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Bluebirds begin second phase with important win

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ALHAGI Touray Sisay’s goal two minutes into the second-half was enough to give Haverfordwest County an important 1-0 win over 10-man Barry Town United in our opening game of Phase Two in the JD Cymru Premier.

After a relatively even first-half at a sun-drenched Jenner Park, the striker found the net from a tight angle shortly after the interval, and it proved to be the winning goal as County recorded consecutive victories in the league for the first time this season.

The hosts had opportunities to level the scoring, and thought they had done so when Clayton Green’s header from close range was pushed onto the crossbar by the impressive Lee Idzi, with the officials ruling that the ball had not crossed the line.

This victory sees the Bluebirds leapfrog the Dragons into ninth place in the standings, three points behind Cardiff Metropolitan in seventh – who currently occupy top spot in the Play-Off Conference.

Manager Nicky Hayen made three changes to the side that beat Cefn Druids 2-0 last week, with captain Dylan Rees returning from suspension while Corey Shephard and Ricky Watts came into the midfield in place of Kurtis Rees and the injured Kieran Lewis.

The first opportunity of the game fell County’s way. Dylan Rees’ ball over the top picked out Touray Sisay, but the striker saw his shot from inside the area saved by Kelland Absalom.

The Bluebirds had been on the front foot in the opening 15 minutes, but they had to be alert defensively when Jordan Cotterill found space before seeing his shot blocked by Elliot Scotcher.

County’s best opportunity of the half fell to Jordan Davies. After squick interplay in the attacking third, the ball was worked to the unmarked striker on the right side of thee area, but his shot was parried onto Touray Sisay by Absalom, before rebounding back into his grasp.

On the half hour mark, Idzi pulled off an excellent diving save to deny Rhys Abbruzzese’s speculative effort from distance, before getting down well to save Rhys Kavanagh’s shot from close range shortly after as the team’s went into the break level at 0-0.

However, a matter of minutes after the restart, the Bluebirds countered at pace before the excellent Shephard slid a through ball into the path of Touray Sisay, which he calmly slotted between the legs of Absalom to give County the lead.

This goal gave Hayen’s side confidence, as they continued to be on the front foot and looked the likelier team to find the second goal of the afternoon.

But just before the hour mark, the Linnets thought they had drawn level. A free-kick from the right side was met by the head of captain Green, with the ball coming back off the right post and into the path of Idzi, who pushed it onto the crossbar before Scotcher hooked it to safety.

Gavin Chesterfield’s side claimed the ball had crossed the line, but the officials ruled otherwise and the score remained at 1-0.

Green was involved again five minutes later, again with a header, but this time he couldn’t direct it on target as the ball flew wide of the right post.

With just over 20 minutes remaining, the hosts were reduced to 10 men when Cotterill was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Dylan Rees.

This allowed County to lower the tempo and see out the game relatively unthreatened in the closing stages, as Hayen’s side held on pick up a crucial three points.

Next up for the Bluebirds is Cefn Druids at the Ogi Bridge Meadow next Saturday, March 12 (Kick-off: 14:30). The game will see Hayen take to the home dugout for the first time since being unveiled as our new manager,

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Wales 10 – Ireland 34: Clinical Ireland outfox wasteful Wales

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RUGBY is often described as a game of inches, where the tiniest errors significantly affect games’ outcomes. That was the case on Saturday, where Ireland won convincingly by making fewer unforced errors than Wales.

As a contest, the game was all but over in the first 25 minutes. Ireland did nothing flash, nothing extraordinary. They were just better at the basics. It’s what you’d expect when the first-ranked team in the world play the ninth.

Conceding a try after two minutes was a bad start, but again and again thereafter, Wales either coughed the ball up or conceded penalties in clutch positions.

Ireland’s game management showed the confidence of being a settled group under a single coach with a defined game plan. Ireland’s players constantly worked off the ball to close gaps and shut off running lines. The Irish slowed down the Welsh ball and applied pressure with clinical precision. The Irish scrum and lineout gave the visitors’ backline time to play.

Whatever the Welsh game plan was before Wayne Pivac left as the coach (answers on a postcard for that one), on Saturday, Wales showed signs of trying to create a pattern of play based on phase play creating the space to allow Wales’s backs to punch through stretched defensive formations. However, a plan is only as good as its execution. And Wales repeatedly created good positions only to make sometimes desperately disappointing mistakes.

Twice Wales had the throw near the Irish line, and twice Irish forwards picked off the ball. On another occasion, Wales went long at the lineout in their half, only for the ball to land on the Irish side. Add that to a crooked throw in a promising position, and Wales lost momentum at crucial stages.
Ireland stormed into an early lead with their first attack ending with Number Eight Doris smashing his way over from close range. It got worse six minutes later when James Ryan scored with almost a carbon copy play.

Wales’s best chance of the opening quarter came when Irish full-back Hugo Keenan got to a loose ball over the Irish line before Welsh winger Rio Dyer.

Although Biggar got the home side off the mark with a penalty, within minutes, a telegraphed pass ended in the hands of Lowe, who streaked over unopposed for Ireland’s third try.

