 victory.

The game started with Cardiff Met kicking off with the advantage of a strong, cold wind behind them playing towards the clubhouse end. Initially they pinned the Otters in their own half but were slowly being driven back with the Otters forwards in groups of three forcing their way forward and successfully retaining possession.

Jonathan Rogers playing his first game after a foot injury produced one of his cannonball kicks well into the Met half near their 22. The ball was fielded but the Otters were able to force the Met defender into touch. From the lineout, the Otters moved the ball through the threes, from the stand side into midfield before the referee awarded them a penalty. Nick Gale came forward and struck the ball perfectly to send the ball soaring between the posts giving the Otters an early lead.

The Met kicked off, which was fielded via Dan Smith, he  passed to Jonathan Rogers, the fly half produced one of his long passes out to centre Jack Price who was able to take the ball forward into Met’s 22 in inimitable forceful way before being brought to ground. From the breakdown the Otters pack drove forward before the ball landed in touch on the Redstone side of the ground on the 5 metre line.

The referee awarded a scrum from the lineout but the Otters were penalised for supposedly pushing before the ball was put in.  This enabled the Met to kick the ball just into the Otters half with the oters being penalised. Their fly half kicked the ball into the Otters 22. The fast backs followed up but the Otters forced the ball into touch.

From the lineout, the Met set up a rolling maul which the Otters pack expertly managed to halt with the referee awarding the Otters a scrum enabling scrum half Lewys Gibby to kick over the Met players heads.

Forced to retreat, the Met then regained the ball and scored a good try near the clubhouse corner having moved the ball quickly from the far side and managing to create a gap in the Otters sturdy defence, for their inside centre Jack Wright to break clear via a sudden gap appearing and touch down. Fly half Henry Johnson converted to take Cardiff Met into the lead, 3-7 on twenty minutes.

The Otters kicked off and in the ensuing play were awarded a scrum. The pack showed their control pushing the Met backwards forcing the Met to concede a penalty. Jonathon Rogers then kicked and gained the lineout.

From the lineout the Otters threes took the ball into the Met 22 and from the moved the ball from left to right, then switching back towards the far side. The referee awarded the Otters pack a scrum and who again showed their superiority in the tight causing the Met to concede another penalty.

Again Nick Gale came forward and with much concentration struck the ball between the posts bringing the score to 6-7 on 27 minutes.

From the restart Richard Rees fielded and drove forward followed by a series of drives, by the Otters pack with Cardiff Met defending strongly. However, the series of ruck and drive forced the Met back to the halfway line before offending, the referee awarding the Met a scrum. This had to be reset with the Otters forcing the Met eight back as the eight Otters scrummed strongly. The sloppy heel by the Met resulted in outside centre Jack Price putting in a grubber kick along the ground.

The continued pressure forced the Met player into touch. At the lineout, Met managed to spoil the throw in, gained possession 10 metres inside the Otters half before a series of quick passing movements.

They moved the ball back and fore across the pitch before a gap appeared and the burly centre  Oliver Morris showed surprising speed as he raced towards the line before Andrew Cook made a try saving tackle just one metre from the try line. The referee awarded the Otters a penalty at the breakdown which Jonathan Rogers safely found touch to relieve the pressure.

Play continued with both teams attempting to break through. The Met were awarded a scrum, heeling they kicked the ball into touch with the referee whistling half time with the score at 6-7.

In the second half the Otters were given a penalty after the Met were penalised for illegal crossing and they kicked to touch. At the lineout a Cardiff Met misdemeanour gave the Otters a scrum, then heeling the ball, it was moved swiftly only for the left wing to fail to take the pass with a strong possibility of a try being possible.

Play continued back and fore with both teams attempting to advance but being thwarted by both defences. Cardiff Met were penalised on 53 minutes just inside the Otters half. Jonathan Rogers kicked towards the clubhouse corner finding touch some fifteen metres from the line.

The Otters safely caught the throw in and set up a rolling maul moving to within five metres of the line number 8 Richard Rees broke clear and crossed over for a try towards the clubhouse corner. Nick Gale converted from a difficult position putting the Otters ahead 13-7.

