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Clinical Scarlets put Leinster to the sword

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SCARLETS 23
LEINSTER 13

THE SCARLETS maintained their unbeaten record at Parc y Scarlets in style with a stunning win over reigning Pro12 champions and three-time European champions Leinster. In the process they closed the gap on sixth place Connaught to just three points, with just five games remaining in the race for automatic qualification for next year’s Champions Cup, as the Irish side were controversial last gasp losers at Cardiff Arms Park on the previous night.

An entertaining first half saw some classy backline play from both sides, with former All Black Regan King, making his 100th league appearance for the Scarlets, impressing with his slight of hand and creative vision and Leinsters’ own Kiwi Ben Ta’o showing his power and pace to break the home sides defensive line on more than one occasion.

King wasn’t alone in producing a display of real class for the Scarlets. Back rowers John Barclay and James Davies also put in big performances. Experienced Scotland international Barclay showed his powerful running and guile at the turnover whilst 24 year old Davies, younger sibling of current international and former Scarlet Jonathan Davies, put in a man of the match display. Davies is enjoying his breakthrough season on the regional stage and if he can produce more performances like this one, Warren Gatland will be watching with keen eyes.

The Scarlets took the lead as Steven Shingler notched a penalty following good running from Wales centre Scott Williams, who was released from international duty for the game. This lead didn’t last for long after a needless penalty was given away near halfway by the home side. Flyhalf Gopperth did the honours, striking the ball to touch to give Leinster a line-out opportunity on the Scarlets 22. A training ground move was enough to undo the otherwise water tight Scarlets defence as hooker Sean Cronin received the ball from Mike McCarthy and drove around the back of the line-out. Quickly recycled ball created space for the lethal Ta’o who slid inside Scott Williams and brushed off the desperate last-ditch tackle of Parkes to score his first try for the club. Gopperth added the extras and also notched a penalty to give the visitors a 10-3 lead.

On the 30 minute mark the Scarlets turned on the style as Regan King unlocked the Leinster backline and sent marauding back-row Barclay into the corner for the the first Scarlets score. Although Shingler couldn’t add the extras from the touchline, the home side went in at half time just 2 points behind in what had been an enthralling forty minutes.

The second half began with another burst from powerhouse centre Ben Ta’o, but sensing a second try he was stopped in his tracks by a superb covering tackle from the ever-present James Davies. Barclay was able to turnover possession and after a number of phases the Scarlets produced the try of the game. King again was the creator, drawing South African fullback Zane Kirchner to put Jordan Williams in under the posts. Shingler added the easy extras and the Scarlets had a lead they never looked like relinquishing even when Leinster added a penalty to bring the score to 15-13.

The Scarlets put the game to bed as Barclay and Davies combined again to create the games final try. Barclay tackled and Davies turned over to give replacement back-row Rory Pitman the chance to brush off Gopperth and crash over. The try went unconverted but Priestland made amends by putting the game beyond doubt with a late penalty to give the Scarlets a well deserved and crucial home win, to the delight of man of the match James Davies.

“It was a massive win for us. We talked about it all week; this block of four against Irish teams has been tough. We looked at this one as probably one of the biggest – at home and wanting to keep our unbeaten record.”

Davies went on to say: “The defence was outstanding. The boys worked tremendously hard and it all came down to good attitude. We’re so pleased with the win.”

Scarlets return to Guinness Pro12 action on Saturday March 28 as they take on Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets, kick-off 2.40pm.

Teams:

SCARLETS: Jordan Williams; Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes; Steven Shingler, Aled Davies; Phil John, Ken Owens (capt), Peter Edwards, George Earle, Johan Snyman, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, John Barclay.

REPLACEMENTS: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne, Rory Pitman, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Adam Warren

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Fergus McFadden; Ben Te’o; Gordon D’Arcy; Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth; Eoin Reddan: Cian Healy; Sean Cronin; Martin Moore; Mike McCarthy; Kane Douglas; Rhys Ruddock; Dominic Ryan; Jack Conan.

REPLACEMENTS: Michael Bent; Richardt Strauss; Tadhg Furlong; Tom Denton; Isaac Boss; Noel Reid; Dave Kearney.

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Sport

Reds hit Aber for six to go top

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Following the weekend fixtures, Llanelli Town now occupy top spot in JD Cymru South following the Friday evening demolition of Abergavenny Town to more than make up for their opening day home defeat at the hands of their opponents in the MG Cup – their only loss to date.

They extended their overall unbeaten run to ten matches during which time they have racked up 25 goals while conceding only 3, and on this showing can be considered one of the favourites for promotion come the end of the season – although there is still an awful long way to go.

