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Heart & Soul: A fans view of the Scarlets’ victory against the Cardiff Blues

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By Jonathan Twigg

PARC Y Scarlets was the venue on Saturday (Oct 28) evening for the second ‘Welsh Derby’ as the Scarlets eventually defeated the Cardiff Blues 30-17 to remain top of the Guinness Pro 14 Conference B table.

Leading 18-3 at half time  through tries from man of the match Hadleigh Parkes and hooker Ryan Elias a buoyant home side were pegged back to 18-17 after an hour as the visitors scored tries from New Zealand born winger Willis Halaholo and replacement scrum half Lloyd Williams to go with conversions from former ‘man of Hendy’ Stephen Shingler.

At this stage the fire under the saucepan needed rekindling and the ‘hwyl’ found its voice from the Hydro North stand, be it water or something stronger to inspire replacement full back to fly over and score with his first touch, thanks to winger Steff Evans grubber kick following a flowing home sides move through the hands of their back division.

A bonus point victory was secured ten minutes from the end as Evans crossed to complete the scoring with Leigh Halfpenny striking a conversion and two penalties and Rhys Patchel a conversion.

Playing in deepest West Wales has often been revered as playing in heaven and the support given from the home faithful is legendry across the globe.  Be it the folk song Sospan Fach synonymous to Stradey Park and now Parc Y Scarlets or a rendition of Calon Lan the close knit community spirit associated to this Welsh Region is special.

Have you wondered how a person goes from being a supporter, to being a fan to becoming a fanatic?  Stationed in the Hydro North stand, which was inspirational after an hour of the game to push the Scarlets to victory, it was a question answered by Mick Haltam, a former three quarter with Haverfordwest and Llangwm, who hails from the Midlands, but is now firmly ensconced in the local sporting scene.

“As a child I grew up in the 70’s when Welsh rugby was such a joy to watch. Even as an Englishman I used to marvel at the skills of Phil Bennett, JJ Williams, Delme Thomas and Ray Gravell who used to play for this magical team way out west that I could not pronounce. Players like these and the romance of games, like beating the ‘All Blacks’ made me an admirer of Llanelli RFC from afar.”

Mick arrived in Pembrokeshire when he was posted to Cawdor Barracks, in 1996 and he fulfilled his dream of living the magic at Stradey Park. “I would be an irregular visitor to Stradey as I was still playing the game” said Mike.  With partner Joanne Phelps equally smitten from the pull of ‘Johnnie Bach’ it took little persuasion for them to take their son Olly when the Club introduced the ‘supporters’ village’ in 2010.  Hooked immediately with the family match day experience, that first against Leinster, when Olly was just three years old was the start of a love story.

Now season ticket holders, the family are committed to the pilgrimage from their home in Narberth by car or train, depending on the kick off time.  Mick recalled when he went from being a fan to a fanatic, after the 24-15 Heinekein Cup quarter final victory over Munster in 2007.

He has been to every Pro 12 ground, with the exception of Treviso and now with the introduction of South African sides the Southern Kings and Cheetahs, plans are already in place to finance the those memory making trips. “European games have also allowed us to get to all the English Premier clubs, except Newcastle, plus Perpignan, Brive, Clermont and Toulon in France.”

At the end of the 2013 season when the Scarlets made the play-off semi final away to Ulster, Olly was a mascot and savoured the atmosphere at Ravenhill for the first time holding Rob McCusker’s hand.  As proud as they were, it was surpassed last season with the Pro12 Final mauling of Munster as it rekindled the ‘magic’ which first drew Mick’s attention in a bygone era.

Mick recalls with delight that ‘Priestland’ try v Perpignan in 2010 as readily as any victory over the Ospreys, including last spring, alongside European victories at Northampton and Harlequins whilst Glasgow is undoubtedly a family favourite destination.  A definition of fanatical can be summed up with Micks explanation of how he and Olly had planned a ‘dads and lads’ visit to the last scheduled away game of last season in Connacht.

“Olly and I took my motorbike via the Fishguard ferry and rode to Galway, experiencing a fantastic away trip. Of course, winning this game meant we’d qualified for the play-offs and pitched us away to Leinster two weeks later. A family weekend followed, flying from Bristol to Dublin before a third Irish away trip in four weeks hit the wallet hard [but it was worth every penny], as we left Pembroke on the 3am ferry and drove to Dublin for the European Final.”

