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Otters return to second

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NARBERTH returned to second place in the Championship on Saturday (Apr 6), as they beat Maesteg Quins 16-11 at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

It was the final home game of the season for the Otters and with so many of their players injured they had several permit players in the squad.

The Otters kicked off facing up field, and within three minutes were awarded a penalty for a high tackle which full back Ianto Griffiths kicked safely for a three point lead.

The visitors restarted the game and the Otters looked determined in their attacks but faltered through errors. From one of their attacking efforts Maesteg Quins were awarded a penalty which fly half Tadgh McGuckin safely kicked to bring the score level at 3-3.

Their scrum half during one of their forays actually crossed over the try line but dropped the ball as he attempted to touch down. The referee awarded a five-metre scrum which the Otters eight safely heeled for number eight Richie Rees to break clear up field before being laid low in a tackle at a ruck. After treatment he was able to continue.

A further scrum was set outside the five metre line and Maesteg Quins were able to slip the ball to left wing Alex Griffiths who evaded several tackles to touch down for an unconverted try which gave the visitors a 3-8 lead.

At a lineout a yellow card was issued to a Quins player at 26 minutes. Rogers placed the ball into touch again and the Otters pack gained clean ball and formed a rolling maul. They released the ball quickly to Rogers who kicked towards the corner. Wing Yannick Parker gathered the ball and quickly crossed the line to touch down. The referee indicated an opponent’s hand had foiled the touch down and then issued a yellow card which it is assumed was for taking down the rolling maul.

Taking advantage of the resulting penalty Rogers kicked towards the corner. Roy Osborne caught the throw cleanly and another rolling maul formed.

This was stopped by Maesteg Quins by taking down one of the Otters along with their player causing the maul to collapse. The visitors gained the ball and put in a relieving kick to touch. From the lineout, the Otters advanced and at the breakdown Maesteg Quins were penalised for interfering.

Griffiths came forward and placed his 30 meter kick between the posts bringing the score on 34 minutes to 6-8.

From the kick off the Otters advanced back into the opponents half with a series of pick and drives until the Maesteg Quins again were penalised for aggressive incidents.

The referee had a long talk with their captain before awarding the penalty which Griffiths safely placed through the middle of the posts putting the Otters back in the lead at 9-8.

From the restart the Otters gathered the ball then fed Rogers who again produced a long, high kick which was fumbled by the receiver and followed by obstruction by Maesteg Quins.

This time the penalty kick hit the post, Maesteg collected the ball and placed it in touch for the referee to blow for half time.

Clearly at half time, the Otters were given some home truths by the coaches for on return to the game they scored a converted try within four minutes.

The try was well executed, on the opponents forty metre line, the ball reached Jack Price who put pressure on the Quins defence with his forceful running.

Outside him was flanker Tom Powell who quickly sped forward before releasing winger Gethin Gibby who, when challenged, passed inside to the supporting Tom Powell and in turn when challenged fed Gibby who sped like a stag down the far touch line to cross over for a great try. Griffiths made sure with his conversion giving the Otters a 16-8 lead.

Maesteg came back strongly but the game remained tight with both defences holding firm. A potential Otters try was lost when from a scrum Rhys Lane fed Rogers who found Price with his long passing and for Price to spot a gap and made a break down field only to spoil his initiative with a forward pass.

Maesteg attempted to break out of their half only for Gibby, attempting to intercept the pass, to knock on. The referee decided it was worth a yellow card.

In the following ten minutes, in one of the Otters movements, Rhys Lane made a fine break before passing to the supporting Richie Rees who was tackled and for the opposition to be penalised.

Rogers placed the ball onto the twenty two. The Otters in numbers followed through but lost the ball in a strong tackle. This time the Otters were penalised.

With the ball ending in touch, at the lineout the opposition set up a series of pick and charge phases with the ball eventually reaching wing Alex Griffiths who crossed the try line, only for the referee to bring him back having received a forward pass. The Otters srummaged on the five metres line and were able to gain relief to their twenty two.

The Otters proceeded further down field but Maesteg regained the ball and set up a move when the referee awarded them a penalty with the Otters going offside. Fly half Tadgh McGuckin kicked from 40 metres to add three points.

The game ended shortly afterwards with Rogers in his twenty two putting the ball out of play in the knowledge that full time had been reached.

Whilst the Otters have played their final home game they will travel in three weeks time on Saturday, April 27, to Maesteg to play the Quins again in their final game of the season.

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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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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