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Scarlets win thrilling victory

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Heineken European Champions League
Bath Rugby 19 – Scarlets 23
IN A high-intensity game at The Rec, Scarlets dug deep to claim a thrilling Champions Cup victory over Bath Rugby.
Throughout a tense Pool A encounter, there was little between the two sides with Scarlets scoring a try in each half through scrum-halves Gareth Davies – on his 200th appearance – and Kieran Hardy.
Both teams had their chances to win but in the end, the spoils and the famous old ragdoll headed to West Wales.
Bath got on the board first with Ben Spencer striking home shot from the kicking tee.
While Bath applied early pressure, the Scarlets broke the shackles in spectacular fashion.
Leigh Halfpenny broke the defensive line to offload to Scarlets skipper Steff Evans. The winger broke through the cover defence to link with scrum-half Gareth Davies on the inside line.
The Wales scrum-half still had work to do but jinked past the final defender to cross near the posts.
Halfpenny added the extras, and shortly afterwards he missed a long-range effort to put the Scarlets further ahead.
The Scarlets lost Wales’ international forwards Jake Ball and Samson Lee to head injury assessments. Morgan Jones and Javan Sebastian replaced the duo.
It took 18 minutes of continuous pressure and knocking on the door of the Scarlets’ try-line before the hosts retook the lead.
A lovely piece of interplay began from No. 8, Zach Mercer. The ball was smartly shipped in contact before Sam Underhill found Ruaridh McConnochie, who dotted down in the corner. Spencer missed the conversion.
Bath then earned a scrum penalty after several warnings to the Scarlets’ front row. Spencer slotted home the three points to give Bath a four-point lead.
On 32 minutes the Welsh region got to within a point of Bath Rugby with a Halfpenny penalty. Just three minutes later, Spencer re-established the four-point gap as the hosts were awarded a penalty, which the nine converted with ease.
14-10 down at the break, the Scarlets would’ve been disappointed at the length of time they spent on the back foot and getting sucked into a physical confrontation with the rugged home eight.
It was only six minutes into the second period when the hosts were pinged for offside, allowing. Halfpenny to strike his penalty through the uprights from close range.
Bath piled the pressure on Scarlets with a lot of possession and territory, but they were unable to make that pressure pay off until the 53rd minute.
The hosts got their reward through Will Stuart, who crashed over to score in his first appearance of the season for the Blue, Black and White.
Josh Macleod replaced Jac Morgan, who enjoyed another outstanding game, and made an immediate impact with a turnover, while the experience of Jon Davies also proved crucial off the bench.
Scarlets kept plugging away and saw their hard work rewarded on 64 minutes.
Dan Jones combined with Rob Evans, who produced a sublime off-load to put Hardy away under the posts for a score converted by Halfpenny.
With one point in it, both sides had chances.
Hardy just failed to find Evans on his outside with the line beckoning, while Bath’s route-one approach came against a brick-wall defence.
A Halfpenny penalty gave the Scarlets a four-point cushion going into the final minutes, but Bath stole the kick-off before pounding away at the visitors’ line.
In the 78th minute, Bath crossed the whitewash, only to have the ball held up over the line following a crunching effort from Leigh Halfpenny to deny the home team a score.
Still 23-19.
But a try would be enough for the hosts to take the game.
As the clock struck red, Bath continued to pile on the pressure with continuous and relentless forward phases. As Spencer stretched his arm out towards the line, Morgan Jones steamed into the tackle.
It was the last play of the game.
With hearts in their mouths, Scarlets players waited for the TMO’s decision and reacted joyfully when the TMO ruled out the last gasp effort.
Glenn Delaney lauded the incredible never-say-die defensive effort that saw the Scarlets hang on for an outstanding 23-19 Heineken Champions Cup win over Bath at The Rec.
“That match had something for everyone didn’t it?” said a relieved Delaney afterwards.
“We had a chance to score just before those final minutes and then the commitment and effort at the end were massive. We were under so much pressure. That was about character. For me, it was epitomised by Gareth Davies.
“The boys wanted to play for him on his 200th and it was really special the way they finished it off to get the job done for him.”
Reflecting on the tense end to the game, Glenn Delaney said: “Those final minutes were all about commitment and heart. There were bits about the defence in the first half I wasn’t so happy with, I was frustrated we weren’t as aggressive as we would have liked, but that character comes through in the big moments. These are big-game players. We are learning as a group what it is like to be in this contest and that was a big European game for us.
“It is a big step forward, we will enjoy it and get ready for Toulon next week.”
Delaney added: “In the second half I thought we moved the ball a little wider on the edge. We never go that going in the first half and we were pretty harsh on ourselves at half-time. That try in the middle of the field, Rob Evans’s pass to put Kieran away was outstanding. That is the game we wanted to play. We wanted to move Bath around.
“We knew we couldn’t go at Bath square-on because they are big and physical and are good players. We had to move them around, we saw a bit of the Scarlets way coming out and the DNA of the club, the boys are happy to be taking the ragdoll home.”
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Nicky Hayen: European football is the goal for Haverfordwest County

