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Otters return to second

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NARBERTH returned to second place in the Championship on Saturday (Apr 6), as they beat Maesteg Quins 16-11 at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

It was the final home game of the season for the Otters and with so many of their players injured they had several permit players in the squad.

The Otters kicked off facing up field, and within three minutes were awarded a penalty for a high tackle which full back Ianto Griffiths kicked safely for a three point lead.

The visitors restarted the game and the Otters looked determined in their attacks but faltered through errors. From one of their attacking efforts Maesteg Quins were awarded a penalty which fly half Tadgh McGuckin safely kicked to bring the score level at 3-3.

Their scrum half during one of their forays actually crossed over the try line but dropped the ball as he attempted to touch down. The referee awarded a five-metre scrum which the Otters eight safely heeled for number eight Richie Rees to break clear up field before being laid low in a tackle at a ruck. After treatment he was able to continue.

A further scrum was set outside the five metre line and Maesteg Quins were able to slip the ball to left wing Alex Griffiths who evaded several tackles to touch down for an unconverted try which gave the visitors a 3-8 lead.

At a lineout a yellow card was issued to a Quins player at 26 minutes. Rogers placed the ball into touch again and the Otters pack gained clean ball and formed a rolling maul. They released the ball quickly to Rogers who kicked towards the corner. Wing Yannick Parker gathered the ball and quickly crossed the line to touch down. The referee indicated an opponent’s hand had foiled the touch down and then issued a yellow card which it is assumed was for taking down the rolling maul.

Taking advantage of the resulting penalty Rogers kicked towards the corner. Roy Osborne caught the throw cleanly and another rolling maul formed.

This was stopped by Maesteg Quins by taking down one of the Otters along with their player causing the maul to collapse. The visitors gained the ball and put in a relieving kick to touch. From the lineout, the Otters advanced and at the breakdown Maesteg Quins were penalised for interfering.

Griffiths came forward and placed his 30 meter kick between the posts bringing the score on 34 minutes to 6-8.

From the kick off the Otters advanced back into the opponents half with a series of pick and drives until the Maesteg Quins again were penalised for aggressive incidents.

The referee had a long talk with their captain before awarding the penalty which Griffiths safely placed through the middle of the posts putting the Otters back in the lead at 9-8.

From the restart the Otters gathered the ball then fed Rogers who again produced a long, high kick which was fumbled by the receiver and followed by obstruction by Maesteg Quins.

This time the penalty kick hit the post, Maesteg collected the ball and placed it in touch for the referee to blow for half time.

Clearly at half time, the Otters were given some home truths by the coaches for on return to the game they scored a converted try within four minutes.

The try was well executed, on the opponents forty metre line, the ball reached Jack Price who put pressure on the Quins defence with his forceful running.

Outside him was flanker Tom Powell who quickly sped forward before releasing winger Gethin Gibby who, when challenged, passed inside to the supporting Tom Powell and in turn when challenged fed Gibby who sped like a stag down the far touch line to cross over for a great try. Griffiths made sure with his conversion giving the Otters a 16-8 lead.

Maesteg came back strongly but the game remained tight with both defences holding firm. A potential Otters try was lost when from a scrum Rhys Lane fed Rogers who found Price with his long passing and for Price to spot a gap and made a break down field only to spoil his initiative with a forward pass.

Maesteg attempted to break out of their half only for Gibby, attempting to intercept the pass, to knock on. The referee decided it was worth a yellow card.

In the following ten minutes, in one of the Otters movements, Rhys Lane made a fine break before passing to the supporting Richie Rees who was tackled and for the opposition to be penalised.

Rogers placed the ball onto the twenty two. The Otters in numbers followed through but lost the ball in a strong tackle. This time the Otters were penalised.

With the ball ending in touch, at the lineout the opposition set up a series of pick and charge phases with the ball eventually reaching wing Alex Griffiths who crossed the try line, only for the referee to bring him back having received a forward pass. The Otters srummaged on the five metres line and were able to gain relief to their twenty two.

The Otters proceeded further down field but Maesteg regained the ball and set up a move when the referee awarded them a penalty with the Otters going offside. Fly half Tadgh McGuckin kicked from 40 metres to add three points.

The game ended shortly afterwards with Rogers in his twenty two putting the ball out of play in the knowledge that full time had been reached.

Whilst the Otters have played their final home game they will travel in three weeks time on Saturday, April 27, to Maesteg to play the Quins again in their final game of the season.