24-3 down soon became 27-3 following another Sexton penalty following Welsh indiscipline at the breakdown. Realistically, that score ended the game. However, in the half’s dying moments, Wales again applied pressure. Jac Morgan, who had a good game in a losing cause, crossed the Irish line only to be held up by a strong Irish defence.

It looked grim at half-time. Wales had been disorganised and disjointed, while every time the Irish got the ball in the Welsh half, they looked like they would come away with points.

Whatever Warren Gatland said at half-time got the Welsh players’ attention.

Wales came steaming out of the blocks in the second half, looking better organised and less frantic. Good phase play opened a gap in the Irish midfield, and Liam Williams sped through the gap to touch down near the posts, making Biggar’s conversion a formality. Wales continued to work through the phases, and only an uncharacteristically poor pass from Justin Tipuric spoiled a good chance for Rio Dyer to get a clear run at the Irish line.

Wales still tried to keep up the pressure but lacked accuracy at key moments when cooler heads might have produced more. As if that wasn’t bad enough, with fifteen minutes of normal time to go, Liam Williams was – maybe a little unluckily – yellow-carded for making contact with the ducking, bobbing and weaving Jonny Sexton’s head.

The man advantage was all Ireland needed to break Wales’s stranglehold on the match. They kept kicking for space behind the Welsh midfield and used Bundi Aki as a midfield battering ram to keep the Welsh players tied in at the breakdown. With Wales stretched and gaps appearing in the defensive live, Van der Flier had the simplest of tasks to add a fourth try for Ireland.

As the clock ticked down – and with Wales 34-10 down – the Irish pressed for the score that would give them a record win in Cardiff. Wales tried again to break out for a consolation score, more in hope than expectation, and it was all Ireland when the final whistle blew.

Warren Gatland said he was “strangely not that disappointed” after the game.

The Wales coach said: “The things I’m disappointed with are things we can put right: the slow start and giving away needless penalties. When you look at the game we put ourselves in positions we could’ve taken advantage of. We can take away the positives, look at our second half performance and improve on that.”

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Welsh Government Rural Affairs Minister congratulates this year’s award winners

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EVERY nominee for this year’s Lantra Cymru Awards scheme has demonstrated their commitment to lifelong learning and maintaining the highest standards across all areas of working, Welsh Government Minister Lesley Griffiths has said.
The Minister has thanked and congratulated all this year’s award winners as well as the training providers who had nominated them.
The Minister said: “The Lantra Cymru Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the commitment and passion of individuals across Wales. A huge well done to all the nominees, winners and training providers for all of their hard work including to increase efficiency and introduce further innovative ideas into their ways of working.”
Leading Welsh agriculturalist Mr Peter Rees, chair of Lantra Wales, presided over this year’s selection panel, which included Kevin Thomas, Director of Lantra Wales, Dr Nerys Llewelyn Jones, founder and Managing Partner of Agri Advisor solicitors and agricultural Health and Safety expert Brian Rees, a former chair of the Wales Farm Safety Partnership and a Farming Connect farm safety mentor.
Mr Rees said that the Lantra Cymru Awards was always one of the highlights of the annual Welsh farming calendar, adding that it was testament to all the industry’s rural stakeholders, including colleges and training providers, that despite the current economic challenges within the industry, they had again identified and nominated many outstanding individuals.
“The Lantra Cymru Awards scheme, now in its 28th year, rewards the lifelong learning achievements of the many workers who, through their significant skills and abilities, contribute not only to farming but to the wider rural agenda in Wales, our rural economy and to the communities where they live and work.
“Each nominee’s clear commitment to continuous professional development and achievements within the environmental and land-based sectors, is doing so much to maintain professional, up to date standards within our industry.
“Each one of them is making a significant contribution, not only within their own particular area of working, but to the sustainability and modernisation of Welsh agriculture long term,” said Mr Rees.
Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

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Funding boost on offer for local sports groups

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INVESTING in grassroots and community sport has led to more than £300,000 being accessed by local clubs in 2022 and this year it could be your chance for a share.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Sport Pembrokeshire helped 55 sports clubs receive a share of £335,388 from Sport Wales via the Be Active Wales Fund grants system last year.

In 2023 there are grants available for a variety of schemes or activities including coach education courses, essential items of equipment, new team start-ups and developing ‘on field’ activities.

Examples from last year include a Sea Cadet unit receiving £16,522 to buy a new safety boat as well as powerboat and safety boat courses, a table tennis club that got £700 for two new tables and a local football club accessed a grant of nearly £8,000 for training courses, balls, bibs, cones and goalposts.

Graham Willcocks at Trefloyne Junior Golf Academy, said: “The grant we received from the Be Active Wales Fund got us off to a flying start. We didn’t have much in the bank so it was a massive leap for us when they provided all the equipment we needed to get youngsters starting to play golf.
“With the support of Alan Jones at Sport Pembrokeshire, it was easy, with a straightforward application process and a really fast turnaround. Without that grant we wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are today.”

Sports Development Link Officer at Sport Pembrokeshire, Alan Jones added: “We would love to hear from any clubs and sports groups, large or small, to see if we can help access some grant funding to support community sport, and encourage people to get in touch.”  

Any sports clubs interested can find out more about the grants from Sport Pembrokeshire and the Sport Wales websites.

Email sport@pembrokeshire.gov.uk for more information and to tell the team about what your club needs and what you would like to do.

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