LLANELLI fell to their third straight Principality defeat of the season, to leave themselves just three points above the bottom two (although this matters for little as there is no relegation for the 2015/16 season).
This will be a concern for Dai Flanagan as before this run they had been enjoying something of a renaissance in the league.
On the other hand, for visitors Newport, victory saw them go top momentarily, as their fine start to the season continues, and they remain firmly in the hunt to be crowned Principality Premiership champions, as a whole host of teams seek to end league giants Pontypridd’s four year dominance.
Newport’s form in recent years has been a long way short of what the Black and Ambers fans will have hoped for and expected, so to be challenging at the top end of the table is encouraging for the Gwent side. What was not quite so encouraging was the sight of Scarlets and Wales prop Rhodri Jones’ name on the team sheet as he made his return from a long period of injury. In the Newport team Haydn Palmer was a late replacement for unavailable Aled James at centre and an even later call was to see Joe Cullimore replace Rhys Jenkins at No.7 after Rhys suffered a reoccurrence of his knee injury, which tightened up during the warm up.
The game was all Llanelli for the first quarter as the hosts piled on relentless pressure and held onto possession. Newport’s defence stood firm and time after time the home team were turned back. Cullimore, Rhodri Jones and Brendon Lampitt formed a very efficient backrow for the visitors, who tackling ferociously and putting their bodies on the line. Llanelli were getting the majority of the refs decisions and always went in search of tries, constantly kicking penalties to the corner rather than go for goal. Indeed the hosts could have been six or eight points up after fifteen minutes but the score remained 0-0.
Newport eventually managed to acquire enough possession to make some concerted attacks and it was clear that in attack they had a greater cutting edge. A superb handling move consisting of multiple phases with quick recycling saw Newport deep in enemy territory and from a resulting penalty a five-metre line out was obtained. Dan Partridge secured possession but it was knocked on in the next phase ending a promising period of play. However the next attacking move saw some quick ‘tap and go’s’ before a beautiful reverse chip from Ryan James sent the ball into the try zone. Elliot Frewen chased hard and patiently waited for the ball to bounce in his favour before touching down for the first try. Arwel Robson missed the difficult conversion.
Five minutes later the lead was extended, as from a move straight off the training paddock, swift interplay led to Wes Cunliffe scoring out wide on the right. The conversion was missed but Newport were now dominant.
Wales prop Rhodri Jones limped off for the hosts after 30 minutes just as his team forced some rapid movement up the pitch. Newport infringed by putting hands into a ruck and this led to the often seen kick, lineout, catch, drive and 6 point try that is becoming increasingly common this season, with hooker Torin Myhill forcing his way over. Flyhalf Billy McBryde converted and Llanelli were up and running.
Just three minutes later this hard work was undone as Newport returned straight back to the Llanelli twenty-two, and superb interplay between forwards and backs, including a beautiful pass from Lavender, put Llywarch Ap Myrddin into space and the returning fullback danced his way through for a wonderful score. Robson banged over the conversion and the visitors were 8-20 to the good at half time.
The second half started with an aerial bombardment from both teams as play switched quickly from end to end. The pace of the game rose and the tiny crowd in attendance were witness to 40 minutes of the most frenetic rugby you are likely to see all season with full out attacks being met by heroic defence. Llywarch danced his way through midfield again and the Llanelli defence flapped and coughed the ball up. From the resulting scrum a neat move sent Haydn Palmer through for a well worked try that secured the bonus point and was also converted.
Moments later the lead was extended as Newport kicked a penalty to extend the lead and from the restart Llanelli squandered a great opportunity with an accidental offside and then within moments messed up another score when a beautiful cross kick was secured, only for the Dion Jones not to back himself for the inevitable score but choosing instead to pass inside to the supporting Matthew Owen, who duly dropped the ball over the line.
Owen did score in the dying moments – with McBryde converting – but it came too late to prevent a Newport victory.
If Llanelli are going to avoid losing four games on the bounce, then they will have to do it at the ‘House of Pain’ as Pontypridd, who themselves have lost three on the bounce, welcome them to Sardis Road.
Teams: Llanelli: 15.Dion Jones 14.Nathan Edwards 13.Steffan Hughes 12.Matthew Pearce 11.Matthew Owen 10.Billy McBryde: 9.Justin James 8.Trystan Lloyd 7.Shaun Edwards 6.Jack Jones 5.Christian Long 4.Rhydian Gierat 3.Rhodri Jones 2.Torin Myhill 1.Rhys Thomas Replacements: 16.Rhys Fawcett 17.Taylor Davies 18.Ben Leung 19.Greg George 20.Liam Puckett 21.Josh Guy 22.Gareth Walters 23.Paul Davies
Newport: Llywarch Ap Myrddin, Wes Cunliffe, Barney Nightingale, Aled James, Elliot Frewen, Arwel Robson, Ryan James, Brendan Lampitt, Rhys Jenkins, Rhodri Jones, Dan Partridge, Adam Brown, Alex Jeffries, Henry Palmer, John Lavender. Replacements: Evan Whitson, James Greenfield, Tom Piper, Bryce Morgan, Joe Culimore, Owen Davies, Julian Mogg, John Morris.
Skilton’s half century beats Felinfoel
A HALF century from Llandarcy’s Paul Skilton helped his side to victory over Felinfoel Seconds on Saturday (May 18).
Llandarcy invited Felinfoel to bat first after winning the toss and that proved to be a good decision as they soon had them in trouble on 41-5.
