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Neyland beat St Clears in dramatic extra time to reach Senior Cup semis

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NEYLAND booked their place in the semi-finals of the Senior Cup on Saturday (Feb 19) as they beat St Clears 3-2 after extra time.

Division 2 side St Clears had built up a 2-0 lead but Neyland hit back in the second half to force the game into extra time.

The home side took the lead in extra time and then had keeper Patrick Hannon save a St Clears penalty.

There was still time for more drama as the Saints felt they should have had another penalty but their protests fell on death ears and soon after the referee blew for full time.

Neyland will now look forward to a semi-final tie against Hakin United.

Conditions were tricky for both sides with strong winds blowing down the pitch throughout the match but both looked to take full advantage when having the wind behind them.

Kyran Lewis put the Saints ahead after 14 minutes and they continued to dominate, winning a succession of corners, the last of which hit the front post.

Steve Thomas also saw a shot blocked for the Saints before Neyland began to have a good spell of pressure.

Max Bowman-Davies saw a shot go wide and moments later he held the ball up well before crossing to Mike Chandler, who in-turn found Josh Watts but his shot went over the bar.

On the stroke of half time a ball upfield was collected by Will Clewes but his passback almost allowed the Saints in to score but the ball was cleared.

However, from the resulting throw in the ball found its way to Martin Thomas who lofted the ball into the right side of the net.

That gave the Saints a 2-0 lead at half time but Neyland were keen to get themselves back in the game in the second half.

They did just that as they pulled a goal back on 67 minutes through Andrew Kemp.

Neyland were now looking for an equalising goal and had the wind at their backs and they came very close to a second goal.

A blocked shot looped up into the air and Saints keeper Jason Jones came to collect but he dropped the ball and it fell to Bowman-Davies but he couldn’t get the ball out of his feet and Jones recovered to gather the ball.

Lewis then shot wide for the Saints before the home side drew level with five minutes left to play.

A long free kick wasn’t dealt with and after an initial shot hit the post it fell to Bowman-Davies who was in the right place to slide the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 2-2.

Such was the strength of the wind that it then took a free kick from Neyland keeper Patrick Hannon into the arms of fellow keeper Jones.

Both sides had chances to score in the closing stages but it finished level meaning extra time would be needed.

Neyland looked for the goal which would have put them ahead as Bowman-Davies cut in from the right but he put too much on his cross and the chance was gone.

Chandler also saw a shot tipped wide by the Saints keeper as they dominated the opening stages of the first half of extra time.

On 105 minutes the home side won a corner which they took quickly, floating the ball into the box and Andrew Kemp was the only one who jumped and he powered a header into the top left corner of the net.

That put Neyland into the lead for the first time and it meant the Saints had to come out in the second half of extra time looking for another goal.

They were given an excellent chance to level the game up as a foul from Dylan Rowland gave the Saints a penalty.

Will Evans stepped up to take the spot kick but he saw his effort superbly saved by Patrick Hannon.

Undeterred by that miss the Saints looked to keep the pressure on and they had a free kick on the edge of the box but Dorian Davies’ effort hit the wall.

Neyland had a chance to put the tie to bed but Bowman-Davies saw his effort saved.

The Saints won a late corner and they sent their keeper up as well but Neyland were able to deal with it and clear.

As time ran out a long ball looked to have put the Saints in on goal but Hannon came to claim the ball and the collision sent him and the Saints player to the ground.

The visitors were adamant they should have been given a penalty but their protests were waved away and the referee blew for full time.

News

England’s Euro 2024 semi-final victory captivates millions

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ENGLAND’S Euro 2024 semi-final victory over the Netherlands garnered a peak audience of 20.3 million on ITV, cementing its status as the most-watched television programme of the year. Broadcasters are now hopeful that Sunday night’s final against Spain will attract over 30 million viewers, surpassing the numbers that tuned in for England’s Euro 2020 final defeat.

The overnight viewing figures, provided by ratings agency Digital-i, do not account for the millions who streamed the match on ITVX or watched in public venues. The coverage of Euro 2024 in the UK is split between the BBC and ITV, with the channels alternating first choices for matches in each round. ITV executives celebrated Jordan Pickford’s crucial penalty save against Switzerland, which secured another high-profile England match and delivered a substantial advertising boost to the channel.

Both the BBC and ITV will broadcast the final, with approximately a fifth of viewers typically opting for ITV over the BBC. Euro 2024 has demonstrated the enduring appeal of live sports broadcasting, which continues to draw massive audiences, particularly when the events are free to watch. Even matches not involving home nations have attracted significant viewership, with the Spain v France semi-final on BBC One peaking at 11 million viewers.

