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Pembrokeshire’s Matt kicks up a storm

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WELSH Taekwondo champions Lauren Williams and Matt Bush are going for gold at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo next year.

They are among a group of over 1,000 elite athletes in the UK funded by the National Lottery to ensure that they have every chance of realising their full potential.

The Welsh taekwondo champions, along with double Olympic champion Jade Jones, are all currently training full time in hope of being selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020. National Lottery funding allows them to compete and train full time to the highest international standards.

Matt Bush, 30, from Pembrokeshire became the first British man to claim a title at the World Para-taekwondo championships in Turkey this year and Lauren Williams, 20, from Blackwood, struck gold at the European Championships in 2016.

Both Matt and Lauren train full time at the GB National Taekwondo Centre in Newton Heath, Manchester. The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2016 with the support of National Lottery funding and meets all their training and conditioning needs under one roof. Lauren and Matt are among 19 athletes, including Welsh Taekwondo star Jade Jones, training full time on the World Class Performance Programme.

Matt, who stands at 6ft 5in, said: “I always watched boxing on television when I was growing up but never thought I would actually be able to do it. When I came across martial arts and saw that people were using their legs and elbows, it dawned on me that this was something I might be able to do.

Although I live in Pembrokeshire, I do the six-hour drive to Manchester so that I can train with the best. In order to progress in the sport, it’s what I’ve had to do. This is my chance to go to Tokyo in 2020 and represent my country and the only outcome for me is to go and come back with a gold medal. The facilities at the GB Taekwondo Centre are incredible and without it, we wouldn’t be here.”

Lauren said: “I started Taekwondo when I was 14 after being inspired by Jade Jones at the 2012 Olympics. My dad decided to apply for me to be part of the Fighting Chance Programme which meant I could transfer the skills I had developed through years of kickboxing. Taekwondo is a tactful sport with a lot going on and has given me a new avenue in hopefully achieving my goals.”

We usually train five days a week for anything between four to six hours each time. The National Lottery funding means that we have this incredible facility with access to all the best services and medical staff. Before this, we had to train at an Asda warehouse. We’ve come from that to now having world-class facilities. I went to the 2016 Olympics in Rio as a reserve athlete so for me, the big goal is to make it to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”

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Captain Nick and daughter Nel nail 125 Anniversary Shield

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TENBY Golf Club has now been affiliated for 131 years – the oldest in Wales – and six years ago the then Captain, Chris Beecher, introduced the 125 Anniversary Shield to our Mixed calendar.

A tough format of Greensomes Medal, but the weather could not have been better, and the course, after a lot of hard work by our green staff, was playing beautifully.

Numbers were down on previous years with the Hamilton Cup players returning from Biarritz this week, and the men off to Ireland tomorrow, but there was still a high standard of play, with some very good scores in the winnings.

First the Bag Draw, where pairs can win back their entry fee. Three pairs were lucky, drawn by Chris Beecher’s wife Carol: Maura Davitt and Keith Hubbard, Maria Smith and Adrian Palmer, and Laura McQueen and David Morgan. Then the twos today, there were only three. Pam and Steve Cole had a nearly hole in one on the 6th, Angie Gottwaltz and Roger Schooling had one on the difficult 12th, and Heather Morgan and Mervyn Tucker had one on the 17th.

So to the trophy. In third place with 90-15.2-74.8 were Gill John and Neil Moffatt; in second place with 86 – 14.0 – 72 were Pam and Steve Cole; in first place and winners of the magnificent Anniversary Shield were Club Captain Nick Allen and his daughter Nel, 87 – 17.0 – 70. Chris presented the prizes and both he and Nick thanked the organisers, and Nick praised the diligent work that has been done on the course to restore it to championship quality.

Finally thanks must go to Matt in the Pro Shop, Lee and his staff in the bar, and Laura in the office. Our next event is the Christmas Charity Mixed which is a fun event on Sunday, December 29, when members may invite a non-member to play with them. All money raised goes to the two new Captains’ charities to kick-start their year.

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Vikings too strong for Wizards

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Hakin United 3-1 Merlins Bridge

HAKIN United secured victory over rivals Merlins Bridge on Saturday (Sept 14) as they won by three goals to one at the Obs.

The Vikings began the game well and went ahead when Justin Harding scored after being played in by Nicky Woodrow.

Woodrow again provided the assist as he set up Adam John to double the home side’s lead.

Adam Hawkins pulled a goal back for the Wizards to keep them in the game with the Vikings holding on to their 2-1 lead until half time.

In the second half, Woodrow completed a hat trick of assists as Shane Walsh scored the home side’s third goal of the game.

Woodrow came close to scoring after he latched on to a forward ball but his shot was pushed wide by the Wizards’ keeper.

Hakin then saw a free kick blocked wide and even a momentary respite when a dog ran on to the pitch failed to help the Wizards.

The visitors twice had free kicks in good positions but both went straight to the arms of the Hakin keeper.

Woodrow then brilliantly controlled a high ball on the bounce before shooting low towards goal but his shot was again saved.

With time running out, Cameron Thomas ran into the box but was upended leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.

With Woodrow having been subbed moments earlier, it was left to Leon Luby to take the penalty but he saw his effort saved before John sent the rebound wide.

The Vikings saw the game out and they are now one of four teams with a 100% record from their opening two games.

