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Emphatic win for Otters

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AFTER this emphatic, seven-try win over visiting Rhydyfelin on Saturday (Feb 9), Narberth climbed to third place in the WRU Championship and are still targeting second.

With just six games to go, Narberth have now won 13 of their 16 matches this season and are on course for yet another excellent campaign.

It was a double celebration for the Club on the day that local hero Jonathan Davies, who played all his junior rugby with the Otters, captained Wales for the first time in the victory over Italy in Rome.

The pitch was in remarkably good condition despite the battering it took in the rain of two weeks ago but the high winds that had dogged the Tata fixture were again evident. Narberth won the toss and again elected to play into the wind in the first half.

Narberth came into the game after a short break because of the calling off of their game at Maesteg Quins the previous Saturday. The postponement might well have been a blessing in disguise as it allowed the team to recover after the bruising encounters with Pontypool and Tata Steel.

Certainly, the Otters flew out of the blocks from the Rhydyfelin kick-off which was gathered by Richie Rees inside the Narberth 25 and moved slickly to the left. Fluent passing between forwards and backs and a strong run by wing Yannic Parker took the home side into the opposition 22. A neat chip by centre Jake Jenkins was gathered by flanker Tom Powell who scored unopposed in only the first minute. Against a gale force wind, Ianto Griffiths’ conversion attempt was just wide.

Rhydyfelin were stung into action and came back strongly and for the following 15 minutes, it was like Ground-hog Day with a stream of penalties – mostly in the visitors’ favour each leading to a five metre lineout. From the first of them, Rhydyfelin captain and outside half Ross Lucas kicked immaculately into the corner and the Otters were penalised for collapsing the ensuing rolling maul.

Again, the visitors went to the corner but knocked on in trying to force the maul over the line and Narberth cleared the danger.

The driving maul seemed to be Rhydyfelin’s only attacking ploy as, in the 10th minute, they were awarded a penalty on the 22 metre line directly in front of the posts and to everyone’s surprise, they again kicked to the corner.

This time, in a smart move, prop Chris Phillips crashed over in the corner but the try was disallowed as the referee Steffan Edwards had spotted that Phillips’ path had been cleared of Narberth defenders by Rhydyfelin players and penalised them for obstruction.

In the 15th minute, the Otters were rather harshly penalised for a high tackle and yet again the visitors opted to go to the corner. When Rhydyfelin openside flanker Luke Studley knocked on, Narberth had weathered the storm of four successive five-metre lineouts and Rhydyfelin never again threatened.

The Otters’ lineout has not been at its best in recent weeks and again lost some of its clockwork accuracy on Saturday but, even against the strong wind, they gradually took complete control of the game and in the 29th minute, flanker Powell crashed over near the posts for his second try after a spell of sustained pressure and some excellent approach work by Richie Rees and Jake Jenkins.  Griffiths converted.

Five minutes later, Jenkins was again involved in a smart handling move and made a powerful run before being taken down just short of the line. The Otters regained the ball and Jenkins popped up to dive over and touch down just inside the corner flag.

The missed conversion meant Narberth went into half-time with a well-deserved 17-nil lead.

The whole game was peppered with penalty awards and in total, the home side were awarded 16 penalties against 10 for the visitors. Most of them were for niggly technical infringements and either side of half time referee Edwards issued yellow cards to second row Josh Hawkins for persistent offside offences and left wing Gavin Close for a deliberate knock-on.

For a couple of minutes early in the second half, Rhydyfelin were reduced to 13 men after replacement prop Callum Jones who had only been on the field six minutes was sin-binned when he was at the centre of a touchline fracas. There were a number of heated moments in the game as Rhydyfelin’s frustration boiled over but further trouble was avoided by the firm and decisive action by the young referee.

It took just six minutes of the second half for the home side to gain their bonus point try, this time from young scrum half Lewys Gibby. Receiving the ball from a lineout outside the Rhydyfelin 22, Gibby wrong-footed the back row with a cheeky dummy and sprinted in, completely unopposed. Again Griffiths converted.

The tide was now running fast against the visiting side and the two yellow card dismissals meant they were in some disarray, but they still tackled determinedly.

Their grit was not enough to prevent a 58th minute try when Jack Price, playing on the wing at the time, proved Rhydyfelin were suckers for the dummy as he showed fullback Chris Tottle the ball before stepping inside him to score at the posts. Ianto Griffiths duly completed his third conversion.

Two minutes later, it was two-try hero Tom Powell’s turn to see Narberth’s only yellow card of the game, this time for what the referee adjudicated was a deliberate knock on.

Two tries in the last five minutes rounded off the game for Narberth. The first, from a five metre scrum was made by a pickup by number eight Richie Rees who broke to the blind side and passed to Gibby.

The scrum half’s diagonal run brought him his second try of the game and then right on time, an elegant chip by full back Ianto Griffiths over the top of the approaching defence was kicked ahead by replacement wing Nick Gale just inside the left touchline and he neatly gathered to score in the corner.

The Otters completed the double over mid-table Rhydyfelin and in their two encounters this season, have amassed 77 points against the side from Pontypridd.

It was also a game in which the replacements also made a real impact, with props Dan Jacobs and young Ryan Rees making major contributions in both the tight and loose when they came on. Second row Roy Osborne made a robust and very promising debut for the Otters.

After the game, main sponsors Hywel Griffiths Plant Hire nominated Lewys Gibby as Man of the Match.

