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Wanderers walloping of Crymych marred after fracas

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE WRU National leagues have copped some criticism since its inception in 1995, although this game in the shadow of Stradey Park, previous home of the Scarlets, showed the raw side of Club rugby at its uncompromising best and unfortunately its worst on Saturday (Jan 20).

Llanelli Wanderers emerged 44-12 victors over Crymych as both sides saw it as a crunch relegation encounter, the first at the ground since the renovation work undertaken by the community club.

The game was marred when Crymych prop Jason Nicholls took a punch when exposed in the scrum in the final minute and resulted in a trip to Morriston hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured eye socket, nose and cheekbone.

Both sides entered the fixture with players associated to their respective clubs; no permits, no dual registration which were not normally selected and both came to play the conditions set before them at the ‘Ranch’. It was Crymych who took on the challenge of playing against the wind and the slope, finding the tenacity of home flanker Steffan Tafetsauffer, No 8 Nicky Harries and scum half Josh Weeds difficult to deal with in the opening exchanges.

The visitors lost influential scrum half Jonathan Rogers at the end of the first quarter, which was pointless despite continual penalties awarded by Cwmtwrch based referee Efryn Morris-Roberts to the home side through the ten and twelve channels. Morris Roberts, originally from Bala and teaching in Ystradgynlais was frim in his opinions as the underfoot conditions played their part. He didn’t endear himself to the visiting support who question those marginal decisions vociferously and as the game wore on perhaps with tinted spectacles.

Outside half Jonathan George eventually landed a penalty after 22 minutes from in front of the posts to open the home sides account, which spurred the visiting ‘mountain men’ into action. Replacement scrum half Gareth Davies was a livewire and chose to take a quick tap penalty thirty metres from the Wanderers try line, feeding second row Rhys Davies who combined with flanker Aled Harries to send outside half Jake Jenkins the ball.

He drew in centres Carwyn and Ifan Phillips to make ground with ball in hand allowing No. 8 Guto Davies to pounce for the games opening try, converted by outside centre Ifan Phillips.

Crymych were on top at this stage, the home side reduced to 14 men after Harries was deemed to have overstepped the tolerance level of Morris Roberts, which allowed the visitors to secure a second try. Scrum half Davies once again took a quick penalty finding the try scorer Davies close at hand. Jenkins and the Phillips’s boys in midfield created space for full back Tomos Phillips who glided over unopposed for an unconverted try.

What epitomises club rugby best is the ability to expect the unexpected and on small decisions much wider consequences occur. As the half ended the Crymych forwards, minus teenage hooker Lee Griffiths who had been injured five minutes before lost possession when they should have put the ball clear of the touchline.

Photo by Darren Harries

The resultant turnover led to a penalty and the games second yellow card when flanker Sion collella trudged off for handling in the ruck.

Front ball to skipper James Bannister led to a drive down towards the new changing quarters, with replacement Ben Phillips touching down for an un converted try, as George effort clipped the upright for the second time in the half and 12-10 scoreline in favour of Crymych.

Replacement back row dynamo Zak France-Miller started the second period well carrying the ball, linking with his scrum half as their side tried to absorb the loss of Collella.

However, France -Miller saw his pass intercepted seven minutes into the half, which allowed centre Rhydian Morgan to scoot into the corner under pressure for an unconverted try. The Maroon shirted home side were on the charge as Bannisters second row colleague Ben Williams trampled 20 metres towards the line which put Morgan in for his second try of the afternoon, again unconverted by George.

The yellow card against Crymych had yielded three tries and fifteen points but perhaps most importantly the games and possibly Division 1 West survival in the Wanderers favour.

Crymych had lost their way, playing unstructured rugby at a tempo not suited to their game meaning they were losing the close quarter exchanges drawing incandescent commentary from diehard followers.

The home pack were buoyant with ball in hand and destructive in defence stopping the visitors in their tracks, ensuring they played the game deep in Crymych territory.

