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Sport

Skudder’s try hat trick in Blues victory

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Written by Jonathan Twigg

HAVERFORDWEST travelled to Pill Parks, Llangwm on Saturday (Sept 23) and returned with a convincing 54-5 victory to keep their 100% Division 3A West league record intact thanks to a hat trick of tries from winger Ben Skudder.

Skudder was part of a back division which dominated the game for the ‘Blues’ as outside half Matthew Davies pulled the strings for centre pairing of Gareth John and Dane Pindair to cause problems all afternoon for the hosts.

In fairness to the Wasps they battled hard to the end and ensured their more ‘millionaire’ opponents didn’t get it all their own way as the scoreline suggests, especially in the game’s opening quarter when outside half Louis Murphy had three kickable penalty attempts to chalk his side on the scoreboard.

Llangwm, whilst disjointed in their phased build up play drew the Haverfordwest defence line into conceding numerous penalties.

Time after time the visitors were guilty of being penalised for over running the offside line or holding in the tackle, with referee Davies warning skipper Alun Harries of his concern.

An outline of the Blue inability to master the referees requirement resulted in occasions where they were marched back 10m for verbally berating his decisions, where fifteen penalties were conceded in the first 25 minutes. From one such offence of not releasing the player in the tackle centre John was sin binned with his side leading 7-0, after he had converted a fine try by full back Ollie Hughes.

Davies had pushed a 25m drop out deep into the Llangwm half which saw home full back Steve Picton caught by hooker Ryan Palmer as he ran the ball back on 12 minutes. Second row Adam Williams picked up and drove on from the ruck, before a half break from scrum half Richard James saw Pindair break through two tackles on the crash ball. The Blues forwards quickly recycled the ball for Davies to put Hughes in space and he rounded the covering tackles wide out to score.

An impatient Haverfordwest prevented them delivering a much larger winning margin as they endeavoured to push boundaries in the aim of scoring from early phase possession. Coaches Bruce Evans and Simon Le Petit would have been frustrated with this lack of composure which saw promising attacking movements halted by handling errors.

With John out of the game following his tackle to stop home centre Josh Hicks strong run over 30m through the midfield, it did have the desired effect to settle their play into a composed rhythm.

This resulted in the second score of the half, an opening effort for Skudder who responded to James’ tap and go from a penalty following a scrum offence for pushing early by the home pack.

Ben Skudder: A hat trick of tries for the Blues

Davies accepted the ball from James feeding dynamic flanker Morgan Layton, who rumbled 15m upfield before Pindair’s quick hands put full back Hughes in space.  He drew last man Picton with a beautiful timed pass to Skudder who raced over from 35m before Hughes slotted over the conversion in John’s absence.

Haverfordwest, buoyed by this second score when reduced to 14 men kept the same game plan causing Llangwm to miss tackles through Jack Griffiths, Hicks, Murphy and Picton which allowed Haverfordwest to dominate the territory as half time approached.

Back to full strength prop Ritchie Little was instrumental in setting a platform for Davies to dance over with five minutes of the half remaining, although John missed the simplest of his kicks to leave the half time score 19-0 in the Blues favour.

The second half started as the first had finished with the visitors on the front foot, although the game didn’t gain momentum with both packs at fault for ‘early engagement’ penalties which riled the partisan supporters of both camps.

Encounters between the two sides over the years have been feisty and the traditional ‘Bishop Cup’ fixtures on Boxing Day attracting four figures crowds revelling in their time out of the house during the Yule tide period.  Banter at these games is second to none and both sides buy into the occasion and raise their game.

‘Harfat’ landed their bonus point try as the hour mark approached after Hicks was isolated in possession and the ball swiftly moved out to the hands of Davies and John for Pindair to put winger Rhys Baker over towards the play park corner for John to superbly convert, where he didn’t miss another kick all afternoon.

The versatile Hicks, playing at Centre having started the season as a second row was taking the game to the visitors, where the rest of the home side, second Row Ashley James and skipper James Lewis apart failed to respond. Hicks surprisingly lacked some football skills when leading the foot race with James as he was quickest to respond to his skipper and hooker Aled Morgans work on the ground.

The strong running centre did get his sides score on 65 minutes when a poor kick from Pindair was collected by number 8 Ian Griffiths who with his fellow back row of James Lewis, skipper and namesake, playing on permit from Whitland allowed Hicks some momentum in midfield.  He left John and Skudder in his wake as he thundered over from 25m, with Picton missing the conversion.

