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West Wales Cup Final Preview: Merlins Bridge v Carew

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ON Tuesday, May 7, Merlins Bridge will take on Carew in the Final of the West Wales Cup Final at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

In a historic night, it will be the first all-Pembrokeshire final and both will be keen to follow in the footsteps of Goodwick United who won the trophy in 2018.

This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season with the most recent coming in the Senior Cup Final on April 20.

Carew took the lead in that game, only for the Bridge to come back with two late goals to seal the win.

It was another close game, much like their two league encounters and, now the league season has finished, it will be a battle between the team who finished second in Merlins Bridge and the team who finished fourth in the table.

Route to the final

Merlins Bridge began their run to the final 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.

In the semi-final they took on rivals Hakin United in what turned out to be a thrilling game. Adam Hawkins levelled after Hakin had taken the lead and the game was forced into extra time.

Joe Leahy put the Wizards ahead only for Hakin to score again to score again and force the game into penalties. Gary Thomas was the hero for the Wizards saving the last penalty as they went through with an 8-7 shootout win.

Joe Leahy has scored in each round since the second round and having scored the two goals against them in the Senior Cup final, Carew will be well aware of his threat.

Having reached the last four last season, Carew received a bye for the first round and began their run to the final in round 2 where they were drawn away to Burry Port.

Two goals each from Jordan Richards and Scott Ferney and another from Lloyd Hughes saw them to a 5-2 win over the Carmarthenshire League Division 1 side.

In round three the Rooks took on Loughor Rovers and eased to an 8-0 win with Hughes scoring four and Jordan Richards scoring a hat trick. Ferney grabbed the other goal.

Shaun Whitfield, Sam Christopher, Scott Ferney and Jordan Richards each scored in round four to earn a 4-0 win for the Rooks away at Maltsters Sports.

In the last eight, Carew played Mumbles Rangers at home and they came from two goals down to win 3-2 with brothers Sam and Jack Christopher on the score sheet alongside Whitfield.

In the semi-final, Carew took on Giants Grave and they came from behind again with four first half goals to all but seal their passage.

Sam Christopher and Lloyd Hughes both scored twice in the game.

Christopher also scored against the Bridge in the Senior Cup Final and he along with the likes of Pembrokeshire League top scorer Jordan Richards and Scott Ferney will prove a big threat to the Wizards.

What the managers say

Merlins Bridge manager Matthew Divry told the Herald: “We trained on Wednesday at the Bridge Meadow which was a tactical session and we will be training on Saturday on the 4G surface at Caer Elen.

“We know the Liberty is a good surface so it was good to be able to train at these places.

“We haven’t done anything different, we’ve played a number of games recently so with the training we’ve had we’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a fully fit squad to choose from.

“We didn’t play to our full potential in the Senior Cup final so a lot of our training has been based on trying to get back to how we want to play.

“The Liberty is a big pitch and we are looking forward to it, it’s the first ever one for the club.

“We’ve got a few previous winners in our squad so we’re hoping those experiences will pay off for us.”

Carew manager Rob Scourfield said: “It’s a big game for the football club and we’re really, really looking forward to it. It’s the first time in the West Wales Cup Final so it will be a great occasion for the village and the club. We can’t wait.

“We played quite well in the Senior Cup Final in the but in the last ten minutes they were better than us.

“However, this is a totally different game and we’re just looking forward and concentrating on the game itself.

“We have a very similar squad to choose from that played in the Senior Cup Final and we have five subs this time so it will be good to get everybody involved.

“We’ve been watching Swansea at the Liberty, it’s a great stadium and it will be a great occasion, both for us and for Pembrokeshire Football.”

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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