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Sport

Scarlets in Seventh Heaven

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE Scarlets won their fifth consecutive Guinness Pro 14 derby match of the season on Friday (Jan 5) at Parc y Scarlets against a young and inexperienced Dragons, 47-13.

The Gwent side, who have been defeated 24 times in the last 29 fixtures, started with 17 year old scum half Dan Babos and debutant flanker 18 year old Ben Roache but conceded seven tries as a rampant home side dominated the game.

The Scarlets remain on top of the Conference A table after this third derby victory in a ten day period, thanks to a 14-11 win on the 4G pitch at Cardiff Arms Park against the Blues and a last gasp try from flanker Josh MacLeod on the last Saturday of 2017 saw them triumph 12-9 over the Ospreys, despite playing for a long period with 14 men after the dismissal of Welsh winger Steff Evans for a tip tackle.

Coach Wayne Pivac, set his stall out at the start of the season for his charges to return with six victories over their Welsh rivals and they now head to Judgement Day VI on Saturday (April 28) to take on the Dragons in the final Derby match at the Principality Stadium.

No. 8 John Barclay had the honour of leading the team out on his one hundredth appearance and his was in the thick of the action from the off as outside half Dan Jones drew Pontyberem born winger Ioan Nicholas quickly into the game.

An early scoring opportunity came when Jones pinged a cross field kick into the space occupied by winger Tom Prydie who spurned the chance when pressurised in catching the ball by full back Carl Meyer.

Haverfordwest born Rob Evans worked some magic in the lose to start his back division at a quick pace through the hands where play moved seventy metres down field and skipper Ken Owens led the charge as his pack of forwards disrupted the visiting scrum.

It was the Dragons outside half Arwel Robson who opened the scoring with an offside penalty after 15 minutes before the home side responded through another Evans inspired move ram adrift when full back Rhys Patchell failed to find Kiwi born Welsh international Hadleigh Parkes as the play crabbed cross field.

Owens picked second row Steve Cummins out from a five metre line out allowing the forwards got some momentum and former Whitland flanker James Davies crossed wide out for Jones to land the extra two points with a magnificent conversion

Ten minutes later the home eight dominated the scrum set piece and drew another penalty which Jones kicked long down the touchline; the pattern of play for the evening was firmly set as the Scarlets were happy to track with their tried and tested dominance up front.

Owens found Barclay at the base of the line out from which Parkes broke the gain line allowing Jones to switch play, for centre the Steffan Hughes to put in a grubber kick and winger Pyrdie won the foot race to score, which Jones failed to convert.

Coach Bernard Jackman astutely changed both props for the visitors before his side suffered the ignominy of a yellow card having identified the need for an improvement before the game was lost completely but pressure on winger Pat Howard drew a yet another mistake after half an hour.

Owens found his target in the line out again and the ball went through several phases before Davies made 20 meters towards the posts and the pulled the cover defender into the mix for Jones to cross unopposed under the posts and convert his try for 19-3.

The Scarlets support play and handling made an effective and timeless display of attacking rugby appreciated by the knowledgeable crowd; this is a Region whose players hearts are firmly ensconced in the local environment capturing the life and blood of the community clubs across West Wales.  None more so than Hendy born flanker, Aaron Shingler a divide and conquer king on the floor to secure the ball.

Three tries to the good and the Black Dragons were unable to get out of their own half as the home side searched for the bonus point try before half time led by scrum half Aled Davies, who became a tad vigorous in his tackling as the game edged towards half time.  Full back josh Meyer stepped up and reduced the deficit from the half way line to 19-6 after outside half Robson had been replaced by Robson Blake.

The sides returned for the second half and a low key opening fizzed into life after seven minutes as replacement second row Rynard Landman’s first touch was a weighty size 12 right boot to carry play deep into Scarlets territory. The defence held firm with Shingler and Davies foraging well allowing Parkes to make good ground from first phase possession.