The smarting Blues quickly regrouped after allowing their defences to be breached and two minutes later from a scrum, Davies and John combined to put Pindair into space and he broke a tackle from Gavin Jenkins to stroll in from 15m and the lead was 33-5.

With ten minutes remaining Skudder scored his second try after good work again by hooker Palmer on the floor ensured space was created wide out for Skudder to finish under the posts.

Home second row James again came to the fore, in his first game of the season to allow his side to gain territory from their limited possession, with the game drifting towards a mundane finish as fitness impacted on the skill level alongside the continual run of replacements.

The final score of the afternoon came with a minute of play remaining, after a mazy Baker run over 35m resulted in a Llangwm scrum as Josh Atherton was penalised for holding the ball.

The Blues pack managed to get ‘one against the head’ allowing skipper Harries to pick up from the base of the scrum, feeding the ball back inside to James to get a pass away to the ‘loitering’ Skudder who pinned back his ears over 20m for his hattrick and push the scoreboard over the 50 point mark.

Coaching gurus Evans and Le Petit were delighted with the win post-match, identifying the work rate of flanker Layton in the same breath as Skudder for his finishing and ball players Davies and Hughes for their awareness in getting the ball wide to players in space. “We didn’t want to get embroiled in a dog fight, which many of these local derbies can become” said Evans. “Our game plan was disrupted, maybe by the occasion as we weren’t willing to build the phases required to create the scoring opportunities.”

Sport

Nicky Hayen: European football is the goal for Haverfordwest County

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HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY return to action this weekend as they take on Newtown in the JD Cymru Premier.

Football in Wales had been suspended following the announcement of Welsh Government restrictions but they have now been relaxed and football can once again get underway.

The Bluebirds face a tough test against the side that sits in second place in the table but new manager Nicky Hayen will not be in charge for the game against Newtown as his work permit has not come through.

He will be watching on though as Gary ‘Waggy’ Richards takes temporary charge and Nicky told the Herald that he is fully confident that his assistants can get a good result.

When the sides last met in October the Bluebirds came out on top with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Alhagi Touray Sisay.

Speaking ahead of the game on Saturday Nicky told us about his plans for the team, his ambitions and how he wants to work closely with grassroots teams in Pembrokeshire and with the community.

Nicky may not be able to take charge just yet but he has already been observing training sessions and been gathering information on the other teams in the JD Cymru Premier.

Asked what attracted him to join Haverfordwest County, Nicky said: “First of all, the ambition of the chairman, this is the most important thing so he had a project for three years to reach European football. I like projects and when you’re digging into stuff from the club, you can see that is a good combination.

“I saw some games of the team and I saw two different teams, one team who play with confidence and played the football that I like, building out from the back and trying to find the football solutions on the ground, and I saw a team that didn’t have confidence that was clearing every ball and wasn’t winning contests so I saw that they have the skills to do what I have in my mind.

“So this combination, the ambition of the chairman, the team that is playing at this moment, I think we have to be capable of performing better than the position in the league at this moment.”

The ultimate aim for the club is to reach European football but Nicky isn’t thinking about that just yet.

“The ambition is to make it to the first six positions, it will be almost impossible for this season so we want to avoid relegation and then have a good pre-season and we’ll see what happens next season but finishing in the top six is a nice goal.

“To reach this you have to win your first game and then your second game, I just take one game at a time, starting with the game at Newtown, we’ll try to win and then I hope I can be on the bench for the Penybont game.

“The short term project is staying in the league, but the project is much bigger and it includes building bridges with the grassroots teams with the Pembrokeshire League, with the community so what we want to do is to create an environment over here that is more than football.

“The academy is something that is really important, we want to improve our players and everyone can see that we give chances to players to develop in the squad and this is what we are already doing now.

“The one thing I don’t want to do is change the club culture. We have to keep the culture but we have to add some value and create an identity that is clear for the next fifty years.”

Nicky is settling in well in Haverfordwest and is looking forward to seeing more of the area but says he is focussed on the football for now.

Haverfordwest’s game with Newtown takes place on Saturday, January 22, kick off at 2:30pm.

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Sport

Five-star Milford sink Pennar

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MILFORD UNITED moved up to seventh place in Division 2 on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Pennar Robins seconds 5-1 at Marble Hall.

The club had worked up until 1:00 pm to prepare the pitch for the encounter with Pennar Robins and their efforts were matched by the players who put in a very good performance to overcome a youthful and capable Pennar team.

Milford started sprightly, attacking down both flanks. But it was a break down the middle by Liam Parks, which first opened up a Pennar defence, which was well marshalled by Gideon Hockin.

