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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

Otters give Pooler a fright

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NARBERTH gave everything they had on Saturday (Jan 19), but it wasn’t enough to earn victory against Pontypool at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

Pontypool, unbeaten in 49 games, arrived with an army of loyal supporters to add to a large crowd eager to witness the clash. They were not disappointed for the Otters had no intention of giving way to the league leaders.

The Otters kicked off and for the next few minutes attacked Pooler in their half and on the halfway line. A scrum was called and the ball was served and in seconds the ball came out on the tight head. Pooler winger Lloyd Lewis gathered the ball and seeing his way to the line clear, raced up the far touchline for him to score an unconverted try.

The Otters restarted and it seemed a kicking duel was likely until Pontypool put the ball in touch. From the Otters lineout the ball was moved  from left to right with hooker Rhodri Owens breaking forward, Pooler brought him down but the Otters rucked well, Ryan Lane fed the ball to Jonathan Rogers who repeated the previous weeks drop goal with ease, bringing the score to 3-5.

There was then another kicking duel with Pooler chasing every kick while the Otters played for safety and kicked into touch. Pooler then set up a rolling maul before releasing fly half Mathew Lewis to place the ball into touch on the Otters 22.

Pooler continued to put the pressure on but the Otters stood up to it well. The visitors forced the Otters back into their 22, gaining a penalty at the breakdown and Mathew Lewis put the ball into touch on the 5 metre line by the clubhouse.

From the lineout they set up a rolling maul but the Otters pack were equal to the technique and thwarted Pooler and managed to get the ball to Jack Price who kicked down field before full back Geraint Walsh moved the ball to the opposite side of the field before the Otters closed him down.

Pooler were penalised for offside enabling Jonathan Rogers to kick into the Pooler 22. The Otters gaining the ball moved across from the stand side but the move broke down when the passed ball was dropped.

The Otters regained possession and Jack Price made a powerful break and although tackled he managed to forced his way through before slipping to the ground. At the ruck the Otters were again penalised.

Then on 27 minutes with Pooler in attack in the Otters half the ball broke loose and reacting quickly Nick Gale kicked the ball down field, the Pontypool winger was unable to control the ball enabling Nick to kick forward again and easily win the sprint to the touch down. He followed this with an excellent conversion to make it 10-5 to the Otters.

Pooler responded aggressively to finding themselves behind but the Otters defended with good organisation and equal aggression stopping every attempt to break through even at the scrum 10 metres from the Otters line, when Rhys Lane was able to put in a relieving kick into touch on his 22.

The Otters pack put pressure on Pooler enabling wing Will Lewis to kick ahead and break forward. He gathered the ball making many metres before being tackled.

Pooler were making much use of their heavier pack but a stout defence held them back. Close to half time Mathew Lewis kicked Pooler to the Otters corner. At the lineout a maul was formed but held back only for the Otters to be penalised and for Richard Rees to be sent to the sin bin.

The referee eventually blew for half time after playing six minutes injury time with the Otters 10-5 ahead.

The second half started with both full backs attempting a kicking duel before Ianto Griffiths put the ball into touch on halfway.

The difference between the two scrum halves beside age is that Lewys has a longer pass enabling Jonathan Rogers to position himself further back away from the Pooler back row. However, five minutes into the second half, Pooler levelled the score with an unconverted try by flanker Mikey Herbert who broke through the Otters defence to cross the line and touch down.

For the next 10 minutes Pooler stepped up their pressure in an aggressive manner with both defences putting in some brutal tackles. The Otters were awarded a penalty for Nick Gale to step up and successfully kick the Otters into a 3 point lead at 13-10.

A few minutes later, the Otters were defending another forceful Pooler attack when on their 22, there was an unfortunate injury affecting flanker Steffan Phillips. His cries of agony were heard around the ground and play stopped for 10 minutes while he received attention. A huge round of applause occurred when Steffan rose and was able, with assistance, to walk off the field with his right arm supported.

A scrum restarted the game, Pooler were awarded a penalty with which Mathew Lewis levelled the score at 13-13.

