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Bateman and Newman win Tennis titles

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Winner: Will Bateman hitting a forehand winner in the men’s final

ONCE again Haverfordwest played host to the historical Pembrokeshire County Tennis Championships. The tournament which also coincides with Wimbledon is steeped in over 80 years of history and this year’s event was as closely fought as ever.

As always the setting at The Parade, Haverfordwest creates an idyllic setting overlooking the town and the Cleddau river. The finals day presented some of the closest and longest matches in recent championship history as the sun shone and the weather was thankfully kinder than it had been at the start of tournament.

Following the official photocall, finals day began with the Men’s and Ladies singles final. Former Champion Will Bateman, who hadn’t picked up a racket competitively for 2 years prior to the start of the tournament, took on last year’s runner up and number one seed Dylan Preece.

From start to finish, this was a really entertaining match with titanic long rallies from the baseline interspersed with exciting attacking play in the forecourt with an array of volleys and drop shots around the net. Will took a tight first set 6-4, the second set was also a tight affair with Will claiming the title once again with a straight sets victory 6-4, 6-4.

The Ladies Final proved to be just as entertaining with lots of incredible rallies. This Year’s final was between last year runner up Sarah Newman and former champion Sharon Irish. Sarah coming through a hard fought first set 6-3. The second set was an even closer tussle with Sarah Newman leading 6-5 and one game away from the title that had evaded her the previous year. In what proved to be the final game of the match Sarah secured a 6-3, 7-5 victory to win her first Ladies singles title.

Next up were the Men’s and Ladies doubles finals and as always provided for some exciting tennis living up to the high standards of some of the finals of the past. In the Men’s final top seeds Dylan Preece and Marc Thompson took on third seeds Adam and Joe Colwill. Adam and Joe, aged sixteen and fifteen respectively battled hard with their more experienced opponents and at 6 all in first set looked to take advantage in the tie break. However, the top seeds held their nerve and took the first set on the tie break. The second set proved just as competitive with Adam and Joe putting behind them their first set disappointment to take the second set 6-4 and level the match at one set all. The deciding champions tie break to 10 points was even more exciting than the previous two sets. Despite the younger partnership leading in the deciding champions tie break Dylan and Marc eventually came through 10-8 to claim the Men’s Doubles title.

The Ladies Doubles final featured defending champions and top seeds Sandra Rowlands and Amy Walters against second seeds Sarah Keogh and Jane Allen. All four players are very familiar with each other’s games and this led to an intriguing battle in a very closely fought contest. The first set was on a knife edge from start to finish with the champions and top seeds coming through 7-5. The second set proved almost as tight as the first, with the second seeds using all their experience to try and force a third set but alas to no avail. The defending champions retained their title with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

After a short break Dylan Preece and Sandra Rowlands were back on court pairing up for the Mixed Doubles final. Their opponents Sarah Newman and Gordon Hardy, champions from 2 years ago were sure to provide formidable opponents. The first set provided scintillating action for the many spectators with Sarah and Gordon taking a one set advantage 7-5. Dylan, despite playing his third final of the day was still in top form along with his partner Sandra as they levelled up the match with a 6-4 win in the second set. The champions tie break to ten points was won by Dylan and Sandra 10-3 as they claimed their first Mixed Doubles title.

The final match of the championships was the Men’s plate which was contested by two of the tournaments younger stars Andre Thompson and Lewis Phillips. Andre triumphing with a 6-0, 6-3 victory to claim the title for a second time.

After the completion of the matches spectators and competitors were treated to a delicious tea organised by the ladies of the Pembrokeshire County Tournament committee. As well as presentations to all the winners and runners up, as is tradition the Beryl Thomas- Cleaver Trophy for best junior performance during tournament was awarded to Adam Colwill who displayed some deft touches and incredible shots around the net.

Chairman Peter Lilley thanked the tournament sponsors Westhaven Construction and Roger Walker Tennis Holidays for their continued sponsorship of this prestigious event and the organising committee who as always work so hard to put on this great event. There was a presentation to Tournament Director Mrs Sue Jones and Peter thanked Sue for her fantastic organisation of the event without which the event would not be the success that it is.

Entries for next year’s event will be open in the Spring of 2018 and confirmed dates for the event will be released in the coming months. Details can be found on the Haverfordwest Tennis Club website at www.haverfordwesttennis.com

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Sport

Scarlets make five changes for Cardiff Blues clash

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Scarlets show five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash with Cardiff Blues at Parc y Scarlets (15:00; Premier Sports),

Interim head coach Dai Flanagan has reshuffled his side, giving opportunities to centre Ioan Nicholas and lock Josh Helps.

It will be 23-year-old Nicholas’s first PRO14 appearance since October 2019, having been frustrated by injury this season. Helps comes into the starting XV for the first time since November.

In the back three there is one change with Johnny McNicholl replacing fellow Wales international Steff Evans on the left wing. The only other switch behind the scrum is the inclusion of NIcholas for Tyler Morgan to partner Jonathan Davies in midfield. Angus O’Brien and Kieran Hardy continue their half-back partnership.

Up front, Ryan Elias again swaps with Ken Owens and resumes the captaincy after leading the side for the first time in the opening round match against the Dragons. He packs down in between Rob Evans and Alex Jeffries, the scorer of the only try of the game in last weekend’s 22-6 win over the Ospreys.

Helps and Lewis Rawlins combine in the second row, while injuries to Blade Thomson and Uzair Cassiem see Ed Kennedy handed the No. 8 jersey. Kennedy, Aaron Shingler and Jac Morgan make up the back row.

