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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.”

Sport

Johnston earn first win

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JOHNSTON secured their first win of the season on Saturday (Aug 10) as they beat Carew seconds by 68 runs.

It brings an end to a long wait for Johnston who went nearly two seasons without victory.

On Saturday they batted first against Carew scoring a good total of 210-9 in their innings.

Gino Cleal top scored for Johnston with 76 runs and there was also a good knock of 44 from Steve James.

Josh Hicks also scored 19 runs as the visitors looked to set a challenging target for their hosts.

For Carew, Rob Hicks was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with figures of 4-22 while Rhys Canton also bowled well for his figures of 2-37.

In reply, Carew’s Yori Hicks scored 62 and Alex Wilkes added 28 but Johnston were not to be denied on this occasion.

Nick Davies was in fine form with the ball taking seven wickets fore the loss of 41 runs. Mark Hicks also took two wickets for Johnston.

They bowled Carew out for 142 and the win also lifts them off the bottom of the table.

Having sealed their first win of the season they will go again on Saturday (Aug 17), when they travel to second placed Narberth.

Carew seconds will look to get back to winning ways when they take on Cresselly Seconds.

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Sport

Athletic play Vikings in Joe Lennon final

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MILFORD Athletic will play Hakin United in the Joe Lennon Cup Final on Saturday (Aug 17) after both sides won their respective semi-finals.

Milford Athletic played on Monday (Aug 12) and they beat Herbrandston on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Hakin played their game on Tuesday (Aug 13) and they overcame Milford United, again by the method of penalties.

On Monday, Division 3 side Athletic took the lead in the first half when Gareth Quirk’s free kick went in despite the Herbie keeper managing to get a hand on the ball.

Keeper Owen Thomas then made a couple of good saves to keep Herbie in the game.

They finished the second half strongly and were rewarded when Marc Boswell’s free kick flew into the net to make it 1-1.

Both sides had further chances but neither could find a winner which meant penalties would be needed to separate the sides.

Athletic keeper Jonathan Pawlett saved McCauley Marshallsay’s spot kick before Callum English fired over to send the Athletic through.

For them, Quirk, Haydn Dimond, Liam Clarke and John Lydon were all on target from the spot.

Tuesday’s sem-final followed a similar story as Scott Reid opened the scoring for the Vikings with a fine strike, only for Milford United to level matters.

Lewys Tee’s goal brought them level at the break to make it 1-1 and that was how it stayed until the final whistle.

Reid came close when a cross was fumbled into his path by the United keeper but he poked the ball wide.

The Vikings also brought on Nicky Woodrow as they went in search of a winner but penalties would again be needed to separate the two sides.

With the score level at 3-3 in the shootout, Joel Codd sent his penalty wide for Milford leaving the hosts with a chance to go through.

Leon Luby kept his nerve to give the Vikings a 4-3 shootout win to send them to the final.

The final will take place on Saturday (Aug 17) at the Obs and kicks off at 2pm.

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Sport

Cresselly stun Town

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CRESSELLY’s Dan Sutton scored an unbeaten century to help his side to a ten-wicket win over Haverfordwest on Saturday (Aug 10).

Town batted first on winning the toss and made a good total of 208-2 from their 45 overs.

Simon Holliday and Danny Potter shared 43 runs for the first wicket before Potter was bowled by Ryan Lewis on a score of 23.

Holliday and Dai Davies shared another 99 runs for the second wicket as they continued to put runs on the board.

Davies hit five fours and a six in his score of 47 but he was then caught by Mike Venables off the bowling of Tom Arthur.

Holliday and Ben Field then shared another 66 runs to take Town to their total.

Field finished unbeaten on 38 having hit two fours and a six while Holliday hit five fours and five sixes as he finished not out on 94.

Dan Sutton and Phil Williams began Cresselly’s reply and they were untroubled by Town’s bowling attack.

Williams hit eight fours as he finished unbeaten on 65 but Sutton was the star of the show.

He smashed fifteen fours and five sixes to finish not out on 135 from 122 balls to help Cresselly to their target with time to spare.

The win for Cresselly sees them close the gap to third place Carew to 11 points with the two sides set to play each other on Saturday (Aug 17).

Town will look to bounce back but they face a tough test against newly-crowned Champions Neyland.

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