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Vikings and Wizards lock horns in West Wales Cup semi

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TONIGHT (March 26), Hakin United will take on rivals Merlins Bridge in the semi-final of the West Wales Cup at the Bridge Meadow stadium in Haverfordwest.

It will be the latest chapter in a long rivalry between the two clubs but with a place in the final up for grabs this one is going to be extra special.

Merlins Bridge won a thrilling game between the two sides earlier in the season 4-3 at the Racecourse but Hakin will be looking to exact some revenge for that defeat.

The Wizards are having a strong season with just one league defeat to their name, against leaders Monkton Swifts, and are also in the final of the Senior Cup, having also beat Hakin on their way.

Hakin United sit five points behind their opponents in the table after three defeats in their fourteen games so far.

It will be another exciting and close game between the two teams and one that is not to be missed.

The Vikings have been in five finals, winning it three times, including once in the 50s when it was called the Amateurs Cup.

Merlins Bridge have been in the semi-finals twice but have never reached the final and they will be hoping to make it third time lucky.

Route to the final

They began their run to the last four with a 1-0 win away to Kilvey Fords in October with Will Haworth grabbing the only goal to send them through to round 2.

The Wizards were again drawn away from home to last season’s beaten finalists Penlan Club but they again came back with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Joe Leahy.

In the third round Merlins Bridge played Monkton Swifts and two goals from Nathan Greene and another from Leahy gave them a 3-0 win.

Leahy and Greene were at it again in the fourth round as they both scored to earn the Wizards a 2-1 win over Swansea side Llandarcy.

Merlins Bridge were drawn at home to Plough Colts in the last eight and earned a 5-2 win with Adam Hawkins scoring twice and other goals from Leahy, Greene and Dai Davies.

Leahy and Greene have both been on the scoresheet in each round from the third round and Hakin will do well to keep these two quiet.

The Vikings played Llandeilo in the first round and came away with a 5-2 thanks to a hat trick from Cameron Thomas and other goals from Shane Walsh and Nicky Woodrow.

Woodrow then scored four for the Vikings in round 2 as he helped his side thrash Milford United 12-2. Justin Harding, Mark Jones and Ryan Wilson all scored twice in that game alongside others from Shane Walsh and Adam John.

Hakin played Morriston Town in the third round and earned a 3-0 win thanks to a Woodrow hat trick.

In the fourth round, Hakin needed extra time to get past St Josephs as two goals from Justin Harding and another from Walsh saw them through.

In the quarter final they were drawn against holders Goodwick United and came from behind to win 3-1 thanks to two goals from Woodrow and one from Ryan Wilson.

Justin Harding and Nicky Woodrow have both been in good scoring from in the Cup and they will likely prove a handful for the Bridge defence.

What they say

The Herald asked both camps for their thoughts on the game and here is what they had to say.

Hakin United manager Kristian Bennet said: “It’s going to be a battle! It is a big pitch and it will be a big occasion so it should be a cracker. The players are looking forward to it with it being one step from the Liberty.”

Merlins Bridge boss Matthew D’Ivry said: “It’s going to be a tough one, I have been with the club for fifteen years but we’ve never been in the West Wales final in that time. We’ve had a hell of a draw against Penlan, who were favourites, who we beat to zero, and we then beat Monkton, Kilvey and Llandarcy.

“It will be strange playing Hakin but we know their qualities but we are confident that if we perform to our capabilities no one in west Wales can beat us. The (Senior Cup semi-final) result will give us confidence but we will have to be careful of being over-confident.

“It’s massive for both clubs but I am confident our boys will give absolutely everything.”

The final will take place at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Tuesday, May 7.

Sport

Scarlets make five changes for Cardiff Blues clash

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Scarlets show five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash with Cardiff Blues at Parc y Scarlets (15:00; Premier Sports),

Interim head coach Dai Flanagan has reshuffled his side, giving opportunities to centre Ioan Nicholas and lock Josh Helps.

It will be 23-year-old Nicholas’s first PRO14 appearance since October 2019, having been frustrated by injury this season. Helps comes into the starting XV for the first time since November.

In the back three there is one change with Johnny McNicholl replacing fellow Wales international Steff Evans on the left wing. The only other switch behind the scrum is the inclusion of NIcholas for Tyler Morgan to partner Jonathan Davies in midfield. Angus O’Brien and Kieran Hardy continue their half-back partnership.

Up front, Ryan Elias again swaps with Ken Owens and resumes the captaincy after leading the side for the first time in the opening round match against the Dragons. He packs down in between Rob Evans and Alex Jeffries, the scorer of the only try of the game in last weekend’s 22-6 win over the Ospreys.

Helps and Lewis Rawlins combine in the second row, while injuries to Blade Thomson and Uzair Cassiem see Ed Kennedy handed the No. 8 jersey. Kennedy, Aaron Shingler and Jac Morgan make up the back row.

There are two of Warren Gatland’s 2021 Lions selections on the bench in Ken Owens and Gareth Davies. Steff Thomas, Javan Sebastian, Morgan Jones, Iesyn Rees, Dan Jones and Joe Roberts provide the rest of the replacement cover.

