LLANDOVERY followed their impressive away victory at Cardiff with a thrilling home victory over fellow mid-table side Bedwas, which will provide a confidence boost ahead of the Swalec Cup quarter-final match against high flying Pontypridd at the weekend.
History has suggested that the game would be a tight affair and Friday nights encounter was no different, as the Drovers overhauled a thirteen point deficit to claim victory at the death. It was result that leaves Llandovery now looking up the table rather than looking nervously over their shoulder.
With six minutes on the clock the hosts took the lead through James Garland’s well taken penalty and little over two minutes later the lead was extended as winger Richard Williams received the ball on the opposite flank before weaving his way over the line. Garland missed the extras but it was a fine start from the home side.
The hard work was undone when prop Greg Cunliffe was yellow carded for illegal use of his feet at the breakdown, giving the visitors a man advantage. They made it count as they stretched the homeside from left to right before creating the overlap which allowed Lewis Hudd to go over in the corner. Fly-half Richard Powell added the extras on top of two brilliant long range penalties to give the vistors a 13-8 lead at the break.
The second half started with Bedwas on the attack and after Mike Callow had made a superb break his resulting pass to prop Dan Preece didn’t go where it was intended and an opportunity passed with the try line beckoning. This spurned opportunity was punished further when Garland added another penalty to reduce his sides arrears.
With the penalty count getting ever higher the score was in a state of flux, but Bedwas can be forgiven for thinking they had won it when Matthew John went over to put his side 11-24 ahead. This lead looked all the better as the home side were again reduced to 14 men as lock Bryn Griffiths was given a ten minute rest for dissent.
The home crowd were unhappy with the refereeing decisions, but were given hope when substitute Sam Soul showed good awareness to crash over for a converted try.
With the deficit reduced hopes were further raised by the yellow carding of Bedwas’ inspirational back rower Deri Mattravers.
The loss of the key figure of Mattravers led to the visitors conceding a late penalty try to complete a sensational turnaround for the hosts. Bedwas grabbed a losing bonus point as reward for their part in a thrilling encounter.
Late Bears blitz sinks Scarlets
BRISTOL Bears produced a final-quarter blitz to run away with a 52-21 Champions Cup victory at Parc y Scarlets.
A breathtaking contest was all square at 21-21 on the hour mark, providing a feast of entertainment to the fans, who had been welcomed back to the ground for the first time since October.
The Bears, though, were in rampant mood in the final quarter, showing their ruthless streak to finish in style.
Up until the 60-minute mark there had been plenty of positives for head coach Dwayne Peel with wing Ryan Conbeer a livewire out wide, Johnny McNicholl a constant threat, Sione Kalamafoni putting in a typical carrying shift and No.8 Carwyn Tuipulotu delivering a hard-working full European debut.
But the Bears ended the match convincing winners to consign the Scarlets to the European exit door.
With Sosban Fach ringing around the stadium, the Scarlets made a strong start to the match, showing plenty of adventure and intent and were rewarded with a sixth-minute penalty from fly-half Rhys Patchell following a great touchline burst from second row Morgan Jones.
However, the West Walians were stung by a lightning double strike from the Bears, inspired by Wales international Ioan Lloyd. Playing at centre, Lloyd danced through to set up midfield partner Semi Radrada for his side’s first, then turned finisher after a lovely behind-the-back pass from flanker Chris Vui. Wales fly-half Callum Sheedy converted both to push his side 14-3 ahead after 16 minutes.
Needing a response, the Scarlets got just that.
Dane Blacker burst blindside from a scrum inside the Bears half and Liam Williams took play up to the visitors’ line. Scarlets continued to bang on the door and eventually it was hooker Ryan Elias who found a way through from close range. Patchell added the extras.
With both sides giving the ball plenty of air time, it made for a breathless contest and the end-to-end nature continued to the half-time whistle.
Bristol went close with a line-out drive, but Scarlets were able to steal possession and Ryan Conbeer went on a mazy run upfield which led to a second Patchell penalty.
