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Llanelli 22
Ebbw Vale 18

Josh Lewis: 10 points for Llanelli Fly Half (Pic. Riley Sports)

Josh Lewis: 10 points for Llanelli Fly Half (Pic. Riley Sports)

SIX months ago to the day, the two sides met at Parc-y-Scarlets and Ebbw were convincing winners, 51-0 in a victory that sealed a play-off place.

It was a different story this time, though, with a vastly improved Llanelli edging out the Steelmen who, temporarily at least, seem to have lost their way.

As new Head Coach Dai Flanagan was getting his ideas and training methods across to his new squad, including a host of new signings, Llanelli struggled in the opening month of the season, losing their first four games.

However fast forward to Saturday evening and his young Llanelli sided have now won three on the bounce, with this being the most memorable of them, as they downed last seasons play-off finalists in a fine performance at the Parc y Scarlets. If this result is anything to go by, the home crowd can look forward to many other exciting displays as Flanagan’s players begin to buy into his philosophy.

The visitors looked more of a threat in the early stages, but were met with some resolute home resistance, with Matthew Owens and Ben Leung both producing brilliant last-ditch tackles to prevent what looked certain Ebbw tries.

However the resolute defence couldn’t hold out forever, and it was a perfect start for Ebbw Vale, as they built a 10-0 lead. David Williams pounced for the first try, capitalising on a rolling maul from a line out. Iain Smerdon converted superbly, and later added a penalty.

Other chances came: a five metre attacking scrum in which the ball never appeared to enter the tunnel, letting Llanelli off the hook; a Ronny Kynes touchdown ruled out for a foot in touch; and another turned down for alleged crossing. On another day, and with a little more luck, Ebbw could have gone in well ahead… but it wasn’t another day, and Llanelli pounced twice late in the half, as that old cliché, the bouncing ball catching the defence off guard, came true. Former Ebbw favourite Josh Lewis scored and converted, then Justin James made it 14-10, which was how it stayed at the interval.

The second half saw Ebbw winning the lion’s share of possession, through a strong scrum and a lineout functioning much better than against Cross Keys last week. There were several clean breaks that could – and perhaps should – have led to scores, but all the possession and territory couldn’t be turned into points and Llanelli, who always looked threatening when they moved the ball, stretched their lead with a well-made try by Dion Jones, who also converted.

At 22-10, Ebbw had it all to do, but the pressure paid off as Mathew Williams crossed and Smerdon goaled to make it 22-18. More chances came: it looked as if a try had been scored, only for the assistant referee to rule a foot in touch. “Send it upstairs!” advised one Ebbw supporter, but such luxuries don’t exist at this level, and the game ended with Ebbw pressing hard for the score that wouldn’t come as the home defence stood firm as the Steelmen had to make do with a losing bonus point – as Llanelli held out to seal a fine victory.



15.Jordan Williams 14.Harry Robinson 13.Matthew Owens 12.Mathew Pearce 11.Dion Jones 10.Josh Lewis 9.Justin James: 8.Trystan Lloyd 7.Owain Morgan 6.Jack Jones 5.Rhydian Gierat 4. Adam Powell (capt) 3.Ben Leung 2.Taylor Davies 1.Rhys Thomas


16.Dylan Evans 17.Torin Myhill 18.Gareth Havard 19.Christian Long 20.Elliot Rees 21.Josh Guy 22.Shaun Pearce 23.Gareth Walters 24. Andrew Spowart

Ebbw Vale:

15.Chris Levesley 14.David Williams, 13.Dominic Franchi, 12.Adam Jones, 11.Ryan Gardner; 10.Iain Smerdon, 9.Tom Edwards; 1.Ross Jones, 2.Mathew Williams, 3.Gethin Robinson; 4.Damien Hudd (capt), 5.Ashley Sweet; 6.Cameron Regan, 7.Ronny Kynes, 8.Ethan Doyle.


16.Joseph Franchi, 17.Ian George, 18.Robert Sevenoaks, 19.Harrison Keddie, 20.Luke Crocker, 21.Chris Thomas, 22.Steffan Jones, 23.Dan Haymond.

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Errors prove costly for Raiders




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




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




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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