Last years Divisional runners up plundered in for their bonus point try from scrum half Josh Weeds after George had booted a penalty and Morris-Roberts reversed a free kick for back chat. Full back Lloyd Thomas crossed to finish a flowing handling move and George converted whilst also crossing the whitewash to make his travel from Cardiff worthwhile.

Flanker Sianco Morgan and man of the match Morgan crossed, the later completing a try hat trick which suggested the Max Boyce ballad relating to Morgan the Moon.

The Wanderers equivalent would have been atop of Pen Waun Twmpath after the game, 502 feet above sea level, bathed in white light and chewing a stick of Porthcawl rock. Toasted at the Ranch by Bethania and his colleagues with copious amounts of the local ale, Morgan’s team now stand 14 points clear of their opponents having lost just a single game since November 4, although a dark cloud may be hovering because of the Nicholls rumble.

They head across the Loughor bridge to tackle Gorseinon on Saturday (Jan 27); meanwhile Crymych must forget their WRU National Bowl quarter final at home to Ystalafera in March and reflect on their indiscipline as another crunch relegation fixture looms high when last seasons Division 1 West champions Kidwelly make an appearance at Parc Lloyd Thomas.

Sport

Rugby Previews 9/12/23

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Last weekend the county’s rugby was victim to the cold weather, with frozen pitches the issue. This weekend we hope waterlogged pitches don’t prevent too many games from going ahead.

We start our preview in the championship where unbeaten Narberth travel to mid table Trebanos. The Otters are In outstanding form and are only a single point behind leaders Brecon who have also won all 9 of their league games so far. A bonus point win will be the Otters focus on Saturday in the Swansea Valley.

A mouthwatering affair in the second division as unbeaten Tenby travel to top of the table St Clears. Tenby have impressed this season so far and are six wins from six. St Clears despite being top have lost two games this season, they’ve played ten games to Tenbys six: the table maybe slightly misleading. Tenby will be under no illusion however that this’ll be an easy game, it’s going to be a tough game between two of the best teams in this division. This is our one to watch this weekend.

Division three west has a few mouthwatering derbies itself. Llangwm travel to St Davids who will be full of confidence following recent results. For that reason Saints go into this one as slight favourites however Llangwm will be confident of brining the points home to the village. Elsewhere Neyland host Pembroke Dock Quins in what’s set to be a passionate and fairly evenly matched affair. It’ll be a day for the forwards Saturday and the battle between these two packs will be key.

Haverfordwest travel to struggling Llanybydder and perhaps an opportunity to rotate a few players. The Blues are strong favourites for this and anything other than a bonus point win would be a shock. Pembroke host high flying Laugharne another very tough game for the Scarlets as they struggle to make their mark on this season so far.

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Spotlight: Herald Sport speaks with referee Marty Jones

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MARTY JONES swapped his boots for the whistle a couple of years ago now and has become a well known referee through the county. With fellow former players Mark Hicks and Mikey John also following in his footsteps this season, we sat down with Marty for an insight into the life of a Pembrokeshire Referee.

Herald – Marty, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. By now you’re a well renowned and respected ref in the county. What inspired you to take up reffing?

Marty – Renowned, maybe, respected ..by most. I love footy and after my playing days I wanted to keep doing something, and reffing seemed the logical step. I had reffed some junior games over the years as my lads played for Hakin youth, and quite enjoyed it, so figured why not? I qualified just before COVID and have done as many games as possible.

Herald – With former team mates Mikey John and Mark Hicks recently following in your footsteps, it’s a good sign for the game. What do you enjoy about being the man in the middle?

Marty – It’s great to see ex players take up the whistle, it’s vital for grassroots that we get new refs, and keep them! No ref, no game and all that. I hope that by seeing the likes of me, Hicksy & Mikey reffing, more players coming to the end of their playing career will think about it. For me I enjoy still being involved with footy on a Saturday (and whatever mid week games there are) and you are kept active and on your toes at all times. For me, it’s just about being involved with grassroots footy. If I could play still, I would, but I’ll ref until I either don’t enjoy it anymore or can’t physically do it.

