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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

Division 3: Three-horse race

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THE Division 3 title race and promotion will be decided on Saturday (Aug 24) with three teams all still in the hunt.

Last week, Llanrhian, who had been top prior to their game, saw their match at Llangwm Seconds called off after they claimed their pitch was wet.

Herbrandston then beat Lamphey to move top of Division 3 while the Stags picked up enough points to knock Llanrhian down to third.

Going into the final round of games, Herbrandston are 19 points ahead of Lamphey and 22 points above Llanrhian.

Herbie face a trip to Narberth Seconds knowing a win will see them crowned Champions while a draw would also be enough.

A defeat could allow Lamphey in to be crowned Champions but that would also rely on Herbie not picking up more than 11 points.

Lamphey face fourth placed Laugharne in what is likely to be a tough game for both sides.

Llanrhian still have an outside chance of claiming the title but they would need to rely on Herbie and Lamphey losing their games.

Llanrhian will look to put last week’s disappointment behind them as they host Stackpole.

A win for Llanrhian coupled with a Lamphey defeat or draw could still see them promoted.

Elsewhere, the bottom four sides play each other with one final relegation place to be decided.

Whitland seconds currently sit second from bottom and they travel to fourth from bottom Haverfordwest thirds.

A win for Whitland could move them above Town and if Llangwm also won that could see Town drop down a Division.

Llangwm seconds take on already relegated Lawrenny seconds. Llangwm sit eight points above Whitland and know anything other than a win could let Whitland go above them.

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Division 2: Narberth and Llechryd face off for title

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LLECHRYD will host Narberth on Saturday (Aug 24) with the winners being crowned champions of Division 2.

Both will be playing their cricket in Division 1 next season but the destination of the title will be decided on Saturday.

Going into the game, Llechryd sit top of the Division, 17 points ahead of Narberth. A home win will see Llechryd crowned champions but should Narberth take the win it will be they who go up as champions.

When the two teams met earlier in the season it was Narberth who came out on top with a seven wicket win.

With promotion and relegation decided there is little for the others to play for but some can still improve their final positions.

Pembroke sit third and on Saturday they are away to Kilgetty knowing if they slip up, Hook could claim third place if they beat Carew Seconds.

Relegated sides Johnston and Cresselly seconds will play each other at Glebelands with the winners earning their second win of the season.

Pembroke Dock also take on Haverfordwest seconds and a win for Town in that game will see them jump above the Dock.

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New Solva kit to continue Luke’s Stand Up To Cancer message

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THE family of inspirational cancer fundraising campaigner Luke Harding has donated a new kit to Solva AFC in his memory, which features four words that perfectly sum up the way he battled the illness – Stand Up To Cancer.

Luke, who played for Solva for around a decade, raised more than £30,000 for Withybush Hospital’s Ward 10 and local charities following his diagnosis with stage four lung cancer in 2016.

Medi George, Secretary of Solva AFC said: “Luke played football with the same dedication and energy with which he battled cancer and it is an honour for our club to be able to continue his message in this way.

“We are extremely grateful to Alex, Peter and the Harding family for this kind gesture and it is fitting that our players were able to wear the kit for the first time in the final of the first annual Luke Harding Memorial Cup.”

The kit was unveiled at Fishguard Sports’ ground before the final of the competition, with Goodwick United 2nds running out eventual 3-1 winners against Solva 2nds. The tournament also included Fishguard Sports and Letterston, which Luke also represented.

Ruth Amies, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Wales, said: “We are extremely grateful to Luke’s family and to Solva AFC for supporting Stand Up To Cancer which funds life-saving research in Wales and across the UK. The new kit is a wonderful tribute to Luke who fundraised tirelessly throughout his diagnosis and we are thrilled the players wore the new kit for the first time this week.”

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