The Dragons were more involved in the play, primarily through Landman and his boiler house partner Joe Davies although there was little respite as Cummins barged through for the Scarlets, neatly popping an inside pass to Patchell who timed the final pass for Aled Davies to scamper in from 20 metres under the posts for a converted try and 26-6.

With the bonus point in the bag after eleven second half minutes another Haverfordian Simon Gardiner replaced Samson Lee in the front row for the scrum to be anchored by former Sir Thomas Picton School props; fitting in the year which sees their school becoming defunct and the new Haverfordwest High being born from the embers of their amalgamation with Tasker Milward.

Skills taught in school were evident with the fifth try as play swayed back and forth before Shingler straightened the line to score another converted try, after Patchell, Nicholas and Hughes had been instrumental.

Pivac gave a run out to the replacements bench as the game developed into a rout where the words of former Scarlets captain Simon Easterby rang around the West Wales cauldron “In essence, I wanted to lead by example.” Such words are a suitable epitaph for current skipper, Ken Owens.

The livewire Wales Hooker was everywhere in his time on the turf, running through 60 minutes before giving way to the younger legs of Ryan Elais. 

Scarlets were playing simple yet effective rugby, driven on by the commanding voice of Pivac, whose expectations of high standards are the basis for the successes. The Dragons were on the back foot and conceding penalties to stop the forward dominance to little effect as replacement flanker Wil Boyd was the recipient of his sides efforts after another Cummins catch in the line out; a sixth try converted by Patchell for 40-6 with twenty minutes to play.

Patchell had moved into the first receiver position and was calling the shots with fast hands and quick feet, putting Jonathan Evans away and Rhys Jones slid in for a converted try to leave them three points shy of the half century.

The home side had runners appearing at will, with or more importantly without the ball as an obviously fatigued and demoralised Dragons side succumbed.  Patchel again put on the burners sweeping the ball across the pitch as Italian referee Marius Mitrea whistle penalised the Gwent side for offside.

Morgan Williams was guilty of an indiscretion for the home side in a brief foray into their territory with centre Jack Dixon raising spirits briefly on the cold night which quietened the 9347 crowd.

Turning down a straight forward penalty kick Angus O’Brien tried to get a nudge on as the Dragons plundered through numerous phases of tight play rewarded when Lloyd Fairbrother scrambled over for Blake to convert; 47-13 with seven minutes to play.

Patchell was nominated as man of the match as the dying embers of the game saw the Dragons enjoy the possession and territory, a little to late to affect the game result but enough for them to take some heart and soul from their visit to West Wales.

News

Seren shines in shooting sports, breaking records and winning medals

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SEREN THORNE, a young talent from Letterston, has been making waves in the world of 10m air rifle precision shooting. A former student of Ysgol Casblaidd, Ysgol Bro Gwaun, and the sixth form at Haverfordwest’s VC High School, Seren is currently furthering her education in music at Cardiff University. However, it is her achievements in shooting sports that are capturing the nation’s attention.

Seren’s journey in shooting began at the tender age of 8, initially with the pistol as part of her participation in the Pony Club tetrathlon. Her transition to the air rifle in 2020 marked the beginning of an illustrious path in this discipline. Since then, Seren has not only embraced the sport but has excelled at it, demonstrating an exceptional level of precision and composure.

Her hard work and dedication bore fruit in November when she clinched two gold medals at the Welsh Championships. At this event, Seren not only topped the podium but also broke the Welsh and British junior women’s qualification record, setting a new benchmark for aspiring shooters.

However, Seren’s achievements did not stop at the national level. In February, she represented Great Britain at the Junior World Cup in Granada, Spain. There, she added to her medal tally by securing an individual silver medal and breaking the British junior women’s final record. Seren’s success continued as she contributed to a mixed team bronze medal, once again breaking the previous British junior record.

