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Coles stokes the fire for Whitland promotion push

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WHITLAND’s march towards promotion to Division 1 West continued with a convincing bonus point 46-7 victory over Loughor at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn on Friday (Mar 16).

The ‘Green Machine’ ran in seven tries in total alongside a penalty and five conversions from captain Nico Setaro, the outside half having another fine game alongside dynamic flanker Ryan Morgan and man of the match, winger Sean Coles.

The speedster ran in a hat trick of first half tries as he put on the after burners to cause havoc amongst the visiting back line before crossing for the bonus point try early in the second half as he collected the ball on the halfway line before ‘jetting off’ on a mesmerising run once again leaving all and sundry in his wake.

Centre Johnnie Thomas scored the final try wide out after full back Scott Newton, in his last appearance before heading to Australia for a ‘gap year’ got on the score sheet and there was a resounding cheer from a hearty crowd when veteran second row Dai Ebsworth crashed over for his sides fifth try.

Whitland play the game with energy, ingenuity and guile guided by the magician at pivot, where the platform is set by the forwards which includes another veteran in the boiler house in Raff Williams.

Flanker Morgan, responsible for setting in motion the opening score as he took a clean catch at a line out in his own half before taking the opportunity to plough through the opposition tackles over 40 metres; fellow back row colleagues, number 8 Jack Mason and Danny Evans were on hand to recycle the ball allowing Setaro the time to put in a cross field kick, where Newton took the ball in his stride to draw winger Rhys Gear and set Cole away to scoot round under the posts for a 10-0 lead after 11 minutes.

Setaro, conducting the plan set by coaches Gareth Bennet and Jon Mason to ‘win the game first and foremost’ thrived off the acclaims as he pumped line kicks to turn the Loughor forwards on their heels, one 55 metre punt setting up the scenario of a Morgan catch and drive, recycled ball from scrum half Tom Parry through the hands of Centres Josh and Johnnie Thomas to Newton.

Cole received the ball 35 meters out and put in a kick over the top and collected as winger Josh Thomas fumbled the ball on his own line and a 17-0 lead after the first quarter was completed.

Cole’s hat trick came with four minutes of the half remaining as Setaro caught an up and under to call a ‘mark’ in his own 22 metre area, taking a quick tap and go which released winger Liam Price for a 30m gallop down the stand side where he could have been ‘Native River’ at Cheltenham earlier in the day.

Josh Thomas was direct in clearing out the opposition to set up the ball for the back line to again free Cole, whose kick ahead saw him out pace Newton and visiting centre Peter Smiriglia for the score and a 24-7 half time lead.

Loughor had scored their own converted try after half an hour as scrum half Tom Davies touched down following a sustained period of pressure, to capitalise on a yellow card for home flanker Evans as Irish referee Gerard English, based now in Porthcawl drew the home crowd to hum tunes from Welsh folk legend Max Boyce.

All levels of rugby now have teams well drilled and sensitive to opposition tactics and there is a fine line between defence and infringement, but being reduced by a player gives an advantage where a score often follows, something Bennet will be wary off as during the seasons climax.

Credit the green and whites, sponsored by GD Harries and Sons, as the forwards with props Aaron Mayne and Michael Ryan and front row colleague Gethin Lewis dominated the scrum set piece despite being a man down. The Loughor pack, for so long in the match strong and secure began to wilt as the second half points rattled up and not even a second yellow card to Josh Thomas for ‘crossing’ deep in the second half could halt the progress.

Bennett was able to put second row Trystan Lewis into the cauldron for a debut as the youngster returned after a two year recuperation from a knee reconstruction, the former Scarlets academy and Carmarthen Quins player getting a run out last week with Ferryside in readiness for his debut.

“Having set ourselves up for victory, I asked the players at half time to search for that bonus point try and for 20 minutes after the break we were excellent in our execution of play. I have a group of players who are not only fit but eager to play for each other, all of whom enjoy having the ball in hand” said a delighted Bennett post-match. “Sean (Coles) came into his own tonight and showed what he is capable of on firm ground, although I could talk up all nineteen players in the squad for their efforts.”

Whitland have nine fixtures remaining, sitting 11 points adrift of table toppers Hendy with three games in hand and the midweek meeting, scheduled for early May a potential ‘winner takes all’ encounter.