There are two of Warren Gatland’s 2021 Lions selections on the bench in Ken Owens and Gareth Davies. Steff Thomas, Javan Sebastian, Morgan Jones, Iesyn Rees, Dan Jones and Joe Roberts provide the rest of the replacement cover.

Both the Scarlets and Blues have a win apiece after the opening two rounds of the Rainbow Cup.

Scarlets team v Cardiff Blues (Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup; Parc y Scarlets, Sat, May 15, 15:00 Premier Sports)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Johnny McNicholl; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ryan Elias (capt), 3 Alex Jeffries, 4 Josh Helps, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Jac Morgan, 8 Ed Kennedy.
Reps: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Iestyn Rees, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Joe Roberts.

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Newtown hold on to beat Haverfordwest

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NEWTOWN secured seventh place in the JD Cymru Premier Play-off conference as they beat Haverfordwest County 2-1 at the Bridge Meadow.

The Robins had beaten the Bluebirds 6-1 at Latham Park a few weeks ago but it was much different this time around.

Newtown took the lead as early as the second minute as they won a corner which was sent into the box for Tyrone Ofori who flicked the ball in.

The Bluebirds battled for a way back into the game and came close when the ball was played over the top for Jack Wilson but it just ran away and the Newtown keeper Dave Jones was able to gather the ball.

On 17 minutes, the Bluebirds won a corner which Elliot Scotcher sent into the box and Danny Williams headed in to the far corner to make it 1-1.

Newtown were then given a free kick in a dangerous position which captain Craig Williams sent into the box. Kieran Mills-Evans chested the ball down at the back post and Bluebirds keeper Wojciech Gajda made a good save to push the ball away.

There was another chance for Newtown soon after as Tyrone Ofori saw his header pushed wide by Gajda.

From the resulting corner, Shane Sutton headed home to put Newtown back in front.

The Bluebirds then had a chance to get level but Dan Summerfield sent a rasping drive just over the bar.

With half an hour gone, Alaric Jones sent a ball into the box but Corey Shephard saw his header saved by Dave Jones.

Both sides battled away with Scotcher sending a drive over from the edge of the box.

However it remained 2-1 to the visitors as the half time whistle went.

Newtown had a great chance to extend their lead at the start of the second half as Williams sent a corner into the box but Mills-Evans headed just wide.

The Bluebirds looked to get back in the game but despite getting into some promising positions, they were unable to test the Newtown keeper.

With twenty minutes to go a Bluebirds throw was headed on to the back post. Danny Williams headed towards goal and thought it had gone over the line but Dave Jones made a fantastic save to keep Newtown ahead.

Sub Cameron Keetch then had a great chance to level for the home side but he headed wide.

As the game entered the final stages, rain became harder making things difficult for both sides. Newtown were still searching for a third and nearly had it when the ball was played in to Breese into the box but he shot wide.

The Bluebirds were also looking for a late equaliser but as time ran out they resorted to long balls which Newtown were able to deal with.

The visitors kept the ball in the corner late on but the Bluebirds were able to get the ball out as they looked for one last chance.

It never came and the visitors held on to secure seventh place in the table.

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Neyland through in Village Cup after beating Bronwydd

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NEYLAND made it through to the next round of the Village Cup as they beat Bronwydd by 98 runs on Sunday (May 9).

No cricket had been possible in Pembrokeshire on Saturday because of heavy and persistent rain but some great work meant that their cup game could go ahead.

Before the game got underway, a minutes silence was held in respect of former Bronwydd CC player Aled John, who recently passed away.

Bronwydd won the toss and elected to field first which came as no surprise and they were able to restrict Neylad to a score of 160-9 in their 40 overs.

After losing Patrick Bellerby and Ashley Sutton early on, to the bowling of Clive Tucker, Neyland were sitting on a score of 23-2.

However, a stand of 54 between Nick Koomen and Brad McDermott-Jenkins put the hosts in a good position.

Koomen had reached 38 with six fours but he was then bowled by Josh Rencken and wickets continued to fall.

Nathan Banner departed for a second ball duck when he was bowled by Matthew Bagshaw and the same bowler then did the same to Ross Hardy.

McDermott-Jenkins had hit six fours in his score of 40 but he then fell to the bowling of Rencken and Neyand had slipped to 99-6.

Andrew Millers (1), George Evans (11) and Lewis Page all fell to the bowling of James Dickson as Neyland were in danger of being bowled out.

It was left to brothers Sean and Patrick Hannon to steady the ship as they shared 29 runs for the final wicket.

Both finished on scores of 15 not out with Sean hitting a six while Patrick’s score came from only 14 balls.

It meant that Bronwydd would need 161 to progress to the next round.

They made a steady start to their reply but when Josh Rencken was caught by Patrick Bellerby off the bowling of Nathan Banner on a score of 19, wickets began to tumble.

Jacob Jenkinson made a score of 15 but he was then stumped by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Miller also picked up the wicket of Oliver Furneaux before Ross Hardy trapped James Dickson leg before to leave the visitors on 51-5.

Hardy then did the same to Carwyn Jones and he also bowled Iwan Davies as the game started slipping away for Bronwydd.

Miller then picked up his third to finish with figures of 3-11 from his eight overs while Hardy returned to pick up his fourth to finish with impressive figures of 4-5 from seven overs, five of which were maidens.

McDermott-Jenkins wrapped the game up with the wicket of Colin Tucker as the hosts secured an excellent win.

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