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Clinical Scarlets put Leinster to the sword

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SCARLETS 23
LEINSTER 13

THE SCARLETS maintained their unbeaten record at Parc y Scarlets in style with a stunning win over reigning Pro12 champions and three-time European champions Leinster. In the process they closed the gap on sixth place Connaught to just three points, with just five games remaining in the race for automatic qualification for next year’s Champions Cup, as the Irish side were controversial last gasp losers at Cardiff Arms Park on the previous night.

An entertaining first half saw some classy backline play from both sides, with former All Black Regan King, making his 100th league appearance for the Scarlets, impressing with his slight of hand and creative vision and Leinsters’ own Kiwi Ben Ta’o showing his power and pace to break the home sides defensive line on more than one occasion.

King wasn’t alone in producing a display of real class for the Scarlets. Back rowers John Barclay and James Davies also put in big performances. Experienced Scotland international Barclay showed his powerful running and guile at the turnover whilst 24 year old Davies, younger sibling of current international and former Scarlet Jonathan Davies, put in a man of the match display. Davies is enjoying his breakthrough season on the regional stage and if he can produce more performances like this one, Warren Gatland will be watching with keen eyes.

The Scarlets took the lead as Steven Shingler notched a penalty following good running from Wales centre Scott Williams, who was released from international duty for the game. This lead didn’t last for long after a needless penalty was given away near halfway by the home side. Flyhalf Gopperth did the honours, striking the ball to touch to give Leinster a line-out opportunity on the Scarlets 22. A training ground move was enough to undo the otherwise water tight Scarlets defence as hooker Sean Cronin received the ball from Mike McCarthy and drove around the back of the line-out. Quickly recycled ball created space for the lethal Ta’o who slid inside Scott Williams and brushed off the desperate last-ditch tackle of Parkes to score his first try for the club. Gopperth added the extras and also notched a penalty to give the visitors a 10-3 lead.

On the 30 minute mark the Scarlets turned on the style as Regan King unlocked the Leinster backline and sent marauding back-row Barclay into the corner for the the first Scarlets score. Although Shingler couldn’t add the extras from the touchline, the home side went in at half time just 2 points behind in what had been an enthralling forty minutes.

The second half began with another burst from powerhouse centre Ben Ta’o, but sensing a second try he was stopped in his tracks by a superb covering tackle from the ever-present James Davies. Barclay was able to turnover possession and after a number of phases the Scarlets produced the try of the game. King again was the creator, drawing South African fullback Zane Kirchner to put Jordan Williams in under the posts. Shingler added the easy extras and the Scarlets had a lead they never looked like relinquishing even when Leinster added a penalty to bring the score to 15-13.

The Scarlets put the game to bed as Barclay and Davies combined again to create the games final try. Barclay tackled and Davies turned over to give replacement back-row Rory Pitman the chance to brush off Gopperth and crash over. The try went unconverted but Priestland made amends by putting the game beyond doubt with a late penalty to give the Scarlets a well deserved and crucial home win, to the delight of man of the match James Davies.

“It was a massive win for us. We talked about it all week; this block of four against Irish teams has been tough. We looked at this one as probably one of the biggest – at home and wanting to keep our unbeaten record.”

Davies went on to say: “The defence was outstanding. The boys worked tremendously hard and it all came down to good attitude. We’re so pleased with the win.”

Scarlets return to Guinness Pro12 action on Saturday March 28 as they take on Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets, kick-off 2.40pm.

Teams:

SCARLETS: Jordan Williams; Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes; Steven Shingler, Aled Davies; Phil John, Ken Owens (capt), Peter Edwards, George Earle, Johan Snyman, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, John Barclay.

REPLACEMENTS: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne, Rory Pitman, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Adam Warren

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Fergus McFadden; Ben Te’o; Gordon D’Arcy; Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth; Eoin Reddan: Cian Healy; Sean Cronin; Martin Moore; Mike McCarthy; Kane Douglas; Rhys Ruddock; Dominic Ryan; Jack Conan.

REPLACEMENTS: Michael Bent; Richardt Strauss; Tadhg Furlong; Tom Denton; Isaac Boss; Noel Reid; Dave Kearney.

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Sport

Foel’s Championship dream halted

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FELINFOEL’s hopes of promotion to the WRU Championship were brought to an end on Sunday (May 12) as they were beaten in the play-offs by Ystalyfera.

Ystalyfera had won the first leg 34-28 on their home soil but Felinfoel were still very much in the tie and they had the backing of an 800-strong home crowd in the reverse fixture. Fans packed in to the ground and they witnessed an epic encounter.

Felinfoel held the lead at one time but their opponents hit back to seal a 20-30 win to win overall by 64 points to 48.