Equally important in the quest for promotion is the six point gap and game in hand they have over Pontarddulais in third place.

Bennet and Mason will prepare the side for their next fixture at relegation threatened Amman United on Saturday (Mar 24) before local rivals Fishguard visit Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn on Saturday (Apr 7).

It’s reassuring for chairman Jason Bowen to feel at home watching the games after he underwent major heart surgery in early March, the enigmatic smile and demeanour not effected by any stress as the green machine rumbles forward.

Sport

Ammanford sign Kurtis Marsh from Lawrenny

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LAWRENNY’S Kurtis Marsh will play for Ammanford Cricket Club in the 2022 season after the two clubs agreed a deal.

Marsh was one of Lawrenny’s stand out performers in Division 1 of the Pembrokeshire League this year.

He scored a number of important centuries and fifties as his club just missed out on securing the league title.

In total he scored 1070 runs in 15 innings while his highest score was 140 not out.

He was the Division’s highest scorer by just over 200 runs and was unbeaten in five innings.

On Twitter, Lawrenny Cricket Club said: “Absolutely gutted to lose Kurtis Marsh to Ammanford but he absolutely deserves this opportunity to play at a higher level. An unbelievable player and a top, top bloke. Go and smash it up there Kurt!!”

Marsh will now look forward to testing himself in Division 1 of the South Wales Premier Cricket League.

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Sport

Carew and Hakin earn big wins in West Wales Cup

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CAREW and Hakin United were big winners on Saturday (Oct 9) as they booked their places in round two of the West Wales Cup.

Carew travelled to Neath Premier Division side Cilfrew Rovers and it didn’t take them long to settle as James Hinchcliffe scored in the opening minute.

Cilfrew’s task became ever harder three minutes later as Adam Muskett scored to put his side in a strong position.

Matthew Evans pulled a goal back for the Rovers after 16 minutes but with five to go until half time Carew scored their third through Sam Christopher.

Muskett and Hinchcliffe scored in quick succession in the second half to all but seal the win for the Rooks.

Goals continued to come as Muskett completed his hat trick before Shaun Whitfield, a Dylan Morgan penalty and two from sub Jack Christopher took Carew’s score into double figures.

Muskett then got his fourth of the game to make it 11-1 to Carew.

Hakin also made the trip to Neath to face Division 1 side Resolven and, like Carew, they did not have to wait long for the first goal of the game.

It came from Justin Harding after four minutes and it was soon 2-0 as Jaden Chapman scored.

Ben Aldred then scored two goals in the space of two minutes, both assisted by Ryan Wilson, to effectively win the game for the visitors.

Harding added his second and Hakin’s fifth shortly before half time.

Twenty minutes into the second half, the Vikings added a sixth as sub Laurie Haworth found the back of the net.

Aldred and Chapman added to the scoring before Shane Walsh scored with three minutes to go to seal a 9-0 win.

Kilgetty bowed out of the competition as they were beaten 4-2 by Giants Grave. St Ishmaels were also sent packing after they were beaten 7-3 by CKSV.

Merlins Bridge’s game away at Treboeth was postponed because of a positive covid-19 case amongst one of the Neath teams’ players.

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Sport

Saints go through to round two

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ST Clears booked their place in the second round of the West Wales Cup on Saturday (Oct 9) as they beat Llangyfelach 3-0.

The Saints started the game slowly with most of the squad having been at captain Danny Peters’ wedding the day before.

Swansea Senior League Division 2 side Llangyfelach hit the post early on in what was their only real chance of the first half.

The Saints had quite a few chances to take the lead as Steve Thomas hit the bar with a good header from Ben John.

They slowly got on top and and they finally took the lead when the Llangyfelach keeper spilled a corner and Kyran Lewis nodded in from close range.

The second half was tight with more chances coming for the visitors but it was also heated at times with a number of yellow cards shown.

The second goal for the Saints when Nick squire hit a 30 yard effort from outside the box into the top corner, assisted by Martin Thomas.

Shortly before full time, the home side had Michael Matwychuk sent off for an apparent off the ball elbow.

Nick squire scored his second of the game from close range not long after to seal the victory.

The Saints’ reward for their win is a home tie against Felinfoel in the second round.

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