ELFYN Evans and co-driver Craig Parry are the winners of the Nicky Grist Stages last weekend (Jul 9-10), taking victory on round five of the seven round MSA British Rally Championship.
The DMACK British Rally Team driver made it three wins from five, which is his second ‘home’ victory in Wales this season.
Fellow Welshman Tom Cave equalled his season best with a fine second while Desi Henry completed the podium after a tough two-day encounter.
Based in Builth Wells, the Nicky Grist Stages is a unique event on the BRC calendar with the two days split into two surfaces.
Biblical weather greeted the competitors on the opening day, with crews slipping and sliding through 45 miles of forestry gravel stages before tackling the famous Tarmac on the Epynt Ranges on the second day.
It wasn’t just the crews inside the car who were tested this weekend, as the service teams had just two-and-a-half-hours on Saturday evening to convert the cars from mud-slinging monsters into Tarmac-hugging weapons.
Series leader Evans had a difficult start to the event, as the Ford Fiesta R5 driver was not to have it all his own way, with a spin on the opening stage and pop-off valve problems on the second.
Undeterred by these early issues, the Welshman swiftly got back into his dominating stride, topping the time sheets on 12 of the event’s 15 stages to finish with a healthy one minute 11.4 second margin as the cars returned to Builth Wells for the Ceremonial Finish.
It was to be fellow countryman Cave in his Michelin-shod Ford Fiesta R5 who drew first blood, however, setting fastest time on the opening stage of the rally.
Cave would lead the event until an inspired Evans snatched the advantage on the third stage.
Thereafter, Cave couldn’t live with Evans’ pace but showed his own improvement in speed by recording another second place and his third podium of the year – result that has helped him to leap-frog Fredrik Ahlin into second place in the championship points standings with two rounds remaining on the calendar. Ahlin missed out on a points haul after retiring on the opening day.
Henry picked-up from where he left off in Scotland with another fine third position in his Skoda Fabia R5.
The Northern Ireland driver started off cautiously but gathered pace as he flew through the gravel stages.
It wasn’t to be plain sailing for the likeable Irishman, though, as he took a big cut on the opening day nearly sending the Skoda onto its roof.
With the Fabia safely back on all four wheels, Desi pressed on – more so when the competition switched to his preferred sealed-surface. Eager to hold station, Henry chalked up a fastest time on stage 12, showing his asphalt form which, in turn, elevated him up the championship points table at the end of the mid -Wales event.
Speaking on his win, Elfyn Evans said: “We are happy with how the event went and it wasn’t easy as the conditions were very challenging. We had a spin on the first stage and from there we had to bring it together. When we got the lead, and when things were difficult, I had spare capacity to keep it calm.
“In rallying, anything can happen and with double points on the Isle of Man finale, this will leave it open until the last round, so we have to keep on it, keep pushing and keep winning.”
Tom Cave said: “I am very pleased with second as it is good for the team and for the championship. Things have progressed even more this weekend, more than we had hoped. Our pace on both surfaces was encouraging especially on Tarmac on the second day.
“We knew it would be difficult to beat Elfyn this weekend but I have learnt a lot from chasing him and want to be even closer on the Ulster next time out. Second in the championship is good but we will keep working hard and keep making progress forward.”
Trimsaran secure top spot
TRIMSARAN secured top spot in WRU Bowl Group G2 as they beat Furnace United 18-15 on Saturday (Oct 9).
A big crowd showed up at Caeffair for the top of the pool clash between the two sides and they were not disappointed.
Furnace kicked the game off and from the start it was the cherries who were in the ascendancy and were rewarded with an early shot at goal to make it 3-0 to the visitors.
Furnace were forcing Trim into mistakes and taking advantage of their ill-discipline. They were rewarded with another shot at goal which was missed. It was turning out to be a typical local derby game with both teams cancelling each other out for much of the first half.
The Trimsaran pack started to outmuscle the visiting pack at the set piece as the game approached the last 10 minutes of the first half and they were awarded a kickable penalty which outside half Corey Phillips converted to draw Trim level.
With half time approaching Trimsaran number 8 burst through the Furnace defence after some sustained pressure in Furnace territory and found second row Lee Thomas outside him who touched down with a superb long arm stretch to score the games’ first try. With the conversion missed it was 8-3 to the home team at half time.