Felinfoel played some attractive rugby during the first half with wingers Eray Wilson and Elliot Dawe scoring tries wide out one of which was converted by Aled Roberts. Ystalyfera scored a penalty and a converted try making the half time score 12 points to 10.

Photos by Darren Harries

The second half opened brightly for Felinfoel with Roberts kicking a penalty and Wilson scoring a further try. With the score at 20 points to 10, matters were looking favourable for the home team.

It was at this stage that the Ystalyfera forwards took complete control of the match denying Felinfoel of any possession for the final 20mins of the match. With a strong scrummage and dynamic driving maul they continued to exert pressure onto the home team.

Ystalyfera were rewarded with a further two converted tries, penalty goal and drop goal and deserved their victory 20 points to 30, and promotion to the championship.

Both teams are to be congratulated in the way in which the game was played. Both sides gave their all and provided an entertaining encounter.

Both sets of supporters gave loud vocal support to each team and were sporting throughout the match.

At the end of the match Felinfoel coach Mike King who is leaving after two years in charge was given a rousing send off by players and supporters alike.

After the game Felinfoel took to twitter saying: “After another successful season, it’s time to say thank you. Thank you to all sponsors for supporting the club throughout the season once again. Without you we would not exist. Thank you to all the supporters who have been with us through thick and thin.

“Lastly, thank you to head coach Mike King who will be leaving us. He has set the foundations of the club and has turned this club around for the better. All at Felinfoel RFC can’t thank you enough. We wish you all the best in the future.”

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Morgan marches seconds home

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DAFEN Seconds earned the bragging rights over Llanelli Seconds on Saturday (May 11) as they cruised to an eight wicket win.

Dafen won the toss but elected to field and that looked to be a good decision as they bowled their opponents out for just 118 inside 22 overs.

Aadil Mukhtar finished with excellent figures of 5-21 while Oliver Evans supported well taking four wickets for the loss of 40 runs.

Needing just thirty overs of their reply, Dafen Seconds eased to victory as Jac Morgan finished not out on 64 to see his side over the line.

Photo by Darren Harries

The win for Dafen keeps them joint top of the table with Briton Ferry Town after two games while Llanelli sit bottom of Division 3 and are still searching for their first win.

On Saturday (May 18), Dafen Seconds are at home against Dyffryn while Llanelli Seconds are away to Neath thirds.

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Jones duo sink Bronwydd

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LLANGENNECH earned their first win of the season on Saturday (May 11) as they beat Bronwydd by 14 runs in a low scoring game.

Llangennech won the toss and elected to bat but they lost Chris Hickey early on when he was caught by Jacob Jenkinson off the bowling of Colin Tucker.

Matthew Jones scored 11 before he was caught and bowled by Tucker before David Williams was caught by Tom Gleeson off the bowling of Matthew Vaughan for a score of 14.

James Taube made the same score but was then caught by Phillip Howell off the bowling of Dafydd Morgan. Morgan also bowled Martin Gregory to leave Llangennech on 83-5.

Opener Scott Lloyd’s score of 30 had come off 127 balls and he was eventually caught by Vaughan off the bowling of Callum Collins-Davies.

Richard Clement was the third Llangennech batsman to make a score of 14 before getting out as he was caught by Jenkinson off the bowling of Gleeson.

Michael Jones was then run out before Gleeson claimed his second wicket as he had Simon Clement caught by Oliver Furneaux.

Vaughan then wrapped up the innings as he had Bav Patel caught by James Cale to leave Llangennech all out on 124. Photo by Darren Harries

Bronwydd’s opening pair of James Cale and Philip Howell shared 15 runs but Howell was out for a score of 8 to the bowling of Michael Jones.

Oliver Furneaux was next to fall when he was trapped leg before by Matthew Jones on a score of 11.

Chris Hickey then gave Owain Phillips his first wicket as he caught Jacob Jenkinson and the bowler then claimed his second as he had Cale caught by David Williams on a score of 17.

That left Bronwydd on 44-4 but Iwan Davies and Dafydd Morgan shared 40 runs for the fifth wicket to keep their side in the game.

Davies hit three fours and a six in his knock of 33 but he was then trapped leg before by Michael Jones. He then also bowled Callum Collins-Davies for a duck to reduce Bronwydd to 84-6.

Matthew Jones then had Dafydd Morgan caught on a score of 8 before then trapping Tom Gleeson leg before.

Hickey then took two more catches of Matthew Vaughan and Colin Tucker to give Matthew Jones his five-wicket haul and Bronwydd were all out for 110.

Gareth John had finished not out on 18 but it wasn’t enough for victory for the visitors.

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