Both the Scarlets and Blues have a win apiece after the opening two rounds of the Rainbow Cup.

Scarlets team v Cardiff Blues (Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup; Parc y Scarlets, Sat, May 15, 15:00 Premier Sports)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Johnny McNicholl; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ryan Elias (capt), 3 Alex Jeffries, 4 Josh Helps, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Jac Morgan, 8 Ed Kennedy.
Reps: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Iestyn Rees, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Joe Roberts.

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Sport

Newtown hold on to beat Haverfordwest

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NEWTOWN secured seventh place in the JD Cymru Premier Play-off conference as they beat Haverfordwest County 2-1 at the Bridge Meadow.

The Robins had beaten the Bluebirds 6-1 at Latham Park a few weeks ago but it was much different this time around.

Newtown took the lead as early as the second minute as they won a corner which was sent into the box for Tyrone Ofori who flicked the ball in.

The Bluebirds battled for a way back into the game and came close when the ball was played over the top for Jack Wilson but it just ran away and the Newtown keeper Dave Jones was able to gather the ball.

On 17 minutes, the Bluebirds won a corner which Elliot Scotcher sent into the box and Danny Williams headed in to the far corner to make it 1-1.

Newtown were then given a free kick in a dangerous position which captain Craig Williams sent into the box. Kieran Mills-Evans chested the ball down at the back post and Bluebirds keeper Wojciech Gajda made a good save to push the ball away.

There was another chance for Newtown soon after as Tyrone Ofori saw his header pushed wide by Gajda.

From the resulting corner, Shane Sutton headed home to put Newtown back in front.

The Bluebirds then had a chance to get level but Dan Summerfield sent a rasping drive just over the bar.

With half an hour gone, Alaric Jones sent a ball into the box but Corey Shephard saw his header saved by Dave Jones.

Both sides battled away with Scotcher sending a drive over from the edge of the box.

However it remained 2-1 to the visitors as the half time whistle went.

Newtown had a great chance to extend their lead at the start of the second half as Williams sent a corner into the box but Mills-Evans headed just wide.

The Bluebirds looked to get back in the game but despite getting into some promising positions, they were unable to test the Newtown keeper.

With twenty minutes to go a Bluebirds throw was headed on to the back post. Danny Williams headed towards goal and thought it had gone over the line but Dave Jones made a fantastic save to keep Newtown ahead.

Sub Cameron Keetch then had a great chance to level for the home side but he headed wide.

As the game entered the final stages, rain became harder making things difficult for both sides. Newtown were still searching for a third and nearly had it when the ball was played in to Breese into the box but he shot wide.

The Bluebirds were also looking for a late equaliser but as time ran out they resorted to long balls which Newtown were able to deal with.

The visitors kept the ball in the corner late on but the Bluebirds were able to get the ball out as they looked for one last chance.

It never came and the visitors held on to secure seventh place in the table.

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Sport

Neyland through in Village Cup after beating Bronwydd

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NEYLAND made it through to the next round of the Village Cup as they beat Bronwydd by 98 runs on Sunday (May 9).

No cricket had been possible in Pembrokeshire on Saturday because of heavy and persistent rain but some great work meant that their cup game could go ahead.

Before the game got underway, a minutes silence was held in respect of former Bronwydd CC player Aled John, who recently passed away.

Bronwydd won the toss and elected to field first which came as no surprise and they were able to restrict Neylad to a score of 160-9 in their 40 overs.

After losing Patrick Bellerby and Ashley Sutton early on, to the bowling of Clive Tucker, Neyland were sitting on a score of 23-2.

However, a stand of 54 between Nick Koomen and Brad McDermott-Jenkins put the hosts in a good position.

Koomen had reached 38 with six fours but he was then bowled by Josh Rencken and wickets continued to fall.

Nathan Banner departed for a second ball duck when he was bowled by Matthew Bagshaw and the same bowler then did the same to Ross Hardy.

McDermott-Jenkins had hit six fours in his score of 40 but he then fell to the bowling of Rencken and Neyand had slipped to 99-6.

Andrew Millers (1), George Evans (11) and Lewis Page all fell to the bowling of James Dickson as Neyland were in danger of being bowled out.

It was left to brothers Sean and Patrick Hannon to steady the ship as they shared 29 runs for the final wicket.

Both finished on scores of 15 not out with Sean hitting a six while Patrick’s score came from only 14 balls.

It meant that Bronwydd would need 161 to progress to the next round.

They made a steady start to their reply but when Josh Rencken was caught by Patrick Bellerby off the bowling of Nathan Banner on a score of 19, wickets began to tumble.

Jacob Jenkinson made a score of 15 but he was then stumped by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Miller also picked up the wicket of Oliver Furneaux before Ross Hardy trapped James Dickson leg before to leave the visitors on 51-5.

Hardy then did the same to Carwyn Jones and he also bowled Iwan Davies as the game started slipping away for Bronwydd.

Miller then picked up his third to finish with figures of 3-11 from his eight overs while Hardy returned to pick up his fourth to finish with impressive figures of 4-5 from seven overs, five of which were maidens.

McDermott-Jenkins wrapped the game up with the wicket of Colin Tucker as the hosts secured an excellent win.

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