Play continued and on 60 minutes Cardiff Met were awarded a penalty some 40 metres from the posts towards the far touchline. Using a torpedo style placement of the ball Henry Johnson added 3 points for the Met. The score was now 13-10.

Young Lewys Gibby who had performed well at scrum half was replaced by the experienced Rhys Lane and Bradley Davies replaced Dan Jacobs in the front row. Play continued with both teams attempting to make progress but both defences remained firm.

The scrummaging became a contest with the referee having to reset the scrum on occasions. The Otters were penalised and Henry Johnson kicked to half way, Jonathan Rogers gathered and this time the ball was carried by the wind over the dead ball line, a scrum was called near halfway with a Met put in, they heeled but at a subsequent ruck they were penalised.

At 71 minutes Nick Gale added three further points bring the Otters to a 16-10 lead. From the kick off the Met responded strongly managing to get to within 30 metres of the Otters try line via penalty kick. At the lineout they attempted to move towards the line but again the Otters defended strongly before managing to clear however, following a knock on, they were penalised.

Cardiff Met decided to run and force their way forward but at the breakdown the Otters gained the ball, Rhys Lane passed to Johnathan Rogers kicked long to the Cardiff Met 5 metre line. The Otters gained the ball at the lineout and forced their way forward for Rhys Lane to break out but was pulled down 2 metres from the line. Jack Price receiving the ball from the ruck attempted to force his way over but there was an infringement at the breakdown.

Then the pack were required to scrummage, the referee needed to reset the scrum. Cardiff Met had the put in heeled and forced their back down field to the halfway line. Further play took them to with 40 metres. The Otters were penalised and the last score of the game came when Johnson using his torpedo kick placed the ball between the posts on 79 minutes and right on 80 minutes the referee blew full time with the score 16-13.

Attack coach Deiniol Evans commented: “It was a very tight game against a very tough unbeaten Cardiff side, so it was nice for us to win. It was a tough game which could have gone either way. Our performance was excellent, I thought we played really well with some very good performances, the front five of the pack were superb again, the set piece was excellent.

“The boys carried hard Andrew Cooke played well, Richard Rees was excellent and Jack Price in the centre was very good. I think it was a really good result because they were unbeaten. We played well to our game plan. We should have scored a couple of tries, we could not do it first half and defended really well and fully deserved the win.”

Sport

Harriers selected for Mini Marathon

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WELSH Athletics have named their team of thirty-six who will head to the Virgin Money Giving London Mini Marathon races in 2019.

The Virgin Money Giving Mini London Marathon takes place on Sunday, April 28, 2019 and is the official British Athletic three-mile road championships for young athletes aged between 11 and 17.

The race is open to entrants from the nine regions of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and teams from all 33 London Boroughs.

It kicks off the day’s action in the English Capital as early as 8.40am before the main 26.2 mile London Marathon starts half an hour later.

A new selection was in place this year as each of the four regions in Wales held time trial events in January over 3000m. The winners from the South, East, West and North were guaranteed a selection spot whilst the final two spots were decided on the fastest times across the under 13, under 15 and under 17 age groups.

A total of five club athletes in the Dyfed district received the news recently that they’ve been selected to compete in the upcoming event, along with three reserves. For two, they will look forward to picking up their first Welsh vest and making their debuts in the English Capital.

The Under 15 boys has plenty of experience in the team which will include Carmarthen Harriers duo Liam Edwards and Dafydd Jones along with 2019 Welsh Cross Country Champion and Llanelli AAC’s Adam Beer.

Iori Humphreys (Pembrokeshire Harriers) has been named as one of the reserves should a space arise. All four have been in fantastic form over the country this winter and will aim to use the event experience to their advantage.

It has been a great cross-country season for the Carmarthen Harriers’ under 13s in the Gwent League and two of the group will join their Welsh teammates for the road trip to London. Zach Elvy and Jack Thomas both ran quick enough times in the time trials earlier this year to be selected.

Ffion Ouseley (Pembrokeshire Harriers) and Frances Mackie (Carmarthen Harriers) are the first two reserves in the under 13 girls’ category and will be ready should they be called up to the team.

