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Otters give Pooler a fright

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NARBERTH gave everything they had on Saturday (Jan 19), but it wasn’t enough to earn victory against Pontypool at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

Pontypool, unbeaten in 49 games, arrived with an army of loyal supporters to add to a large crowd eager to witness the clash. They were not disappointed for the Otters had no intention of giving way to the league leaders.

The Otters kicked off and for the next few minutes attacked Pooler in their half and on the halfway line. A scrum was called and the ball was served and in seconds the ball came out on the tight head. Pooler winger Lloyd Lewis gathered the ball and seeing his way to the line clear, raced up the far touchline for him to score an unconverted try.

The Otters restarted and it seemed a kicking duel was likely until Pontypool put the ball in touch. From the Otters lineout the ball was moved  from left to right with hooker Rhodri Owens breaking forward, Pooler brought him down but the Otters rucked well, Ryan Lane fed the ball to Jonathan Rogers who repeated the previous weeks drop goal with ease, bringing the score to 3-5.

There was then another kicking duel with Pooler chasing every kick while the Otters played for safety and kicked into touch. Pooler then set up a rolling maul before releasing fly half Mathew Lewis to place the ball into touch on the Otters 22.

Pooler continued to put the pressure on but the Otters stood up to it well. The visitors forced the Otters back into their 22, gaining a penalty at the breakdown and Mathew Lewis put the ball into touch on the 5 metre line by the clubhouse.

From the lineout they set up a rolling maul but the Otters pack were equal to the technique and thwarted Pooler and managed to get the ball to Jack Price who kicked down field before full back Geraint Walsh moved the ball to the opposite side of the field before the Otters closed him down.

Pooler were penalised for offside enabling Jonathan Rogers to kick into the Pooler 22. The Otters gaining the ball moved across from the stand side but the move broke down when the passed ball was dropped.

The Otters regained possession and Jack Price made a powerful break and although tackled he managed to forced his way through before slipping to the ground. At the ruck the Otters were again penalised.

Then on 27 minutes with Pooler in attack in the Otters half the ball broke loose and reacting quickly Nick Gale kicked the ball down field, the Pontypool winger was unable to control the ball enabling Nick to kick forward again and easily win the sprint to the touch down. He followed this with an excellent conversion to make it 10-5 to the Otters.

Pooler responded aggressively to finding themselves behind but the Otters defended with good organisation and equal aggression stopping every attempt to break through even at the scrum 10 metres from the Otters line, when Rhys Lane was able to put in a relieving kick into touch on his 22.

The Otters pack put pressure on Pooler enabling wing Will Lewis to kick ahead and break forward. He gathered the ball making many metres before being tackled.

Pooler were making much use of their heavier pack but a stout defence held them back. Close to half time Mathew Lewis kicked Pooler to the Otters corner. At the lineout a maul was formed but held back only for the Otters to be penalised and for Richard Rees to be sent to the sin bin.

The referee eventually blew for half time after playing six minutes injury time with the Otters 10-5 ahead.

The second half started with both full backs attempting a kicking duel before Ianto Griffiths put the ball into touch on halfway.

The difference between the two scrum halves beside age is that Lewys has a longer pass enabling Jonathan Rogers to position himself further back away from the Pooler back row. However, five minutes into the second half, Pooler levelled the score with an unconverted try by flanker Mikey Herbert who broke through the Otters defence to cross the line and touch down.

For the next 10 minutes Pooler stepped up their pressure in an aggressive manner with both defences putting in some brutal tackles. The Otters were awarded a penalty for Nick Gale to step up and successfully kick the Otters into a 3 point lead at 13-10.

A few minutes later, the Otters were defending another forceful Pooler attack when on their 22, there was an unfortunate injury affecting flanker Steffan Phillips. His cries of agony were heard around the ground and play stopped for 10 minutes while he received attention. A huge round of applause occurred when Steffan rose and was able, with assistance, to walk off the field with his right arm supported.

A scrum restarted the game, Pooler were awarded a penalty with which Mathew Lewis levelled the score at 13-13.

This was followed a few minutes later with the Otters regaining the lead with another Nick Gale penalty.

The Otters continued their attempts to break through the Pooler defence and a diagonal break by Keiron Jones saw him tackled 5 metres from the try line. A successful ruck saw Jonathan Rogers throw a long pass which reached Nick Gale who raced towards the line before being pulled down, via the ruck the ball was moved quickly towards the clubhouse when Pooler were penalised for lying offside.

The Otters kicked to the corner at the lineout forming a maul but the possession was lost enabling Pooler to force their way downfield. On 76 minutes they were awarded a penalty, Mathew Lewis kicked to touch into the Otters 22.

At the lineout they formed a maul before quickly releasing the ball with Mathew Lewis managing to break the defensive wall and score an unconverted try. The score was now 16-18.

Unfortunately the Otters kick out on the half way line went directly into touch. Thus enabling Pooler to scrummage and retain the ball.

Otters defence coach Jon Dodd commented: “It was a very hard game, very physical. We probably gave Pontypool the hardest game of the season, we are disappointed we lost. Everything went to the game plan. There was more kicking and chasing than we normally do but that was because of the quality of Pontypool.