More recently, Seren participated in the British Open Championships, where she was crowned the British junior women’s champion and won the British confined open women’s championship. These victories are a testament to her skill, determination, and the promising future she has in the sport of shooting.

Seren Thorne’s achievements are not just personal victories but also a source of pride for her community in Letterston, her schools, and indeed for the whole of Britain. As she continues to study and train, the nation watches eagerly to see how far this talented young shooter will go.

Seren’s journey in shooting sports is a vivid reminder of the dedication and hard work required to excel at the highest levels, and she is undoubtedly a rising star to keep an eye on in the years to come.

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Sport

Crunch time in local Cup Competitions

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Recently we have lost so much local sport due to weather making pitches unplayable. This weekend however looks more promising and there are some huge cup ties due to take place. We’ve previewed the West Wales Cup and Senior Cup, with the second division cup preview to follow.

The West Wales Cup fifth round sees four Pembrokeshire based teams in action, with one all Pembs tie as Merlins Bridge host Kilgetty. Meanwhile Goodwick United travel to Seaside and Milford United host Penlan.

West Wales Cup Ties –

Seaside vs Goodwick United

Goodwick United are a team nobody wants to face in any competition in current form. However Seaside will be very confident themselves, they sit top of their division and are a massive sixteen points clear of second place. Last time out in this competition they beat Carew 2-1, and haven’t lost a game since October. A real test for Chris O’Sullivans men this one when they travel to Llanelli, I’m sure they’ll have plenty of support on the supporters bus too.

Milford United vs Penlan

Steve Parks and his men have been looking forward to this fixture since it was drawn, they are in excellent form this year and this will be a great match up. Penlan themselves are a strong outfit and beat Evans and Williams last time out in the competition. A mouthwatering match up down at Marble Hall which I’m sure will draw plenty of local support.

Merlins Bridge vs Kilgetty

The league table would suggest the Wizards are the stronger of the two Pembrokeshire teams in this tie. However Kilgetty have a lot of games in hand over the majority of the league and their league position is somewhat misleading. A team with plenty of quality and the hosts will have to be on top form to ensure the visitors don’t upset the party here.

Pembrokeshire Senior Cup Ties

Fishguard Sports vs Clarbeston Road

The hosts are not enjoying much success in their league campaign so far this season. The visitors are on the opposite end of the scale and have impressed in the league this year. Matthew Fox’ team have shown they have the quality to go all the way in this competition and he’ll be hoping for a good performance.

Haverfordwest Cricket Club vs Carew

Third division Haverfordwest Cricket Club are more than a potential banana skin for Carew. The visitors naturally will be confident going into this one however the hosts have plenty of experienced and quality players in their ranks and will be no push overs.

Pennar Robins vs Tenby

Two first division teams who have had two close games already this season. Last time out it was a 2-2 draw and before that Tenby won a close game 2-1. Another close game is to be expected and both teams will be quietly confident of progressing to the latter stages of this competition.

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Sport

Pembrokeshire Football Division One Round Up

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It was once again a weekend where the majority of the county’s scheduled football fell foul to waterlogged and unplayable pitches. A frustrating time for players, club members and referees alike as the last month to six weeks has been very wet and we’ve had a huge number of games called off.

In the first division Clarbeston Road continued their dominance over Hakin United as we reported in our feature game. Two other games were played in the top division Tenby made it three wins in a row when they beat Fishguard 4-2 at the Clicketts. Adam Muskett scored twice, both assisted by the man of the match Jerome Mansbridge who then scored twice to cap off a stand out performance. The result lifts the Seasiders into fifth place, while Fishguard look all but relegated as they sit rock bottom on just four points.

Tenby’s local rivals Kilgetty boosted their league position with an important win over Pennar Robins at Bush Camp. Robins missed a great opportunity to go one up when they were awarded a penalty but Edmundson failed to hit the target from the spot. Josh Bevans goal was enough to secure the three points for the visitors who now only sit two points behind Pennar with four games in hand over them. 

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