The close season signings by the management team of Lee John and Dylan Blain are reaping the benefits, with every member of the squad playing their part in ensuring each performance is played to perfection, demonstrated by the latest success when the goals were shared between six individual players.

Results elsewhere also went in their favour, with nearest rivals, Cambrian & Clydach Vale, crashing to a shock home 4-1 defeat at the hands of Pontardawe Town, allowing Barry Town United to now claim second place two points adrift of the Reds following a 3-1 defeat of Taffs Well.

The opening twenty minutes were scrappy with neither side really offering much in the way of clear-cut chances, the only real threat arriving from the visitors` Joshua Bell who forced Scott Coughlan to divert his effort around the upright, which turned out eventually to be their only shot on target throughout the contest.

Two home goals in the space of as many minutes then changed the whole complexion of the match, with the opener arriving in a somewhat bizarre fashion when a speculative Ryan Bevan effort from 25 yards on target prompted goalkeeper Suleimane Susso to attempt to volley it clear, but he missed it completely, leading to the softest of goals in the 21st minute.

Within a minute, the lead was doubled following some good build-up play which culminated in Tim Parker gaining possession before swivelling to drive his finish into the bottom corner.

Now comfortably in control of proceedings, the hosts were giving their opponents plenty to think about, and might have gone even further ahead when Keane Watts was sent clear by a ball over the top by Kyran Steadman, but he screwed his finish off target.

A Nathan Logan cross destined for the head of Parker was just nicked away from by a defender, while Susso did well to push clear a well-directed effort by Bevan.

The Reds continued to pressurise their opponents who for the most part were chasing shadows, with both Logan and Parker seeing their attempts blocked, and when they took a quick free kick, the finish by Bevan rebounded off the upright.

Inevitably, the lead was increased five minutes from the break following a corner to the far post which was directed back into the middle, leading to a scramble in front of goal, with Adam Robbins eventually getting the final touch to stab home the loose ball.

Comfortably ahead at the interval and dictating play, the home side continued in the same vein following the restart, with Watts seeing his strike from a narrow angle come back off the outside of

the post, before the visitors` task became even tougher when they were reduced to ten men on 55 minutes following the dismissal of Norton Ferreira for a second yellow card by referee Teifion Cook.

Parker directed a header into the arms of Susso when he met a Robbins delivery, before the Reds made a change with Jamie Baker being replaced by James Parry after 56 minutes.

Nine minutes later came further personnel changes with Thomas Hillman and Taylor Marsh on for Steadman and Robbins, and within four minute of this they struck again when a ball driven low into the goalmouth led to a fumble by Susso, allowing Watts the simplest of tap-ins on 69 minutes.

Two minutes later, and what was already a losing cause for the visitors became even worse when they were down to nine men after a deliberate hand-ball in the box by Efu Kazadi, leading to his dismissal and the award of a penalty which was easily converted by Josef Hopkins.

The Reds then suffered a blow when Watts went down injured in the box and had to be helped off the field obviously in some discomfort, Louis Gerrard taking his place.

Susso made a great save to deny Hopkins, but who was then instrumental in laying on the Reds` sixth three minutes from time, putting Hillman clear to finish clinically and complete the rout.

A simply outstanding overall display by the home side, and they will hope to replicate this form when they travel on Saturday to Cardiff to take on South Wales Amateur side, Canton Liberal, in the second round of the JD Welsh Cup.

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Carmarthen representation at the Coastal Rowing World Championships backs sport to continue thriving in Wales

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Carmarthen’s Zoe Davies, race committee chair for the British Rowing offshore championships and umpire at the upcoming World Championships in Saundersfoot, is
delighted to see the world’s best coming to South Wales – and following her own eventful
introduction to the sport competing at the 2015 World Championships believes
participation will boom thanks to a home major competition.
The World Coastal Rowing Championships 2022, with the likes of two-time Olympic
champion Helen Glover competing, will bring together two exciting formats of rowing across
the two weekends in Pembrokeshire. On the first weekend beginning on 7th October, the top
club coastal rowers from around the world will compete in a course along the Saundersfoot
coastline, followed by the beach sprint rowing the following weekend.
Tipped to be a future Olympic rowing discipline, the beach sprint finals will be an exciting
and fast-paced spectacle where the best of the sport will be celebrated in Wales. Reflecting
on the excitement building as the World Championships near ever closer, Davies is backing
Wales to be the perfect setting.
“Wales already had an established coastal and offshore rowing community – I knew when
British Rowing were bidding to host the World Championships that it was a no-brainer. We
have water on three sides after all!
“Before 2015, and before I competed at the World Coastal Championships in Peru, I was
coxing the really fine boats you see at the Olympics, what people might consider the
classical rowing you’d expect to see. To be honest, I rated myself and when I was asked to
compete in Peru I thought ‘how hard can it be?’ When I got there – I was quite literally out
of my depth, I had no idea where I was.
“I’ve learnt so much being involved in coastal rowing – I have found its great fun, great
technique – and if you’re watching, it’s so easy to engage with. For people like me, who at
one time was almost snobby about it, it’s an eye-opening when you actually watch and
involve yourself in the sport. That’s why the World Championships here in Wales will be
such a big moment, it will no doubt inspire so many new people to get involve in the sport.
“Having done the two previous events at Saundersfoot in preparation for the World
Championships, the coastal rowing scene is just so friendly. Being a local girl myself, the
Welsh are always welcoming!
“What drives this passion in the sport is that people know how much coastal rowing gives
them. The feeling you get out on the water, where you’re not looking at your mobile phone
and you can enjoy the natural setting you’re in, there’s no wonder everyone is so
passionate.”