This was followed a few minutes later with the Otters regaining the lead with another Nick Gale penalty.

The Otters continued their attempts to break through the Pooler defence and a diagonal break by Keiron Jones saw him tackled 5 metres from the try line. A successful ruck saw Jonathan Rogers throw a long pass which reached Nick Gale who raced towards the line before being pulled down, via the ruck the ball was moved quickly towards the clubhouse when Pooler were penalised for lying offside.

The Otters kicked to the corner at the lineout forming a maul but the possession was lost enabling Pooler to force their way downfield. On 76 minutes they were awarded a penalty, Mathew Lewis kicked to touch into the Otters 22.

At the lineout they formed a maul before quickly releasing the ball with Mathew Lewis managing to break the defensive wall and score an unconverted try. The score was now 16-18.

Unfortunately the Otters kick out on the half way line went directly into touch. Thus enabling Pooler to scrummage and retain the ball.

Otters defence coach Jon Dodd commented: “It was a very hard game, very physical. We probably gave Pontypool the hardest game of the season, we are disappointed we lost. Everything went to the game plan. There was more kicking and chasing than we normally do but that was because of the quality of Pontypool.

“Defensively we were very good but we spent long periods of time without the ball and it took its toll. We took our breakaway try very well but there were other chances we might have taken. We played excellently and for the spectator it was a good game to watch. The team from 1 to 15 put in a very good performance today. Nick Gale with his place kicking was excellent and kept us going. So with those thoughts in mind we can go forward in the remaining games and win them all.”

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Sport

Ruthless Mariners power past Saints

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MILFORD Haven put in a ruthless display as they scored seventeen tries to beat St Davids 119-5 at the Obs on Saturday (Jan 5).

The Mariners were right at it from the kick off and did not let up as they held a 63-5 lead at the break.

James Trueman scored a hat trick of tries for the home side and he also went on to kick each of his 17 conversion attempts for a club record haul of 49 points.

Dan Jenkins also crossed for three tries while Dan Birch, Sam Dolling and Brandon Cooper all scored twice for the home side.

The Saints, to their credit, kept going and were rewarded in the first half when Josh Strangwood crossed for a try.

Jamie Lewis, Dewi Williams, Ryan Mansell, Dan McClelland and Steve Martin all got their names on the scoresheet to seal an emphatic victory.

The win keeps Milford top of the table by a point from rivals Neyland and on Saturday (Jan 12), they will face a sterner test as they travel to Laugharne.

The Saints remain third from bottom in the table and on Saturday they are at home to third placed Haverfordwest.

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Sport

Trundle leaves Bluebirds

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HAVERFORDWEST County have confirmed that star signing Lee Trundle has left the club.

The news was announced on Sunday, December 30, and the former Swansea City player has since signed for Welsh League Division 3 side Trefelin BGC.

In a statement released by the Bluebirds they thank Lee for his time at the club in which he scored 12 goals in all competitions.

A spokesperson for the club said: “Due to increasing work commitments, Lee Trundle has decided to leave Haverfordwest County and his last game was on Friday evening (Dec 28) at Ton Pentre where he scored two goals taking his tally for the Bluebirds to twelve in all competitions this season.

“Whist his stay at our club was shorter than we would have hoped, we fully understand his decision and everyone at the football club would like to thank Lee for his time here and the way he has conducted himself both on and off the field of play. Lee leaves with our sincere best wishes.”

Lee commented on Haverfordwest County’s Facebook page saying: “Good luck the rest of the season boys. Great club run by great people. Wish you all the best on the race for the league title this year.”

Fans of the club have also commented saying they are ‘gutted’ to see him leave and that he will be missed.

As well as Swansea, Lee has also played for Wrexham, Bristol City and Leeds United in his career.

It was announced in May 2018 that Trundle would be joining the Bluebirds having helped Llanelli Town to promotion to the Welsh Premier League.

Lee now joins a team that sit top of Division 3 and his inclusion is likely to give a further boost to their promotion hopes.

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