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Borderers win top two battle

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By Jonathan Twigg

AS top of the table clashes go the GD Harries sponsored Whitland’s 17-6 victory to step over Hendy and top of Division 2 West, at Parc Llwn Ty Gwyn on Saturday (October 14) was one where both sides were unable to execute their skills to dominate a fixture and the reverse game at the end of January may well decide where the Division 2 title rests come the end of the season.

Whitland scored the only try of the game as winger Sean Coles finished off a move where he was put into space by Johnnie Thomas after the Whitland back line capitalised on second half possession to take the game away from the visitors.

Full back Scott Newton, outside half Nico Setaro alongside Thomas triangulated superbly to put Coles and fellow winger Liam Price into space when they could and allow 18 year old debutant, Scarlets Academy and Welsh international Scott Lloyd opportunities to show his talent, nurtured from its infancy through the junior borderers set up.

Lloyd is a player who exudes confidence, not only in his undoubted ability but also in the philosophy that coaches Gareth Bennett and Dan Mason have instilled.

He has vision, pace and swift hands which bodes well for the future and he will be a welcome addition to the ‘green machine’ if his commitments elsewhere allow.  He was never isolated as a ball carrier where the experienced home pack of forwards ensuring his efforts secured the ball for other phases of play to materialise.

Centre Frame sponsored Hendy came onto the park with intent from the first kick off and were a side which looked well coached and drilled, which was unsurprising considering Aaron Shingler [Scarlets], Stephen Shingler [Blues] and Dorian Jenkins are assisting Chris Morgan.

Their defence line, based from full back Robbie Davies who used the outside post as his starting line, looked comfortable all afternoon, not only with his tacking but hands in fielding the hosts kicks and when running directly to gain yards.

Visiting kicker Josh Batcup opened the scoring when the Whitland forwards were penalised for killing the ball with a penalty from in front of the posts after fifteen minutes which was a just reward for his sides efforts.

Second row Ashley Banfield secured line out ball and the back row of Richard Kinnear, Matthew Wotherspoon and number 8 Gareth Thomas were on top in the lose play for Hendy although Batcup had missed a penalty in the third minute from the 10m line.

Hard working Whitland forwards: Skipper Marc Jones & Number 8 Jack Mason

Both sides looked to utilise a driving maul and handling errors occurred both in close contact and when the ball was given out to the back division as the competitiveness of a top of the table clash came to the fore.

Referee Jason Summers again allowed the players the opportunity to make the most of possession as neither captains, Marc Jones [Whitland] or Chris Bowen [Hendy] had sustained success when hitting their targets in line outs.

Perhaps more to do with the support the jumpers received in the line, both hookers were also at the forefront of an abrasive scrum set piece which secured an equalising penalty for outside half Nico Setaro after 20 minutes.

Until this point Hendy had the upper hand at the scrum and having established a base from which to work the ‘green machine’ saw number 8 Jack Mason alongside Jones mobilise the more experienced pack to then win the battle on the ground. Setaro, a gifted playmaker is also a decision maker he nudged his side forward to maintain both momentum and motivation.

The first half lacked periods of true quality and neither side managed to work their game plans to exploit opportunities, as both played close to the fringes and the offside line, giving little in terms of time or space.

Visiting flanker Mark Wotherspoon received a yellow card four minutes into the second half for a deliberate knock on after Lloyd and flanker Ben Kirk had combined in midfield, for Setaro put his side ahead 6-3.

Whitland sensed their ascendency with Setaro and Lloyd making half breaks to gain yardage allowing Thomas to put Coles in space with ground to run at in front of him, followed by another move where Mason, Newton and Price combined to make a telling insertion of over 40m.

From the resultant restart Mason set up second phase ball for scrum half Adam Davies to release the back line once more where some smooth handling allowed centre Thomas to draw the last defender and Coles made no mistake wide out for Whitland to lead 11-3.

Whitland had capitalised on their opponent’s reduction in numbers to good effect and when their own flanker Kirk was yellow carded after 58 minutes for entering a ruck from the side, Batcup reduced the deficit to 11-6.

Setaro dictated a slower pace to the game with Kirk off the field. Mason, Jones and the vastly experienced second rows Dai Ebsworth and Raff Williams were content to pick up and drive, which meant Hendy were starved of possession.

Setaro missed a straight forward kick when they were returned to a full playing compliment before striking another attempt cleanly through the posts after 65 minutes to extend the lead to 14-6.

Like opposite number Davies, Newton was strong as the last line of defence all afternoon for Whitland, a key fielder of the ball from clearance kicks and set pieces and he was also influential at key times also to allow the extra player in midfield to create the opportunities for Price and Coles.

Hendy centre Kieran Ace also worked space for Dyfan Williams to have a run at the Whitland try line as hi side attempted to secure a footing in the game.

Price was equal to that challenge before Lloyd took the ball off Setaro with five minutes remaining to set up his side in the opposition 22. Mason was again dominant on the ground from the ensuing ruck and his work resulted in another penalty, for Setaro to step up and end the scoring on 17-6.

Hendy had no complaints from the result and coach Chris Morgan ‘praised the efforts of his side but reflected that a more experienced home side had deserved victory.

He said: “We have a lot of positives to build on from today and will look to take these into the game at Hendy Park against St Clears, but in truth we tried to play too much rugby in the wrong areas.”

Assistant coach Dan Mason was delighted to get the win saying: “We had to do the hard work to wear them down.  It was a dogged performance and we had to ensure we held possession when we had it and ensure we had the play in their territory. We have a back line this season which is confident in their own ability but today we needed players to stand up in the rough and tumble upfront, which we did.”

Whitland, top of the table make the trip to Parc Mynydd Mawr, Tumble, tomorrow (Oct 21), to play a side anchored the basement of the Division after their loss to Fishguard last week.

