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Hendy set up tense title run in with victory over Whitland

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By Jonathan Twigg

HENDY emerged from their battle of the champions with Whitland on Wednesday (May 2) winning 22-17 on a tranquil evening at Hendy Park.

Recognised by opponents throughout the division as the two teams who deserved to be playing at a higher level they produced an encounter not short on skill, passion and drama to which both camps can take acclaim from the spectacle provided in front of an appreciative crowd.

Amateur sportsmen and clubs thrive on games where their season hangs on the outcome, those long evenings during a rain soaked winter when their respective coaching teams planned like professionals, the next step in their quest for promotion.

In their 125th anniversary year, the Centreframe sponsored ‘green and red army’ showed their cards early, turning back a straight forward penalty attempt taking a scrum in front of the posts and outside half Rhydian Morris all but squirmed over the try line, Barry based referee Tom Spurrier ruling it out as he wasn’t convinced of the touchdown.

Morris did open the scoring with a well struck penalty, the work rate in the tight areas from lock Rhodri Hughes, flanker Richard Kinnear and number 8 Gavin Thomas, drawing visiting second row Dai Ebsworth over the ball, where both sides were ‘up for the game’.

Whitland settled and hassled scrum half Gruffyd Jones into a loose pass over Morris head in the goal area, setting a scrum which drew a penalty and outside half Nico Setaro set a line out five metres out.

Ebsworth took clean ball, the well drilled ‘green machine’ running in pods to roll around before number 8 Jack Mason was driven low over the line, Setaro landing the conversion, the credentials set for a game that had no parallels in terms of league rugby this season.

Players maybe be ‘categorised’ into Division 2 but their aptitude to absorb from their coaches and peers is without precedent, epitomised by scrum half Jones whose early loose pass was his only blemish in a high intensity game.

Home coaches Dorian Jones and Chris Morgan can call upon the expertise of the Shingler brothers, Aaron, a flying Welsh back row forward with the Scarlets and his brother, Cardiff Blues pivot Steven.  No pretence in the warm up; solid counsel, knowledgeable of what their charges can engross and the little details that turn games, fine-tuned.

Whitland didn’t arrive to be bridesmaids, their intention to run the ball evident with the calibre of inform winger Sean Coles lurking.  Scarlets academy player Scott Lloyd and Aaron Ebsworth on the wing were defensively strong, their efforts a principle of osmosis for their team mates, Hendy momentum nullified and skipper Marc Jones the catalyst to move forward with back row colleagues Ryan Morgan and Dan Evans.

Setaro, Lloyd and centre Gino Setaro brought full back Josh Thomas into the line, where he was direct, opening gaps and creating space with the visiting front five in support.

Props Aaron Mayne and Mike Ryan are not just anchors for a scrum with the experienced Raff Williams bedding down alongside an equally venerable Ebsworth, not that short of his own half century of birthdays, but still plying his trade alongside his nephew on the wing. Setaro took control, hoisting an up and under cross field, young Ebsworth winning the battle with his opposite number Tom Havard and the ball fell into the hands of Coles, looping off his wing to score a converted try.

14-3 wasn’t a fair reflection.  The home charges had chances, not taken where the pressure, even at this level showed. “Not clinical in the key areas” said Coach Chris Morgan post-match, the ball spilled at significant times, centres Iwan Mayze and Josh Davies alongside full back Jake Neuman dangerous with ball in hand. Neuman found space combining well with winger Dyfan Williams, their second wind evident, flanker Lloyd Morris strong in carrying the ball as was second row Ashley Banfield alongside Kinnear.

“We talked about territory” Morgan went on to explain about the half time huddle.  “We needed to make them play where it mattered and force mistakes, squeezing the game and then back our skill levels to capitalise.”  Never have truer words echoed around the village as Hendy came out with purpose in the second half.

Whitland were forced deeper into their own half and ‘the squeeze’ applied onto the key protagonists, forcing choices which the ‘green machine’ may not have had to make all season.  Touch kicks went awry, handling errors occurred, the ball lost at the central turnover area.  With a sniff of victory in the air the Hendy pack were on song, tight in the scrum as the front three, props Ben Bachup and Shaun Williams alongside hooker Chris Bowen came to the fore.

Whitland were wilting, unable to play their expansive game, firefighting the advancing throng, their tackle count mounting to stop ‘men of the match’ second row Hughes and centre Davies.

Momentum with Hendy, Morris missed a penalty awarded by the Championship graded referee.  Spurrier was a key player in the game, being ‘seen but not heard’, emphatic in his control but empathetic to the occasion, calling misdemeanours, although Morris was unable to transfer them into points. Neuman nearly crossed wide out as the home crowd vocal presence could be heard along the M4 corridor driving Hendy on, motivation if ever their heroes needed it.

Hughes once again claimed the ball off the top at a line out, seeing it set by the marauding home forwards, Morris releasing Neuman once more on a canter, the full back freeing Havard in space and fellow winger Williams touched down wide out for 14-10.