Opener Nicholas Jones made 18 for Felinfoel but he was bowled by Steven Moul.
Meirion Rees and Josh Powell both fell cheaply to the bowling of Chris Harland as did Ben Williams and Shaun Caton.
Jamie Cranham and Adam Edwards then offered some resistance to the Llandarcy bowlers with a stand of 48 for the sixth wicket.
Cranham hit six fours as he scored 32 but he was then caught off the bowling of Robert Jones.
Edwards and Ian Meredith then shared 52 runs for the seventh wicket as they looked to give their side something to defend.
Meredith made 21 with five fours but was then also out to the bowling of Jones. He then also took the wicket of Steve Johns for a duck.
That left Edwards not out on 35 (six fours) as he took Felinfoel to their total of 153-8.
Steve Johns then struck twice as Llandarcy began their reply as he had Ian Davies caught by Jamie Cranham and Steven Moul caught by Josh Powell.
That left them on 12-2 but opener Chris Pickford was joined by Paul Skilton and the pair shared 65 runs for the third wicket.
Pickford hit seven fours in his knock of 35 but he was then bowled by Nicholas Jones. Josh Powell then bowled Ben Owen for a duck to reduce Llandarcy to 78-4.
Another good stand between Skilton and Paul Maunder followed as they all but secured victory. Maunder made 25 before he was caught by Cranham off the bowling of Jones.
Skilton and Anthony Fletcher went on to see Llandarcy to their target with plenty of time to spare.
Fletcher was not out on 11 while Skilton had hit ten fours and a six to finish not out on 63.
Dafen edged out by Dyffryn
DAFEN Seconds’ were denied victory on Saturday (May 18) as Dyffryn edged to a 1-wicket win after their target was revised under the Duckworth Lewis method.
Dafen had made an excellent total of 263-6 in their innings but after a break for rain, Dyffryn were given a revised target of 185 from 35 overs.
Jac Morgan scored 19 early on for Dafen but was then out to the bowling of Chris Davies. Scott Phillips made 25 with three fours and a six before he was also out to Davies.
Chris Randell also batted well for his score of 31 but he was then bowled by Kyle Green.
Green also bowled George Lavender leaving Dafen on 185-5 but opener Oliver Evans and Andrew Randell smashed their side past 250 runs.
Evans hit eight fours and two sixes as he scored 80 before he was run out.
Randell smashed six fours and three sixes as he finished not out on 51 to help set Dyffryn a challenging target.
However, rain meant that Dyffryn would need a revised target of 185 to win.
Andrew Herbert took two wickets early on for Dafen to leave them on 21-2 but scores of 31 from Alun Evans, 20 from Jon Lewis and 43 from Rhodri Morgan kept Dyffryn on target.
All three fell to the bowling of Rhys Marchant and after James McKenna was bowled by Scott Phillips, Dyffryn were 128-6.
Darren Wood made 17 before he was out to the bowling of Cieran Latham and he also had Kyle Green caught by Chris Randell.
Lewis Day had made 21 for the visitors but when he was out to the bowling of Gleb Roberts it looked as if Dafen would take the win.
However, Grant Pearce and Chris Davies had other ideas as they steered Dyffryn over the line with four balls to spare.
Llanelli too good for Llandysul
LLANELLI put in a good all-round team performance as they batted well to make a good score before bowling Llandysul out to earn a 52-run win.
Llandysul won the toss and elected to field but they could only watch as the home side racked up nearly 300 runs.
Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips got Llanelli off to an excellent start as they shared 91 runs for the first wicket.
Rees hit five fours in a score of 41 but he was then stumped by Andrew Barrett off the bowling of Joseph Swift.
Phillips and Ryan Nicholas then shared a stand of 60 for the second wicket as they continued to put runs on the board.
Nicholas made 26 but was then caught by Luke Swift off the bowling of Steffan Jones.
More good batting followed as Phillips and Rhidian Morgan shared 59 runs for the third wicket.
Morgan smashed five fours and two sixes as his score of 40 came from 28 balls but he then found the hands of Llewelyn Hughes, giving Ashleigh Cox his first wicket.
Phillips had hit 11 fours in his knock of 96 but was unlucky to miss out on a century as he was caught by Ben Edkins off the bowling of Cox.
Marcus Leaf fell cheaply to the bowling of Luke Swift and he later had Steven Devonald caught by Cox.
Devonald had hit five fours in a score of 38 from 25 balls as Llanelli went on to set Llandysul 280 to win.
Llandysul were keen to make a good start in their reply and although they lost Bleddyn Morgan early on when he was caught by Ryan Nicholas off the bowling of Chris Thomas, a stand of 50 for the second wicket between Meurig Jones and Ashleigh Cox gave them a good platform. Jones made 26 before he was bowled by David Richards.
Cox had reached his half century but then saw Ben Edkins bowled by Steven Devonald on a score of 17.
Richards then had Llewelyn Hughes caught by Chris Thomas for a duck as Llandysul slipped to 115-4.
Cox was closing in on his century but was also losing partners as Carwyn Evans made 15 before he was trapped leg before by Iwan Rees.
Cox reached his century with nine fours and a six but was then bowled by Thomas on a score of 104.
That left Llandysul on 190-6 but when Steffan Jones departed having scored 28, trapped leg before by Thomas, their innings began to fall apart.
Devonald took the wicket of Luke Swift and then also ran out Joe Swift before Jac Rees wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Arfon Jones.
The win gives Llanelli 20 points and they remain top of Division 1.
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