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Scarlets soar into European Cup Semis

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By Jonathan Twigg, photos by Darren Harries

SUCH a magnificent occasion on Friday (Mar 30), a Quarter Final of the Heinekein European Cup in the depth of West Wales at Parc Y Scarlets, French giants, metaphorically and physically La Rochelle in town; reminiscent of King William in 1066, to conquer, greeted by a capacity 16,000 natives.

A warm message of welcome from European Rugby’s Chairman Simon Halliday, a flying England winger from the last millennium his roots stretched with longevity to his birth place, Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.

Like King William, having conquered the struggle for La Rochelle was to consolidate their assets, something they failed to do after securing an early 7-3 lead after six minutes, through a converted try by second row Romain Sazy.

Full back Leigh Halfpenny had struck with not five minutes played, a penalty for offside and reduced the lead a minute after the western based side on the Bay of Biscay’s touchdown, with an immaculate reproduction, this time from just inside his opponent’s half.

The Scarlets are a team of Samson Lees, the props uncompromising style making him a fans favourite, anchoring the choral Hymns and Arias at crescendo level. Prop Uini Atonio was stopped in his tracks likewise number 8 Afa Amosa, the Scarlets also winning the crucial first engagement at the scrum set piece, against a heavyweight eight, looking then to play their open game.

‘Try of the round in this seasons Champions Cup for the Scarlets’ Halliday had pronounced, not once but on two occasions. That is no mean feat looking at the quality on show in this seasons tournament, where Wayne Pivac’s charges have a skills set to crunch the shells of any snail in its way; able to up their game to push unseen boundaries making the Easter date of 2018 on par with 1066 for notability.

The fringes were rough and ready, robust tackling and yardage measured in centimetres on the gain line, drawing a mistake, Halfpenny obliging on 17 minutes for a 9-7 lead. Enter a new gladiator, Pontyberem junior Josh Mcloed to the amphitheatre for an injured Paul Asquith, feeding the crowd their ‘bread of heaven’ destructive if the truck and trailer before them, which would last all through the night.

Second row David Bullring dominated the front of the line out, scrum half Gareth Davies afforded time and space to punctuate holes and Ospreys bound centre Scott Williams darting arrow like after 25 minutes, Welsh international Halfpenny, a former adversary with Toulon, majestic going four from four.

‘Freestyle’ rugby witnessed in the cauldron a throwback to the ‘billy can’ victories over Bath at the Rec and Toulon acted as catalysts, the home side with a full complement internationals back in harness, awash with history from eleven years ago, Munster the fall guys, hooker Ken Owens the only player to have witnessed such an occasion before.

Kiwi centre Hadleigh Parkes couldn’t release a scoring pass as the outside cover closed in the twilight, the crowd aware that the breeze would favour the home side in the second half. Rhys Patchell at outside half was dictating direction as players lay strewn across the hallowed turf, the intensity of the conflict taking its toll, with scrum half Alexi Bales slotting a penalty on the half time whistle, his second successful kick for score of 12-10.

Man of the match Owens, an unbloodied hero took not one step back, leading his forwards into the mix in the second half, Aaron Shingler and Tadgh Beirne standing like beacons atop of Snowdon. Crammed to the rafters, the atmosphere electric the crowd played their part as the visiting juggernaut was stopped in its tracks as the Dragon roared fire. Puff the magic dragon, lived by the sea but in this case, unlike little boys, the Dragon would live long as the air from the Lougor estuary built mountains of men. Halfpenny stretched the lead, centre Arthur Retiere sensing his team needed some gusto cleverly built a pathway to the Scarlets line, as his side searched a first victory away from home in 2018.

The penalty count rose quickly, the Scarlets defence holding firm, as did English referee Luke Pearce issuing warnings as try scorer Sazy catch and drive was stopped, wave after wave of French delivery succumbing and the Scarlets, who released the tension as Davies quick tap and go took play over the halfway line.

‘Escargots’ are usually served as a starter in France and it was the dynamic home back row who broke this snails shell, as the definition suggests ‘eating them alive’ a slow and absorbing feast, garlic emanating from within the broken mollusc.

Expensive these French snails maybe, both as a delicacy where 500,000,000 are consumed annually and from their bank role, which saw centre Pierrre Aguillon and Steve Barry wear their black coloured jersey. Snails, 80% water and 15% protein are easily consumed from the tongue, but beware of a marine cone snail, able to paralyse a fish instantly; a new nickname perhaps for the newest Welsh cap James Davies, Cubby now anything but a young fox, developing a name in his own right.

The final quarter saw Carmarthen Quins former star Dan Jones replace Steff Evans, the back line were ‘mustard’ as the diminutive youngster plays with a Gaelic flamboyance. Beirne set a driving maul from the line out, Parkes made a 20 metre break and Patchell, now at full back strode over before Halfpenny, with no nerves and his side led by twelve points at 22-10.

Beirne was a culprit as the visitors tactics of five metre line outs were stopped illegally, referee Pearce lenient, before heroic defence saw the lines cleared, the crowd restored to full voice. Inexplicably Halfpenny blotted his copybook after Bullring and replacement Werner Kruger dug deep the game in its final throws of glory.

