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2021: Another odd year but sport makes welcome return

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2021 has been another odd year for sport. It started with uncertainty over when competitive sport would resume and has ended with action in full swing.

JD Cymru Premier Football was played before the return of cricket while football and rugby made a welcome return later this year.

With all football suspended bar the JD Cymru Premier, Haverfordwest County carried the flag for the county.

Despite a good season for the Bluebirds there was to be no European football for them as manager Wayne Jones did not have the required licences to lead his team in Europe.

There was though a memorable occasion for long serving captain Sean Pemberton who hung up his boots after his 259th game for the club in May.

Manager Wayne Jones resigned at the beginning of December and Pemberton was given the task of taking over, with former Wales international Jazz Richards by his side.

CRICKET IS BACK

Cricket returned at the beginning of May, well over 600 days since the last game of league cricket was played.

It was a welcome return for all concerned with many taking time to adjust to new rules such as having to sanitise the ball every couple of overs.

LEAGUE AND CUP WINNERS

The Division 1 title race took many twists and turns with Lawrenny pushing Neyland all the way.

In August, Lawrenny beat Neyland to go to the top of the table. The top two then met again in Neyland on the final day of the season but it was Neyland who came out on top to secure the Division 1 title.

Neyland led the way in cup competitions as they reached the semi-finals of the Village Cup and the quarter finals of the Welsh Cup.

Fishguard secured the Division 5 title on their return to league cricket while Llangwm and Pembroke Dock were promoted to Division 1.

Division 4 was won by Llanrhian seconds while their first team were crowned winners of Division 3.

Neyland seconds secured the Alec Colley Cup with a win over Cresselly in the final in August.

Llanrhian won the Alan Brown Cup in July as they beat Stackpole in the final which was played in Whitland.

Lawrenny did not miss out on silverware this year as they wrestled the Duggie Morris Cup from Neyland’s grasp, having beaten them in the quarter finals, by beating Carew in the final.

Narberth were also celebrating after beating Landsker Nomads in the final of the Ken Morris Cup.

In the ladies game, Cresselly were crowned league winners for the first time since 1999 and that made it a double-winning season after also securing the Clive Huxley Cup just a week earlier after they beat Whitland in the final.

HARRISON BOWL FIREWORKS

The Harrison Allen Bowl final took place at the end of August between Carew and Neyland.

Carew were bowled out for 109 in their first innings but what happened next was something special.

Neyland’s Patrick Bellerby hit a stunning 134 not out to guide his side to 241-2, the highest ever total in a bowl final.

It gave them a resounding 132-run lead and all but secured the Bowl for Sean Hannon’s men.

Carew gave it their all and at least made Neyland bat again but the damage had already been done and Neyland knocked off the 23 runs needed to win the Harrison Allen Bowl for a tenth time.

Bellerby’s knock included fifteen fours and nine sixes and came off just 69 balls with a strike rate of 194.20 and made him a worthy recipient of the man of the match award.

In September there was a charity cricket match in Pembroke Dock which raised £7000 for charity.

The money was split between mental health charities and Callum Jones who is recovering from serious injuries.

RUGBY AND FOOTBALL RETURN

It was the return of rugby and football that took centre stage in September. Rugby returned with the new WRU Cup competitions, designed to keep teams local in a bid to prevent the spread of covid-19.

Following the WRU Cups, the league seasons also recommenced in November and so far in the Championship, Narberth have secured four wins from their opening five games.

Whitland and Crymych have both picked up wins in League 1 West while Pembroke are yet to get off the mark.

In League 2 West, Fishguard and Milford are also off the mark while Tenby are also looking for their first win.

Cardigan are the leaders of League 3 West A with St Clears, Lampeter and Haverfordwest completing the top four.

In the football, Goodwick United are the leaders in Division 1 having won ten and drawn one of their 11 games so far.

Clarbeston Road sit second while Hakin are third having played three games less than the two teams above them.

