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Llanelli set champions back on track

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jackcondyPontypridd 38
Llanelli 6

SARDIS ROAD was a ‘House of Pain’ for Llanelli once again on Saturday (5 Dec) as they emerged from the encounter with nothing to show for their efforts, despite being well in the game with fifty minutes played, trailing by just eight points to six. Pontypridd had lost their last three games in the league, and this run (unprecedented in recent years) had seen them drop to fourth in the table, but Llanelli duly obliged to set the reigning champions back on the right track, as they were torn apart in a thirty minute second half blitz which saw the hosts run in four unanswered tries.

In a tight and nervy first half, the hosts wasted a good opportunity to go into the lead on the quarter of an hour mark, as fullback Geraint Walsh through wildly over winger Alex Webber’s head when he was in the clear to score, after an overlap was created through good phase play. Just over five minutes later though they were over, as Webber, who will have good memories of playing Llanelli as he became the historic first scorer of a 6-point try at the Parc in September, crossed for the opening score.

The winger chased down his own kick to gather and dive over the line, to the delight and relief of the large home crowd. With confidence understandably low, Ponty were far from their best but having been so dominant they wouldn’t of expected Llanelli to get back into the game on the stroke of half time. Josh Lewis kicked for the corner when the visitors were awarded a penalty, and with everyone predicting what has now become a routine catch and drive in the Premiership, they instead went through a number of phases, before centre Steffan Hughes, in only his second game back after injury, chipped a delightful ball through the home defence, which Lewis gathered to score.

He failed to convert his own try, meaning the hosts were two points to the good at the interval. Llanelli took the confidence gained from this try into the second half, and were enjoying a great deal of possession, when, against the run of play, Ponty did what champions do, and crossed the line themselves. When Webber caught an interception pass in his own 22 he raced clear, and although he was held up short, the ball was worked wide for Godfrey, who dived over for another converted score.

This proved to be the turning point in the game and with the black and whites now firmly in control, they crossed again as flanker Jake Thomas converted a simple opportunity with twenty-five minutes to play. With credit to Llanelli they kept battling, and didn’t concede again until the 77th minute, when the diminutive Webber grabbed his second try, to secure the bonus point for the home side, with Lewis Williams notching the conversion.

With just minutes remaining, Godfrey made a miserable half hour even worse for the reds as he crossed for his second to round off what on paper seems a much easier win for the hosts than it actually was.

Speaking on the loss, Llanelli coach Dai Flanagan said: “We were on top at the start of the second half; our style of play challenged Ponty in the wider areas and we were able look threatening. “We fronted up for long periods against the champions and no doubt we threatened them. “It was a massive step up performance wise from the last game against Newport, even though the scoreline doesn’t reflect it.” A two week break from league action will see Llanelli focus on the Fosters Challenge Cup, before they return on Boxing Day with a tough trip to Bridgend.

Teams: Pontypridd: 15.Geraint Walsh. 14.Alex Webber. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Dafydd Lockyer 11.Chris Clayton. 10.Lewis K Williams. 9.Tom Williams: 8.Dan Godfrey 7.Rhys Shellard 6.Jake Thomas 5.Chris Dicomidis. 4.Shaun O’Rourke. 3.Mitchell Auger. 2.Ashleigh James. 1.Bradley Thyer. Replacements: 16.Lloyd Williams. 17.Harri Millard. 18.Dale Stuckey. 19.Huw Dowden. 20.Wayne O’Connor. 21.Hemi Barnes. 22.Corey Domachowski.

Llanelli: 15.Dion Jones 14.Andrew Spowart 13.Nathan Edwards 12.Steffan Hughes 11.Gareth Walters 10.Josh Lewis 9.Josh Guy: 8.Jack Condy 7.Trystan Lloyd 6.Tom Phillips 5.Jack Jones 4.Adam Powell 3.Ben Leung 2.Taylor Davies 1.Rhys Thomas Replacements: 16.Rhys Fawcett 17.Torin Myhill 18.Tom Kaijaks 19.Christian Long 20.Liam Puckett 21.Justin James 22.Billy McByde 23.Paul Davies

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Sport

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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