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HAVERFORDWEST COUNTY return to action this weekend as they take on Newtown in the JD Cymru Premier.

Football in Wales had been suspended following the announcement of Welsh Government restrictions but they have now been relaxed and football can once again get underway.

The Bluebirds face a tough test against the side that sits in second place in the table but new manager Nicky Hayen will not be in charge for the game against Newtown as his work permit has not come through.

He will be watching on though as Gary ‘Waggy’ Richards takes temporary charge and Nicky told the Herald that he is fully confident that his assistants can get a good result.

When the sides last met in October the Bluebirds came out on top with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Alhagi Touray Sisay.

Speaking ahead of the game on Saturday Nicky told us about his plans for the team, his ambitions and how he wants to work closely with grassroots teams in Pembrokeshire and with the community.

Nicky may not be able to take charge just yet but he has already been observing training sessions and been gathering information on the other teams in the JD Cymru Premier.

Asked what attracted him to join Haverfordwest County, Nicky said: “First of all, the ambition of the chairman, this is the most important thing so he had a project for three years to reach European football. I like projects and when you’re digging into stuff from the club, you can see that is a good combination.

“I saw some games of the team and I saw two different teams, one team who play with confidence and played the football that I like, building out from the back and trying to find the football solutions on the ground, and I saw a team that didn’t have confidence that was clearing every ball and wasn’t winning contests so I saw that they have the skills to do what I have in my mind.

“So this combination, the ambition of the chairman, the team that is playing at this moment, I think we have to be capable of performing better than the position in the league at this moment.”

The ultimate aim for the club is to reach European football but Nicky isn’t thinking about that just yet.

“The ambition is to make it to the first six positions, it will be almost impossible for this season so we want to avoid relegation and then have a good pre-season and we’ll see what happens next season but finishing in the top six is a nice goal.

“To reach this you have to win your first game and then your second game, I just take one game at a time, starting with the game at Newtown, we’ll try to win and then I hope I can be on the bench for the Penybont game.

“The short term project is staying in the league, but the project is much bigger and it includes building bridges with the grassroots teams with the Pembrokeshire League, with the community so what we want to do is to create an environment over here that is more than football.

“The academy is something that is really important, we want to improve our players and everyone can see that we give chances to players to develop in the squad and this is what we are already doing now.

“The one thing I don’t want to do is change the club culture. We have to keep the culture but we have to add some value and create an identity that is clear for the next fifty years.”

Nicky is settling in well in Haverfordwest and is looking forward to seeing more of the area but says he is focussed on the football for now.

Haverfordwest’s game with Newtown takes place on Saturday, January 22, kick off at 2:30pm.

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Sport

Five-star Milford sink Pennar

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MILFORD UNITED moved up to seventh place in Division 2 on Saturday (Jan 15) as they beat Pennar Robins seconds 5-1 at Marble Hall.

The club had worked up until 1:00 pm to prepare the pitch for the encounter with Pennar Robins and their efforts were matched by the players who put in a very good performance to overcome a youthful and capable Pennar team.

Milford started sprightly, attacking down both flanks. But it was a break down the middle by Liam Parks, which first opened up a Pennar defence, which was well marshalled by Gideon Hockin.

Parks ran through on goal and when he was closed down by the Pennar keeper, he slipped it to the right for Liam Parr, whose shot from a difficult angle, hit the post.

The Pennar keeper was busy and pulled off a number of good saves. Milford looked destined to open the scoring when Ben Lewis squared a ball for Lewys Tee inside the box, only to see his shot canon off a Pennar defender making a last ditch block.

