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Slow start costs Otters in thriller

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A SLOW start cost Narberth on Saturday (Mar 30) but they still put up a big fight before succumbing to a 42-34 defeat at the hands of Tata Steel.

The Otters fielded a few replacements due to injury but the subs bench was strong with experienced, hardened players likely to make an impact.

Tata attacked from the off with some early pressure with the Otters defence holding firm. Both sides attempted to move the ball through the hands but the strong tackling created a number of knock ons’.

Play remained in midfield until the Steelmen set up a kick and chase scenario which the Otters safely minored as it went over the try line.

The first try came ten minutes into the game with Tata Steel advancing into the Otters 22 they stretched the Otters defence enabling their wing Morgan Williams to sprint through the gap created to score with fly half Dan Gurenani converting.

Within two minutes, the Steelmen scored a second try. The Otters restarted the game after the first try and quickly set up an attack only to lose possession in the close forward exchange. Tata Steel moved the ball quickly with flanker Dan Griggs breaking through to score with Dan Gurenani converting. Suddenly Tata Steel had a fourteen point to nil lead and looked very threatening with such a start.

Photos by Myrddin Dennis

The Otters responded and Keiron Jones made an effective break to reach the Tata Steel five metre line before he was tackled. A lineout followed with the Otters winning the jump setting up a maul which quickly collapsed with the ref awarding Tata Steel a scrum.

The Otters continued their efforts and were awarded a penalty thirty metres from the line which Jonathan Rogers slotted over for three points. Tata Steel restarted using a grubber kick and when the Otters attempted to collect and move forward they knocked the ball forward in the tackle. The ref blew his whistle and awarded a scrum which had to be reset and once the scrum was set the ref awarded the Steelmen a penalty which was about forty metres from the posts, Dan Gurenani kicked adding a further three points making the score 17-3.

Five minutes later on the half hour the referee awarded Tata Steel a controversial penalty try. They were attacking close to the Otters line and from what appeared to be a simple knock on awarded the penalty try.

This was followed with the Otters setting up attacks but knocking on in the tackle. Scrum half Lewys Gibby from the heel passed to the right before there was another knock on.

However, after a series of plays Jack Price regained the ball and in typical barn storming style forced his way over the line for an unconverted try to make it 24-8 at half time.

Whilst the Steelmen looked the stronger side, Otter supporters were remembering a past game where they were losing quite heavily but turned the game around and ended winning.

Tata Steel restarted the second half and begun to look the stronger scrummaging team.

Jonathan Rogers gathered the restart and responded with one of his long kicks which Tata Steel gathered and attacked strongly up field only to knock on at the breakdown. Rogers replied kicking into touch well into the opposition half. Tata Steel failed to throw the ball straight at the lineout and the ref awarded the Otters a scrum. The Otters made a further change with Dan Jacobs replacing Dewi Williams with Tom Kaijak moving into the second row. This change restored the Otters scrummage with the Otters heeling, Tom Powell broke away from the scrum and fed Lewys Gibby who passed to Jonathan Rogers. He then threw a long pass out to Jack Price who moved strongly forward before handing the ball to wing Yannnick Parker who crossed the line for an unconverted try.

Within five minutes Tata Steel responded with a try by replacement Steff Davies again converted by Dan Gurenani to make it 31-13.

From the restart, the Tata Steel number eight gathered the ball broke out of their half and in the movement that followed the Otters defence were adjudged offside. This enabled Dan Gurenani to kick a further three points to their score on fifty minutes.

The Otters rallied, Jonathan Rogers kicked into touch on the opposition 22. Tata infringed and the Otters kicked towards the corner. At the lineout Alex Jenkins jumped and taking clean ball set up a rolling maul, the ball was released and moved right with Tata Steel defending defiantly before Jack Price forced his over for his second try. Ianto Griffiths came forward and converted the try. The score was now 34-20.

