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Cresselly beat Town to open up title race

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THE Division 1 title race was blown wide open on Saturday (Jun 30) as Cresselly beat leaders Haverfordwest while Whitland and Neyland both won again to close the gap on the top two.

Haverfordwest were asked to bat first against Cresselly and had it not been for a score of 91 not out from Simon Holliday, taking his tally of runs for the season to 876, their score could have been a lot less.

Opener Dai Davies was the only other batsman to make it into double figures as they slipped to scores of 78-6 and 114-8.

Cresselly’s Ryan Lewis was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with figures of 5-25.

In reply, Dan Sutton and Iwan Izzard both made scores of 24 before 83 not out from Dan Cherry guided Cresselly to their target.

The win means Cresselly move level on points with leaders Haverfordwest while Whitland’s win over Lawrenny means they are now just 16 points behind.

Whitland batted first and made an excellent total of 257-4 in their innings with Steffan James playing a starring role as he finished not out on 128.

He was supported well by Dylan Blain who added 68 runs as Lawrenny’s bowlers toiled.

Lawrenny were unable to match Whitland’s score however, as Iestyn Scourfield was in superb form with the ball as he took nine wickets for the loss of 39 runs to help bowl their opponents out for 106.

Neyland returned to winning ways on Saturday with victory over Llangwm at Pill Parks and they now sit 18 points behind the top two.

Neyland had lost three of their previous four matches, drawing the other, but they were eager to get themselves back in the title picture and they scored 253-6 in their innings.

They had played on the same pitch a few days earlier in the semi-final of the Duggie Morris tournament so they already had a good feel of how the pitch would play.

Nick Koomen top scored for his side with 78 runs while Ashley Smith added 47 and Henry Durrant added 40.

Llangwm had Noah Davies their top scorer on 52 while Joseph Kiff added 49 and Richard Brock scored 38 but it wasn’t quite enough to take them to victory.

Andrew Miller took three wickets for Neyland while Gary Lloyd and Durrant both struck twice to bowl them out for 181.

At the other end of the table, Kilgetty earned a crucial win against Burton to further boost their hopes of survival.

Kilgetty batted first but were all out for 163 with Burton’s Morgan Scale taking four wickets and Luke Hayman also taking three wickets.

Kurtis Marsh top scored for the visitors with 53 runs while Tom Lewis scored 36 and Jack Parkinson added 23.

Burton then had Matthew Davies score 41 in reply and Morgan Scale added 38 but it wasn’t quite enough to earn them victory as they were bowled out for 158, just five runs short.

Marsh took three wickets while Ross Hardy and Liam Cullen both struck twice for Kilgetty.

Finally, Tish eased to victory over Johnston by nine wickets on Saturday.

Johnston batted first and had opener Steve James score 22 and Gary James added 21 before some late hitting from Keegan Codd saw him score 43 as they were all out for 124.

Tish’s Andrew Pawlett took six wickets for the home side who then had Peter Bradshaw finish not out on 47 and Phil Cockburn unbeaten on 56 as they reached their target with plenty of time to spare.

On Saturday (Jul 7), the top four sides all face sides below them in the table with Cresselly travelling to bottom side Johnston.

Haverfordwest travel to a Lawrenny side who have already beaten Neyland and Cresselly so far this season.

Whitland are at home to Llangwm while Neyland are at home as they take on Burton.

Two sides towards the bottom end of the table could give themselves a real boost as third from bottom Kilgetty host fourth from bottom St Ishmaels with both locked on 128 points.

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Scarlets sign Welsh-qualified full-back Ellis Mee from Nottingham

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THE SCARLETS have added to their squad for the 2024-25 season with the signing of Welsh-qualified Nottingham full-back Ellis Mee.

The 20-year-old, who can play full-back or wing, will link up with the squad in the summer and becomes the third addition to Dwayne Peel’s squad for the new campaign.

Standing at 6ft 4in and 92kg, Mee enjoyed an outstanding first season in the English Championship, culminating in him winning Nottingham’s players’, fans’ and overall player-of-the-season awards.

He has been combining his rugby career with studies at Nottingham Trent University.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Ellis has impressed us with his form for Nottingham this season, he is a powerful runner, strong in the air and knows his way to the try line. We are looking forward to him joining us for pre-season in the summer.

