JUST THREE points separate the top five in the Principality Premiership as Llandovery turned the heat up on current league leaders Pontypridd with an emphatic victory against fellow west Wales side Neath.
There was a fast and furious start, with both sides looking to throw the ball around but being met by equally stern defences.
Twice the ball was held up in the contact area as players flooded the tackle zone, looking to get underneath the ball carrier and force the turnover. It was from one such turnover that Llandovery struck for their first try. A wellset driving maul from the visitors, sucked in the Neath pack before scrum half, Rhodri Davies broke into space down the blindside. His pace and a nice left foot step were enough for the No.9 to dive in for the first points of the night.
The next try of the match for the visitors followed five minutes later. Fullback Will Thomas, slicing through some very suspect midfield defence, before slipping the pass infield for scrum half Davies who cantered in for his second. Maynard added the extras and extended their lead to 16 points.
Neath were immediately caught offside at the restart, giving the Drovers another chance to attack. Lex Botha on the Llandovery wing found himself in some space in the wide channel and he powered into the Neath 22.
A series of sloppy penalties from the home team kept the pressure on and the ball in Llandovery hands; it didn’t take long for them to make the most of it. Again the space was found in the Blacks midfield and a good pop pass off the floor found the welcome arms of centre Matthew Jacobs and he forced his way over the line.
The home side were struggling to keep ball in hand, and some careless play handed possession back to a Llandovery team who looked like they were hitting top gear. Again the midfield defence from Neath was found wanting and fly half Maynard was easily able to carve his way through before finding his winger Sam Soul to dive in at the corner.
With only half an hour played and Llandovery 28 points up, the Welsh All Blacks desperately needed to consolidate and try to create some pressure in the visitor’s half. As the break drew closer that’s exactly what they did. Keeping the ball tight Neath began to force penalties and eventually the referee lost his patience sending Llandovery openside Shaun Miles into the sin bin.
It came to full back Bramwell to take the initiative, taking a quick tap from yet another Llandovery penalty he burrowed under the posts to get the home team off the mark and with fly half Price adding the extras the score at half time was 8-28, with Neath showing some fight to get back into the contest.
After the break though it was one-way traffic as the visitors ran in 52 unanswered points.
After a series of pick and go’s second row Matthew Harbut drove his way over from short range to extend the Llandovery advantage before flier Lex Botha had the gas to make it to the try line from inside his own half. The Neath disgruntlement both on and off the field was palpable as Maynard added the extras to take the lead out to 44 points.
Five minutes later and Neath were once again buried deep in their own 22 with frustrations beginning to mount.
Leon Ward, Neath replacement flanker was dismissed to the sin bin, compounding their situation and in his absence Llandovery once more crossed the try line. From the back of an advancing scrum, Rhodri Davies darted down the blindside into acres of space to touch down for a well deserved hat trick and cap an excellent display from the speedy half back.
The Neath covering defence had to scramble across field as repeatedly as Llandovery were easily able to break out wide, before another simple offload in the middle of the pitch sent Drover replacement Mike Evans in to bring up 58 points. Full back Aaron Bramwell took a blow to the neck in the process and was forced to leave the field amid some concern as the night went from bad to worse for the Blacks.
Llandovery piled on the misery with three more tries in the final four minutes, including a spectacular end to end effort finished off by replacement Richard Rees to cap off a wretched evening for the home side and bring the final score 8-80.
Neath: 15 Aaron Bramwell; 14 Ed Howley, 13 Ryan Evans, 12 Iwan Evans, 11 Josh Jones; 10 Luke Price, 9 Rhodri Cole; 1 Aaron Coundley, 2 Aled Morris, 3 Joel Ringer 4 Rhys Jones 5 Jon Barley; 6 Josh Cole, 8 Calum Davies, 7 Jordan Collier
Replacements: Nicky Downs, Keiran Mattocks, Geraint James, Jonny Griffiths, Craig Price, Chris Morgans, Dean Howell, Aaron Grabham
Llandovery: 15. Will Thomas 14. Lex Botha 13. Matthew Jacobs 12. Rhodri Jones 11. Sam Soul 10. Jack Maynard 9. Rhodri Davies: 1. Wyn Jones 2. Luke Lewis (captain) 3. Greg Cunniffe 4. Phil Day 5. Matthew Harbut 6. Stuart Worrall 7. Shaun Miles 8. Richard Brooks
Replacements: 16. Berian Watkins 17. Dean Howells 18. Bryn Griffiths 19. Richard Rees 20. Tom Ball 21. Mike Evans 22. James Davies 23. Lee Rees
LLANELLI TOWN AFC VS PENRHYNCOCH FC
LLANELLI TOWN AFC VS PENRHYNCOCH FC
LLANELLI TOWN 0 PENRHYNCOCH 1
A blast from the past in the form of former Reds` favourite, Antonio Corbisiero, ended their interest in the JD Welsh Cup for another season in this second round tie.