Parks ran through on goal and when he was closed down by the Pennar keeper, he slipped it to the right for Liam Parr, whose shot from a difficult angle, hit the post.

The Pennar keeper was busy and pulled off a number of good saves. Milford looked destined to open the scoring when Ben Lewis squared a ball for Lewys Tee inside the box, only to see his shot canon off a Pennar defender making a last ditch block.

But it was Pennar who opened the scoring in the first half. A free kick was conceded by Milford on the half way line, who then failed to deal adequately with it. The ball fell kindly for Liam Williams, who executed a lob perfectly to score against the run of play.

Milford were still in the game though and they finished the first half putting more pressure on the Pennar back line, one attack resulting in a corner. Morgan Picton whipped in a far post cross, which was met sweetly by the on rushing Jacob Horn to level the game.

Pennar made a couple of tactical changes at half time and started the second half well. It was a good shot from Pennar, from which Ferdy Stevenson pulled of an equally good save, diving down low to his right.

Milford began to gain control of the game and created several good opportunities, which they couldn’t quite take. But a good interchange with Lewys Tee, opened up the defence for Ben Lewis, who managed to get his shot off and scored from just inside the box.

At 2-1 there was still a game to play for but the pressure was mounting and a Milford corner was not fully cleared and was picked up by Horn just outside the box. He managed to fashion a little bit of space and supplied an excellent cross to the back post. It was met by his centre half partner, Scott Griffiths, who rounded off an accomplished performance by the pairing, by heading home the third and decisive goal.

This gave Milford a chance to get fresh legs on. Owen Wilson, Lewys Tee and Liam Parr came off for a well deserved rest. All three contributing well to an impressive performance.

The new arrivals ensured that the home side kept their foot on the gas. A darting run by Liam Parks into the penalty area looked dangerous and a Pennar defender couldn’t get to ball and brought him down for a penalty.

Ashley Mathias stepped up confidently to take the spot kick and dispatched it into the bottom right corner.

Milford were enjoying their football now and continued to dominate possession and a ball played over the advancing Pennar defence fell to Scott Griffiths, who, with two touches, put the ball into the back of the net, only to be correctly ruled offside and denied a brace.

It was now time for another one of the substitutes to get nvolved in the action after a ball was played into the box by Jacob Horn. The defence didn’t quite get their line right, which left Milford’s Tom Blockwell unmarked in the middle of the box. He still had a lot to do though, but having chested it down he shot from 10 yards out to score the final goal.

An impressive performance and result from the Milford Robins against a good Pennar Robins side, who had previously won 4 of their last 5 games.

Sorry sent in error. Cont.:-Get involved in the action after a ball was played into the box by Jacob Horn. The defence didn’t quite get their line right, which left Milford’s Tom Blockwell unmarked in the middle of the box. He still had a lot to do though, but having chested it down he shot from 10 yards out to score the final goal. An impressive performance and result from the Milford Robins against a good Pennar Robins side, who had previously won 4 of their last 5 games.

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Sport

Bridge and Clarby settle for a point

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CLARBESTON ROAD and Merlins Bridge were forced to settle for a share of the points on Saturday (Jan 15) as their game finished 1-1.

The two sides had met at the Racecourse in November with that game finishing 3-3 and it was another close game on Saturday.

Matthew D’Ivry opened the scoring for the Wizards inside 5 minutes after latching onto a short back pass and firing into the top corner.

Will Haworth missed great chance to double the lead for the visitors and at the other end Ben John forced Bridge keeper James Dickson into a save.

Within seconds of the restart, Dickson was again called into action in what was the save of the afternoon.

Midway through the half, Clarbeston Road were level as Charles George powered in a header from a set piece.

Shortly afterwards, Ben John had a goal disallowed for Clarbeston Road but there were no further chances and a draw was a fair result.

On Saturday, January 22, Merlins Bridge travel to Goodwick United while Clarbeston Road travel to Fishguard.

Clarbeston Road: Matthew Davies, Josh Wood, Greg Brown, Tom Glover, Matthew Griffiths, Jake Booth, Charles George, Ben John, Jason Griffiths, Steffan Thomas. Subs: Joules Ward, Matthew Ellis, Keegan Summers.

Merlins Bridge: James Dickson, Chris Ormond, Andrew John, Josh Silk, Henry Thomas, Dai Davies, Jordan Williams, Leon Davies, Matthew D’Ivry, Will Haworth, Ben Davies. Subs: Matthew Price, Chris Brown, Lee Hudgell.

PHOTO by MW10 Sports Photography

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