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No Christmas cheer for Crymych

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE final Crymych game before the Christmas break, sponsored by Haverfordwest Coin Machines, in Division 1 West on Saturday (Dec 16) saw leaders Dunvant maintain their position with a 38-7 victory at Parc Lloyd Thomas as the home side remain anchored to the foot of the table with six points from seven fixtures.

Dunvant came down from the Championship last season and have been a side who have enjoyed dining at the top table of Welsh rugby in years gone by, when their Broadacre home on the outskirts of Swansea became a fortress and they are in prime position for a swift return to that level if they continue their form in 2018.

Dunvant arrived at the foot of the Preseli Hills driven to ensure they didn’t return East with anything other than maximum points from this fixture and on winning the toss they chose to play with the elements at their back on the newly laid pitch, absorbing the ball in the wintry conditions and looking to punch holes through the home defence line.

The opening score came in a fortuitous way when home scrum half Dafydd Phillips pinged a flat pass back to his half back partner Jake Jenkins only to see it deflect off the head of visiting prop Connor Bucket for his team mate, flanker Ben Davies, on permit from Premiership side Swansea to slide over from 5m.

Winger Sam Evans duly converted from the left of the posts and it was Evans alongside centre Mitchell Ford who were eager to make inroads via the left channels as the yellow and greens dominated the possession.

Skipper Ford was vocal in his encouragement of the forwards who had dominance at the set piece scrum where the young Crymych pack couldn’t hold their opponents heavier and co-ordinated impact.

Home number 8 Osian Davies was required to pick up from the base of a pressurised scrum for most of the match and in the opening half the Dunvant back three were constantly able to isolate him and recycle the ball.

Further first half scores arrived through scrum half Ben Lay after Evans received the ball from elegant full back Sam Hawkes, before feeding second row Gethin John on the outside who popped a pass to Lay who ran around to touchdown under the posts for Evans to convert for 14-0.

Scrum half Phillips was an energy catalyst for the home side where his side were guilty of not ensuring their clearance kicks reached the safety of the touchline which allowed Hawkes, Evans and fellow winger Mark Robbins the opportunity to run the ball back.

In contrast visiting outside half Alan Williams Parry, a seventh generation player to wear the Dunvant colours constantly kept the pressure on the home side with deft kicks to ensure his forwards were hunting downfield for long periods in Crymych territory, which in the conditions was motivation enough for them.

Crymych did have a penalty attempt when number 8 Davies was held after being tackled only for Jenkins to push the opportunity wide after 25 minutes which only acted as a spur for the visitors to renew their focus and play in the Crymych 22m area.  Prop Callum Llewellyn on permit from Birchgrove was more than the cornerstone of the scrum set piece, where they gleaned penalties as he was in the thick of the offensive play which required Davies and his back row colleagues Sion Collella and Llyr Davies to tackle like demons for the Bulls.

The final score of the first half came with five minutes remaining on Ammanford based referee Jason Griffiths watch and was scored wide out by second row Gethin John to ensure his side started the second half 19-0 ahead, despite Evans missing the conversion and a last minute penalty attempt, which in the conditions meant it was probably more than enough to sustain victory.

The outcome of the game was certainly known just before a quarter of an hour of the second half when Hawkes entered the line after Llewellyn had set Williams Parry away on a thundering run down the channel.

He drew the gain line, dummied across Ford for co centre Danny Davies to break the first defence line and Hawkes rounded off the move for 24-0 and a visiting side bonus point. Crymych needed a foothold in the game which they found difficult as Williams Parry was definitive in his defensive kicking, playing rugby out of their danger area, a lesson Crymych may heed after their efforts in the first half.

The pendulum did sway towards the Bulls when after a period of forward pressure opposition flanker Davies was yellow carded for offside.

Phillips chose to take a tap penalty from which space opened enough for the young Davies to find a head of steam and break through from 10m and score under the posts for Jenkins to convert and reduce the score to 24-7.

A second Dunvant yellow card followed three minutes later to Ford for a high tackle which even under the new stricter code of officiating seemed harsh and replacement front row forward, veteran Andrew Fletcher enjoyed a run in the conditions which allowed him to roll back the years to his Cardigan heydays.

This impact from the bench served to ensure the visitors dug deeper and hooker Ceri Davies and prop Bucket did the hard graft to minimise any Crymych drives, with Williams Parry key in orchestrating his sides play.

He was responsible for initiating a 70m break away try, with some deft hands and support play to set his half back partner into space on the touchline and centre Danny Davies duly crossed for Evans to convert at 31-7.

Evans looked an accomplished player with ball hand, shrewd in reading the game situation and with an enduring accuracy when kicking goal; he also showed some astuteness with two minutes of play remaining, running onto a clearance 40m from the Crymych try line and showing football skills akin to Gareth Bale with a chip half- volley over the Cymych back line to then win the sprint for a touchdown.

He dragged himself out of the surrounding ditch after spraying into it such was his momentum to convert the try for a personal haul of 13 points and a maximum point victory for his side.

Coach Jay Parry was ‘full of praise for both sides for the match in the conditions, where the majority on show were local lads.”  He acknowledged they had left Crymych too much to do after opening up a 24-0 lead in the second half.

Home coach Neil Machin was frustrated by what he described as “Individual skills which let us down, where they punished us and at this level it’s a harsh lesson to learn.”

He added: “We never gave up and have a young team which is developing and with experience we will capitalise on sides going down in numbers.  We had Elaijah Torau and Rhys Davies packing down in the second row from our second string alongside a youth based back row and hooker Lee Grififths, all of whom are developing confidence.”

The mountain men will travel now up the coast road for a fixture against Aberystwyth on Saturday (Dec 30), hoping for a return to the side for the injured centre Ifan Phillips and a direction where game management may reap its rewards against a home side in mid table after a 22-7 defeat in Penclawdd on Saturday.

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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Sport

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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