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Scarlets into European Quarter Finals

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FOR the first time in 11 years the Scarlets have reached the European Cup quarter finals having secured a 30-27 victory on Saturday (Jan 20), over Toulon and in doing so replace them at the top of the group 5, which included Benetton Treviso and Bath.

It was not only the belief achieved from the victory the previous at the Recreation Ground Bath which set the barometer for Wayne Pivac’s men but the way it was won.

The game against Toulon was one which envigored all the sleeping giants from their slumber and Parc Y Scarlets became a cauldron of emotion as the weeks build up reached a crescendo.

The French visitor didn’t arrive just to enjoy the party and for long periods held the upper hand requiring the home side to search for some much need water for life. It came majestically from the Hydro North Stand, with a choral rendition worthy of any ‘Twmpath’ where the rousing beat echoed around a near full house capacity of 14,476.

The first half began where the Bath encounter had ended against Toulon, the three times winners who are also through to the knockout stages as one of the best runners up.

Free flowing rugby, utilising the space created from the impact runners led by skipper Ken Owens resulted in New Zealand winger Tom Prydie racing over in the third minute for try created by full back Rhys Patchell’s long pass, converted by outside half Dan Jones, who also converted a charged down effort from centre Hadleigh Parks before crossing himself under the posts to establish a 27-16 lead.

Toulon displayed the form which made them European kings as they responded immediately to Pyrdies opening try when a throw to the back of the line out by hooker Guilhem Guirado led to a disciplined drive from his fellow forwards, for Springbok number 8 Duane Vermeulan to touch down.

Jones extended the lead to 10-5 as English referee Wayne Barnes whistle became centre of attention as he was consistently punishing indiscretions at the gain line, with outside half Anthony Belleau responding in kind and atoning for his earlier missed conversion.

The lead switched away from the Scarlets when England winger Chris Ashton intercepted Patchell’s loose pass in midfield to race 65 metres for a converted try. Bellau was at fault when the adopted ‘Kiwi’ centre Parkes scored, as his clearance kick was charged down by flanker Aaron Shingler who showed ‘Giggs’ like footballing skills for Jones to also add a penalty, before Bellau did the same.

The action was non stop, end to end and at times close to the knuckle with neither side wilting under the enormity of the prize for victory. The Scarlets game didn’t change with prop Rob Evans and a subdued Irish second row Thaig Beirne appearing in midfield to create chances.

Parkes was also instrumental in the third try as he cleared his lines, with Wales newest squad member James ‘Cubby’ Davies harrying to set up a prime front foot attacking position. The line out was secured, and quick hands allowed Jones to ghost in unopposed with Bellau ending the first half action with a penalty and 27-21 scoreboard in favour of the Scarlets.

The standard set in the first half was so high the following forty minutes would have done well to live up to it and such was the case, as it became like the day after the Lord Mayor’s Show. A positive for the home throng’s voices was the reappearance after injury for former Toulon full back Leigh Halfpenny, the Gorseinon born international content to ease himself back in with an accomplished final fifteen minute.

Absorbing the black tide was important; Davies with 23 and Owens with 21 led the troops into battle as the ‘billy cans brewed’ in the background, the side making a thumping 134 tackles.

Substitutions as is the norm in rugby at present played their part in a grinding second half. The Scarlets showed they could ‘dog it out’ to muster the required win, with the only points coming from the boot of replacement play maker Francois Trinh-Duc with the difference being a strike from 45 metres from Patchell on fifty minutes, although Trinh-Duc’s overtime drop kick from 30 metres came within a whisker of spoiling an ‘epic’ occassion.

Pivac would look at the replays for the game, noting with some concern the ease in which the French flair broke tackles and made good yardage. Toulon will be a tough opponent in the later stages of the competition as they arrived with out suspended international centre Mathieu Bastareaud but it will be the defence display which Pivac can take pride.

In the space of eight days the West Walians have shown their steel and panache, making the Easter weekend quarter final showdown with La Rochelle, travelling from the South West of France a potential blockbuster at Parc Y Scarlets.

Could this be the highest profile game witnessed in the modern rugby era? Rest assured it is the most important in over a decade.