In true partnership Mick and Joanne shared the driving; Mick taking the wheel on the journey into Dublin from their hotel half an hour outside the City, with Joanne driving back! Not even Steve Martin could have perceived Micks voyage of discovery in supporting the Scarlets; through ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’, plus bikes and ferries, experiencing first hand the Heart and Soul of Scarlet Fever.

“We are all part of the Scarlets family” said Joanne, “including the staff and players; we always find time for each other. Today we’ve had a day out, firstly the obligatory shopping experience at Trostre before a family meal and the early arrival at the ground.”  A chuckling Mick, who himself is now coach of Narberth Under 11s after representing the Army with aplomb as far afield as Romania, summed up the victory over the Cardiff Blues with a splattering of ‘Calon Lan’ from his still notable Midlands cadence, alongside friends Steve Barnett and Tom George.

Rest assured there is more fever to come from the Scarlets family; Mick, Joanne and Olly will undoubtedly reminisce for time and memorial.

Sport

Harries steers Pembroke into Duggie Morris Cup final

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PEMBROKE sealed their place in the Duggie Morris Cup final on Wednesday night (Jun 29) as they beat Narberth by eight wickets.

The match was originally due to take place on Tuesday but heavy rain forced the game to be moved.

Played at Carew in front of a good crowd, Narberth batted first and made a good score of 165-7.

Narberth lost Richard Adams early on when he was caught by Jonathan Rogers off the bowling of Alan Webster on a score of 13 and Rob Smyth also claimed the wicket of Lewis Hough.

Kyle Quartermaine hit five fours and two sixes in his score of 44 from 23 balls but he was stumped by Phil Hay off the bowling of Steve Durston.

Loui Davies hit three fours and a six in his score of 48 but he was trapped leg before by Steve Durston.

Jordan Howell hit a four and a six in his score of 30 but he was bowled by Jack Harries. Rogers and Harries also claimed a further wicket each late on as they kept Narberth’s total down.

In reply, Jack Harries and Jonathan Rogers made an excellent start as both reached their half centuries.

Rogers hit six fours and three sixes in his score of 65 from 44 balls before he was bowled by David Johns.

Luke Butler made a quick score of 10 before falling to Ben Quartermaine but Harries was able to steer Pembroke to victory.

He hit seven fours and four sixes in his score of 83 not out from 58 balls to see Pembroke into their first final, in any competition, in 17 years.

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Sport

Neyland book place in Duggie Morris final

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NEYLAND are back in the final of the Duggie Morris once again after beating holders Lawrenny in the semi-final on Thursday night (Jun 30).

Lawrenny had broken Neyland’s dominance of the competition with their win last year and Thursday’s game was another exciting clash between the pair.

Neyland won the toss and chose to bat but they could only score 136-7 from their 20 overs.

They lost opener Patrick Bellerby early on when he was bowled by Rob Williams and soon after, fellow opener Paul Murray was caught by Steve Lewis off the bowling of Jamie Lewis.

That left Neyland on 15-2 but Andrew Miller and Ashley Sutton shared 47 runs for the third wicket.

Miller hit a four in his score of 25 but he was caught off the bowling of Finley Lewis.

Sutton and Gregg Miller added another 41 runs for the fourth wicket but Steve Lewis trapped Sutton leg before to reduce Neyland to 103-4. Sutton had hit three fours and a six in his run-a-ball score of 44.

Miller clubbed two fours and two sixes in his score of 26 from 16 balls but he was then bowled by Ryan Morton.

Patrick Hannon hit two fours in a score of 10 but he was also bowled by Harry Thomas who also bowled Lewis Page.

Jack John and Sean Hannon then took Neyland to their total, the latter finding a crucial boundary in the latter stages, as Lawrenny were set 137 to win.

Kyle Marsh started well for Lawrenny, hitting five fours, four of them coming in a row at the start of the third over, but with the next ball he was then caught by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Gary Lloyd.

Marsh had scored 22 from his 15 balls and soon after he departed, Lloyd trapped Harry Thomas leg before for a duck.

Steve Lewis was out for a score of 13 to Andrew Miller and his wicket saw Lawrenny slip to 36-3.

