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Butchers try can’t prevent Scarlets loss

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Alisha Butchers: Powers away for the last score of the game (Pic. Riley Sports)

Alisha Butchers:
Powers away for the last score of the game (Pic. Riley Sports)

THE GAME of the third round of the Women Regional Championship saw the Scarlets Ladies take on their local rivals, the Ospreys, at the BT Sports Cardiff Arms Park last Sunday, December 20th. Both teams went into the game with unbeaten records so something had to give. The two teams went on to produce an outstanding display of rugby, which was yet another great advert for Women’s Regional Rugby in Wales.

The girls in red were on the back foot from the start. The Scarlets failed to deal with the initial kick off reception adequately allowing the Ospreys a strong attacking foothold deep inside the Scarlets half. When the Scarlets infringed at the breakdown, outstanding Ospreys outside half, Robyn Wilkins was on hand to settle any Ospreys nerves with a welltaken penalty with barely 2 minutes on the clock. The Ospreys continued to dominate early possession but the resolute defence of the Scarlets held firm. The Scarlets finally gained some possession and it was their turn to show their attacking qualities and from a free flowing move the Ospreys were caught off side.

Centre, Jodie Evans stepped forward to slot an excellent penalty from near the 10m line to tie the scores. From the restart, the Scarlets once again went on the attack. A scything break by Scarlets no 10, Hannah Jones saw her cut through the Ospreys defensive line. Jones was brought down with the line at her mercy by a fantastic try saving tack by Ospreys winger Ffion Bowen. Fortunately, Jodie Evans was on hand to gather Jones’s off load to score near the posts. Uncharacteristically Evans pushed her attempt at the extras wide of the upright. The game was now ebbing and flowing, with both teams creating opportunities and neutralizing those opportunities with ferocious defensive play. For the Ospreys, Scrum Half Keira Bevan was a constant threat with her elusive running whilst Scarlets captain Sioned Harries led by example in both attack and defence.

As the half drew to a close, the Scarlets’ discipline began to let them down. A series of unforced penalties gave the Ospreys momentum and finally from yet another soft infringement at the breakdown, Wilkins was able to slot her second penalty of the day and draw the first half to a conclusion with the Scarlets holding a slender 8-6 lead. The Ospreys started the second half by far the better. Barely 3 minutes into the half the Ospreys were camped on the Scarlets line. The Ospreys scrum had been gradually gaining dominance over the Scarlets 8 and that dominance came to the fore as they powered over the line for No 8 Shona Powell-Hughes to score. Wilkins adding the extras.

The game was taken away from The Scarlets over the next 10 minutes thanks to a further three excellently taken Wilkins penalties. The Scarlets poor discipline at the breakdown was once again costing them dearly allowing the Ospreys dominance of both territory and possession, allowing Wilkins the opportunities to demonstrate her unerring accuracy with the boot. The final Ospreys score came barely 3 minutes later. A flowing move by the Ospreys outside backs resulted in centre Adi Taviner breaking through the Scarlets defensive line. Taviner fed the ever-impressive Powell-Hughes who powered over for her and the Ospreys second try of the game.

Wilkins again converting to give the Ospreys a 29-8 lead. To their credit, the Scarlets came back into the game and were rewarded by scoring their second try of the game. After a period of sustained pressure by the reds, a break by centre Elen Evans saw her release back rower Alisha Butchers to score under the posts. Jodie Evans added the extra 2 points to draw the game to its conclusion.

Speaking after the game, Scarlets Captain Sioned Harries was in positive mood despite the loss; “I’m extremely proud of all the girls’ efforts and commitment throughout the campaign so far, entering the championship as the current title holders will always bring great pressure, but I thought the girls were excellent today and showed great endeavour. Unfortunately, we didn’t start the second half as we ended the first and the Ospreys punished us.  We know what we need to work on for the next round of games and I am confident we will come back stronger for this experience. Our main focus is giving each player the best opportunity to showcase their talent on a regional and national scale whilst developing our ability as a squad.”

Scarlets Team: 15 Dyddgu Hywel 14 Angharad de Smet 13 Elen Evans 12 Jodie Evans 11 Jess Kavanagh 10 Hannah Jones 9 Ffion Lewis; 1 Emma Edwards 2 Delyth Davies 3 Danielle Jenkins 4 Ffion Jones 5 Elin Hywel 6 Alisha Butchers 7 Sioned Harries 8 Natalie Walsh Replacements: Morfudd Ifans, Rachel Norris, Gwenllian Prys, Awen Prysor, Jennie Collins, Steph Harries, Beth Jones, Brittony Price.

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Raiders seal first ever win

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West Wales Raiders 44

Coventry Bears 16

Lucas Marshall, Stebonheath Park,

A LATE rally by Coventry Bears was not enough to deny a jubilant West Wales Raiders their first-ever win at the 45th time of asking.