The Otters followed this with a further attack before conceding a penalty which Dan Gurenani added a further three points. From the restart the Otters set up several attempts to proceed downfield with Jack Price prominent as he forced his way over the gain line.

On 64 minutes he took a quick penalty in the opposition 22 and crossed the line to touch down. Again Ianto Griffiths converted bringing the score to 37-27.

On 70 minutes Tata suffered a yellow card for taking out Alex Jenkins. Before this the Otters moved to near the line, the referee awarded a penalty and chose a scrum. This had to be reset and after a further infringement awarded the Otters a penalty try. This had the Otter supporters on edge with the score now 37-34, a possible win seemed on the cards.

However on 78 minutes hooker Jake Lewis scored an unconverted try. This was followed by a breakout by Tom Powell who raced downfield only to be caught near the 5 metre line but unfortunately was not supported.

Tata recovered and a few minutes later the game ended with the final score 42-34 with the Otters gaining a single bonus point.

Sport

Senior Cup Final Preview: Carew v Merlins Bridge

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Carew v Merlins Bridge

Senior Cup Final: Bridge Meadow, Haverfordwest, 2:30pm

ON Saturday (Apr 20), Merlins Bridge take on Carew in the final of the Senior Cup at the Bridge Meadow in Haverfordwest.

In the first of a final double-header, both sides will be doing all they can to get the upper hand and lift the trophy.

The two sides will also meet at the beginning of May in the West Wales Cup Final at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

Meetings between the two sides have been close this season with Merlins Bridge earning a 3-1 win at the Racecourse in November while their game finished 2-2 in Carew in January.

Winners: Merlins Bridge celebrate their 2017 victory

Both sides have had a fantastic season with only three losses between them and they currently sit second and third in the Division 1 table.

The Wizards are aiming to claim the League title as well while Carew are also only three points behind the leaders with a game left to play.

Merlins Bridge won the Senior Cup in 2017 and they will be looking to get their hands on the trophy once again.

The Rooks last won the Cup in 1986 and having last reached the final in 2005, they will be keen to make a new piece of history for the club.

Route to the final

The Wizards began their cup run with a comfortable 10-0 win over Cosheston in the first round with Adam Hawkins scoring five times.

They then beat Herbrandston 5-1 in the second round with Hawkins again on target twice with other goals from Nathan Greene, Joe Leahy and Ashley Beck.

In the quarter final they were pitted against rivals Hakin United but the Wizards went through with a 3-2 win at the Racecourse after Nathan Greene scored twice.

They then took on Monkton Swifts at the Bridge Meadow in the semi-final and earned a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Adam Hawkins, Laurie Haworth and Nathan Greene.

Scott Ferney: Scored in each round of the Cup for Carew

Carew began their route to the final with a 2-1 win over Johnston in the first round thanks to two goals from Scott Ferney.

The second round saw them win 4-1 away at Narberth with Jordan Richards scoring twice and Ferney again on target.

They earned a similarly comfortable 7-1 win over Solva in the last eight with Richards scoring a hat trick. Ferney also scored with other goals coming from Iwan Izzard, Sean Whitfield and Lloyd Hughes.

They then played Pennar Robins in the semi-final, also at the Meadow, and earned a 3-1 to book their place in the final. Sam Christopher, Sean Whitfield and Scott Ferney were all on target for the Rooks.

What the managers say

Merlins Bridge boss Matthew Divry told the Herald: “We’re looking forward to it, it’s a game between two very good sides and it should be a good game.

We are more than confident, we’ve been turning up in the big games and we’ve got a wealth of experience in the squad.

Not many of their players have won or played in the Senior Cup Final but it’s all on the day.

We have a confident dressing room and a full squad to choose from and it’s the first of four big games for us. Both sides are evenly matched.”

Carew manager Rob Scourfield told the Herald: “We’re really excited, two of the boys have been in a final before but it will be a completely new thing for the others but we’re really looking forward to it and we have a full squad to choose from.