Kilgetty are going well in Division 2 while Camrose are leading the way in Division 3.

It has been an up and down year for sport and with the break coming over the festive period it is time to stay safe and enjoy Christmas.

See you all in 2022.

Sport

County go through in MG Cup after thumping Barry

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HAVERFORDWEST County began life under manager Tony Pennock in fine fashion with a 4-2 victory over Barry Town United in the Nathaniel MG Cup second round on Friday night (Aug 5).

A brace from Jack Wilson, along with goals from debutants Lee Jenkins and Rhys Abbruzzese helped see the Bluebirds safely through to the third round.

Josh Graham and Mo Djalo found the net for the Dragons, who reached the semi-final of the competition last season, but it wasn’t enough as County’s extra firepower made the difference.

In front of a crowd of 337 at the Ogi Bridge Meadow, the Bluebirds nearly took an early lead when Wilson got a volley away from inside the area which was pushed away by Cameron Clarke.

The majority of the chances fell the hosts’ way in the first-half, with Jordan Davies trying his luck from distance after Clarke had come off his line and given possession away, before Ryan George’s solo run to the edge of the area ended with the wing-back shooting over the bar.

Jenkins then went close when he rose highest to meet Wilson’s long throw into the area, with his header going narrowly wide of the right post.

It was very nearly 1-0 on the half hour mark when George’s cross into the area picked out Jordan Davies, who directed his header goalwards but saw the ball cleared off the line.

However, just three minutes later, it was 1-0 when the ball was worked out to George on the right side, and his cross picked out the towering Jenkins who powered his header into the left corner to mark his first competitive County appearance with a goal.

Almost immediately after the restart though, the Dragons found an equaliser as a through ball played Graham in, and the forward slid the ball past Lewis Brass for an instant response.

Wilson shot over the bar as Haverfordwest County looked to restore their lead before the break, and while he was off target on this occasion, seven minutes after the restart his header from debutant Jamie Veale’s corner flew into the net to make it 2-1.

And less than five minutes later, the youngster almost doubled the Bluebirds’ advantage when a long ball upfield from Dylan Rees played him in, and an excellent first touch gave the forward a chance to get a chipped effort away which rolled just wide to deny what would have been a spectacular goal.

With the hour mark approaching, George sliced an effort wide of the right post, but just a minute later Abbruzzese was on hand to tap in from point-blank range from Jordan Davies’ pass to join Jenkins in netting on his debut with a goal against his former club.

Pennock’s men were full of confidence at this stage, and they were able to make it tell when Abbruzzese turned provider to set Wilson up to score his second goal of the night with a neat finish from close range to extend the advantage to 4-1.

Gavin Chesterfield’s side pulled a goal back with just over 10 minutes remaining when they were awarded a penalty after Brass was adjudged to have fouled substitute Djalo inside the area, and the forward converted from the spot to make it 4-2.

With the Bluebirds in a comfortable position in the closing stages, Pennock was able to introduce academy product Toby Davies and exciting young prospect Dan James, allowing the pair to play out the final few minutes.

With their passage through to the next round safely secured, the Bluebirds now turn their attention to the start of the new JD Cymru Premier season, which gets under way with a game against Caernarfon Town at the Ogi Bridge Meadow next Saturday, August 13 (Kick-off 14:30).

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Sport

Hook seal win in Under 11s final

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Hook (246-6) beat Cresselly (217-10) by 29 runs

THIS year’s final was between the top two sides from both zones with Cresselly beating Haverfordwest in the one semi final and Hook beating Narberth in the other.

The Under11s game is played in a pairs format and Hook Captain Charlie Holder won the toss against his counter part Phoenix Phillips and decided to bowl first.

Some tight bowling from Hook saw St Cresselly lose wickets on a regular basis. The batting pairs of Phoenix and Ollie Toy put on 13, Arthur Jenkins and Elin Edwards 7, Caden Jones and Jack Mears 7 and Cody Jones and Finley Rowlands 7.