For the majority of the squad, it will be an opportunity for them to test themselves against the best in Great Britain & Northern Ireland, competing against the other Celtic nations, the powerful English regions and athletes representing each of the London boroughs.

The London Mini Marathon is over the last 3 miles of the main 26.2 mile course. Hundreds of the next generation will take centre stage, following in the footsteps of their heroes including the likes of Mo Farah, Shelly Woods and David Weir.

This Weekend (Saturday, March 23), Welsh Schools will head to the annual SIAB Schools Athletic Board Cross Country International which in 2019 is hosted by Irish Schools in Dublin.

The Welsh schools squad expects to be highly placed in several of the age groups against athletes from their Celtic neighbours, with a number of experienced athletes looking to impress alongside debutants making their first appearance on the international stage.

Athletes heading to the International to wear the red vest of Wales were selected following the Welsh Schools National Cross-Country Championships, in Brecon on 13th February where the leading finishers that day were automatically chosen to be involved in this end-of-season International event.

There will be individual Junior and Intermediate races between English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Schools as well as a new 4 x 1500m relay in the upper age group where an additional 2 boys and 2 girls will be invited to participate in this additional element.

Wales’ team includes Beer, who finished as the second Welsh athlete in 7th at the 2018 edition in Nottingham and Humphreys who was 15th at the same fixture. They will both contest the Inter Boys’ 6,000m distance.

Jones will also make the journey and start in the 4 x 1500m lap relay alongside his country teammates.

Bro Myrddin’s Frank Morgan eased to victory at the selection race in Brecon in February and after competing in the East Midlands 12 months ago, will fancy his chances in the upper year of the age group.

Rhys Llewellyn (Haverfordwest High) will join Morgan in the junior boys’ race following his seventh-place finish in Mid Wales. Ioan Cressey-Rodgers is a reserve in this category.

Harriers coaches Delyth Brown and Carol Jones are among the Welsh team managers for the trip to Northern Ireland later this week.

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Wizards sink Swifts to set up Carew final

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MERLINS Bridge set up a Senior Cup Final date with Carew as they beat Monkton Swifts 3-0 at the Bridge Meadow on Tuesday night (Mar 19).

Both sides named strong line-ups for the game, determined to make it into the final, but it was the Bridge who proved the stronger as they exacted revenge for a 5-1 league defeat to the Swifts earlier in the season.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game despite persistent light rain throughout the evening.

A minutes silence was also held prior to kick off in respect of former Merlins Bridge player Denzil (Tally) John, who sadly passed away.

The Wizards had previously beaten Monkton 3-0 in the West Wales Cup and from the first whistle it was clear that they were in a confident mood.

Adam Hawkins and Nathan Greene linked up well but when Greene was tackled the ball fell to Laurie Haworth whose shot was saved.

Hawkins then saw a shot saved after he had been put through and he then played a one-two with Jordan Thomas whose shot hit the post.

Monkton then had their first chance as James Russell won a 50-50 but he saw his shot blocked wide for a corner.

All that action came in the first five minutes and it set the tone for the rest of the game with both sides coming close to opening the scoring.

The Bridge then came close again when Dai Davies sent Greene through but he flashed his shot across goal and wide.

With half an hour gone Russell came forward but dwelt on the ball too long leaving Dylan Davies and Ben Steele frustrated after both made good runs.

Blake James then saw a cross go straight into the arms of Bridge keeper Gary Thomas who then also saved Davies’ deflected shot.

With seven minutes to go until half time, the Wizards took the lead as Laurie Haworth turned excellently in the left corner and ran into the box before crossing for Hawkins who fired in to the roof of the net.

Five minutes later they doubled their lead as Ashley Beck played the ball through for Haworth who poked the ball past Swifts keeper Michael Murray to make it 2-0.

Monkton looked to respond but a corner on the stroke of half time from Chris Richards went out over the bar.

It left the Division 1 leaders with a mountain to climb in the second half and they knew they would need an early goal if they were to get back into the game.

Ten minutes in the Wizards had the first real chance of the half as Haworth won the ball and crossed for Beck but he shot wide.