But it was Pennar who opened the scoring in the first half. A free kick was conceded by Milford on the half way line, who then failed to deal adequately with it. The ball fell kindly for Liam Williams, who executed a lob perfectly to score against the run of play.

Milford were still in the game though and they finished the first half putting more pressure on the Pennar back line, one attack resulting in a corner. Morgan Picton whipped in a far post cross, which was met sweetly by the on rushing Jacob Horn to level the game.

Pennar made a couple of tactical changes at half time and started the second half well. It was a good shot from Pennar, from which Ferdy Stevenson pulled of an equally good save, diving down low to his right.

Milford began to gain control of the game and created several good opportunities, which they couldn’t quite take. But a good interchange with Lewys Tee, opened up the defence for Ben Lewis, who managed to get his shot off and scored from just inside the box.

At 2-1 there was still a game to play for but the pressure was mounting and a Milford corner was not fully cleared and was picked up by Horn just outside the box. He managed to fashion a little bit of space and supplied an excellent cross to the back post. It was met by his centre half partner, Scott Griffiths, who rounded off an accomplished performance by the pairing, by heading home the third and decisive goal.

This gave Milford a chance to get fresh legs on. Owen Wilson, Lewys Tee and Liam Parr came off for a well deserved rest. All three contributing well to an impressive performance.

The new arrivals ensured that the home side kept their foot on the gas. A darting run by Liam Parks into the penalty area looked dangerous and a Pennar defender couldn’t get to ball and brought him down for a penalty.

Ashley Mathias stepped up confidently to take the spot kick and dispatched it into the bottom right corner.

Milford were enjoying their football now and continued to dominate possession and a ball played over the advancing Pennar defence fell to Scott Griffiths, who, with two touches, put the ball into the back of the net, only to be correctly ruled offside and denied a brace.

It was now time for another one of the substitutes to get nvolved in the action after a ball was played into the box by Jacob Horn. The defence didn’t quite get their line right, which left Milford’s Tom Blockwell unmarked in the middle of the box. He still had a lot to do though, but having chested it down he shot from 10 yards out to score the final goal.

An impressive performance and result from the Milford Robins against a good Pennar Robins side, who had previously won 4 of their last 5 games.

Sorry sent in error. Cont.:-Get involved in the action after a ball was played into the box by Jacob Horn. The defence didn’t quite get their line right, which left Milford’s Tom Blockwell unmarked in the middle of the box. He still had a lot to do though, but having chested it down he shot from 10 yards out to score the final goal. An impressive performance and result from the Milford Robins against a good Pennar Robins side, who had previously won 4 of their last 5 games.

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Sport

Bridge and Clarby settle for a point

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CLARBESTON ROAD and Merlins Bridge were forced to settle for a share of the points on Saturday (Jan 15) as their game finished 1-1.

The two sides had met at the Racecourse in November with that game finishing 3-3 and it was another close game on Saturday.

Matthew D’Ivry opened the scoring for the Wizards inside 5 minutes after latching onto a short back pass and firing into the top corner.

Will Haworth missed great chance to double the lead for the visitors and at the other end Ben John forced Bridge keeper James Dickson into a save.

Within seconds of the restart, Dickson was again called into action in what was the save of the afternoon.

Midway through the half, Clarbeston Road were level as Charles George powered in a header from a set piece.

Shortly afterwards, Ben John had a goal disallowed for Clarbeston Road but there were no further chances and a draw was a fair result.

On Saturday, January 22, Merlins Bridge travel to Goodwick United while Clarbeston Road travel to Fishguard.

Clarbeston Road: Matthew Davies, Josh Wood, Greg Brown, Tom Glover, Matthew Griffiths, Jake Booth, Charles George, Ben John, Jason Griffiths, Steffan Thomas. Subs: Joules Ward, Matthew Ellis, Keegan Summers.

Merlins Bridge: James Dickson, Chris Ormond, Andrew John, Josh Silk, Henry Thomas, Dai Davies, Jordan Williams, Leon Davies, Matthew D’Ivry, Will Haworth, Ben Davies. Subs: Matthew Price, Chris Brown, Lee Hudgell.

PHOTO by MW10 Sports Photography

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