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Bluebirds top table for New Year

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JD Cymru Division One South
Haverfordwest County 4 Llanelli Town 1

THE BLUEBIRDS continued their recent run of good results with a 4-1 victory over Llanelli Town.

Despite going down to defeat, the Reds of Llanelli can take consolation from a vastly improved display in which they more than matched the home side box-to-box.

The only element missing from the visitors’ performance was the delivery of a telling final ball which could have led to a goal.

Llanelli’s meagre playing resources are already stretched by a long injury list and, at Bridge Meadow, three development players were in the matchday squad out of necessity.

To add to the problems, the visitors were also without a recognised striker, making the task of attempting to salvage some positive outcome from the contest even more difficult.

In fact, the visitors were the livelier side in the opening stages.

Ryan Hurlow played a ball into the path of Kyle Copp close to goal, but he failed to make a telling contact and a decent chance was lost.
Liam Samuel also posed a threat to the Bluebirds` goal with a run to the edge of the area, but he delayed his shot which was eventually blocked and then cleared out of danger.

The home side countered after a rebound from a Ben Fawcett strike fell to Kurtis Rees. Llanelli’s Lee Bevan acted quickly to alleviate the threat.

Copp and Hurlow combined with the latter forcing a corner which was eventually dealt with, but it was the home side who eventually struck first on 25 minutes when a Kieran Howard free-kick was headed out only as far as Rees who launched a 30-yard high ball into the goalmouth over the head of Kai Rees despite the Reds` keeper best efforts to prevent it finding the net.

A corner to the Bluebirds into the goalmouth was cleared with some difficulty by the visitors` defence, while Rees pulled off an important save by turning over a header from Marcus Griffiths when he connected with another Howard set-piece.

Haverfordwest had a goal disallowed for offside when referee Teifion Cook overruled the assistant referee’s failure to flag.
With the score 1-0 at the half, Llanelli had done well to hold off the league leaders and would have drawn confidence from their display.
Shortly after the kick-off for the second half, came the game’s most controversial moment.

Llanelli keeper Rees bravely put himself on the line to claim the ball from the feet of a Haverfordwest player. Rees was clearly injured and remained prone on the ground when the ball broke free into the path of Haverfordwest’s Howard. With the goalie incapacitated, Howard guided the ball into the back of the visitors’ net.

There was confusion about whether the effort would stand, particularly as Rees continued to receive treatment on the field following his injury while Llanelli players expressed their disapproval to the ref. However, the goal stood and, after further treatment, the shaken Rees was able to resume.

Galvanised by the perceived injustice, Llanelli struck back quickly.

Awarded a free-kick, Copp swung the ball into the Haverfordwest box where Bevan rose highest to head the ball beyond the Bluebirds’ Kyle Stuart to haul the Reds back into the game.

As the game opened up, both sides created chances. For Llanelli, Joe Clarke’s strike from the edge of the eighteen-yard box went wide. Kyle Stuart made a fine save from Copp’s well-struck effort.

With fifteen minutes left, the Bluebirds cutting edge up front proved decisive. The ball was neatly played through to Fawcett, who out-muscled defender Chris Thomas before hitting a low shot past Rees.

The score seemed to take the air out of Llanelli’s sails and Haverfordwest piled on the pressure. An effort from Wilson was well stopped by Rees, while Griffiths was prevented from scoring only by a last gasp tackle from Zac Griffiths. Fawcett saw his finish from an assist by Howard rebound off the top of the crossbar.

With time running out, a ball driven across the face of Llanelli’s goal was met by an attempt to hack it clear by Brown which only ended up in his own net.

The result was hard on the vistors, who for the most part had matched their opponents for effort. At least they have a chance of turning matters around when the sides do it all again on Friday evening (January 3) at Stebonheath, kick off 7.30 p.m.

TEAMS
Haverfordwest County: Stuart; Bradley (Merry, 82); Rowe; Pemberton ©; Howard; Tancock; Watts; Rees; Fawcett; Griffiths; Wilson (Palmer, 68); Subs. not used; Drake; Hughes; Harman.
Llanelli Town: Rees; Griffiths; Brown; Thomas; Bevan ©; Clarke; Copp; Logan; M. Cutler; Hurlow; Samuel.

SCORERS: Haverfordwest County; Rees, 25; Howard, 46; Fawcett, 76; Brown (OG), 90.
Llanelli Town; Bevan, 49.
CARDS: Haverfordwest County; Griffiths.
Llanelli Town; Thomas; Clarke; M. Cutler.
REFEREE: Teifion Cook.

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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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