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Bluebirds top table for New Year

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JD Cymru Division One South
Haverfordwest County 4 Llanelli Town 1

THE BLUEBIRDS continued their recent run of good results with a 4-1 victory over Llanelli Town.

Despite going down to defeat, the Reds of Llanelli can take consolation from a vastly improved display in which they more than matched the home side box-to-box.

The only element missing from the visitors’ performance was the delivery of a telling final ball which could have led to a goal.

Llanelli’s meagre playing resources are already stretched by a long injury list and, at Bridge Meadow, three development players were in the matchday squad out of necessity.

To add to the problems, the visitors were also without a recognised striker, making the task of attempting to salvage some positive outcome from the contest even more difficult.

In fact, the visitors were the livelier side in the opening stages.

Ryan Hurlow played a ball into the path of Kyle Copp close to goal, but he failed to make a telling contact and a decent chance was lost.
Liam Samuel also posed a threat to the Bluebirds` goal with a run to the edge of the area, but he delayed his shot which was eventually blocked and then cleared out of danger.

The home side countered after a rebound from a Ben Fawcett strike fell to Kurtis Rees. Llanelli’s Lee Bevan acted quickly to alleviate the threat.

Copp and Hurlow combined with the latter forcing a corner which was eventually dealt with, but it was the home side who eventually struck first on 25 minutes when a Kieran Howard free-kick was headed out only as far as Rees who launched a 30-yard high ball into the goalmouth over the head of Kai Rees despite the Reds` keeper best efforts to prevent it finding the net.

A corner to the Bluebirds into the goalmouth was cleared with some difficulty by the visitors` defence, while Rees pulled off an important save by turning over a header from Marcus Griffiths when he connected with another Howard set-piece.

Haverfordwest had a goal disallowed for offside when referee Teifion Cook overruled the assistant referee’s failure to flag.
With the score 1-0 at the half, Llanelli had done well to hold off the league leaders and would have drawn confidence from their display.
Shortly after the kick-off for the second half, came the game’s most controversial moment.

Llanelli keeper Rees bravely put himself on the line to claim the ball from the feet of a Haverfordwest player. Rees was clearly injured and remained prone on the ground when the ball broke free into the path of Haverfordwest’s Howard. With the goalie incapacitated, Howard guided the ball into the back of the visitors’ net.

There was confusion about whether the effort would stand, particularly as Rees continued to receive treatment on the field following his injury while Llanelli players expressed their disapproval to the ref. However, the goal stood and, after further treatment, the shaken Rees was able to resume.

Galvanised by the perceived injustice, Llanelli struck back quickly.

Awarded a free-kick, Copp swung the ball into the Haverfordwest box where Bevan rose highest to head the ball beyond the Bluebirds’ Kyle Stuart to haul the Reds back into the game.

As the game opened up, both sides created chances. For Llanelli, Joe Clarke’s strike from the edge of the eighteen-yard box went wide. Kyle Stuart made a fine save from Copp’s well-struck effort.

With fifteen minutes left, the Bluebirds cutting edge up front proved decisive. The ball was neatly played through to Fawcett, who out-muscled defender Chris Thomas before hitting a low shot past Rees.

The score seemed to take the air out of Llanelli’s sails and Haverfordwest piled on the pressure. An effort from Wilson was well stopped by Rees, while Griffiths was prevented from scoring only by a last gasp tackle from Zac Griffiths. Fawcett saw his finish from an assist by Howard rebound off the top of the crossbar.

With time running out, a ball driven across the face of Llanelli’s goal was met by an attempt to hack it clear by Brown which only ended up in his own net.

The result was hard on the vistors, who for the most part had matched their opponents for effort. At least they have a chance of turning matters around when the sides do it all again on Friday evening (January 3) at Stebonheath, kick off 7.30 p.m.

TEAMS
Haverfordwest County: Stuart; Bradley (Merry, 82); Rowe; Pemberton ©; Howard; Tancock; Watts; Rees; Fawcett; Griffiths; Wilson (Palmer, 68); Subs. not used; Drake; Hughes; Harman.
Llanelli Town: Rees; Griffiths; Brown; Thomas; Bevan ©; Clarke; Copp; Logan; M. Cutler; Hurlow; Samuel.