On Saturday (Sept 21), Hakin travel to Goodwick United for Senior Cup First round game.

The Wizards are also in Senior Cup action as the holders travel to Camrose. Both games kick off at 1:45pm.

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Otters beaten by Vale in Cup

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Ebbw Vale 39-17 Narberth

THE Otters made 10 changes to the starting line up following their successful win the previous week.

In the pre-match warm up it was noticeable how more muscular the Premiership players were compared to the Otters squad.

Ianto Griffiths kicked off and immediately the Steelmen showed their intent to cross the gain line but were penalised at the breakdown. Ebbw Vale scored 10 points in 8 minutes, the Steelmen scored their first try when full back Dan Haymond scored near the corner having stretched the Otters defence after play moved quickly across from left to right. Haymond failed to convert his try.

Two minutes later they scored again this time via wing Paul King. It seemed as though the Otters were giving Ebbw Vale too much respect. Again Haymond failed with the conversion. From the restart we saw Otters wing Yannick Parker sprint forward. The Otters were defending bravely but offended at a breakdown infront of the posts which gave Haymond an easy penalty kick bringing the score to 13-0 after 10 minutes.

Otters debut winger Josh Davies received the ball and raced diagonally to cross the try line taking a defender with him. Nick Gale stepped up to convert which brought the score to 13-7 on 13 minutes.

This gave the Otters heart and they began to turn the pressure onto Ebbw Vale.

For 16 minutes Ebbw Vale were pinned down on several occasions with both Ianto Griffiths and Nick Gale landing some strategic kicks whenever the Steelmen attempted to apply pressure back on the Otters.

Eventually the phased play saw the Otters win a penalty which Nick Gale converted with the score now 13-10 which rewarded the Otters determination to pressure Ebbw Vale.

Then the Otters were penalised twice for breakdown infringements at the ruck. The second occasion on 33 minutes resulted in captain Alex Jenkins being yellow carded. This was a blow since he was leading the Otters well, especially in their defensive cover and urging the pack forward.

Now the Otters began to be stretched in their defensive system as Ebbw Vale turned on the pressure.

This saw some frantic defensive work but the Otters were eventually undone, when from a ruck scrum half Sam Ireland moved right and across passing on then running around to receive the final pass to score an unconverted try on 39 minutes.

Play went on into injury time and on 43 minutes flanker David Rubusniak scored when Ebbw Vale set up a rolling maul from a lineout. The conversion was kicked again by Dan Haymond. The score at half time was 25-10.

The second half restarted with Alex Jenkins still in the sin bin. Taking advantage Ebbw Vale scored again within 5 minutes. It came from a lineout on the Otters 22. The Steelmen safely controlled possession. They then set up a rolling maul, releasing the ball, they moved to the far corner where second row Lance Randall charged over the line for a try which Dan Haymond converted.

Alex Jenkins returned and no sooner was he on the field than Jake Baker was sent to the sin bin, yellow carded for a an adjudged deliberate knock on. This seemed a harsh decision since he intercepted a pass whose forceful travel caused the ball to bounce forward as it hit the second row’s hands.

Once again Ebbw Vale stepped up the pressure to take advantage of the situation. but the Otters refused to fold under the pressure.

The Otters supporters spirits were lifted when new wing Josh Davies almost broke through the Ebbw Vale defence. Ebbw Vale kicked to touch 10 metres from the line. Winning the lineout they set up another rolling maul. The maul collapsed but second row Dan Hill picked up the ball and using all his strength forced himself over the line for a try converted by Dan Haymond, at 67 minutes which took the score to 39-10.

On 75 minutes, Ebbw Vale suffered a yellow card with their inside centre having to take his place in the sin bin.

Ebbw Vale defended strongly after sustained pressure and were now scrabbling to clear the ball as the tables turned. The sustained Otters pressure told when on 78 minutes Tom Powell went over for a try which Nick Gale converted. A few minutes later the referee blew for full time with the score 39-17.

Looking back the yellow cards amounted to over 20 minutes play with 14 men who could not control the increased pressure exerted by a strong Ebbw Vale side. This had a telling effect on the result.

Later Director of Rugby Sean Gale stated: “As a game of rugby it was excellent for the neutral observer. We scored some fantastic tries but the intensity between the Premiership and the Championship League is a bit different.

“When we were on the ball, we played some really good rugby but lost a little bit of concentration. We went down 10 points in about 10 minutes. So, the way we bounced back was really very good. Then when we had the yellow cards through which we gave them 26 points. We have got to be a little bit tighter and the concentration levels and intensity just lacked a little bit but the way my boys played today, I was really proud of their attempt to play.

“When we had our defensive patterns in place, we really shook Ebbw Vale up and really frightened them. In the set piece lineout, we lost too many lineouts but our scrum was as good as theirs and that was a big plus. We had a lot of youngsters out there today, we made 10 changes from the Tata Steel game, and the way in which some of those boys put their hands up was absolutely fantastic. It bodes well for the future of Narberth Rugby Club.

“It is difficult these days with the pressure of league rugby to give these lads an opportunity but they had a go today, up against a very strong Ebbw Vale side and did themselves proud, especially Alex Codd who did a good job and I thought Josh Davies in his first competitive game for the club was excellent. Harry Phillips was on one of his first starts and he was very positive. Then in the last 20 minutes we brought senior players on. Overall, the result was not good but the performance and grit within the team was excellent.”

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