The Otters are home again on Saturday (Feb 16) with the visit of Trebanos, the Swansea Valley side who boast Justin Tipuric, the Welsh flanker as one of their coaching advisers. Trebanos always play an open style of rugby so it promises to be an attractive game to watch.

Sport

Seagulls earn comeback victory

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Specsavers National League
Division 2 West
Pontyberem 10 – Fishguard & Goodwick 31
ANYONE leaving Pontyberem’s Recreation Park after 15 minutes couldn’t be blamed for thinking a Pontyberem victory would be the end result. However, rugby matches last 80 minutes.
Straight from the start, Pontyberem put the Seagulls on the back foot and played with control and flair.
Fishguard rapidly slipped to a ten-point deficit through a Sion Nicholas try and a further five points from the boot of the home team’s skipper, centre Mike Sauro.
The tide turned when Pontyberem were hit with a pair of yellow cards, which allowed the Seagulls to turn the game’s momentum around. Fishguard managed to turn the screw with their advantage, crossing for
During the opening section of the game the Bont played with control and quite a bit of flair, resulting in them hitting Fishguard with a ten-point onslaught, through a Sion Nicholas try, and a further five points from the boot of centre and skipper Mike Sauro. However, with two yellow cards being awarded against Pontyberem, the tide turned.
And Fishguard took full advantage by turning the screw, crossing for 2 tries of their own.
The first came as visitors’ skipper Chris Shousha took a quick tap penalty and steamed over for an unconverted try. Outside half Mick Jones slotted over a penalty to pull the Seagulls within two points before rounding off a sweeping movement which started inside his own half with a fine score.
Although Pontyberem were strong in scrum and effective in the lineout, they were unable to convert good first-phase possession into any meaningful threat. Their failure was largely down to excellent work by Fishguard’s back row and former Pontyberem player Nick Setaro’s kicking game.
The Whitland player, on loan to Fishguard, pinned Pontyberem back with some smart tactical kicking and showed Pontyberem how to turn field position into points by scoring a brace of drop goals.
As the game wore on, Fishguard capitalised on errors by the home team to build a dominant position.
Despite sterling work in the tight, Pontyberem continued to be undone by their own mistakes, excellent jackalling work by Fishguard’s loose forwards, and opportunism.
Skipper Shousha scored his second try after good handling released him in space down the right flank. Mick Jones obliged with the extras to give the Seagulls a comfortable cushion entering the final quarter of the game.
Pontyberem seemed to run out of ideas and Fishguard managed to get that all-important bonus-point score when a clever cross-kick by Setaro found Daf Ridgeway in space. The Seagulls’ winger made no mistake and scored the game’s final try to take Fishguard to a 31-10 lead, which stayed the final score of the match.
This Saturday (Nov 23), Pontyberem make the journey down to Milford Haven and will want to ensure they turn up for the full eighty minutes. Meanwhile, Fishguard have the chance to add further momentum to their season, welcoming basement team Loughor to the Moors.

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Sport

Welsh Athletics celebrate success

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MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.

 

photo credit: welshathletics.org

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Sport

Rain, rain, go away…

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LAST WEEK, two Manderwood Pembrokeshire Football League games dodged the rain.
After a week in which torrential rainfall was interrupted only by the occasional deluge, only one fixture was completed.
You have to feel for poor St Florence.
Through rain and tempest, they made the trip north to Solva, only to come away on the wrong side of a 9-1 shellacking by the home team.
Solva’s goals came courtesy of Joe Nash, Rhys Rivers, Tom Goodson, a hat-trick from Liam Thomas, two goals from Josh Bland, and one from James Griffin. Jake Webster scored the visitors’ only goal.
Every other game in Pembrokeshire was washed out. League organisers will be hoping that the weather breaks soon to allow the season to get back on track.
Solva’s victory was not the only game of football played in Pembrokeshire, however.
Once more Goodwick United defied the weather and completed a handy 3-1 win over Rockspur Fords in the West Wales FA Cup.
The visitors, who play in the Swansea League Division One, are a form team and must have fancied their chances at Phoenix Park. Goodwick are a tough team to beat, however, and they contested fiercely in appalling conditions for football.
Goals from Rhys Dalling and James Bryan gave Goodwick a 2-0 half-time lead.
On a blustery and soaking wet afternoon, Goodwick simply played the conditions better and there was more than enough niggle to go round in the slippery conditions.
Even conceding an early spot-kick midway through the second half didn’t deter Goodwick. With the score at 2-1 and time ticking down, a Jordan Griffiths free-kick snaked its way into the visitors’ net to clinch the tie 3-1 and leave Goodwick a step closer to a final at the Liberty Stadium next year.
Clarby Road were glad to have two pitches available for them. With the first team pitch unplayable, the second team one was judged fit for play for the second round WWFA Cup fixture against Llanelli’s Camford team.
While the conditions were foul, the pitch held up well.
As the halfway point in the first period approached, Ben John produced a screamer from outside the area to give Clarby the lead. One became two shortly afterwards when Matt Griffiths headed home a well-directed corner. Shortly before half-time, Ben John added another goal to give the homesters a 3-0 lead.
Undeterred, Camford scrapped hard in the second half and pulled a deserved goal back with a fine strike from Ben Bowler.
Clarbeston Road repelled another promising Camford attack before regaining a three-goal cushion, as Ben John completed a fine hat-trick.
With conditions closing in, Joules Ward added a fifth for the home team.
A final result of 5-1 in increasingly poor conditions was a fair reward for Clarby, even if it left an always striving Camford a little short-changed.

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