Troy Purslowe and James Phillips then added 34 runs for the fourth wicket. Purslowe hit two fours and a six in his score of 22 but he was then caught by Patrick Hannon off the bowling of Miller.

Ryan Morton came in and hit a six but he was then caught by Patrick Bellerby, again off the bowling of Miller.

At the start of the eighteenth, Lawrenny needed 37 to win but had James Phillips well placed on 29 from 22 balls.

However, the game changed in the space of two balls. Joe Kidney was bowled by Patrick Hannon and with the next ball, Phillips was run out by Ashley Sutton.

It happened again in the nineteenth over as Sean Hannon had Finley Lewis caught by brother Patrick and on the next ball, he had Jamie Lewis caught by Gregg Miller.

There was to be no hat trick but the four wickets in quick succession had seen Lawrenny slip to 105-9.

In the last over, Jack John had Rob Williams caught by Sutton to bring the game to a close.

Neyland will now look forward to the final against Pembroke, to be played in Burton on Sunday, July 17.

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Division 2 round-up: Johnston win by one run and Herbie win again

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JOHNSTON boosted their hopes of getting out of the bottom two in Division 2 on Saturday (Jun 25) as they beat Lamphey by only one run.

Lamphey won the toss and chose to field but Johnston made a good score of 235-9 from their 45 overs.

Their score was underpinned by an excellent century from Josh Hicks who scored 110 before he was out.

Gary James added 51 and Chris Fitzpatrick added 30 as Johnston posted their second highest total of the season.

David Blackwell finished with 2-17 while Grant Cole claimed 2-28 but David Dredge was the pick of the Lamphey bowlers with 3-42.

In reply, Dredge scored 78, Peter McGilloway scored 26 and there were scores of 43 from Nick Shelmerdine and 20 from Rob Mathias.

Cole finished unbeaten on 26 but it wasn’t enough as Johnston’s bowlers did just enough to seal the win.

Andrew Harries took 3-22 and Lee Summons also claimed three wickets while John Summons finished with 2-17.

Herbie beat Whitland by seven wickets

Herbrandston remain in second place in the table as they beat Whitland to earn their seventh win of the season.

Whitland batted first but were restricted to 142-8 as Kristian Bennett (2-22), Paul Nicholas (2-15) and Charlie Malloy (2-44) all took two wickets.

Wayne Howells was Whitland’s top scorer with 31 while Gethin Scourfield added 27 and Ian Taylor scored 23.

In reply, a score of 58 from Jack Nicholas helpe Herbie on their way while Alan McClelland added 32.

Malloy added to his earlier wickets with 25 not out which, despite wickets for Howells (1-28), Scourfield (1-26) and Luc Owen (1-30), got Herbie to victory inside 30 overs.

Llanrhian seal fifth win

Llanrhian earned their fifth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Pembroke by 63 runs.

Llanrhian batted first and they made a good score of 220-7 in their innings, Ben Jones top scoring with 53.

Paul Lewis added 35, Ewan James scored 26 while there were scores of 24 from Tom Clarke and 23 from Jack Jones.

Andrew Price claimed four wickets for Pembroke while Steve Durston struck twice and Pat Barnaby also picked up one wicket.

Price then scored 31 in Pembroke’s reply and Durston added 19. Paul White top scored with 60 but it wasn’t enough as they were bowled out for 157.

Jack Jones claimed figures of 3-42 while Clarke took 2-30. Dafydd Williams, Gwynant Watson and Jon Strawbridge all claimed a wicket each.

Carew seconds fall short against Hook

Hook also earned their fifth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Carew second by five runs.

Carew won the toss and chose to field and they bowled Hook out for 132.

Barry Evans took 2-19 for Carew while Ethan Hall had 2-34 but Max Brindley starred as he finished with four wickets for the loss of three runs.

Dafydd Bowen and Jacob Lay both made scores of 30 while Jake Wicks scored 24 and Seth Willington added 17.

Carew though were unable to reach their target, despite scores of 41 from Scott Richards and 48 not out from Hayden Shapcott.

Matthew Holder tok 2-36 for Hook while Callum James (1-14) and Harry Makepeace (1-15) also bowled well as Carew could only finish on 127-7.

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