“From a spectator point of view, I just know everyone will be glued to the action. The racing
is quick, you don’t need to know rowing to enjoy the competition and understand what is
happening. It’s a day at the beach, it’s a completely unique experience because the area is
stunning – Wales is the perfect setting for the world’s best offshore rowing talent.”
With the discipline growing at an exponential rate, as boats are made available across Wales
for grassroots coastal rowing clubs to engage more and more participants, Davies sees a
bright future for the sport – and a new generation inspired by a World Championships
coming to Wales.

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Reds extend unbeaten run to nine matches

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EXTENDING their unbeaten league and cup run to nine with this latest win, Llanelli Town are now level with current leaders, Cambrian & Clydach Vale, on 14 points with a just a better solitary goal difference separating them.

Two well-taken strikes in either half by Keane Watts saw off the challenge of their opponents, who had plenty of the ball without really creating too much in the way of clear-cut chances in an overall somewhat scrappy encounter.

Both sides were singularly lacking a cutting edge in the final third, although the visitors did create the better opportunities with Luke Martin in the home goal dealing with an early Ryan Bevan cross.

A run by Thomas Hillman up the Swansea left culminated in a low delivery which was deflected for a corner, before Scott Coughlan was called into action to smother a near post attempt from Adam Morgan.

The Reds were having the better of the overall play, with efforts by Hillman and Miles John both on target but were blocked or dealt with by Martin, before they eventually took the lead on 27 minutes courtesy of a sublime through ball by Josef Hopkins which put Watts clear, and he kept his nerve by drawing out Martin before slotting his finish into the bottom corner.

Another chance was then created with Tim Parker sending Hillman away on a run, but this time the finish was dragged wide of the near post.

The home defence was finding it difficult to contain their opponents, and it took a good defensive clearance to nullify another dangerous low delivery by Eli Phipps when he was set up by a John assist.

A rare home attack ended with Morgan directing his header over the goal when he met a cross by Tom Johnston, before it took a saving tackle from Warren Hudson on Parker to prevent the striker homing in on the target.

The best chance for the hosts came courtesy of some sloppy Reds defending when an under-hit back header meant for Coughlan was seized on by Tim Hicks, and it took a great tackle on him in the box to relieve the danger and an almost certain equaliser.

This scare seemed to unnerve the visitors who were then let off the hook again following a corner which was partially cleared before being re-circulated into the goalmouth, where Parker was on hand to clear it off the line.

Having survived these two late first half efforts, the Reds were still clinging on to their narrow lead at the start of the second period, and were quickly into their stride, forcing Martin into early action on a couple of occasions, before gratefully seeing a Phipps header rebound off the crossbar when he connected with a Watts cross into the middle.

The visitors then made two changes, with Bevan and Phipps being replaced by Kyran Steadman and Louis Gerrard on 59 minutes, but it was the home side who then went close to levelling matters when Harry Huddart unleashed a superb strike which brought out an equally stunning save from Coughlan to direct it over the top.

With the contest entering its final quarter, the Reds brought on Nathan Logan and Travis Marsh for Parker and Hillman after 75 minutes, and within five minutes of these changes struck again to seal matters with Watts again the recipient, taking full advantage when a defensive clearance rebounded off his back allowing him to win a footrace for possession before directing his finish across Martin on 80 minutes.

The visitors then safely saw out the remainder of the match without too much trouble, and with confidence sky high in the squad, now look forward to their home league encounter with Abergavenny Town at Stebonheath on Friday evening, kick off 7.30pm.

The draw for the second round of the JD Welsh Cup has awarded them an away tie at Canton Liberal on Saturday, October 8.

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