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West Wales Cup Final Preview: Merlins Bridge v Carew

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ON Tuesday, May 7, Merlins Bridge will take on Carew in the Final of the West Wales Cup Final at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

In a historic night, it will be the first all-Pembrokeshire final and both will be keen to follow in the footsteps of Goodwick United who won the trophy in 2018.

This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season with the most recent coming in the Senior Cup Final on April 20.

Carew took the lead in that game, only for the Bridge to come back with two late goals to seal the win.

It was another close game, much like their two league encounters and, now the league season has finished, it will be a battle between the team who finished second in Merlins Bridge and the team who finished fourth in the table.

Route to the final

Merlins Bridge began their run to the final with a 1-0 win away to Kilvey Fords in October with Will Haworth grabbing the only goal to send them through to round 2.

The Wizards were again drawn away from home to last season’s beaten finalists Penlan Club but they again came back with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Joe Leahy.

In the third round Merlins Bridge played Monkton Swifts and two goals from Nathan Greene and another from Leahy gave them a 3-0 win.

Leahy and Greene were at it again in the fourth round as they both scored to earn the Wizards a 2-1 win over Swansea side Llandarcy.

Merlins Bridge were drawn at home to Plough Colts in the last eight and earned a 5-2 win with Adam Hawkins scoring twice and other goals from Leahy, Greene and Dai Davies.

In the semi-final they took on rivals Hakin United in what turned out to be a thrilling game. Adam Hawkins levelled after Hakin had taken the lead and the game was forced into extra time.

Joe Leahy put the Wizards ahead only for Hakin to score again to score again and force the game into penalties. Gary Thomas was the hero for the Wizards saving the last penalty as they went through with an 8-7 shootout win.

Joe Leahy has scored in each round since the second round and having scored the two goals against them in the Senior Cup final, Carew will be well aware of his threat.

Having reached the last four last season, Carew received a bye for the first round and began their run to the final in round 2 where they were drawn away to Burry Port.

Two goals each from Jordan Richards and Scott Ferney and another from Lloyd Hughes saw them to a 5-2 win over the Carmarthenshire League Division 1 side.

In round three the Rooks took on Loughor Rovers and eased to an 8-0 win with Hughes scoring four and Jordan Richards scoring a hat trick. Ferney grabbed the other goal.

Shaun Whitfield, Sam Christopher, Scott Ferney and Jordan Richards each scored in round four to earn a 4-0 win for the Rooks away at Maltsters Sports.

In the last eight, Carew played Mumbles Rangers at home and they came from two goals down to win 3-2 with brothers Sam and Jack Christopher on the score sheet alongside Whitfield.

In the semi-final, Carew took on Giants Grave and they came from behind again with four first half goals to all but seal their passage.

Sam Christopher and Lloyd Hughes both scored twice in the game.

Christopher also scored against the Bridge in the Senior Cup Final and he along with the likes of Pembrokeshire League top scorer Jordan Richards and Scott Ferney will prove a big threat to the Wizards.

What the managers say

Merlins Bridge manager Matthew Divry told the Herald: “We trained on Wednesday at the Bridge Meadow which was a tactical session and we will be training on Saturday on the 4G surface at Caer Elen.

“We know the Liberty is a good surface so it was good to be able to train at these places.

“We haven’t done anything different, we’ve played a number of games recently so with the training we’ve had we’ll be ready to go on Tuesday.

“We’ve got a fully fit squad to choose from.

“We didn’t play to our full potential in the Senior Cup final so a lot of our training has been based on trying to get back to how we want to play.

“The Liberty is a big pitch and we are looking forward to it, it’s the first ever one for the club.

“We’ve got a few previous winners in our squad so we’re hoping those experiences will pay off for us.”

Carew manager Rob Scourfield said: “It’s a big game for the football club and we’re really, really looking forward to it. It’s the first time in the West Wales Cup Final so it will be a great occasion for the village and the club. We can’t wait.

“We played quite well in the Senior Cup Final in the but in the last ten minutes they were better than us.

“However, this is a totally different game and we’re just looking forward and concentrating on the game itself.

“We have a very similar squad to choose from that played in the Senior Cup Final and we have five subs this time so it will be good to get everybody involved.

“We’ve been watching Swansea at the Liberty, it’s a great stadium and it will be a great occasion, both for us and for Pembrokeshire Football.”

Sport

Castrol Team aims to ‘bounce back’ from Jim Clark Rally retirement

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THE CASTROL MEM RALLY TEAM is vowing to bounce back stronger than ever on the next round of the Probite British Rally Championship – especially with a second Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 joining its motorsport fleet soon – after what was looking like another victory turned into retirement on the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally.