Gareth Bennett and Dan Mason, the Whitland gurus sensed the warning signals, making changes to stem the tide and revitalise their mantra.  Not shrinking violets, the duo like their counterparts Jones and Morgan are years ahead of the game, innovative but humble of their contribution to local rugby. “A bitter pill to swallow tonight” stated Bennett, “but we go again on Saturday.  Credit to Hendy, they won the game, did their homework on us and we congratulate them on their victory.  The title is still there for us, two wins from our final fixtures will see to that and we have a collective team spirit which drives us on.”

Their changes did force play from end to end, Whitland having opportunities whilst Hendy were not rewarded with penalty goal attempts, needing their cargo to step forward. Baccup and Hughes were ploughing an unrivalled furrow, hooker Bowen taking a pop pass back from the line out to put his side into the lead 15-14, now a true reflection of the game.

Hendy, in their quest for the title knew they needed a bonus point to go with the victory which was there for the taking. Williams, standing tall out wide and number 8 Thomas now a terrier to equal Whitland skipper Jones around the Park.

It was Thomas tenacity which set the play for Neuman to cross the whitewash as the game entered its final ten minutes, calmness personified as the full back powered over, Morris getting his name on the scoresheet with the conversion.

Whitland replacement centre Josh Thomas had an impact down the inside channel but his side had let slip their efforts during a fine first half display.  One more try would see the home side take a bonus point victory and leave Whitland with nothing for their performance, something the ‘eyes up rugby’ pushed by Bennet and Mason required.

Setaro, taking in the drama that had unfolded, quiet by his standards all evening had the opportunity to glean a point, the final kick of the game sailing through the uprights to reduce the deficit to five points, taking a point for his side which could turn out to be vital come the final whistle in ten days’ time.

Hendy take on Loughor on Wednesday (May 9) knowing they need a bonus point victory and hope Whitland slip up in their final two fixtures if they harbour any aspirations of lifting silverware. The Borderers travel to Fishguard on Saturday (May 5) before hosting Mumbles at Parc Llwyn Ty Gwyn the following Saturday.

Victory on the Moors against the Seagulls ensures the destiny of the title lies with them still, although the only other side to lower their colours besides Hendy this season were the team from the ‘Gateway to the Gower’.

Expect the GD Harries sponsored grandstand to be overflowing for the blockbuster, the ‘green machine’ putting behind any mental fatigue from recent games. League title opportunities are few and far between, the opportunity to be the bride and not the bridesmaid one to savour; an occasion befitting of an epic division 2 season out west.

Sport

Harries steers Pembroke into Duggie Morris Cup final

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PEMBROKE sealed their place in the Duggie Morris Cup final on Wednesday night (Jun 29) as they beat Narberth by eight wickets.

The match was originally due to take place on Tuesday but heavy rain forced the game to be moved.

Played at Carew in front of a good crowd, Narberth batted first and made a good score of 165-7.

Narberth lost Richard Adams early on when he was caught by Jonathan Rogers off the bowling of Alan Webster on a score of 13 and Rob Smyth also claimed the wicket of Lewis Hough.

Kyle Quartermaine hit five fours and two sixes in his score of 44 from 23 balls but he was stumped by Phil Hay off the bowling of Steve Durston.

Loui Davies hit three fours and a six in his score of 48 but he was trapped leg before by Steve Durston.

Jordan Howell hit a four and a six in his score of 30 but he was bowled by Jack Harries. Rogers and Harries also claimed a further wicket each late on as they kept Narberth’s total down.

In reply, Jack Harries and Jonathan Rogers made an excellent start as both reached their half centuries.

Rogers hit six fours and three sixes in his score of 65 from 44 balls before he was bowled by David Johns.

Luke Butler made a quick score of 10 before falling to Ben Quartermaine but Harries was able to steer Pembroke to victory.

He hit seven fours and four sixes in his score of 83 not out from 58 balls to see Pembroke into their first final, in any competition, in 17 years.

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Sport

Neyland book place in Duggie Morris final

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NEYLAND are back in the final of the Duggie Morris once again after beating holders Lawrenny in the semi-final on Thursday night (Jun 30).

Lawrenny had broken Neyland’s dominance of the competition with their win last year and Thursday’s game was another exciting clash between the pair.

Neyland won the toss and chose to bat but they could only score 136-7 from their 20 overs.

They lost opener Patrick Bellerby early on when he was bowled by Rob Williams and soon after, fellow opener Paul Murray was caught by Steve Lewis off the bowling of Jamie Lewis.

That left Neyland on 15-2 but Andrew Miller and Ashley Sutton shared 47 runs for the third wicket.

Miller hit a four in his score of 25 but he was caught off the bowling of Finley Lewis.

Sutton and Gregg Miller added another 41 runs for the fourth wicket but Steve Lewis trapped Sutton leg before to reduce Neyland to 103-4. Sutton had hit three fours and a six in his run-a-ball score of 44.