A point clear of Carmarthen Athletic the ‘Green Machine’ have a game in hand over them and Hendy but the next visitors to Parc Llwn Ty Gwyn will be another unbeaten side Pontardulais on the first Saturday in November, the visitors having two games in hand and lying four points off the top.

Both Clubs have established strong links in their communities, boasting a junior set up catering for age group rugby, capped off with resurgent youth sides.

Whitland youth, coached by Dominic Setaro and Phil Morgan and their counterparts from Hendy, under the guidance of Dai Davies and Carl Rees believe in the youngsters as the corner stone for their club.

With such strong foundations it is of little surprise they both also incorporate women’s rugby sides and girls under 15 sides, where the players then affiliated to the academies at the Scarlets and Ospreys.

Ultimately, debutants like 18 year old Lloyd will be one of many coming from these flourishing lower league clubs in the future.

Sport

Otters earn big win over Tata Steel

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ON Saturday (Nov 27) Narberth travelled to Tata Steel where it was a sunny cold day.

The Otters made an impressive start to the game as within five minutes they scored their first points of the match.

From a ruck situation about 30 metres from the Tata line scrum half George MacDonald switched play to the blind side, passed to hooker Rhodri Owens who took the ball on and then slipped a pass to winger Jordan Roberts.

When tackled, the ball was quickly recycled, taken on again by forwards Bradley Davies and Alex Jenkins and MacDonald was then on hand to float a long pass out wide to centre Jake Jenkins who passed to full back Nick Gale who put No.8 Steff Phillips over in the corner for a lovely try. Gale hit the upright with conversion attempt (0–5).

From another kick-off Narberth attempted to run the ball out of defence and winger Aled Rees was adjudged not to have released the ball in the tackle. A penalty was awarded making the score 3 -11

Ten minutes into the second half another excellent long kick downfield by Otters fly half Ianto Griffiths was collected by the Tata full back.

He made the mistake of trying to run out of defence with very little support to hand. He was unceremoniously dumped on the floor by a great tackle from centre Jenkins and 2nd Row Tom Powell, subsequent turn-over ball resulted in another try (3-23).

The Otters unfortunately released their grip on the game, this inevitably happens when changes are made. Rhys Lane replaced No. 9 MacDonald, Rhys Williams replaced Tom Powell, Tom Curry replaced Rhodri Owens, Ifan James replaced Bradley Davies and Jon Rogers went to fly half with Ianto Griffiths moving to centre.

Subsequently the Otters conceded several penalties which ultimately resulted in the Tata No.7 going over for a try after a lineout close to Narberth’s try line. (10–28).

Later, from an attacking scrum No.8 Steff Phillips picked up the ball, running wide He slipped the ball back inside to Rhys Lane who passed to captain Richard Rees. He was stopped close to the line, Guto Davies was on hand to force his way over the try line. Gale converted (10–35).

In the last move of the game, a delicate chip over the top of the Tata scrambled defence saw the ball bounce against the upright and pop up nicely into the hands of Guto Davies, completing his hat trick of tries. Gale again. Final score (10–42).

Narberth coaches were very pleased with the result and felt that the players had worked hard early on to gain the ascendency. It augurs well for Saturday’s (Dec 4) home match against Ystalyfera.

Image: Alex Jenkins winning line out ball. Photo by Stephen Thomas

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Sport

Crymych claim derby win over Pembroke

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CRYMYCH claimed a Pembrokeshire-derby win over Pembroke on Saturday (Nov 27) as they came away with a 34-21 win.

It was Crymych who held the lead after a tight first half as the home side ran in two unconverted tries to Pembroke’s single converted try.

Crymych’s first half tries were scored by outside half Ilan Phillips and Carwyn Phillips.

Pembroke’s try was scored by Luke Alderwick who then added the extra two points.

That made it 10-7 at the break and both sides continued their battle into the second half.

Tomos Lewis scored two second half tries for the home side while Llyr Davies and Laurence Headlam also got on the scoresheet.

Adam Phillips added two conversions for Crymych.

Pembroke scored two further tries, through Lewis Gibby and Rhodri Walters, both converted by Alderwick.

However, they were unable to find a fourth which have given them a bonus point.

On Saturday, December 4, Pembroke host Whitland while Crymych travel to Llangennech.

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Herbie and Monkton share the points

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HERBRANDSTON maintained their unbeaten home record after an incident packed 3-3 draw with Monkton Swifts seconds on Saturday (Nov 27).

Playing with the benefit of a strong wind, Herbie made a bright start and found themselves 2-0 up inside 20 minutes after well taken goals from Scott Reid and Callum Stannett.

Keeper Jordan Boswell kept Monkton in the game with some good saves.

On the half hour mark a slip in the box from young full back Max Howells presented Monkton with the chance to reduce the deficit. Striker Dylan Davies making no mistake and sending goalkeeper Owen Thomas the wrong way from 12 yards.

Herbie responded well and were rewarded with a fine strike from midfielder Marc Gelona.

There was an alleged off-the-ball incident shortly before half time but it went unnoticed by the referee.

Monkton came out after the break and pulled a goal back within 5 minutes. Thomas’s attempted clearance fell to Davies, and with the keeper out of position he coolly chipped into the empty net.

With their tails up the visiting Swifts pushed for an equaliser, which came in the 61st minute. A free kick into the box fell to substitute 16-year-old Mark Jones who finished from close range.

Herbie responded again and could have collected all 3 points when Reid was sent through on goal. The striker unusually sending his shot over the bar from close range.

The home side had to play the last few moments with 10 men after Gelona went off with a concerning hip injury.

Both sides looked for a winner but had to settle for a share of the points.

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