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Scarlets try-fest secures semi-final place

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SCARLETS welcomed Toyota Cheetahs to Parc y Scarlets for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series quarter-final on Saturday (May 5) looking for a victory to keep the Championship-retaining run alive.

A beautiful Spring evening was the perfect touch for a final home game of the season as the Scarlets faithful came along to say a fond farewell to the individuals moving on at the end of the season.

The home side crossed the whitewash for six fantastic tries as the sun set on Parc y Scarlets’ season and the team didn’t disappoint putting in one final performance to keep the home winning record alive.

Scarlets got the scoreboard ticking over after five minutes of play with winger Steff Evans crossing in the corner. The ball came out from a Cheetahs line out as play continued despite an injury to Rob Evans in midfield. Rhys Patchell and Hadleigh Parkes made strong breaks through centre field and made the all-important territorial gains putting Evans in over the whitewash. Halfpenny added the conversion.

A penalty then came Scarlets’ way just inside Cheetahs territory as the game headed towards the quarter of an hour mark. Halfpenny stepped up for the long range penalty but the ball hit the upright and the Cheetahs looked to play from deep. Scarlets are on heightened alert and Tadhg Beirne wins the turnover in their 22. They were given another penalty and Halfpenny made amends for his earlier miss to make it 10-0.

Photo by Darren Harries

Within a few minutes Scarlets were back on the rampage from inside their own half as Gareth Davies gets the ball away from the scrum. Centre Parkes motored up the outside and finds Halfpenny in support who cuts a great line to the whitewash before converting his own try.

Cheetahs then got their first points on the board after 21 minutes of play with outside half Johan Goosen slotting a penalty.

Halfpenny was replaced by Dan Jones and Patchell stepped up for a long range penalty. He has the range, just like Halfpenny did earlier on in the half, but it sailed just wide of the upright.

With just a few minutes remaining in the first half Steff Evans made a wonderful break in midfield. He danced around five or six Cheetahs defenders, frees himself, puts in a chip over the top and scores a second try! Patchell added the conversion and the Scarlets looked comfortable with a 24-3 half time lead.

Scarlets fired in to action early on in the second half with a try from winger Tom Prydie. The Scarlets put the Cheetahs under huge pressure in their half and after scrum half Gareth Davies was replaced by Jonathan Evans the Scarlets pack got the ball flowing through the hands with Scott Williams putting in a wonderful pass before Prydie touches down under the posts. Patchell added the conversion.

Wyn Jones made a return to the field on the 45 minute mark, his first game since the Six Nations campaign when he injured his hamstring.

Whilst John Barclay receives a standing ovation from the entire ground, including the coaching staff, captain Ken Owens goes and scores from the rolling maul for their fifth try of the evening with Patchell converting.

Replacement scrum half Jonathan Evans crossed for the region’s sixth try on the hour mark as he dashed towards the whitewash from the 22 line. He dives in time to touch down and Scarlets go 43-3 ahead.

With fifteen minutes remaining Tadhg Beirne was replaced by Aaron Shingler. An emotional send off as Parc y Scarlets erupts. Every man, woman and child were on their feet.

Scott Williams leaves the field of play at Parc y Scarlets for the last time as a Scarlet. Another emotional farewell.

The Cheetahs cross the whitewash with ten minutes remaining after frantic defensive work by the Scarlets. The TMO is called upon for foul play earlier on in the phase where Tom Prydie is manhandled without the ball and the try was disallowed.

It was the Cheetahs who finished the game strongly with fullback Clayton Blommetjies scoring Cheetahs’ only try of the evening.

That was the last action of the games and the Scarlets sealed an impressive 43-8 win. They now go on to play Glasgow Warriors at the Scotstoun Stadium on Friday, May 18.

Sport

Scarlets make five changes for Cardiff Blues clash

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Scarlets show five changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup clash with Cardiff Blues at Parc y Scarlets (15:00; Premier Sports),

Interim head coach Dai Flanagan has reshuffled his side, giving opportunities to centre Ioan Nicholas and lock Josh Helps.

It will be 23-year-old Nicholas’s first PRO14 appearance since October 2019, having been frustrated by injury this season. Helps comes into the starting XV for the first time since November.

In the back three there is one change with Johnny McNicholl replacing fellow Wales international Steff Evans on the left wing. The only other switch behind the scrum is the inclusion of NIcholas for Tyler Morgan to partner Jonathan Davies in midfield. Angus O’Brien and Kieran Hardy continue their half-back partnership.

Up front, Ryan Elias again swaps with Ken Owens and resumes the captaincy after leading the side for the first time in the opening round match against the Dragons. He packs down in between Rob Evans and Alex Jeffries, the scorer of the only try of the game in last weekend’s 22-6 win over the Ospreys.

Helps and Lewis Rawlins combine in the second row, while injuries to Blade Thomson and Uzair Cassiem see Ed Kennedy handed the No. 8 jersey. Kennedy, Aaron Shingler and Jac Morgan make up the back row.

There are two of Warren Gatland’s 2021 Lions selections on the bench in Ken Owens and Gareth Davies. Steff Thomas, Javan Sebastian, Morgan Jones, Iesyn Rees, Dan Jones and Joe Roberts provide the rest of the replacement cover.

