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Blain heroics set up thumping win

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Carmarthenshire League 1

Pembrokeshire League 7

At Stebonheath Park

PEMBROKESHIRE made the journey to Stebonheath Park in Llanelli to take on their counterparts from the Carmarthenshire League in the rebooted SB Williams Inter- League Cup, and the game lived up to it’s pre-match billing, including everything from top-class saves to a plethora of goals, with a red card thrown in for good measure.

The Pembrokeshire Squad: Training hard on Sunday ahead of the game

The Pembrokeshire Squad: Training hard on Sunday ahead of the game

The hero for the Pembrokeshire side was West Dragon’s goalkeeper Peter Blain, who produced some outstanding saves early on to keep his side in the game, with the hosts looking certain to open the scoring on several occasions in the opening quarter of the game.

Pembrokeshire slowly grew into the game, and perhaps were unlucky not to take the lead when Hakin’s prolific marksman Nicky Woodrow headed home from fellow Hakin player Ashley Bevan’s first time cross, the Swansea linesman however ruled that the striker had strayed offside.

Carmarthenshire had enjoyed a lot of possession down the left hand flank and the visitors right back Steve Allen had found himself under pressure for the majority of the opening period, however when he was eventually awarded some space to attack just before half time, he produced a fine through ball that again set Woodrow free.

Woodrow showed his experience in front of goal by providing a perfect ball to his strike partner Rhys Dalling, who slotted past keeper Darren Greene at the second attempt after Greene had done well to keep out the Goodwick mans initial effort, sending the visitors in at the break a goal to the good.

Carmarthenshire came out with all guns blazing at the start of the second half, determined to get back level in the game, however they were once again frustrated by the incredible Blain.

This led Pembrokeshire manager Gary Dawes to shuffle his pack, as he brought on the experienced Chris O’Sullivan in midfield to sure things up. It immediately paid dividends as Jonny Horgan, who had grabbed a brace on the weekend against Carew, hit a fine volley into the top corner after Woodrow had set him up, to double the visitor’s lead.

Carmarthen were not prepared to just lie down though, and again they tested the abilities of Blain, who kept out a stinging Rob Jones drive, a Louis Jackson freekick and a great effort from substitute Adam Jones in a blistering five minute spell from the home side.

The game turned on it’s head when Pembrokeshire broke away on the counter and with Rhys Dalling clean through on goal, centre back Ashley Thomas in his desperation, had no chance but to haul him down, conceding a penalty, and receiving his marching orders from referee Dave Morgan. Allen stepped up to put his side 3-0 up, and with the game all but gone Carmarthen could’ve been forgiven for giving up.

However they responded almost immediately as Loughor striker Rob Jones turned home an Adam Jones cross to finally breach Blain’s defences, but when Dawes brought on fresh legs in attacking areas, it was curtains for the hosts.

A woeful mistake by goalkeeper Greene allowed Woodrow to grab his first, before Horgan completed his brace with a brilliant chipped finish.

It was left to the Hakin boys to complete the rout as Ben Steele smashed home before Woodrow too grabbed a second to go along with his two assists to complete a hard-earned victory.

Pembrokeshire Coach Steve Briers was delighted with the result and in particular the performance of keeper Blain, and said the county side are already looking forward to their next game:

“It was fantastic to see two top sides going at each other and really showing pride in playing for the badge on the shirt.

“The scoreline suggests that we have ran out as easy winners, but that couldn’t be further from the truth as Carmarthenshire were really a very strong side.

“They were dominant in the opening exchanges and if it wasn’t for Blainy (Peter Blain) then we really would’ve been two-nil down inside the first 20 minutes. “It was a difficult opening period for us and they were particularly strong down the left hand side, with Steve Allen adjusting to their wingers pace and trickery after the opening 10 minutes.

“They created a few clear cut opportunities and really Blainy produced some world class saves that kept us in the game, if those efforts would’ve gone in, which they looked like they were going to, then it would’ve been a completely different game. He really was the man of the match, which is bizarre in a 7-1 win.

“As it was we were still in it and we settled down well after that, and luckily got the goal before the break to give us the advantage, which gave us the confidence to kick on.

“Gary (Dawes) made a tactical change at the break and brought on Chris O’Sullivan to sit in front of the defence. We ran the risk of being overrun on the counter in the channels, but Sully organised everyone well, and his experience really made the difference as we were able to win the midfield battle by having 5 in there.

“It was a great performance in the end with everyone putting in a shift for the badge, and it was great to see.

“We’ll take confidence from this one and look forward to our next game at home on the Meadow.”

Pembrokeshire are next in action on February 24 when they host Neath League at the Conygar Bridge Meadow, Haverfordwest.

Teams:

Carmarthenshire League: Darren Greene (Wellfield): Mark Standen (Seaside); Mike Yates (Seaside); Ashley Thomas (Loughor); Ross Harding (Loughor); Callum Thomas (Seaside); Louis Jackson (Loughor); Matthew Hurford (Loughor); Stuart Rees (Evans & Williams); Rob Jones (Loughor); Matthew Williams (Seaside).

Substitutes: Lee Griffin (Penllegaer); Shaun Rees (Pengelli); Graham Dutton (Penllegaer); Adam Jones (Wellfield); Kellen Johns (Bwlch).

Pembrokeshire League: Peter Blain (West Dragons): Matthew Broome (Hakin United); Nathan Banner (Hakin United); Chris Ormond (Merlins Bridge); Steve Allen (West Dragons): Ashley Bevan (Hakin United); Johnny Horgan (Goodwick United); Rob Morgans (Goodwick United); Ben Steele (Hakin United): Rhys Dalling (Goodwick United); Nicky Woodrow (Hakin United).

Substitutes: Patrick Hannon (Neyland); Sean Seymour-Davies (St Clears); Daniel Bryce (West Dragons); Chris O’Sullivan (Goodwick United); Matthew Price (West Dragons).

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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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