Sport

Lawrenny earn big win over Whitland

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LAWRENNY got their 2021 season off to the perfect start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Whitland by 189 runs.

Whitland won the toss and elected to field but they could only watch as the home side piled on the runs before being bowled out for 264.

Kyle Marsh top scored with a score of 81 while Kurtis Mars also scored 45.

Tom Cole added 32 and James Phillips chipped in with a score of 29 as they batted well.

Wayne Howells and Jonathan Thomas finished with identical figures of 2-27 as Whitland’s bowling did at least keep the score below 300.

Whitland knew they would need to bat well to knock off the runs needed but came up against Ryan Morton who took four wickets for the loss of 17 runs.

Kurtis Marsh also claimed two wickets without conceding any runs as the visitors chances got smaller and smaller.

Geraint Jones did score 30 for Whitland but that was as good as it got as they were bowled out for just 75.

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Town earn comfortable win against Narberth

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HAVERFORDWEST got their season off to a good start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Narberth by by 104 runs.

Narberth won the toss but elected to field first which would ultimately be a decision that would come back to haunt them.

The Town almost reached 200 runs, finishing their innings on 187-8.

Dai Davies top scored for the home side with a knock of 70 which included six fours and one six. He shared a third wicket stand of 49 with Mickey Jones.

Jones hit five fours in his knock of 46 before being caught off the bowling of Louis Hough.

Ben Hughes then had Ben Field caught by Hough to leave Town on 86-4.

Davies was joined in the middle by Jake Merry and the pair shared another good stand, worth 74 runs for the fifth wicket.

However, Merry fell for 32 and soon after Davies was out on 70 as Narberth hit back.

Ben Quartermaine picked up two late wickets as they were able to restrict their hosts to under 200.

Narberth’s opening pair shared 36 runs as they made a good start to their innings but wickets began to fall in quick succession and the 2019 Division 2 Champions were soon 36-4.

Jordan Howell scored 18 but he was his side’s top scorer as Will Phillips took four wickets for the loss of 15 runs for Town.

Ben Quartermaine scored 17 but he fell to Clive Tucker who went on to finish with figures of 3-15.

There was also two wickets for Dai Davies as Town bowled Narberth out for just 83.

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Carew prove too strong for Tish

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CAREW’s Iori Hicks picked up a five-wicket haul on Saturday (May 1) to help his side to victory over St Ishmaels.

Tish won the toss but elected to field first and that gave the visitors the chance to build a good total.

They made a steady start, reaching 40-1 after the first 11 overs. They made a series of 32-run partnerships as opening bat Brian Hall made his way to a half century.

Lewis Hicks made a score of 24 before he was bowled by Andrew Pawlett but when Shaun Whitfield was caught by Peter Bradshaw off the bowling of Jonathan Pawlett, the visitors had slipped to 92-4.

Hall and James Hinchcliffe then shared a stand worth 45 runs for the fifth wicket as they looked to accelerate the score.

Hinchcliffe was caught off the bowling of Andrew Pawlett on a score of 19. Hall was joined by Luke Hicks and the pair shared another good stand.

Hall reached his half century but was then caught by Andrew Pawlett off the bowling of Brennan Devonald on a score of 52, leaving Carew on 176-6.

Hicks then took over as he thumped three sixes in a score of 35 but he was then run out.

Iori Hicks and Ceri Brace both finished unbeaten with a six to their name as Tish were set 202 to win the game.

However, their reply did not get off to the best of starts as they lost three wickets in quick succession, all to the bowling of Rhys Davies, leaving them on 15-3.

They faced an uphill task from then on but Harry Nicholas and Brennan Devonald did their best to get their side back in the contest.

They shared 46 for the fourth wicket but then saw Devonald caught off the bowling of Whitfield on a score of 41.

Tish were not out of the game though as Nicholas was joined by Jonathan Pawlett and the pair shared 63 runs for the fifth wicket.

Nicholas reached his half century but was then out on a score of 51 and Pawlett was out to Iori Hicks on a score of 37.

Hicks then took over matters as he picked up four further wickets, including two ducks, to finish with figures of 5-15.

It meant that Tish were bowled out for 154.

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