The Euros are part of the UK’s “crown jewel” sporting events, which include the football World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Olympics, all mandated by law to be shown on free-to-air channels. In contrast, other sports have opted for the higher revenue available from pay TV channels, resulting in substantially lower audiences for international matches. The England and Wales cricket board successfully lobbied in the 2000s to keep England test matches off the free-to-air list. Consequently, Jimmy Anderson’s farewell match against the West Indies at Lords, broadcast behind a paywall on Sky, attracted a peak audience of only about 700,000 viewers.

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Crime

Welsh Snooker star Michael White jailed for assaulting partner

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A WELSH snooker star has been jailed after assaulting his then-partner. Michael White, 33, of Penshannel, Neath Abbey, assaulted the woman, causing actual bodily harm, on two separate occasions. The first incident occurred on February 12, 2022, and the second on December 10, 2022.

White pleaded guilty to the charges. A further charge of intentional strangulation on December 10 was directed to lie on file. White, whose snooker world ranking peaked at 15 in 2016, was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

He received a total jail term of 36 months – 19 months for the first incident and a consecutive 17 months for the second. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association has announced that White has been removed from the world ranking list and the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect.

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Politics

Culture secretary vows push to keep free-to-air Six Nations games

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WALES’ culture secretary vowed to make the case for keeping Wales’ Six Nations games on free-to-air TV to her Labour colleagues in the new UK Government.

Lesley Griffiths told the Senedd she will be seeking a meeting with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to discuss the issue.

Ms Griffiths said: “Making the Six Nations free-to-air ensures that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, can feel part of this shared experience.

“This inclusivity strengthens community bonds and fosters a sense of belonging.”

Responding to a debate on a Senedd culture committee report on broadcasting rights, the culture secretary said she would write to the UK Government by the end of this week.

Delyth Jewell chairs the culture committee, which held an inquiry on whether Wales’ matches should be added to Ofcom’s list of events that must be shown on terrestrial TV.

The Plaid Cymru politician said: “A perfect storm of market dynamics in broadcasting live sport has seen more and more events go behind a paywall.

“Public service broadcasters are facing significant budgetary constraints, be this from long-term cuts to the licence fee, or a downturn in the advertising market on broadcast television. Increasing production costs are compounding both these factors.

“The advent of global streaming services also means that the value of sports broadcasting rights has increased.”

The Welsh Rugby Union told the inquiry that moving matches to the protected list could have a devastating medium- and long-term impact on the whole game in Wales.

Media rights account for £20m of the WRU’s £90m total revenue, with the union calling for open competition to maximise income for the game.

Carolyn Thomas, the Labour MS for North Wales, recognised this tension but warned: “There is a real risk here that avoiding action will leave us dropping the ball. We must ensure future generations can connect with the game without having to shell out for the privilege.”

She added: “Let’s hope, with the new UK Labour Government, we will be in a safe pair of hands and we get protected, free-to-air Six Nations coverage over the line.”

Heledd Fychan called for matches to be broadcast on S4C, rather than having a Welsh viewing option on platforms such as Amazon Prime.

The Plaid Cymru MS, who represents South Wales Central, pointed out that Rhondda MP Chris Bryant has been appointed a junior DCMS minister as she urged Labour to act.

Samuel Kurtz raised concerns about the 8% interest rate the WRU is paying on an £18m coronavirus business interruption loan scheme from the Welsh Government.

Pointing out that the rate was fixed at 2% for English premiership sides, the Tory MS said: “I think that’s a financial constraint that’s hurting our professional clubs here in Wales.”

Caerphilly MS Hefin David joked that he has a lot in common with former PM Rishi Sunak – “as my dad wouldn’t let us have Sky either, and we had to listen to it on the radio”.

He called for a ‘Plan B’ for the hospitality industry if rugby goes behind a paywall, including a contractual clause to give small pubs and clubs a reduced pay-to-view subscription.

Dr David said he watches Wales matches at Gilfach workmen’s club, which pays £514 a month for Sky, as he raised concerns about venues having to buy multiple subscriptions..

“Well, Gilfach workies simply can’t afford that,” he said.

Alun Davies, a fellow Labour backbencher, said: “We need to address the real crisis in Welsh rugby and that is ensuring that the game exists for future generations, and I believe that exposure to the Six Nations championship is fundamental to that.”

The Blaenau Gwent MS raised the example of Glamorgan cricket.

He said: “It does raise fears within me that the more we take the game away from the screens, the more we take it away from our communities and from the people who enjoy watching the game, and the less it becomes our national sport.”

The culture committee’s inquiry was sparked after John Whittingdale, a Conservative former culture minister, left the door open last autumn while giving evidence.

Sir John told the meeting: “We’ve always said that if the Welsh Parliament argued very strongly that, for the good of sport in Wales, we needed to look again at the listed events, we would look at it, certainly. So, it’s not closed.’

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