The French side were unable to invade Scarlets territory, Owens and Parkes making headway before McLoed burnt a furrow on the touchline, Williams taking up the mantle, crossing from 25 metres unopposed, Halfpenny resumed normal service and the party in the park bellowed loud and clear.

The final score, at 29-17, a length of the field consolation try from replacement Pierre Boudehent secured the Scarlets place in the European Champions Cup semi-final, as Glynneath’s President Max Boyces signature tune danced the yellow brick road.

Following the other quarter finals, Scarlets will now play Leinster in Dublin’s Aviva stadium on Saturday (April 21), the heart and soul of Llanelli left many a head ‘felinfoel’ the following day. Rest assured, Llanelli and the whole region are ‘quite alright’ as they entertain Glasgow Warriors on Saturday (Apr 7), no thought yet of the semi-final date with destiny.

Sport

Harrison Allen: Lawrenny go through to quarter finals

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LAWRENNY booked their place in the quarter finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Wednesday night (May 25) as they beat Burton by nine wickets.

Lawrenny won the toss and elected to field and they were able to bowl Burton out for just 93.

Burton lost James Davies early on as he was caught by Tom Cole off the bowling of Jamie Lewis.

Ryan Morton also claimed two wickets as Burton slipped to 58-3.

That brought Luke Hayman into the middle with brother Toby and the pair took the score to 67-3 after 13 overs.

Toby reached a score of 37 before heading back to the pavilion while Luke added 12.

Steve Lewis was in fine form for Lawrenny as he took five wickets to finish with 5-13 while Ryan Morton finished with 2-26.

There were also wickets from Jamie Lewis (1-14) and Finley Lewis (1-7).

In reply, Steve Lewis scored 23 before he was sent back. Harry Thomas finished unbeaten on 23 while Troy Purslowe was not out on 45.

It sets up a quarter final against the winners of the game between Hundleton and Cresselly.

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Sport

Llangwm edge past Tish to book Harrison Allen quarter final spot

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LLANGWM secured their place in the quarter finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Wednesday night (May 25) as they beat St Ishmaels by 4 runs.

Tish won the toss and chose to field and they restricted Llangwm to 146-9 in their 22 overs.

Noah Davies and Joe Kiff made a good start for the hosts as they shared 67 runs for the first wicket.

Kiff was the first man to go as he was caught by Ieuan Hawkins off the bowling of Brennan Devonald on a score of 27 that had included two fours and two sixes.

Soon after, Davies, who had hit one of each boundary in his score of 27, was also following Kiff back to the pavilion after being bowled by Jonathan Pawlett.

Pawlett also claimed the wicket of Will Beresford before Steven Mills departed on a score of 16 (1 four, 1 six) when he was caught and bowled by Devonald.

That left Llangwm on 107-4 but scores of 15 from Matthew Kiff and 16 not out from David Lewis saw them to their total.

For Tish, Pawlett finished with excellent figures of 4-41 while Devonald finished with 3-25.

Peter Bradshaw hit two early fours in his score of 12 but he was run out.

Karl Rhead and Andrew Palmer shared 42 runs for the second wicket as Palmer made his way to a score of 35.

Rhead was bowled by Steven Mills who then did the same to Brennan Devonald moments later.

Palmer had reached 42 with five fours and a six but when he was brilliantly caught by Luke Brock off the bowling of Mills, Tish had slipped to 77-4.

Phil Cockburn and Jonathan Pawlett then shared 23 runs for the fifth wicket as they looked to keep Tish in the game.

Pawlett hit a six but was then caught by Oliver Davies to give Mills his fourth wicket and figures of 4-28.

Cockburn and Andew Pawlett then shared 37 runs for the sixth wicket as they took the tie down to the final over of the game.

They scored 17 runs off the 20th over and 18 runs off the 21st over meaning they would need 11 off the final over to win it.

Cockburn took a run off the first to bring Pawlett on strike. After missing the third ball he went for a run that wasn’t there and keeper Beresford ran out Cockburn.

He had hit two fours and three sixes in his score of 39 from 30 balls.

Andrew Pawlett and Andrew Williams could only take five runs from the next five balls but it wasn’t enough for victory.

Pawlett finished unbeaten on a score of 20 from 11 balls with one four and two sixes.

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Education

Crymych Panthers hold Boccia competition

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CRYMYCH Panthers Boccia Club recently held their first in-house Boccia competition, with eight members competing in two categories: BC1&2 (participants with a physical impairment) and BC8 (participants with an intellectual impairment).

Games were played in a round robin style competition. The final of the BC1&2 between Racheal Bailey and James Pugh was a very close game with James winning by 3 points to 1. The BC 8 final was between Yvonne Berry and Dewi Evans. Dewi won by 10 points to nil, back on form as a former Welsh international Special Olympic team member.

The competition was sponsored by Andrew Scott Davies of Pembroke who took part in the 2021 CARTEN 100 bike to assist the club.

Andrew Scott Davies presenting the winners and runners up with their trophies. All participants received a certificate of attendance.

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