Sport

Bluebirds awarded promotion to the Cymru Premier League

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Paul Davies MS and David Hughes during a visit to Haverfordwest County AFC before lockdown restrictions were introduced in Wales

HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY AFC have secured their promotion to the Cymru Premier League.

Following the Football Association of Wales (FAW) decision back in March to curtail all domestic football throughout Wales, many teams have waited in angst for clarification on how the promotion and relegation process would be decided.

The FAW, confirmed on Tuesday, June 16, using the ‘average points per game’ method that Haverfordwest County AFC had done enough to be promoted to the Cymru Premier for the upcoming 2020/2021 season.

Taking to their website to confirm the news, the club said “It is nothing less than Wayne, the coaching staff, players, board and volunteers deserve after a fantastic effort last season.

“It has been a long wait to learn our fate, but the club and its staff have worked tirelessly on and off the pitch to ensure we had as much in place as possible, and following the announcement we can now hit the ground running and prepare for next season.

“We cannot wait to welcome the best teams in Wales to The Bridge Meadow!”

Local Member of the Welsh Parliament Paul Davies has also added his congratulations to Haverfordwest County AFC on their promotion back to the JD Cymru Premier League.

Commenting on the achievement, Paul Davies said “It’s great that Haverfordwest County will once again compete in the Premier National League of Wales with the likes of The New Saints, Barry Town and newly crowned champions Connah’s Quay Nomads. The management and players have done a fantastic job in gaining promotion from the JD Cymru South League.”

“With the Conygar Bridge Meadow Stadium widely regarded as being one of the top grounds in Welsh non-league football, it’s only fitting that the Bluebirds will be back in the premier division.”

“I would also take the opportunity to thank David Hughes and Rob Davies for the work they have done as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the club respectively. I have known David for a number of years and he has worked tirelessly for the club. I’m delighted to learn that both David and Rob will stay on the Board as Robert Edwards takes over as Chairman. Their knowledge and experience will be vital moving forward into this exciting new era.”

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Nigel Owens hosts virtual rugby quiz for Pembroke Panthers

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PEMBROKE Panthers RFC enjoyed a rugby return during lockdown after winning a competition which saw international referee Nigel Owens host their own virtual clubhouse quiz, thanks to Principality Building Society.

The women’s squad at the Pembroke club beat more than 1000 entries to win Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz competition. With many clubs affected by widespread flooding at the start of this year and now closed indefinitely due to coronavirus, the building society is continually looking for ways to support grassroots rugby clubs in Wales.

Pembroke Panther Lucy Neale, 30, entered her team with the hope of bringing the players together online. She said: “We’d usually see each other up to five times a week between training sessions, matches and socials, so it’s been a really strange time. I thought I’d enter the club thinking it would be a nice pick-me-up for us all, but never actually expected to win so it was an amazing surprise.”

The team were tested on their rugby knowledge by world cup referee Nigel Owens over video conferencing platform Zoom, where players won tickets to Welsh internationals at Principality Stadium, signed rugby shirts and balls, and tickets for a tour around Principality Stadium. The quiz included a guest appearance from former Welsh international Tom Shanklin.

Lucy continued: “It was such a memorable and special evening for us all. We’re usually quite a lively bunch but we behaved well for Nigel. We’re so thankful to Principality for putting on the quiz and allowing us to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience as a team.”

As sponsors of Principality Stadium and the National Youth Leagues for grassroots clubs in Wales, Principality has a strong relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and knows how much rugby means to communities across the country. With matches on hold currently, the building society wanted to be able to bring the buzz of the clubhouse to the home.

Clubhouse Quiz host, Nigel Owens, said: “Principality’s Clubhouse Quiz was a fantastic way to bring one team closer together and Pembroke Panthers really showed off their rugby knowledge. Rugby plays such an important role in Welsh communities and I know they’ll be missing the action on the field right now, so it was lovely to have been part of this experience to bring this team together. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sin bin any of them either.”

Julie-Ann Haines, Chief Customer Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “Many rugby clubs across Wales have had a really difficult year, with flood damage to pitches and clubhouses now followed by coronavirus. This was our chance to recreate the camaraderie of the clubhouse for one team and we hope that it brought plenty of laughs and memorable moments for Pembroke Panthers at this challenging time.”

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Wales v Scotland postponed

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WALES’ Six Nations match at home to Scotland on Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two other Six Nation fixtures had already been postponed and no date has been confirmed to complete the 2020 Championship.

The Welsh Rugby Union had insisted earlier on Friday the game would “go ahead as planned”.

A WRU statement read: “The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue.

“Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

“The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

“Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option.”

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