Herald – Would you say the referees association in the county is in a good place? Attracting former local players is definitely a positive.

Marty – I can only speak as I have found, and the Pembs Refs association has been excellent for me. Loads of experienced heads to ask any questions, no judgements when you mention mistakes made (not that I have of course) and there’s always somebody there who will help. To a man, they are great people.

Herald – I’d like to think refs are given a warm welcome across the county. However are there any grounds in the county where you particularly look forward to visiting?

Marty – Again, only speaking in my experience, I’ve been welcomed at almost every ground. People know I’m not particularly shy, so if there’s a problem I’ll tell people. But, respect works both ways, so I’ve learnt to be more respectful too. For me (and the Hakin fans won’t like this much) Goodwick have always been great, fantastic facilities, always a good crowd and a brilliant pitch.
Fishguard as well, a great club where I get a cuppa at half time and full time so that’s always welcomed, Neyland always a great club as well. It’s unfair to name just a couple because in all my games I’ve only been made to feel unwelcome at one ground (which shall remain nameless at this stage). I don’t ref Hakin games, but obviously The Obs in pre season is my favourite (although maybe not so much when Milford beat them in the Joe Lennon this year).

Herald – Finally have you got any message for anyone considering doing the refs course?

Marty- Yes. If you love football, seriously consider reffing after you’ve played. Pembs League is always in need of more refs, and as players you know how the game works and will likely make a great ref. For younger people, it’s a gateway to a great pastime, something you can make a career out of. 99% of the time it’s brilliant, get yourself on the course and speak to anybody from the Pembs Refs Association and have a chat with them. You need to be a certain type of crazy, but you’ll love it!!

A great insight into local refereeing there from Marty, and if anyone is interested in becoming a referee simply contact Pembrokeshire Referee Association. You’ll be sure to see Marty on a pitch somewhere before Christmas, clubs who don’t supply a ‘cuppa’ at half time now know what’s required of them.

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Spotlight on Milford United Football Club

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WE RECENTLY sat down with Milford United manager Steve Parks, we timed it well on the back of an outstanding 7-1 win at Marble Hall. The season has started extremely well for Parks’ men, many may have predicted a relegation dog fight this season. However as the weeks and games tick by this seems to be very unlikely as the boys from Marble Hall prove they belong in the top division.

Herald Thanks for your time Steve, a fantastic win for you yesterday beating Tenby 7-1, how do you reflect on that?

Steve Yesterday was a great win against a good Tenby side who have been strong this season. To win this tie and score 7 was a true reflection of our ability as a team and our willingness to play the ball through the right channels.

Herald Assuming stabilising division one status is your priority this season? You seem to have had a very positive start, is that how you see it?

Steve To progress into the last 16 of the West Wales Cup is a true reflection of our cup performances this season beating three first division teams, one from Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire with 21 goals scored and only 2 conceded.
This seasons objective was to remain in the 1st Division and gain valuable experience along the way . We have a mixture of youth and experience in our squad and potential to improve as a team as the season progresses.

Herald Who have been your stand out players so far this season?

Steve As a Manager I am conscientious about
naming stand out players, all squad members have had a part to play this season. We have a young talented goalkeeper who is growing with confidence with every game he plays. We are very strong in defence and have creative midfield players that offer our forwards plenty of opportunities in front of goal.

Herald With the two cup competitions still alive for you and mid table in the league so far. What would be deemed a successful season for you this season?

Steve A successful season for Milford united would be to finish mid table in the League, have a good Senior Cup and West Wales Cup run. The season started well winning the Joe Lennon Cup which we haven’t won for a very long time. We as a club are looking forward to the challenges ahead of us for the rest of the 23/24 season and hope to be as competitive as we can.

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