Miller clubbed two fours and two sixes in his score of 26 from 16 balls but he was then bowled by Ryan Morton.

Patrick Hannon hit two fours in a score of 10 but he was also bowled by Harry Thomas who also bowled Lewis Page.

Jack John and Sean Hannon then took Neyland to their total, the latter finding a crucial boundary in the latter stages, as Lawrenny were set 137 to win.

Kyle Marsh started well for Lawrenny, hitting five fours, four of them coming in a row at the start of the third over, but with the next ball he was then caught by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Gary Lloyd.

Marsh had scored 22 from his 15 balls and soon after he departed, Lloyd trapped Harry Thomas leg before for a duck.

Steve Lewis was out for a score of 13 to Andrew Miller and his wicket saw Lawrenny slip to 36-3.

Troy Purslowe and James Phillips then added 34 runs for the fourth wicket. Purslowe hit two fours and a six in his score of 22 but he was then caught by Patrick Hannon off the bowling of Miller.

Ryan Morton came in and hit a six but he was then caught by Patrick Bellerby, again off the bowling of Miller.

At the start of the eighteenth, Lawrenny needed 37 to win but had James Phillips well placed on 29 from 22 balls.

However, the game changed in the space of two balls. Joe Kidney was bowled by Patrick Hannon and with the next ball, Phillips was run out by Ashley Sutton.

It happened again in the nineteenth over as Sean Hannon had Finley Lewis caught by brother Patrick and on the next ball, he had Jamie Lewis caught by Gregg Miller.

There was to be no hat trick but the four wickets in quick succession had seen Lawrenny slip to 105-9.

In the last over, Jack John had Rob Williams caught by Sutton to bring the game to a close.

Neyland will now look forward to the final against Pembroke, to be played in Burton on Sunday, July 17.

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Sport

Division 2 round-up: Johnston win by one run and Herbie win again

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JOHNSTON boosted their hopes of getting out of the bottom two in Division 2 on Saturday (Jun 25) as they beat Lamphey by only one run.

Lamphey won the toss and chose to field but Johnston made a good score of 235-9 from their 45 overs.

Their score was underpinned by an excellent century from Josh Hicks who scored 110 before he was out.

Gary James added 51 and Chris Fitzpatrick added 30 as Johnston posted their second highest total of the season.

David Blackwell finished with 2-17 while Grant Cole claimed 2-28 but David Dredge was the pick of the Lamphey bowlers with 3-42.

In reply, Dredge scored 78, Peter McGilloway scored 26 and there were scores of 43 from Nick Shelmerdine and 20 from Rob Mathias.

Cole finished unbeaten on 26 but it wasn’t enough as Johnston’s bowlers did just enough to seal the win.

Andrew Harries took 3-22 and Lee Summons also claimed three wickets while John Summons finished with 2-17.

Herbie beat Whitland by seven wickets

Herbrandston remain in second place in the table as they beat Whitland to earn their seventh win of the season.

Whitland batted first but were restricted to 142-8 as Kristian Bennett (2-22), Paul Nicholas (2-15) and Charlie Malloy (2-44) all took two wickets.

Wayne Howells was Whitland’s top scorer with 31 while Gethin Scourfield added 27 and Ian Taylor scored 23.

In reply, a score of 58 from Jack Nicholas helpe Herbie on their way while Alan McClelland added 32.

Malloy added to his earlier wickets with 25 not out which, despite wickets for Howells (1-28), Scourfield (1-26) and Luc Owen (1-30), got Herbie to victory inside 30 overs.

Llanrhian seal fifth win

Llanrhian earned their fifth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Pembroke by 63 runs.

Llanrhian batted first and they made a good score of 220-7 in their innings, Ben Jones top scoring with 53.

Paul Lewis added 35, Ewan James scored 26 while there were scores of 24 from Tom Clarke and 23 from Jack Jones.

Andrew Price claimed four wickets for Pembroke while Steve Durston struck twice and Pat Barnaby also picked up one wicket.

Price then scored 31 in Pembroke’s reply and Durston added 19. Paul White top scored with 60 but it wasn’t enough as they were bowled out for 157.

Jack Jones claimed figures of 3-42 while Clarke took 2-30. Dafydd Williams, Gwynant Watson and Jon Strawbridge all claimed a wicket each.

Carew seconds fall short against Hook

Hook also earned their fifth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Carew second by five runs.

Carew won the toss and chose to field and they bowled Hook out for 132.

Barry Evans took 2-19 for Carew while Ethan Hall had 2-34 but Max Brindley starred as he finished with four wickets for the loss of three runs.

Dafydd Bowen and Jacob Lay both made scores of 30 while Jake Wicks scored 24 and Seth Willington added 17.

Carew though were unable to reach their target, despite scores of 41 from Scott Richards and 48 not out from Hayden Shapcott.

Matthew Holder tok 2-36 for Hook while Callum James (1-14) and Harry Makepeace (1-15) also bowled well as Carew could only finish on 127-7.

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