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Reds maintain winning start

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Goal: The Reds celebrate yet again

Llanelli Town • 3
Ton Pentre • 0

FIVE games, five wins – Llanelli Town are proving to be the pacesetters so far in Welsh League Division 1, although their latest success at the expense of their Rhondda Valley opponents was not as clear-cut as the result suggests.

Ton are known as the Rhondda Bulldogs, and to their credit they displayed the tenacious tendencies attributed to the breed, causing their opponents plenty of problems, particularly in the first half, before the Reds gradually took control and finally ran out winners thanks to a Jordan Davies brace and a third from Liam Samuel.

Missing some key players, including the unavailable Lee Trundle, the hosts were certainly lacking the intensity displayed in their last outing at Penybont where they were in the ascendancy throughout and dominated proceedings.

They started off well, with James Loveridge putting in a strong run down the right before delivering a ball beyond goalkeeper Ryan Griffiths into the goalmouth, but Jordan Follows, at full stretch, agonisingly failed to make contact for a certain opener.

Another Loveridge assist this time found the head of Chris Jones, but again the finish drifted just wide.

After these early opportunities, chances at either end were at a premium, although a well struck effort by Follows who beat two defenders to set himself up, was fumbled low down by Griffiths, and the ball rebounded off the inside of the post and on to the line before being grabbed by the relieved keeper.

When the visitors countered, a shot from distance by Leon Jacka stung the hands of Scott Coughlin in the Reds` goal who managed to keep it out.

Overall, the half was an untidy affair with neither side able to exert the upper hand, and it was no surprise when the interval arrived with the game scoreless.

Whatever was said in the home dressing room during the break seemed to have the desired effect when the contest resumed, as the Reds were far more positive and looking the more likely to break the deadlock.

Follows failed to get any power into his strike on target and Griffiths saved easily, and when he set up Jones, his finish fizzed across the goalmouth and just wide of the far post.

Ton responded through Sam Small whose shot on the turn sailed narrowly over the top, and he went even closer when Jacka crossed to the far post, his goal bound header being brilliantly turned over by Coughlin.

The game was still evenly poised, and it seemed as if the side to score first would probably go on to win, and to the relief of the Reds, two goals in as many minutes swung the result in their favour.

The first arrived on 65 minutes following a well-worked move involving Loveridge and Follows which culminated in a backheel to set up Davies who beat Griffiths with firm shot into the bottom corner.

Two minutes later, the lead was doubled with Follows again involved, this time finding Davies in space in the box who again finished clinically past the keeper and give the Reds some breathing space.

Davies then turned provider, setting up Jones for a shot which again whistled fractionally wide.

Follows was replaced by Liam Samuel, who within ten minutes of his arrival notched up the third goal after Griffiths could only deflect an effort by Jones into his path, and he made no mistake by smashing it home in the 83rd minute.

At the close, another three points and a clean sheet for the Reds in front of a decent 401 attendance, but they were made to work hard for the win against opponents who belied their lowly league position.

The Reds travel west on Saturday (Sept 23) when they meet Haverfordwest County, kick off 2.30pm.

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Errors prove costly for Raiders

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West Wales Raiders 16

North Wales Crusaders 56

By Ian Golden at Stebonheath Park

NORTH Wales Crusaders’ play-off hopes took a boost on Saturday after taking advantage of West Wales Raiders’ many errors to earn to a large win.

The Wrexham-based side will go into their last two games full of confidence but know they’ll have a tougher outing at Newcastle Thunder in a fortnight.

Their first try came on 11 minutes when Ben Stead forced his way through, and the lead was soon doubled after Dave Eccleston dived through a gaping hole in Raiders’ back-line. Stead converted to put the score on 10-0.

West Wales were close to getting a try back midway through the first half after winning a repeat set near to the North Wales line. Ash Bateman was close following a good run from Archie Snook, but the ball was forced off him when diving for the line.

Crusaders made them pay. From the resulting scrum, a 90-metre set culminated in Warren Thompson scoring under the sticks and Stead converting.

Raiders hit back on the half-hour. Regaining the ball on halfway after Snook bravely collected a kick from close range, Phil Cowburn sneakily slipped the ball back to Mitch Shaw who dived under the sticks. Cowburn converted.

Photo by Darren Harries

Crusaders struck back when Steven Roper couldn’t believe his luck and even hesitated when he saw a gap he could easily run through to score a try. He added the extras himself.

There was controversy with the next score. The referee initially awarded a scrum to Crusaders but after consultation, he gave Crusaders a penalty and Matthew Reid scored from that set.

