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.”
Impressive win for Mikey
FISHGUARD boxer Mikey O’Sullivan secured an impressive victory over a top English opponent in the England v Wales international at Cannock at the weekend.
The Ysgol Bro Gwaun pupil, who boxes for Cardigan ABC, overcame Mike Smith (Pinewood Star ABC) on a split decision to help Wales to an 8-7 victory.
The result more than made up for the disappointment of O’Sullivan’s controversial points defeat against Luke Rodder in the previous Wales v England international.
Wales survive Fiji scare to book quarter final place
WALES booked their place in the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday as they survived a scare from Fiji.
The Fijians led 10-0 early on and 17-14 in the second half but a try hat trick from Josh Adams helped them eventually seal the victory.
Fiji made a bright start but a loose pass gave Wales possession. However, James Davies was then guilty of being offside and Fiji opted for a scrum near the try line.
They worked it to the right for Josua Tuisova who forced his way over despite the attentions of three Wales players. Ben Volavola missed the conversion from wide on the right but Fiji led 5-0 after the opening five minutes.
Wales thought they had scored a minute later when Josh Navidi went over but the ball had been knocked on earlier in the move.
Fiji then broke through again and Frank Lomani touched the ball down, but after checking with the TMO the pass to him was judged forwards.
The referee stayed with the TMO to check for foul play and it was Ken Owens who was yellow carded for a tip tackle.
Fiji didn’t let the disallowed try get to them and they again worked it to the right for Kini Murimurivalu who rolled over before touching down. Volavola’s conversion from out wide again was just wide.
Tevita Cavubati was then yellow carded for a shoulder charge to the back temporarily making it 14 vs 14.
After 18 minutes Dan Biggar kicked across field to the left for Josh Adams who took the ball well before touching down. Biggar then added the conversion from out wide to make it 10-7 to Fiji.
With 26 minutes gone the ball was played to Adams again who dived over but the TMO adjudged that Adams’ foot had just gone into touch.
Fiji were defending well and had forced Wales back but Semi Kunatani was guilty of being offside and was given a yellow card after a series of Fiji indiscretions.
With half an hour gone Wales, after looking to bulldoze their way over, passed out left to Adams again who this time went over for the try. Biggar was successful with the conversion again to give Wales a 14-10 lead.
Shortly before half time Fiji thought they had scored a third try but Volavola’s pass to Viliame Mata was forward.
Half time came with Wales winning 14-10 but the game was still very much in the balance.
Fiji started the second half well and came close to the line but James Davies turned the ball over after seven minutes to ease the pressure.
Davies was then penalised for stopping a drive and after an accumulation of penalties, he was shown a yellow card.
Fiji kicked to touch and set up a maul but after it was brought down near the line, referee Jerome Garces marched under the posts to award a penalty try.
That put the Fijians 17-14 ahead and Wales then lost Dan Biggar to a head injury. He and Liam Williams both went for a high ball with Biggar coming off worse. Biggar picked himself up but was replaced by Rhys Patchell.
Patchell was straight into the action as he scored a long-range penalty to bring the scores level.
Jonathan Davies then made a great break for the line and made a superb offload to Adams who dived over to touch the ball down. The try was checked by the TMO but Adams’ hat trick was soon confirmed. Patchell’s conversion came back off the post and the score stayed at 22-17.
Davies then limped off and he was replaced by Owen Watkin.
Fiji were keen to show that they were not out of the game and came forward again but gave away possession.
With ten minutes to go, Gareth Davies offloaded to Liam Williams who dived down near the posts to secure a bonus point for Wales. Patchell added the extras to put the men in red 29-17 ahead.
That try all but sealed the win for Wales and when the clock ticked past 80 minutes, they kicked into touch to bring the game to a close.
Wales take on Uruguay in their final pool game on Sunday (Oct 13), kick off at 9:15am.
West Wales Cup: First round preview
THIS Saturday the West Wales Cup gets underway once more with teams hopeful of a successful run to the Liberty Stadium for the final.
Merlins Bridge are the holders after they beat Carew in the final earlier this year and both have been given byes into the second round this season.
Last year marked the first time that two Pembrokeshire sides reached the final but will that happen again or will another team look to bring the county’s recent dominance to an end.
Goodwick United, Hakin United, Kidwelly Town and Tumble United are some of the other sides to receive byes to the second round.
Pembrokeshire League Champions Monkton Swifts begin their campaign away to Carmarthenshire Premier Division side Loughor Rovers.
The Swifts have made an unbeaten start to their league campaign while the Rovers have four wins from their opening seven games.
Carmarthenshire Premier League champions Trallwm host Swansea Division 1 side Penclawdd.
Both sides have had mixed starts to their season and will be keen to get their cup run going.
Neath League Division 1 side Cilfrew Rovers are the visitors to Fishguard on Saturday with both sides enjoying a good start to their respective seasons.
Clarbeston Road host Swansea League Division 2 side Cwmfelin Press and Neath Division 1 side Resolven are the visitors to Haverfordwest Cricket Club.
Pembrokeshire Division 2 side Herbrandston host Carmarthenshire Premier side Pengelli United.
Herbie have just one league win to their name so far this season while Pengelli have four wins from their opening seven games.
Swansea Division 1 outfit Morriston Town will visit Division 2 Hundleton in what will be a good test for the Pembrokeshire side.
Neyland host Neath Division 2 side Clydach Sports having sealed their first win of the season last weekend.
In two Pembrokeshire versus Carmarthenshire league ties, Letterston are at home to Evans and Williams while Pennar Robins host Dafen.
Dafen are second in Division 1 while the Robins are without a win so far this season.
Elsewhere, Kilgetty travel to Celtic Neath while Lawrenny travel to Bryn.
Division 2 Carmarthenshire side Abergwili host Division 1 FC Carmarthen while Carmarthen Town United host Wern.
Bancffosfelen were heavily beaten at the weekend and they will look to put that result behind them when they travel to Bonymaen Colts.
Premier Division Burry Port host Swansea League Division 3 side Cwm Albion Colts.
Bwlch have only had one win in the league this season and they host Neath Premier Division side FC Clydach who themselves only have two wins to their name so far.
Carmarthen Stars host Pontardawe while Pembrey host Cambrian.
Felinfoel earned a win in their last game in Division 1 and they go up against Carmarthen Premier side Pontarddulais.
Trostre are also at home as they take on Jersey Marine while Seaside travel to Sandfields.
St Ishmaels are away as they take on Gorseinon Athletic, Milford United travel to Murton Rovers and Narberth host Ynystawe.
Good luck to all sides involved.
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