“He will be part of a group of young Welsh backs who we are excited about for the coming years. The likes of Tomi Lewis, Eddie James, Joe Roberts and Tom Rogers have had a lot of rugby for us this season, Jac Davies has been outstanding for Llandovery before his injury and it was great to see Macs Page make his debut in Parma last weekend.

“There is a crop of talented young Welsh backs coming through who have a huge amount of potential and we are looking forward to seeing Ellis challenge for a place in the side next season.”

Ellis Mee said: “Scarlets are an amazing club with great history and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

“Signing for Scarlets is an excellent opportunity for me to better myself in a higher league and against different opposition.

“I am really looking forward to starting this next chapter of my career.”

Ellis is the third new signing to be announced by the Scarlets ahead of next season, joining Toyota Cheetahs hooker Marnus van der Merwe and Exeter Chiefs prop Alec Hepburn with more arrivals set to be announced in the coming weeks.

Sam Lousi, Tom Rogers, Harri O’Connor, Dan Davis and Ben Williams have also signed new deals with the club.

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Swansea Council hopes sports ground will be new Ospreys home

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SWANSEA CITY COUNCIL says it would like the city’s St Helen’s sports ground to become the new home of top-flight rugby region The Ospreys.

The Ospreys are looking for a new home, having stated that they no longer plan to play at the Swansea.com Stadium after the 2024-25 season.  

A proposal for a new operating model at St Helen’s – currently run by the council – would see it redeveloped as a location for regional and community sport.

The council would want any approved plan to accommodate the successful relocation of Swansea Cricket Club in a manner agreed by them and others.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: “St Helen’s needs to be upgraded to offer a modern sports experience, and the Ospreys need a new home and a plan for long-term sustainability.

“We’re prepared to work on the current Ospreys proposal for St Helen’s to become a modern rugby stadium, helping the region to make their home there and remain in Swansea.

“We’re doing all we can to support the Ospreys to stay in Swansea, while also working with all of our sporting stakeholders to provide top-class facilities for them.

“We’ve discussed the option with the Ospreys. We’re already discussing key matters in a positive manner with current St Helen’s residents Swansea CC and Swansea RFC.

“Ongoing discussions to enable these potential changes include implications, timescales and funding to develop improved cricket facilities nearby.”

The St Helen’s proposal would involve agreements with the Ospreys to accommodate other uses. The neighbouring recreation ground does not feature in the current proposal.

St Helen’s would become a rugby stadium for a range of users, including a home for regional rugby, and facilities for community sport. It would be developed in a phased manner over a number of years, increasing capacity, developing facilities and improving the experience of users and visitors.

The proposal would allow rugby use, including – as now – by Swansea RFC and Swansea University. The sports ground would be made available for use by local community groups and schools.

Cricket teams would be offered upgraded facilities nearby, with details and timings to be agreed by key stakeholders. 

A report outlining the proposal was presented to the council’s cabinet by cabinet member for investment, regeneration, events and tourism Robert Francis Davies on May 16.

He said: “We want to work with the Ospreys to improve St Helen’s as a key sporting facility to the benefit of first-class regional rugby and as community sports venue for the city.

“Swansea is a sporting city and we want an active and healthy Swansea with a thriving local economy and infrastructure. This plan would help that.

“The proposal is to develop and enhance St Helen’s as a sports facility over the coming years through a long-term partnership with The Ospreys.

“We’re committed to working in partnership with others to ensure the development and delivery of sport in Swansea at community, student and elite levels.”

St Helen’s has a rich history and has played host to high level sport over the decades.

Current activity there includes home games of Swansea RFC in rugby union’s Welsh Premiership and Swansea Cricket Club home games in the top fight of South Wales cricket.

However, without increased future investment, the council would need to consider other arrangements.

Cllr Francis-Davies said: “The St Helen’s proposal – which would see us work within council budgets at this time of great financial challenge – is to secure investment and revitalise the venue, retaining first class regional rugby close to the city centre.

“We’re talking with Swansea CC about helping them relocate to an alternative facility suitable for their games in the top division of the South Wales Premier Cricket League.

“We’re eager to work to a timeframe agreed by stakeholders and in line with the proposals.” 

Meanwhile Bridgend County Borough Council said it can confirm that talks are ongoing with the Ospreys about the team potentially relocating to the Dunraven Brewery Field from the 2025/26 season onwards.

Earlier this year, the Ospreys announced plans to relocate to a new stadium and their search has now been narrowed down to the Dunraven Brewery Field in Bridgend and St Helens in Swansea.