SCORERS: Haverfordwest County; Rees, 25; Howard, 46; Fawcett, 76; Brown (OG), 90.
Llanelli Town; Bevan, 49.
CARDS: Haverfordwest County; Griffiths.
Llanelli Town; Thomas; Clarke; M. Cutler.
REFEREE: Teifion Cook.

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Sport

Penybont secure Championship conference place

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PENYBONT secured their place in the Championship Conference for the second phase of the JD Cymru Premier after they beat Haverfordwest County on Friday (Apr 2).

Manager Rhys Griffiths will have been delighted with his side, who, prior to Friday’s game, had already gained 11 more points this season than they had in the entirety of the 2019/20 season.

Ahead of the game, Haverfordwest knew they needed to win to stand a chance of moving into the top six.

A County win, coupled with a defeat for Caernarfon Town, could have seen them sneak into sixth place but it wasn’t to be for Wayne Jones’ men.

The Bont applied the pressure early on but were unable to test County keeper Matthew Turner.

There was concern for Turner shortly before the half hour mark as he claimed the ball but fell awkwardly under the challenge of Kane Owen.

After receiving treatment he was taken off to be replaced by Wojciech Gajda.

With 45 minutes on the clock the Bont had a corner which Owen floated in and it was Sam Snaith who got his head to it to score despite the best efforts of Gajda.

It was a big blow to the Bluebirds who would have hoped to have been level at the break.

Three minutes into the second half, Ben Fawcett forced his way through but his effort was blocked by the Bont defender.

On 53 minutes, the ball was played into the box from a free kick and sent back across goal to Snaith. He took one touch to flick the ball up in the air and acrobatically shoot towards goal but Gajda made an excellent save to keep his side in the game.

Five minutes later, the Bont doubled their lead as the ball was played to Mael Davies who sent a low driven shot into the bottom left corner of the net.

Sub Marcus Griffiths had an effort for the visitors but his shot towards the bottom left corner was tame and keeper Morris made a comfortable save.

With just over fifteen minutes to go, the ball was played forward for Fawcett but he couldn’t get enough power on his shot and saw his effort saved by the Bont keeper.

The Bluebirds won a series of corners with seven minutes remaining but they were unable to get an effort in as the Bont defended well.

As the clock ticked towards the 90, the Bluebirds’ task of scoring three goals to win the game became increasingly unlikely.

The Bont saw the game out to seal the win and they can now look forward to the second phase of the season in the Championship conference.

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News

Pitch bookings for organised under 18s outdoor activity resume

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL is now able to accept outdoor pitch bookings for organised children’s outdoor activity.

It follows the Welsh Government allowing U18 organised sporting activity to resume.

All Council outdoor pitches are now taking bookings and the council is inviting all junior clubs to get in touch and to book their space.

Whatever your team sport, as long as you are delivering organised sports sessions for children, activities are fully risk assessed and you follow the safety guidelines specified by your sport’s governing body, the council is open and ready to welcome you back.

For more information, to make your booking and to get started please email leisureadmin@pembrokeshire.gov.uk with your club name, the sport you will be training for, the number of players who will be attending along with the days and times you would like to book for.

Please also add your name and contact details along with the space you will be booking and, importantly, the leisure centre you wish to book for.

Further news on facility re-opening will be released as it happens. Check www.pembrokeshireleisure.co.uk and follow Pembrokeshire Leisure on Facebook for updates, news and ways to keep yourself healthy.

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Sport

A 48-7 victory over Italy leaves Wales a win from the Grand Slam

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IT was always going to be a tough game for the Italian side, but now it is official, Wales are one win away from the Grand Slam!

Wales scored seven tries through Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, Ken Owens (2), George North, Callum Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit as they secured a comfortable Six Nations win in Rome.

The unbeaten tournament leaders reeled off a third successive bonus-point victory to increase pressure on their rivals for silverware. Italy meanwhile are staring down the barrel at another Wooden Spoon – they haven’t won a Six Nations match since 2015.

STILL A BIT OF WORK TO DO

The Welsh captain, Alun Wyn Jones, who is just one win away from winning his fourth Six Nations Grand Slam told S4C: “We were pretty clinical, particularly in the first half.