Both the Scarlets and Blues have a win apiece after the opening two rounds of the Rainbow Cup.

Scarlets team v Cardiff Blues (Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup; Parc y Scarlets, Sat, May 15, 15:00 Premier Sports)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Johnny McNicholl; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Kieran Hardy; 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ryan Elias (capt), 3 Alex Jeffries, 4 Josh Helps, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 Jac Morgan, 8 Ed Kennedy.
Reps: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Iestyn Rees, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Joe Roberts.

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Sport

Newtown hold on to beat Haverfordwest

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NEWTOWN secured seventh place in the JD Cymru Premier Play-off conference as they beat Haverfordwest County 2-1 at the Bridge Meadow.

The Robins had beaten the Bluebirds 6-1 at Latham Park a few weeks ago but it was much different this time around.

Newtown took the lead as early as the second minute as they won a corner which was sent into the box for Tyrone Ofori who flicked the ball in.

The Bluebirds battled for a way back into the game and came close when the ball was played over the top for Jack Wilson but it just ran away and the Newtown keeper Dave Jones was able to gather the ball.

On 17 minutes, the Bluebirds won a corner which Elliot Scotcher sent into the box and Danny Williams headed in to the far corner to make it 1-1.

Newtown were then given a free kick in a dangerous position which captain Craig Williams sent into the box. Kieran Mills-Evans chested the ball down at the back post and Bluebirds keeper Wojciech Gajda made a good save to push the ball away.

There was another chance for Newtown soon after as Tyrone Ofori saw his header pushed wide by Gajda.

From the resulting corner, Shane Sutton headed home to put Newtown back in front.

The Bluebirds then had a chance to get level but Dan Summerfield sent a rasping drive just over the bar.

With half an hour gone, Alaric Jones sent a ball into the box but Corey Shephard saw his header saved by Dave Jones.

Both sides battled away with Scotcher sending a drive over from the edge of the box.

However it remained 2-1 to the visitors as the half time whistle went.

Newtown had a great chance to extend their lead at the start of the second half as Williams sent a corner into the box but Mills-Evans headed just wide.

The Bluebirds looked to get back in the game but despite getting into some promising positions, they were unable to test the Newtown keeper.

With twenty minutes to go a Bluebirds throw was headed on to the back post. Danny Williams headed towards goal and thought it had gone over the line but Dave Jones made a fantastic save to keep Newtown ahead.

Sub Cameron Keetch then had a great chance to level for the home side but he headed wide.

As the game entered the final stages, rain became harder making things difficult for both sides. Newtown were still searching for a third and nearly had it when the ball was played in to Breese into the box but he shot wide.

The Bluebirds were also looking for a late equaliser but as time ran out they resorted to long balls which Newtown were able to deal with.

The visitors kept the ball in the corner late on but the Bluebirds were able to get the ball out as they looked for one last chance.

It never came and the visitors held on to secure seventh place in the table.

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Neyland through in Village Cup after beating Bronwydd

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NEYLAND made it through to the next round of the Village Cup as they beat Bronwydd by 98 runs on Sunday (May 9).

No cricket had been possible in Pembrokeshire on Saturday because of heavy and persistent rain but some great work meant that their cup game could go ahead.

Before the game got underway, a minutes silence was held in respect of former Bronwydd CC player Aled John, who recently passed away.

Bronwydd won the toss and elected to field first which came as no surprise and they were able to restrict Neylad to a score of 160-9 in their 40 overs.

After losing Patrick Bellerby and Ashley Sutton early on, to the bowling of Clive Tucker, Neyland were sitting on a score of 23-2.

However, a stand of 54 between Nick Koomen and Brad McDermott-Jenkins put the hosts in a good position.

Koomen had reached 38 with six fours but he was then bowled by Josh Rencken and wickets continued to fall.

Nathan Banner departed for a second ball duck when he was bowled by Matthew Bagshaw and the same bowler then did the same to Ross Hardy.

McDermott-Jenkins had hit six fours in his score of 40 but he then fell to the bowling of Rencken and Neyand had slipped to 99-6.

Andrew Millers (1), George Evans (11) and Lewis Page all fell to the bowling of James Dickson as Neyland were in danger of being bowled out.

It was left to brothers Sean and Patrick Hannon to steady the ship as they shared 29 runs for the final wicket.

Both finished on scores of 15 not out with Sean hitting a six while Patrick’s score came from only 14 balls.

It meant that Bronwydd would need 161 to progress to the next round.

They made a steady start to their reply but when Josh Rencken was caught by Patrick Bellerby off the bowling of Nathan Banner on a score of 19, wickets began to tumble.

Jacob Jenkinson made a score of 15 but he was then stumped by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Miller also picked up the wicket of Oliver Furneaux before Ross Hardy trapped James Dickson leg before to leave the visitors on 51-5.

Hardy then did the same to Carwyn Jones and he also bowled Iwan Davies as the game started slipping away for Bronwydd.

Miller then picked up his third to finish with figures of 3-11 from his eight overs while Hardy returned to pick up his fourth to finish with impressive figures of 4-5 from seven overs, five of which were maidens.

McDermott-Jenkins wrapped the game up with the wicket of Colin Tucker as the hosts secured an excellent win.

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