The move would represent a boost to the local economy by offering many mutual benefits to both the Ospreys and the county borough as a whole.

Bridgend County Borough has been part of the Ospreys region since 2004 and has played host to the team on a number of occasions, including this season’s derby clash against Cardiff Rugby and the memorable European Challenge Cup win over Sale Sharks.

Cllr Neelo Farr, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Economic Development and Housing, said: “We are fully supportive of the Ospreys’ plans to potentially relocate to Bridgend County Borough and we are looking forward to further talks as we continue to discuss the many mutual benefits of any such move, including the massive economic boost that it would bring to the entire area.

“The Dunraven Brewery Field would offer the Ospreys a unique opportunity to base themselves in the heart of a town centre, with Bridgend being perfectly placed on the M4 corridor and having lots of public transport options with nearby train and bus stations.

“The Ospreys already have lots of strong community links throughout the county borough and it’s fantastic that many of their current players are from Bridgend and started their rugby journeys by playing for our local teams.”

Ospreys CEO, Lance Bradley said: “I am happy to share that we have narrowed down our decision to two fantastic grounds, each offering unique opportunities, and we are confident that either choice would be more than suitable as the Ospreys new home.

“It’s been a pleasure working with both the City and County of Swansea Council and Bridgend County Borough Council to get to this point. Both councils have really come to the party and been more than accommodating in our requests, and open to working together to ensure our new stadium is not just a suitable top-flight rugby stadium but offers further opportunities to enrich the local community.

“I look forward to being able to share our preferred option in the coming weeks and working in partnership with the relevant Council to ensure our new home becomes the hub of the community.”

The Ospreys will remain at the Swansea.com Stadium for the 24/25 season, using this time for initial redevelopments to ensure the selected stadium is fit for purpose for the following 25/26 season.

Further updates regarding stadium selection will be shared by the Ospreys in due course.

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St. Davids Rugby Club bids fond farewell to popular tenants

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ST DAVIDS Rugby Club has announced with great regret that Carol and Jeff Pick, beloved tenants of the club, are stepping down from their position. The couple, who moved to St. Davids primarily for this opportunity, expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the past year, which they described as an extraordinary experience.

Carol and Jeff took over the tenancy of St. Davids RFC in Pembrokeshire at the end of last summer, a significant period as the rugby season commenced. Unlike most rugby clubs that employ a steward or stewardess, Jeff and Carol owned the tenancy, meaning they managed the entire operation, making decisions that could make or break their venture. Despite the challenges posed by the seasonal influx of St. Davids’ population, which swells from 2,000 to 12,000 during the summer months, they thrived.

Their tenure has been marked by a series of successful initiatives. Jeff’s background as a former player and coach undoubtedly facilitated his integration with the club’s members. Carol’s personal touch was evident through her creative contributions, such as sewing cushions in the club’s colours for the lounge, which added a genuine club feel to the place. The club became a hub of activity with weekend entertainment, including bands, open mic nights, and Carol’s popular Sunday lunches.

In a heartfelt statement, Carol and Jeff shared their appreciation for the warm and welcoming community they have come to cherish. “We have met so many wonderful people and made countless friends; words cannot describe how fantastic this last year has been,” they said.

Although they are leaving their roles as tenants, the couple emphasised their ongoing commitment to the club. Jeff will continue his involvement with the rugby team, and Carol remains a dedicated supporter. They extended their thanks to the club’s committee for their unwavering support and for providing them with this unique opportunity.

Special acknowledgements were given to Jack, the coaches, and the players, who have contributed to the fun and camaraderie within the club. Carol and Jeff also highlighted the continuous support from the mini and juniors section, as well as the St. Davids Penknife Club, whose encouragement has been invaluable.

The couple expressed their gratitude to all the club members and patrons who have visited for a pint, noting the joy they found in these interactions. They also thanked their friends and family for visiting and sharing in the wonderful times at the club.

Concluding their message, Carol and Jeff expressed their sincere thanks to everyone who has supported them throughout the year. “It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know all the friends we’ve made,” they remarked.

The departure of Carol and Jeff marks the end of a cherished chapter at St. Davids Rugby Club, but their legacy of friendship and community spirit will undoubtedly endure. Visitors and club members alike will fondly remember their contributions and the vibrant atmosphere they helped create.

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