“We’re a tad frustrated with the second half but it’s a case of job done and plenty to work on.

“The excitement I feel every time I pull on this red jersey is insurmountable, so I’m looking forward to getting back to it on Monday and preparing for next weekend.”

Jones added: “It’s job done, but there’s still a bit to work on.”

Another heavy defeat will again raise the inevitable questions about Italy’s position in the Six Nations and whether there should be relegation.

The facts speak for themselves.

Today marked a 31st successive defeat for the Azzurri in the competition, with their last victory coming against Scotland in 2015.

Italy have not managed a home Six Nations win for eight years, with 20 successive losses.

Italy have conceded 187 points and 26 tries in four games this year.

 

Line-ups
Italy: Trulla, Bellini, Brex, Canna, Ioane, Garbisi, Varney; Fischetti, Bigi (capt), Zilocchi, Cannone, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.

Replacements: Fabiani for Ioane (7-18), Lovotti for Fischetti (65) Riccioni for Zilocchi (33), Lazzaroni for Cannone (52), Mbanda for Meyer (26-36), Violi for Varney (63), Mori for Garbisi (54) Padovani for Trulla (44).

Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, J Davies, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; W Jones, Owens, Tomas Francis, Hill, AW Jones (capt), Navidi, Tipuric, Faletau.

Replacements: Dee for Owens (54), Carre for W Jones (57), Brown for Francis (45), Ball for AW Jones (54), Wainwright for Faletau (51), L Williams for G Davies (52), Sheedy for Biggar (52), Halaholo for North (46)

Match officials
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Touch judges: Pascal Gauzere (France) & Christophe Ridley (England)

TMO: Tom Foley (England)

MATCH ANALYSIS

Surely it was discipline that was the main problem for Italy.

Mistakes and an incredible ability to give away stupid penalties, as a series of needless errors allowed the visitors to build an insurmountable lead early on.

It all started with Paolo Garbisi sending the ball dead from the kick-off before Luca Bigi infringed at the breakdown. The captain then cynically stopped a Gareth Davies quick tap and was duly yellow carded. Against 14 men, Wales built up an advantage they would not relinquish as the visitors won the game before it had really started. It was not a good example from the skipper and is symptomatic of where the Italians are currently at.

Arguably since before the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour, the back has struggled for form, leading many to question whether that was it for the Welsh centurion. Although he is only 28, it must be remembered that North has been around at the top level for a long time and there is only so much the body can take in modern day rugby. However, the move into the midfield seems to have given him a new lease of life.

To the surprise of many, Callum Sheedy did not start against Italy after his superb performance versus England. Instead, it was the much criticised Dan Biggar who continued at fly-half and produced a significantly improved display before giving way to the Bristol playmaker in the second period. Sheedy was also excellent when he came on and it leaves Wayne Pivac with a decision to make going forward. No doubt, Biggar will start next week against France – albeit the head coach is not afraid of making a big call – but the 25-year-old is certainly not far off the first XV.

Much has been said and written about the Azzurri’s continued presence in the Six Nations and based on the evidence in this fixture, they really shouldn’t be playing in a competition of this stature. Franco Smith’s charges were never at the races with Wales racing into a 22-0 lead midway through the half without really breaking a sweat. Italy hardly threatened on attack – especially during the first half – and it looked like it was a case of men against boys for large periods of this Test. The result means they have now lost 31 matches on the trot, which is the longest losing streak in the history of the Championship, and they last tasted victory in a Round Three clash against Scotland in 2015. The time is now ripe for tournament organisers to reconsider their participation.

Although Italy were never in this encounter, Wales deserve plenty of credit as they impressed for the entire game and made full use of the opportunities which were presented to them.

Pivac will be delighted with the clinical fashion with which his players went about their business and they had their bonus point in the bag by the half-hour mark after Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau and Ken Owens (2) crossed for tries. Despite leading 27-0 at the interval, Wales did not take their foot of the pedal with North also crossing the whitewash soon after the restart and although Monty Ioane scored a try for the hosts, that was a mere blip as Wales continued to dominate and sealed their win with five-pointers from Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit.

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