Trimsaran kicked off a dramatic second half. Seven minutes into the second half Furnace were applying some pressure in the Trimsaran 22 when suddenly the referee in charge blew his whistle and halted play.
To the surprise of everyone in attendance he red carded Trimsaran second row and tryscorer Lee Thomas. This handed Furnace a numerical advantage early in the second half but some brilliant defence from Trim kept the cherries at bay.
10 minutes later Furnace finally had their first try of the game to even up the scoreboard at 8-8.
It only took a further 5 minutes for Furnace to retake the lead after a great finish from their Full back Myles Harries after a break down the right wing by Furnace before spreading the ball in the field of Play for Myles to touchdown.
With a man advantage it seemed Furnace were going to make it count. 5 minutes later Furnace were shown a yellow card after a dump tackle. This evened the game up and with the penalty Trim kicked to the touchline and drove their way over from a maul with prop Iwan Green emerging the try scorer. The conversion was successful and once again we were all level at 15-15.
With 12 minutes to go both teams would have fancied their chances at getting within range and securing a win.
Trim kept their tails up and with some good play and a great break they got themselves up to kicking range. Furnace give the penalty away for offside and outside half Corey Phillips kept his nerve to give Trim the lead 18-15 with 5 minutes to go.
Trim were looking to control the final stages of the game and see it out but got penalised just inside their half and Furnace attempted a penalty which fell just short to equalise the game.
With 3 minutes left there was a scuffle near the halfway line and the referee again brought his red card out and give it to Trimsaran number 8 Steff Roberts in which seemed to be a case of mistaken identity as he was accused of striking an opponent but it didn’t appear to be him.
This gave Furnace one last chance to steal the victory from Trim. Some brave defence from the lineout from the home team looked to have turned the ball over but another pen was awarded to Furnace who kicked their way into the 22 and with a 2 man advantage fancied their chances to snatch victory. Trim competed well in the lineout though and forced a knock on from the cherries and with it a loud roar of delight from the vocal home support.
A fantastic Derby game played out by both teams which sees Trim secure top spot in group G2 with one game to spare.
That game takes place this weekend when Trimsaran welcome New Dock Stars to Caeffair on Saturday (Oct 16).
Burry Port Reserves hold off Seaside
BURRY PORT Reserves closed the gap to second placed Seaside Reserves on Saturday (Oct 9) as they beat them 2-1.
The home side took the lead early on when Dean Thomas scored a penalty after 12 minutes.
Seaside hit back though and were level on 39 minutes when Nathan Lewis found the back of the net.
It remained 1-1 at half time but 13 minutes into the second half, Burry Port regained the lead.
Ioan Williams, who had only come on to the pitch a minute earlier, scored the goal which would ultimately prove to be the winner.
It earned Burry Port a third straight win in Carmarthenshire AFL Reserve Division 1 and they now sit three points behind Seaside.
Other results in the Division on Saturday saw leaders Loughor Reserves thrash Drefach reserves 7-1 while Gorseinon Athletic Reserves beat Trallwm Reserves 4-1.
Pontlliw Reserves were also 4-0 winners away at Killay Reserves.
On Saturday, October 16, Burry Port will look for another win as they take on Gorseinon while second plays first as Seaside host Loughor.
PHOTO BY DARREN HARRIES
Kidwelly edge past Burry Port
KIDWELLY beat Burry Port by just two points on Saturday (Oct 9) as they took ownership of the Lewi Jones Cup.
The Cup is played for in memory of Lewi Jones and is up for grabs when the holder meets another competing club.
A big crowd gathered for the game in Burry Port and they witnessed two good sides give their all for the win.
It was Kidwelly though who eventually came out on top winning by 11 points to 9.
Captain James Owens scored two penalties for Kidwelly while the crucial try was scored in the corner by Luke Thomas.
The Blacks scored three penalties but will take a losing bonus point for their efforts.
As well as winning the Lewi Jones cup for the first time, Kidwelly also move to within two points of the Blacks in WRU Plate Group G1.
On Saturday, October 16, Kidwelly are in action again as they host Llanelli Wanderers.
Burry Port are next in action the following weekend (Oct 23) when they travel to Felinfoel.
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