On the hour mark Monkton won a free kick on the edge of the D but Steele’s free kick bounced back off the wall.

The Bridge won a series of corners which came to nothing and when Monkton looked to break off one, Hawkins made a desperate lunge to try and stop the attack. He was booked for his challenge which may have done more harm than good as he was then replaced by Will Haworth.

With twenty minutes to go sub Ryan Griffiths crossed into the box but Russell’s looping header was comfortably claimed by Thomas.

Moments later it should have been 3-0 as a slip allowed Greene in but he fluffed his lines and scuffed his shot wide.

The Swifts continued to look for a way back into the game and when Steele went down in the box he was adamant he had been pushed but referee Angus Scourfield waved away his prolonged protests.

Davies then saw a shot saved and then came perhaps their best chance of getting back into the game as a good move found Richards but Davies could only head wide from his cross.

They were soon made to pay for their missed chances as Laurie Haworth found Greene in the box who knocked in to all but seal the win.

Greene and Matthew D’Ivry were then taken off in a double change, perhaps with one eye on the West Wales Cup semi-final with Hakin next week.

The game had been won but Monkton’s Josh Richards, who had only came on in the second half, let his frustrations get the better of him late on as he overstepped the mark and saw red for his language.

Merlins Bridge saw the game out and will now look forward to the final with Carew. That game will take place on Saturday, April 20, again at the Bridge Meadow Stadium.

Speaking after the match, Merlins Bridge boss Matthew D’Ivry said: “We are really pleased with the result. We were confident that if we played to our abilities that we would get the result.

“We were confident on the back of the season we have had so far, having only had one loss to Monkton. It wasn’t about getting revenge, but more about us achieving what we had set out to do.

“Last night our experience in the bigger games shone through and that gave us the edge.”

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Joyce thrilled with first Six Nations try

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JASMINE Joyce relished her first Six Nations try as Wales Women ended the campaign on a high by playing some fine rugby in a 24-5 win over Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park.

Electrifying wing Joyce produced an individual performance as part of a fine team display from Rowland Phillips’ team in the Welsh capital.

Joyce scored the fourth of Wales’ tries by sprinting down the right touchline in sensational fashion as her team followed their win over Scotland with a second straight victory.

“It was literally a great team performance. We are going to be buzzing for a long time after that,” said Joyce.

“It’s the best we’ve played in a very long time both as a squad and in terms of individual performances. I think we can enjoy ourselves after that one – it all clicked.

“We have been getting better and better. Against Italy we managed to get a draw, but I think in this campaign they have shown they are something most teams don’t think they are. Italy are on the up, which we saw with their win over France on Sunday, and for us to get wins over Scotland and now Ireland is massive for us. It’s great to give us some momentum going into next year’s Six Nations and then the World Cup in 2020.”

Ireland dominated the opening quarter and finally made their pressure count as teenage wing Beibhinn Parsons opened the scoring. After that, they failed to score a point and Wales showed a clinical edge with their best performance of the campaign as they sealed their first Six Nations over Ireland since 2011.

Home tries came from Jess Kavanagh, captain Carys Phillips, Bethan Lewis, and Joyce.

Kavanagh’s was a fine effort too as she scored in the corner, while Phillips and Lewis provided tries from the forwards. It was left to Team GB Sevens Olympic star Joyce to round off the scoring and she did exactly that in an effort which was eerily similar to the one she had ruled out against Italy.

“We’ve got to make sure we enjoy the experience of this win and do it together,” added Joyce, who scored a try, made 208 metres, five line breaks, and four tackle breaks against Ireland.

“We had a different kind of mentality coming into this game in terms of trying to get the ball wide and I think we did that. I must have had about 10 carries and to finally get a try right at the end was amazing.”

Wales were beaten by France and England, drew with Italy, and then downed Scotland and Ireland to round off an encouraging Six Nations campaign. Phillips’ side ended the tournament in fourth place.

“To get our second win of the campaign is massive for us and we’ve ended up finishing fourth which is a massive step up from last year,” said Joyce.

“We couldn’t ask for much more than that. England and France are a step above the other nations, but we want to keep building on this moving forwards.”

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