Scarlets had further pressure at the end of the half, but the Bears provided stubborn resistance to hold a one-point advantage at the break.
A McNicholl break won a penalty that saw Patchell put the Scarlets back in front at 16-14, but on the 56-minute mark French referee Mathieu Raynal awarded a penalty try and a yellow card to Elias after it was deemed the hooker had prevented a Bristol score.
Undeterred, the 14-men Scarlets continued to throw the ball wide and a lovely backline move saw McNicholl and Conbeer combine to send the full-back racing over in the corner.
That was as good as it got for the Scarlets with the Bristol bench making a big impact.
Harry Thacker claimed Bristol’s bonus-point score and with the Scarlets defence tiring, further tries were added by Siva Naulago, Piers O’Connor, Callum Sheedy and the outstanding Radrada.
Scarlets sign world-class All Black Vaea Fifita
SCARLETS has confirmed the signing of All Black Vaea Fifita.
The 29-year-old, who can play in the second row and back row, will make the switch from Gallagher Premiership side Wasps in the summer.
An athletic, dynamic carrier with searing pace, Fifta was described by commentators as a ‘freak of nature’ when he burst onto the international scene in 2017. He is also a commanding line-out presence and renowned for his ability to steal opposition ball.
Fifta made a memorable first Test start against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, scoring a stunning individual try and has made 11 appearances in the famous New Zealand jersey.
Tongan born and raised, as a teenager he moved to New Zealand on a scholarship and went on to star in provincial rugby for Wellington and then Super Rugby for the Hurricanes, delivering a try-scoring appearance against the touring 2017 British & Irish Lions.
Fifita will link up with his former Hurricanes team-mates Sam Lousi and Blade Thomson at Parc y Scarlets, with Fifita and Thomson having been members of the Canes’ Super Rugby title-winning squad of 2016.
Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel: “We have signed a world-class player in Vaea and this is a real statement of our intent and ambition as a club. Vaea is a superb athlete, an X-factor player with the all-round skill-set that fits with how we are looking to play at the Scarlets.
“He also brings a lot of experience at international and Super Rugby level and as well as adding Test-match quality to our pool of second rows, that experience will be invaluable to the young forwards that are coming through at the club.
“Vaea is the kind of player that gets fans out of their seats and it’s hugely exciting that he will be pulling on the Scarlets jersey next season. I am sure Scarlets fans will enjoy watching him and we can’t wait to welcome him to Parc y Scarlets in the summer.”
Vaea Fifita said: “My family and I cannot wait to be a part of the West Wales community. I will be working hard to achieve the ambitious goals that the club has set for the future.
“I have confidence that this group can bring pride and success to the people of the region. I look forward to meeting you all for the first time at Parc y Scarlets.”
Scarlets General Manager of Rugby Jon Daniels said: “Vaea is a quality player and we are delighted he has agreed to join us at Scarlets. We identified early in our recruitment cycle that a world-class lock was vital to our performance as well as supporting the development of the quality young second rows we have here at Scarlets. Vaea has been top of our list of targets for quite some time.”
Pembrey come from behind to beat CKSV
PEMBREY came from two goals down to beat CKSV seconds on Saturday (Jan 22) in Division 2 of the Carmarthenshire League.
The win moves Pembrey up to third place in the table, just two points off second place and only three off league leaders Caerbryn.
Adam Meyrick put CKSV ahead after 19 minutes and they made it 2-0 on 33 minutes thanks to Lewis Butler.
Pembrey looked to get themselves back in the game in the second half and they pulled a goal back on 53 minutes when Wayne Williams scored.
They were level just four minutes later courtesy of Owain Goddard and he then put Pembrey ahead fifteen minutes from time.
Sub Ryan Owens made the points safe in the seventh minute of time added on to make it 4-2 to the hosts.
On Saturday, January 29, Pembrey travel to Crown Park Suburbs while CKSV seconds host Caerbryn.
PHOTO by Darren Harries
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