“Defensively we were very good but we spent long periods of time without the ball and it took its toll. We took our breakaway try very well but there were other chances we might have taken. We played excellently and for the spectator it was a good game to watch. The team from 1 to 15 put in a very good performance today. Nick Gale with his place kicking was excellent and kept us going. So with those thoughts in mind we can go forward in the remaining games and win them all.”

Sport

Fox’s Clarby win nine goal thriller

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Clarby came out on top of a nine goal thriller at Neyland on Saturday. The result means that Clarby remain in 3rd whilst Neyland will now be relegated to the second division.

The visitors started the better and 7 minutes in Laurie Howarth scored directly from a corner. However Neyland came back flying and started to cause problems for the away team.

There was then two goals in five minutes. The first Ben Gale nipped in between the Clarby’s centre backs to slot home and minutes later it was 2-1 as a deep cross evaded Clarby defence and Leo Power slid in to give the home side the lead.

After 32 mins Ben ‘Rocky’ John beat a defender at the left of the box and his outside of the foot effort went found its way in to make it all square again.

Some great play by Wood and Matthew Davies down the Clarby right hand side meant the latter crossed for Howarth to head home his second goal of the afternoon advantage visitors.

Haworth then completed his hat trick to make it 4-2 Clarby and it seemed the madness was over for the first half. However there was time for another goal as a wicked cross from Harry Young was deflected off the head of Rheinallt George into his own net for 4-3 at the oranges.

Seven goals in the first half, however the second half saw the game settle down well a little bit.

Laurie Haworth scored at the far post, Matthew Davies again the provider and it looked like Clarby would roll home. But Mikey Chandler scored in the 89th minute, a deft chip from all of 30 years an over Sam Edge in goal.

Despite a late push from the hosts it finished 5-4 to the visitors and it’ll be second division football for Neyland next season.

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Sport

Carew stun Robins late on

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Milford United went into this fixture with five key players missing from the squad which allowed some 2nd team players to step into Steve Parks squad to face a Carew side that has been in good form.

The weather and pitch was good and the game kicked off with both teams playing some good football. It was a mistake from the Robins which would allow Carew to score on the 17th minute. The goal came through Griffiths who picked up a short pass and carried the ball and slotted it past the robins keeper, Milford dusted themselves down and played some good penetrating football down both wings through Tyler Sheil & Cameron Lees, it was lees who equalised on the 28th minute. Milford played some nice one two football on the right and Lees finished it off with a good finish.

Milford finished the half the strongest and should of taken the lead when Scott Reid broke the offside trap and was through one on one with the Carew keeper but his shot was pared away by the keeper.

The second half started with Carew pressing looking to dominate the play. Both sides had half chances and on the 75th minute Milford’s Morgan Picton released Reid who made no mistake rounding the keeper to put the Robins 2-1 up.

Robins manager Steve Parks thought at the 83rd minute that the win in the bag but Carew had other ideas and equalised through J. Hinchcliffe to level it at 2-2, in hind site a draw would have been a fair result for both managers.

Milford switched off and allowed Carew to score a third on the 87th minute and again at 90+4 leaving Parks absolutely stunned how Milford were winning 2-1 and gave is away in a lack lustre 10 minutes.

As the season draws to an end The Robins will be happy with their first season back in Div 1 and Carew look forward to their Senior cup Semi final against Clarbeston Road on Saturday.

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Sport

Johnston Reserves win nine goal thriller

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Division 5 promotion chasers Johnston 2nds visited bottom of the table Cosheston 2nds in what should have been a routine victory for the visiting team.

On a pitch that looked like it had cattle grazing just a few hours previously, both teams started in an attacking fashion with the young Johnston forward line causing no end of trouble for the experienced Cosh defence.

In a game that could have gone either way, Cosh took an early lead through Rhys Griffiths, before a succession of chances were missed for both teams.

Johnston were playing well and their equaliser came in the 25th minute after good play by Alfie Crawford, who was using his pace to create havoc across the front line. Johnston took the lead a short time later through Crawford, after great work by the experienced Ashley Bevans and went further ahead a few moments later.

3-1 at half time in a highly entertaining game.

The second half started as the first half had finished, with both teams going for an all out attack mentality, and Cosheston got themselves back into the match in the 52nd minute and their constant attacking, combined with a little uncertainty in the Johnston defence, saw them equalise in the 53rd minute.

At this stage, the scoreline was 3-3 but could easily have been 6-6 and that was added to even further just a minute later, when Johnston retook the lead through Pete Donnelly!

Some game at The Playing Fields!!

Johnston made a tactical change with a view of firming up their defence with Squashie coming on for Liam Brown, and he made a positive impact ensuring the defence was communicating more, making it more difficult for the Cosheston strikers.

The visiting team scored two late goals to finish as 6-3 winners, but the game was exceptionally entertaining and on another day Cosheston would easily have come out on top.

Cosheston have had a tough season in many ways, but it was lovely to see the club stick together, and with some players coming back from injury hopefully they can build on this year and have a better season next.

Johnston continue to be a threat to all teams and now hope to push on and gain promotion.

Huge credit to both clubs for playing in a respectful manner throughout and referee Marty Jones praised both clubs in his post match Facebook post.

A credit to Pembs Div 5, good luck to Johnston in their promotion push.

Cosheston 3-6 Johnston.

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