Chris Ingram started extremely well, setting the fastest time on the opening four stages to establish a healthy 23.1 second lead in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. The 2019 FIA European rally champion eased off on the unfamiliar closed roads as darkness fell and the rain continued to make the surface extremely slippery, settling for second fastest time on SS5 and 6 and going into Friday’s overnight halt with an 8.6 second advantage. 
 
Co-driven by Alex Kihurani, the Suisscourtage-backed driver set another fastest time on Saturday’s opening stage before a slow puncture saw him stop with damaged suspension after SS8.
 
Meirion Evans lost time when he spun his Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 on SS2, initiating some immediate set up changes in first service to better suit the wet and slippery conditions. He and co-driver Jonathan Jackson completed Leg 1 in a strong eighth position and had just moved up to sixth when the car’s power steering pump sprung an oil leak and the Welshman was forced to call it a day after SS9.
 
Meirion Evans said: “Unfortunately it wasn’t the end to the rally that we had hoped for. We were beginning to make tracks up the leaderboard and had a chance of getting on the podium, but at the end of Saturday’s third stage we had a problem with the power steering which meant that we couldn’t continue. Whilst we might have been able to limp through the next stage, the issue would have been too big to fix in service anyway, so we decided to call it a day. It’s a shame that Chris retired from the lead as it was looking like another very good result for the team, but I’m sure we’ll bounce back stronger on the next round.”
 
Chris Ingram said: “We had a very strong start to the rally and had controlled our pace well to build a comfortable lead ahead of previous Jim Clark Rally winner Keith Cronin. It was thoroughly enjoyable in the car. Unfortunately, after setting another fastest time on Saturday’s opening stage, on the next stage we picked up a slow puncture and went off the road under braking, which broke the front left suspension. It’s a tough result for the team, but the potential showed makes me very excited for the rest of the season and the switch to the Toyota GR Yaris Rally2.”
 
Round 4 of the Probite British Rally Championship is the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally on 9 August, when the Castrol MEM Rally Team will field two Toyota GR Yaris Rally2s for Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson and Chris Ingram/Alex Kihurani.

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Red Bull Hardline Wales confirms rider list for 2024

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RED BULL Hardline, known as the most challenging downhill mountain bike race world wide, confirms the final rider list for this year’s Wales event. 

Following its first event overseas, with a stop Down Under, Red Bull Hardline returns to its home in Wales’ Dyfi valley to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The brainchild of Dan Atherton a decade ago, 34 of the brightest and best talents in downhill mountain biking are set to descend on the north Wales course. With the 2023 event sadly curtailed by the Welsh weather, there’s old scores to settle and it’s all to play for in 2024.

Confirmed Rider List:

NameNationality
Ronan DunneIRL
Bernard KerrUK
Brook MacDonaldNZL
Charlie HattonUK
Adam BraytonUK
Craig EvansUK
Theo ErlangsenSA
Matteo IniguezFRA
Juanfer VelezCOL
Gaetan VigeFRA
Jim MonroUK
Matt JonesUK
Edgar BrioleFRA
George BranniganNZ
Sam GaleNZ
Jono JonesUK
Sam BlenkinsopNZ
Brendan FaircloughUK
Josh BrycelandUK
Dennis LuffmanUK
Sam HockenhullUK
Josh LoweUK
Taylor VernonUK
Thibault LalyFRA
Thomas GenonBEL
Szymon GodziekPOL
Sebastian HolguinCOL
Alex StorrUK
Vincent TupinFRA
Harry MolloyUK
Matteo IniguezFRA

Female riders will begin training on Monday, giving them ample time to familiarise themselves with the new course, with Tahnée Seagrave, Cami Nogueira and Hannah Bergmann all set to continue to push the boundaries of their sport once again. Louise-Anna Ferguson will be returning to Wales fresh from her success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, putting on a gutsy performance to finish a full finals race run despite an early crash. New to Red Bull Hardline, Vaea Verbeeck will make her first appearance, bringing fresh fire power to the women’s lineup 

Following his stand-out success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, Ronan Dunne will be taking to the start line with aims of achieving the double. Nipping at his heels will be three-time winner Bernard Kerr, who placed second in Tasmania back in February. 2017 champion Craig Evans is back once again and eager to replicate his success of 7 years previous.

The breathtaking race will be broadcasted live globally on Red Bull TV on Sunday 2nd June at 2.30pm GMT. Ahead of the event, fans can enjoy the week’s best action from course walk and practice on the Red Bull Bike YouTube ahead of the main event. 

For further Red Bull Hardline rider updates and for more information visit www.redbull.com/hardline and make sure to save the link to Red Bull Bike YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@RedBullBike/featured to not miss out on the week’s best action.

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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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