For Hook the pick of the bowlers were Olly Nutty 1-11, Rhys Tennick 2-10, Charlie Holder 2-10, Mason Hughes 2-12 and George Wonnacott 3-11. Cresselly finished on 217-10.

After Mondays rained off game where the Cresselly bowlers dominated the Hook batters came in with a bit more determination and Cresselly found wickets a little harder to take despite their best efforts.

Ollie Nutty and Mason Hughes put on 13 for the opening stand followed by Rhys Tennick and George Wonnacott 19, Jack llewellyn and Joe Warrender 14 and Charlie Holder and Oliver Stamp 18.

For Cresselly Jack Mears 1-12 , Phoenix Phillips 1-9 and an excellent direct hit run out, Cadyn Jones 3-8 and no doubt the fieder of the match with two suburb catches was Finley Rowlands.

Hook finished on 246-6.

This final was the inaugural year of the Evan Martin Trophy, a stalwart of Hook CC for many years, and after deliberations with the Umpires the trophy was awarded to a jubilant George Wonnacott of Hook

Again it was great to see a large crowd of knowledgable spectators who certainly saw some entertaining Cricket . It was great to see the two teams enjoying the aftermath game celebrations with Hook playing all sort of games on the field.

In the presentation after the match Martin Jones (Junior Organiser) congratulated both sides on reaching the Final with some excellent play by both and Hook for their victory. Both sides should be proud of their Junior sections.

He thanked Hook for hosting the final including Andrew Thomas & Keith James the grounds staff. Afterwards the Club l refreshments for the players, which was well received.

He thanked Umpires Allan Hansen and Robert Ridge, Scorers Natalie Jones & Jon Willington who all contributed to the evenings entertainment.

Last and by no means least he thanked Sponsors Colin John of Llewelyn Davies & Co Chartered Accountants for his continued and valuable support of Junior Cricket in the County togerther with Richard Merriman County Chairman.

Cresselly Squad: Rhys White, Bobby Shapcott, Mari Cole, Lilly & George

Hook Squad: Dylan Keen, Nico Quinn, Morgan Jones, Rowan Nickerson

Sponsor: Colin John – Llewelyn Davies & Co Chartered Accountants

Umpires: Allan Hansen & Robert Ridge

Scorers: Natalie Jones & Jon Willington

Coaches: Simon Cole/ Christian Phillips and Matthew Holder

Venue: Hook CC

Cresselly Under 11s
Evan Martin Trophy winner George Wonnacott
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Wales senior men’s assistant coach Gareth Williams departs

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GARETH Williams, Wales senior men’s assistant coach with responsibility for the contact area, has left his role to join the Scarlets as defence coach.

Williams departed following the three-Test Series in South Africa where Wales’ senior men’s side secured its first ever win over the Springboks in South Africa in the second Test.

The 40-year old started working as part of head coach Wayne Pivac’s coaching team during the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup and 2021 title-winning Guinness Six Nations campaigns, combining the role with his previous position with the Welsh Rugby Union as head of transitional players and head coach of Wales men’s U20, before being appointed on a full-time basis in June 2021.

Prior to this Williams spent a decade coaching Wales Sevens on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, during which time he helped his country win Rugby World Cup Sevens, as well as assisting Team GB in claiming silver at the Rio Olympics.

Pivac said: “I’d like to thank Gareth for his work over the last two years. It’s a shame to lose one of the coaching team just over a year out to Rugby World Cup, but I understand Gareth’s decision and am pleased for him.

“He’s not going far and it will be great having a good young coach moving from the national team into the regional system to further their development. This is also an important element in increasing alignment between international and domestic rugby in Wales.”

Williams said: “I’m incredibly proud to have been able to work with the men’s national team over the past two years. This is a such a great group of talented and hard-working players and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

“It is not an easy decision to leave and I’d like to thank Wayne, the other coaches and staff for all their support during my time with the squad.”

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