And it went from bad to ridiculous on the half-time hooter after Sam Baker spilled the ball inside his own goal area allowing Alex Eckley to touch down easily. Roper missed both kicks but Crusaders were 30-6 up.

They added to their lead on 47 minutes in a try they had to work hard for. Raiders were defending well but Joe Ryan finally managed to break through before Lewis Fairhurst converted.

Raiders were unlucky not to a try back on the hour when Baker was pushed into touch when diving for the line. Crusaders went straight back up-field and after winning a penalty, Dante Monte-Samuels crashed over. Fairhurst’s kick just made it through the posts despite the wind taking it wide and Crusaders were 42-6 up.

There were five full Wales internationals in the game, two of them with Crusaders, but it took until the 68th minute before one got on the scoresheet. Rob Massam, the North Wales winger was sent over in the corner. Fairhurst missed the kick.

Then, after regaining the ball from kick-off, one of the West Wales trio scored and it was typically Steve Parry, diving low from dummy half. Cowburn sliced the kick wide.

In the set after that was a rare Crusaders error. Snook did well to beat his marker to score, much to the delight of his mother on the PA system! Cowburn converted.

But it was Crusaders who ended on a high as Massam crossed for two more in the left corner. Shaw did cross for Raiders in the last move of the game but it was chalked off for a forward pass.

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Town too good for Dafen

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DAFEN Seconds suffered defeat on Saturday (Aug 17) as they were beaten by Briton Ferry Town.

The game was reduced to 40-overs a side because of earlier rain and when Dafen won the toss they elected to field.

However, Briton Ferry racked up an impressive score of 225-4 in those 40 overs.

Amar Waseem and Neil Baggridge shared 146 runs for the first wicket as both reached their half centuries.

Waseem fell for a score of 68 and Baggridge for 63 as Dafen looked to hit back and keep the runs down.

Adeel Khan made a score of 22 while Aman Tasnem made 25 from 14 balls with a four and two sixes before he was run out.

Photo by Darren Harries

Adrian Mainwaring then finished not out on 27 as Dafen were set 226 to win the game.

Dafen lost Oliver Evans early on to the bowling of Nabel Iqbal and he also claimed the wickets of Harvey Jones (12) and Jonathan Griffiths (14).

He then claimed a fourth with the wicket of Luke Dunning as Dafen’s reply faltered.

Rhys Marchant made a score of 14 before being bowled by Mumtaz Hussain and he also claimed a further three wickets.

Aadil Mukhtar hit three fours and a six in his score of 22 but he was then bowled by Adeel Khan.

Andrew Herbert finished unbeaten on 15 but it wasn’t enough as Dafen were bowled out for 133.

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Llanelli close the gap

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LLANELLI closed the gap to second placed Tata Steel on Saturday (Aug 17) as they beat them by eight wickets.

Llanelli elected to field on winning the toss and they were able to bowl Tata out for 117.

Chris Thomas trapped Kelvin Bartle leg before early on and Steven Devonald did the same to Rohan Herbert to leave the visitors on 13-2.

Morgan Jones and Martin Lewis then made a good partnership worth 57 runs.

That was brought to and end though as Lewis was caught by Rhidian Morgan off the bowling of Iwan Rees.

Jones had made a score of 38 but he was then bowled by Jac Rees as Tata slipped to 72-4.

That became 78-5 when Phillip Taylor was trapped leg before by Iwan Rees.

The same bowler then had Joseph Crocket caught by Morgan as wickets continued to fall.

The score soon read 94-7 as David Richards caught and bowled Sean Holley.

Photo by Darren Harries

Nathan Ferrell made a late score of 10 but then saw himself caught by Morgan off the bowling of Richards who then also had Adam Jardine caught by Devonald.

Richards then claimed his fourth as he had Damien Williams stumped by Morgan to finish with figures of 4-13.

That left Llanelli needing 118 for victory and although they lost Ioan Phillips early on in their reply they were never really troubled.

Iwan Rees and Craig Howells shared 87 runs for the second wicket to all but give the home side victory.

Howells hit eight fours and a six as he scored 50 but he was then caught by Morgan Jones off the bowling of Damien Williams.

Rees and Ryan Nicholas then saw their side to victory with Nicholas finishing unbeaten on 19 with two fours and a six from his 14 balls faced.

Rees finished not out on 33 as Llanelli reached their target with plenty of time to spare.

The win moves them to within 14 points of second placed Tata Steel with two games remaining.

The first of those games takes place on Saturday (Aug 24) when Llanelli travel to Bronwydd. They then finish the season at home to third placed Maesteg Celtic.

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