LLANDOVERY travelled to the Parc y Scarlets desperate for a victory to say goodbye to departing coach Lyndon Lewis after they had failed to secure a victory in his final home game against Ebbw Vale in the previous round of fixtures. Lewis leaves at the end of the season to take the role of assistant coach at Aberavon, a club for which he is a former captain, and will be replaced at the Towy Valley side by his Assistant Euros Evans.
Llanelli came into the game hoping to give their fans something to smile about at the end of a dismal campaign. Their end of season form until this game had been particularly poor having failed to win in their last six games, shipping over two hundred and forty points in the process. It was possible for the Reds to overtake their Scarlets’ region counterparts to finish eighth in the table before kick off, however they needed to secure a bonus point win of more than eight points.
As it was Llandovery outscored their hosts by four tries to three and also got within in seven of their score to secure two bonus points of their own (one losing and one four try) to ensure they kept eighth place, though it will be of little consolation to either side as both will have had desires on making the top half back in September.
Llandovery’s season has been blighted by regular bouts of ill-discipline on the field and today was no different. Despite having the majority of the possession and at times playing some fine running rugby, it was the award of three yellow cards, two of which came inside the same minute that cost the Drovers the full quota of points once more. Incoming coach Euros Evans will have recognised this as one of the key areas the side needs to improve for the next campaign.
To kick Llandovery when they were down it was one of their own, fullback Gareth Walters, a graduate from the Drovers academy that led Llanelli to what seemed an unlikely victory as he produced seventeen points. With one try, a one hundred percent conversion rate and two penalties he almost single handedly dragged his sorry Llanelli side to a much needed, but undeserved victory, their first since early February.
Owain Morgan also grabbed a try for Llanelli to give his side a 20-12 lead at the interval, but the game was to be turned on its head by its stand out player, winger Aaron Warren. He added to his first half score to complete a fine hat-trick in the second half and was a constant menace to the hosts with his powerful running and slight of foot. If Llandovery’s centres had noticed how much mayhem he was causing, as everyone else in the ground had, they may have given him more ball rather than squander chance after chance when the overlap beckoned.
Their failure to convert these chances into points came back to bite them in a way that is all too familiar in sport. Their ill-discipline saw two yellow cards inside a minute with two of their pack, flanker Shaun Miles and lock Matthew Harbut, being sent to the stand for continued infringing at the breakdown, the most criminal offence for a forward, on par with spilling a restart.
Llanelli looked to make their extra men count up front and with the extra power they now possessed they worked an opening for number eight Morgan to crash over and secure his second and his sides third of the game out wide in the corner. With the imperious Walters notching the conversion the Reds had secured what had seemed an unlikely win for the majority of the contest.
Both sides will welcome new faces and say goodbye to old in the close season in a bid to improve their fates for the next campaign and on this showing, they are some way off matching the levels reached by the likes of Pontypridd, Cross Keys and Ebbw Vales this campaign.
15 Gareth Walters 14 Kyle Evans 13 Andrew Rees-Spowart 12 Richard Thomas11 Elliot Dawe 10 Stuart Morris 9 Jon Rogers 1 Rhys Fawcett 2 Taylor Davies 3 Gareth Havard 4 Adam Powell © 5 Ed Price 6 Liam Puckett 7 Shaun Edwards 8 Owain Morgan
15 Mike Evans 14 Rhys Williams 13 Matthew Jacobs 12 Rhodri Jones 11 Aaron Warren 10 Steffan Marshall 9 Lee Rees: 1 Jamie Kaijaks 2 Luke Lewis 3 Greg Cunniffe 4 Bryn Griffiths 5 Matthew Harbut 6 Phil Day (captain) 7 Richard
Scarlets make five changes for European quarter-final
Johnny Williams and Sione Kalamafoni have been handed their Scarlets’ European debuts for Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol (8.15pm UK time).
Both summer signings are included in a side showing five changes to the line-up that took the field against the Dragons in the Scarlets last match of the Guinness PRO14 season.
Wales and British & Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny returns to face his former side, linking up with Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans in an all-international back three.
Williams and Steff Hughes continue their midfield combination, while Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies has recovered from injury to partner Dan Jones at half-back.
Skipper Ken Owens, Wyn Jones and Samson Lee pack down in the front row and behind them Tongan international Sam Lousi starts at lock alongside Jake Ball.
In a reshuffled back-row, the PRO14’s turnover king Josh Macleod gets the nod at openside; Kalamafoni, who featured for Leicester Tigers in the pool stages of the tournament, wears the No. 8 jersey and Scotland international Blade Thomson has recovered from an Achilles issue to start at blindside.
On the bench, Ryan Elias, Phil Price and Javan Sebastian provide front-row cover with Lewis Rawlins and James Davies the other forward replacements. Kieran Hardy, Angus O’Brien and Tyler Morgan cover the backs. Morgan is set to make his first Scarlets appearance since joining from the Dragons.
The Scarlets and Toulon faced each other twice during the pool stages. A last-gasp converted try grabbed a 17-16 victory for the French side in November. The three-times European champions then claimed a crucial 27-15 win at Parc y Scarlets in January to ensure they topped the group.
Head coach Glenn Delaney said: “It is a final for us. If you win three finals in a row you win a trophy. We are that far away from achieving the objective we all set out upon 12 to 13 months ago. It would be lovely to finish it off the right way. Whenever you get the opportunity to play for a trophy you have got to be very respectful and take it deadly serious, which is exactly what our boys have been doing.”
Scarlets team v RC Toulon (Saturday, September 19, 2020; kick-off 8.15pm UK)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Blade Thomson, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.
Reps: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Unavailable because of injury
Rob Evans (neck), Rhys Patchell (calf), Liam Williams (foot), Daf Hughes (knee), Steff Thomas (knee), Alex Jeffries (elbow), Tomi Lewis (knee), Aaron Shingler.
Pembrey Country Park to host one of first post-lockdown events
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Pembrey Country Park has been chosen to host one of the first outdoor sports events in Wales since the Covid-19 lockdown.
Welsh Government has given the go ahead for three trial sport and culture events as part of its continued easing of restrictions.
Pembrey Country Park will host a duathlon on Sunday, September 6, with a limited number of competitors, although there will be no spectators.
The event will be monitored and will help inform Welsh Government policy on future sporting events as the country continues its recovery from Covid-19.
The council is working with Welsh Triathlon to ensure athletes can compete safely, with strict risk assessments and protocols being put into place.
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We’re delighted to host this trial event here in Carmarthenshire, and hope this signals a return of more sporting events in the future. Our teams are working alongside Welsh Government and Welsh Triathlon to ensure that the event is safe and secure whilst providing an exciting and challenging duathlon course for competitors.”
Trundle and Robinson are back for another season with Ammanford AFC
Ammanford AFC are pleased to announce that the Ex Swans legends Lee Trundle and Andy Robinson are back for a second season with the club
The pair helped Ammanford AFC to achieve a respectable seventh place finish in the JD Cymru South league last season.
The Supporters of Ammanford will welcome the news and will be hoping that they can go and watch their team once clearance has been given.
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