The old South Wales Ironmen tasted victory against Gloucestershire All Golds in the first match played at Stebonheath Park back in July 2017, but never before have the side won under the Raiders banner. And it was certainly worth the wait as the Raiders dominated much of the game against a Bears side that doesn’t have the best record when travelling to South Wales. The other game the Ironmen won in 2017 was against Coventry, whilst the Bears only won by 10 points at Llanelli last season.

Dewi Billingham made his Coventry debut while trialist Zak Williams made his first appearance since returning to the Bears. But both former Raiders stars were unable to come back to haunt their former employers.

Try time: Raiders celebrate another try. Photo by Darren Harries

Much of the damage was done in the first half with the Raiders taking control from the kick-off and eventually going in 20-0 up at the break.

It took only six minutes for Raiders to break the Bears defence when good work down the left put Dalton Desmond-Walker in for the opener. Phil Cowburn added the extras but was off target just moments later after Ash Bateman was on the end of some quick passing to go in on the right.

When Morgan Evans went in for the Raiders third, again converted by Cowburn, their loyal band of supporters started to believe they were on course for victory.

It could have been even worse for the Bears, but strong defence saw them hold the visitors up over the line on three occasions mid-way through the half. Although there was no denying Archie Snook with one of the final plays of the half after Welsh International Steve Parry had split the Bears defence to put the centre through. Cowburn once again failed with the conversion but the Raiders still celebrated their most positive 40 minutes in almost two years.

After the break, it was the Bears who struck first through Reece Rance, but any hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished by three quick-fire tries.

First, former Bears player Mitch Shaw scooted over, before Bateman and Snook both got their second try of the afternoon to all but secure the victory for the Llanelli-based outfit.

Parry then went in for the Raiders’ eighth try of the day to put the icing on a long-awaited cake.

But the Bears were by no means done and added two further tries of their own to make the scoreline look a little less dominate than the game suggested.

Tries from Errol Carter and South Wales youth system graduate Cobi Green, along with two Joe Sanderson conversions rounded off the scoring for the visitors.

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Dafen see off Porthcawl

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DAFEN Seconds earned their sixth win of the season on Saturday (Jul 6) as they beat Porthcawl by 75 runs.

Porthcawl won the toss and elected to field and they were able to bowl Dafen out for 182.

Opener Oliver Evans made a score of 19 and Chris Randell scored 25 as a number of Dafen batsmen made good starts.

Jonathan Griffiths scored 22 and there were also scores of 15 from Tom Lavender and 16 from Luke Dunning.

Matthew Thomas made a late score of 18 while Andrew Randell top scored with 43 runs.

Nicholas Morgan was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for the loss of 30 runs from his 6.3 overs.

Mark Bevan also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-37.

Photos by Darren Harries

That set Porthcawl 138 to win but they lost a number of batsmen for single figure scores as they struggled to put runs on the board.

Andrew Randell had Nicholas Morgan caught by Jac Morgan and Matthew Thomas had Rhodri Phillips caught by Chris Randell.

Chris Richards made a score of 13 before he was bowled by Rhys Marchant who then also bowled Rob Warren and had David Lewis caught by Chris Randell, both for ducks.

Tim Richards also fell for a duck when he was caught off the bowling of Matthew Thomas.

Mark Lewis had scored 25 but he also fell to the bowling of Marchant.

Steffan Flood also scored 25 before he was bowled by Chris Randell and Joshua Aubrey added 20 late on before he also fell to the bowling of Randell.

That meant that Porthcawl were all out for 107, giving Dafen seconds an excellent win.

On Saturday (Jul 13), Dafen seconds are away to local rivals Llanelli seconds.

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Rees century sees Llanelli to win

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LLANELLI’s Iwan Rees scored a century on Saturday (Jul 6) to help his side to victory over Briton Ferry Steel.

Briton Ferry won the toss and elected to bat but they were restricted to 186-8 in their innings.

Steven Devonald struck early on to remove Evan Hynes but Lloyd Clement and Jamie Griffiths shared 44 runs for the second wicket.

Jac Rees had Griffiths caught by Craig Howells on a score of 24 and soon after Craig Evans was bowled by Aled Gilley for a duck.

Clement had made a score of 41 but when he was bowled by Rees, the Steel found themselves on 81-4.

That soon became 88-5 as Steve Maddock was caught by Marcus Leaf off the bowling of Gilley.

Photo by Darren Harries

Iwan Rees then had Steffan Evans caught by Howells and Rhys Norgrove fell in similar fashion.

Jason Hughes and Thomas Williams shared 56 runs for the eighth wicket as they looked to give their side a total to defend.

On the last ball Williams was caught by Rees off the bowling of Gilley on a score of 24 which left Hughes not out on 67.

Llanelli openers Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips shared 42 runs for the first wicket before Phillips was caught by Rhys Norgrove off the bowling of Jay Webb.

That was as good as it got for the Steel though as they were unable to claim any further wickets.

Craig Howells hit seven fours as he finished unbeaten on 53 while Rees starred with 14 fours to finish unbeaten on 104.

The win gives Llanelli 19 points and keeps them third in the table. On Saturday (Jul 13), they travel to local rivals Dafen.

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