Our games against the Bridge have been the toughest we’ve faced this season, they are really well-drilled and have lots of experience.

We’re the top goal scorers in Division 1 so we have a goal threat from everywhere and I’m hoping the boys will be on form.

We know they are strong at the back, I have been impressed with their wide players as well and Joe Leahy is up there as one of the best strikers in Pembrokeshire so he is a massive threat, he hit a hat trick against us so we are well aware of that.

It should be a nice day and I hope it’s a really good game of football. Both sides respect each other and it should be a good advert for Pembrokeshire football.”

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Sport

Castle hosts World Cup trophy

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SCORES of young Pembrokeshire Cricketers will have the chance to play in front of World Cricket’s most famous trophy next month when the ICC World Cricket Trophy Tour visits Pembroke Castle.

The visit coincides with the annual U9 Cricket in the Castle festival that has become such a hit with players and supporters since its inception two years ago.

Players from Neyland, St Ishmaels, Saundersfoot, Haverfordwest, Cresselly, Hook, Lawrenny and Whitland will all be eager to impress in front of the famous trophy that is touring the UK ahead of the ICC World Cricket Cup taking place in England and Wales between May 30 and July 14.

Pembroke Castle lends itself beautifully to host a cricket festival like this,” said Sport Pembrokeshire Cricket Development officer Martin Jones.

From speaking with players and parents in the past I know that they have enjoyed their time playing in the castle grounds and with the ICC World Cricket Cup Trophy paying a visit this year, it will be even more special.

With the introduction of All Stars Cricket, there are more youngsters between the ages of 5-10 playing cricket in the county than ever before which is great to see and bodes well for the health of the sport in Pembrokeshire in years to come.”

For more information about All Stars Cricket visit www.ecb.co.uk/play/all-stars.

For more information about the ICC World Cricket Cup and for when matches take place at the Cardiff Wales Stadium visit www.glamorgancricket.com

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Sport

Vikings come from behind to win

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HAKIN United kept up their fight for a top four finish as they came from behind with ten men to beat Saundersfoot 2-1 on Wednesday (Apr 17).

It was a third game in five days for the Vikings but they started the game well as Craig Nicholson had two good chances to score in the opening ten minutes, hitting the bar with his second effort.

Adrian Devonald was in goal for Hakin and he came off his line on one occasion to deny Saundersfoot a chance.

Camron Thomas also came close after beating a player and cutting inside he let fly from 30 yards but his effort bounced off the bar.

Nicky Woodrow was also proving a handful but found it difficult to link with his team mates.

At half time, Hakin subbed Brad Barrett for Jay Power and Luke Hart came off for Shane Walsh with a reshuffle in the middle.

Saundersfoot continued to make things tricky for the Vikings who came close again as good play from Walsh and Ali Robertson set up Woodrow but his 25-yard effort hit the bar again.

The home side were unlucky not to go ahead as they had a number of good chances to score.

Hakin then tried to play the offisde trap to no avail and Jimmy Walker took down the Saundersfoot man leaving the referee no choice but to pull out the red card.

Richard Cope scored the penalty as he tucked the ball into the side of the net out of reach of Devonald.

Dan Evans then picked up an injury for Hakin and he was replaced by Stuart MacDonald who with ten minutes to go, played in Camron Thimas who found Woodrow and his cross was tapped in at the far post by Justin Harding.

The home side looked to see the game out but with three minutes to go Jay Power was fouled giving Hakin a free kick.

MacDonald took it quickly to Thomas who found Woodrow in the box, he had his back to goal but crossed to the far post for Thomas who had kept running and he nodded in.

Hakin were able to see the game out and manager Kristian Bennett said: “It was a good game where we didn’t have it all our own way, but we didn’t panic even at 1-nil down with 10 men with only 15 left to play. The boys just stuck at it and were rewarded for their efforts.”

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