Llanelli Town 2
Pontypridd Town 2
THE COMBINATION of torrential rain and extreme body heat made photography conditions difficult at Stebonheath on Friday (Dec 9), as Llanelli Town took on Pontypridd Town in what was to be a repeat of the last niggly match the two clubs played.
There is no love lost between these two teams and before you could say ‘Turkish bath’, the steam had built up to a point where someone had to blow the whistle.
That man was referee Aled Jones and, according to the Reds’ Manager Andy Hill, he cost them the win.
Home support was boosted by the presence of Cor Meibion Llanelli as they belted out ‘Yma o Hyd’ from the covered stand.
Others observed the football through the steamy windows of the media suite, including the one and only Wales, Swansea and Spurs legend Cliff Jones and his family, who were enjoying the festive hospitality profiteroles, nibbles and some local beverages.
The Herald opted to join the Reds TV cameraman up in the media tower, which provided scant cover from the wind and rain, which was blowing in more directions than the abuse the ref was taking from the angry Stebo faithful.
Numerous handballs went unpunished, offside rulings were suspect and the numerous hospital tackles went without cards of any colour for most of the game.
The ferocity of the game itself, the red of Llanelli and the white of Pontypridd took one back to the halcyon days of football and it looked like a Liverpool v Leeds game, complete with a couple of Tommy Smiths and Billy Bremners.
Welsh legend Cliff Jones appeared to be enjoying it anyway and The Herald managed to sneak in an interview with the Swansea and Spurs veteran at half time as well as pocketing a sneaky profiterole and a glass of pop.
It was back up a wet ladder for our cameraman and that profiterole appeared to add vim and vigour to his stealth on the ascent.
Pontypridd had come to play but they had also brought a bucket of glue, the contents of which they applied to at least four men and positioned them around Lee Trundle for the entire game.
There is no doubt that the Ponty plan worked as a frustrated Reds team could not free Trundle from his markers. Luke Morgan got the first goal in the first half when he broke free down the left hand side of the field, sweeping into the box and belting the ball passed the Ponty keeper.
Not long afterwards, Trundle somehow weaved his way out of the grips of his markers and curled a belter into the left hand corner of the Ponty net.
It was Pontypridd who came out playing the better football in the second half and they used the full width of the Stebo field well on at least two occasions when their strikers showed some real pace to skin the Reds defence and secure two great goals.
The Reds continued to try and feed Trundle and Samuel but the long searching balls failed to find them.
It could have been the very slippery surface making the tackles look particularly savage but, even so, the ref reached for his yellow card a number of times and eventually his red as he sent one of the Ponty players off.
It must have been a wondrous sight for Cor Meibion Llanelli – as friendly a group of men you’d ever meet – as they watched 22 grown men pushing and shoving each other soaked to the skin, covered in mud and with steam rising from their bodies. If only they had broken into that Tina Turner number ‘Steamy Windows’, the night would have been complete.
The game ended Llanelli Town 2 – Pontypridd Town 2.
The Reds continue a 19 game unbeaten run.
Errors prove costly for Raiders
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.
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.
Town too good for Dafen
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.
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.
Llanelli close the gap
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.
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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