His stunning 19th minute volley demonstrated he has lost little of the craft which he used to employ to such good effect in the more heady days of the club`s history, and how they could do with him now as he was head and shoulders above anyone on either side.
Another patched-up home outfit, once again missing several key players, were, quite frankly, abysmal, struggling to establish any meaningful pattern to their play, particularly in the first half, with far too many errors allied with some careless passing which gifted possession to their opponents.
They were reduced to firing hopeful long-range efforts which seldom looked capable of reaching the intended target, with Kyle Copp in the forefront of this tactic, to no great effect.
The visitors also seemed incapable of any worthwhile attacking ploys, and it took Corbisiero`s strike to lift the contest out of mediocrity when he met a delivery from the right by Jack Rimmer on the edge of the box to volley sweetly past the despairing clutches of Scott Coughlan in the home goal.
Even this setback did little to stir the Reds out of their lethargy, and while they continued to enjoy plenty of possession, they seldom looked capable of levelling matters.
Ryan Hurlow had a tame effort easily dealt with by the Roosters` keeper, Leigh Jenkins, while he also parried and gathered an effort from distance by James Loveridge.
With a forgettable first half over, the Reds did up the anti after the restart, and were certainly more forceful in their efforts to secure the goal which would level matters, but once again wrong decisions at the vital time proved costly, typified by Morgan Cutler opting to pass inside when he had a viable shooting opportunity.
Their best, and as it turned out, only real chance arose when Jenkins opted to come off his line to challenge for a ball on the edge of the box but instead allowed it to run loose, affording Tim Parker a clear strike on the vacant net, but he failed to connect cleanly, allowing Jonathan Foligno to scramble it off the line and away from danger.
This was about as good as it got for the hosts, and even with their opponents visibly flagging as the game progressed, they still were unable to press home the advantage.
In fact, it was the other end of the field which provided the best chances when the visitors broke, with Gwion Pugh-Jones first failing to convert a ball bobbling about in the area, while Tomos Evans missed a
good chance at the far post following a run and cross by Steffan Davies.
Parker did have an effort deflected for a corner when he was found by Zac Brown, and Liam Samuel curled his finish just wide.
The Roosters then should have put the result beyond doubt when Evans was put clear in acres of space, but with only Coughlan to beat he directed his finish at the keeper who gratefully diverted it away.
As the contest entered its closing stages, an increasingly desperate home outfit did manage a couple of efforts on target, but these were capably dealt with by Jenkins, and the final whistle signalled the end of the Reds` further involvement in the competition.
Some serious work is needed if their season is not to descend into mediocrity, and the visit of Undy Athletic on Saturday could yet provide the springboard needed for a revival in fortunes. Kick off is at 2.30 p.m.
LLANELLI TOWN; Coughlan; M. Cutler (J. Cutler, 82); Brown; Thomas; Bevan ©; Griffiths; Copp, Samuel (Rees, 90+2); Parker, Loveridge, Hurlow.
PENRHYNCOCH; Jenkins; Rimmer; Pemberthy; James ©; Foligno (Gittins, 81); Corbisiero; Jones (Morgan, 84); T. Evans; Davies; J. Evans; Pugh-Jones. Subs. not used; Rees; Burrel; Meredith.
SCORER; Penrhyncoch; Corbisiero, 19.
YELLOW CARD; Penrhyncoch; Rimmer.
REFEREE; Daniel Richardson.
Llanelli Town 1 Cwmammam United 0
A second meeting between the sides in just over a week brought a further win for the Reds following their success against the same opponents in the first round of the JD Welsh Cup, but once again they made heavy weather over visitors languishing at the foot of the table with just two wins all season.
The home side have some talented players in their ranks, but many of them are playing far below their potential, resulting in results being ground out rather than achieved in a manner pleasing to the eye, and the latest game was typical of the way the season has so far progressed, with possession being conceded far too easily, and decisions wrongly taken when opportunities present themselves.
A strong wind and frequent rain showers sweeping across the ground did little to raise the overall play by both sides above the mediocre, and the game will not live long in the memory.
Welsh Athletics celebrate success
MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.
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Llanelli Town 1 Cwmammam United 0