NEWCASTLE EMLYN became the first ever winners of the WRU Division One West League title on Wednesday night when they defeated Gorseinon at Dol Wiber. With a number of players still suffering from the effects of Sunday’s cup final, Director of Rugby Marc Lloyd was forced to make a total of nine changes from Sunday’s starting line-up. It was a tribute to the strength in depth of the squad and also the excellent coaching they have received all season from Lloyd, player coach Arwel Davies and scrum specialist Charles Gale that these players were able to slot in and perform in the manner they did to clinch the title with one game left. Knowing that a bonus point win would give them the Championship, Emlyn started the game at a rate of knots and soon put the Gorseinon line under a great deal of pressure. However Gorseinon had not read the script and were not prepared to roll over and hand the title to the home side. They defended their line resolutely and the first half saw almost total Emlyn territorial dominance but when the excellent referee Justin Williams blew for half time Emlyn only had one try on the scoreboard.
What a try it was, after some fifteen minutes play Gorseinon took a twenty two metre restart and the ball was caught by Emlyn flanker Joel James. He then slipped a pass to oncoming full back Shaun Leonard, his pace took him past two defenders. Leonard off loaded in the tackle to supporting winger Teifi on Davies and when he was tackled he passed to the impressive Joel James who took a defender with him over the line for a try converted by Leonard. The large crowd then settled down expecting a try fest, but it was not to be as a combination of over complication behind, poor option taking and the stern Gorseinon defence meant that there were no further additions to the score in the first half. The half time team talk by coaches Lloyd and Davies must have been worth listening to as it had an immediate effect on the home side. Emlyn went back to doing what they do best, using forwards to set up two, three phases of play then moving it wider. In number eight Luke Kendall and Joel James they had two back row forwards who carried the ball with purpose always taking at least a couple of defenders out with their powerful runs. The Emlyn front row of props Dai Jones and Gethin Davies along with hooker Bedwyr Davies had the upper hand all evening and the next score originated from a scrum. Gorseinon managed to wheel two Emlyn attempts at push over tries and on the third scrum the ball was moved wide for outside half Steffan Evans to use his strength to force his way over the line for a try converted by Leonard.
Lloyd now started to empty the Emlyn bench when an arm injury forced Joel James off to be replaced by Brynmor Jones and there proved to be no let up for the visitors defence as Jones linked well with Kendall to carry the ball at the visitors line. The two second rows, of returning skipper Gethin Greves and Bleddyn Davies also supported the runners intelligently as did the front row. When regular scrum half Mike Jones came on to replace the rapidly developing back row forward Gareth Thomson this necessitated a tactical switch. Owain Powell reverted to his normal open side position and then veteran Arwel Davies replaced Bleddyn Davies, Gorseinon’s hopes of getting anything from the game virtually disappeared.
The tempo of the game increased greatly and the off loading out of the tackle was a joy to behold as Emlyn went in search of the two tries which would hand them the title. But with the introduction of greater experience from the bench there was far greater control to the Emlyn game. The wild passes and over ambitious moves of the first half were a thing of the past as Emlyn laid siege to the visitors line. The third try came from a fine two handed line out catch by Arwel Davies and a drive to the Gorseinon line, held up short, the ball was moved back on the blind side for powerful number eight Kendall to cross for a try converted by Leonard.
From the restart Leonard caught the ball and went on a long mazy run and ignoring the support outside him the full back looked certain to score the all important fourth try but a desperate tackle from behind brought him down a couple of metres from the line. With hooker Alex Williams and prop Gareth Lloyd on the field giving the home side not only fresh legs but greater scrum power due to their freshness, the home side camped on the visitors line. Scrum after scrum was wheeled to be reset, drives close to the scrum were stopped by determined tackling.
Eventually the ball was moved wider for centre Alun Howells to come on a run back to the forwards. When he was held up it was his co-centre Viv Jenkins who managed to rip the ball out of the maul and cross for the fourth try, greeted by a huge roar from the crowd, converted by Leonard. Gorseinon never gave up and ran the ball back at the home team at every opportunity. In centre Andrew Burden they had a powerful runner who took some stopping and scrum half Jack Gronow tried his best to get his threequarter line moving, but as many sides have found out this year, breaching the Emlyn defence is not an easy job and defensively as well as in attack Howells and Jenkins have proven to be an excellent combination.
Emlyn by now were rampant running the ball from all parts of the field with the confidence of a side that knew they had the game and championship won. Both wingers Teifi on Davies and fireman Daniel Davies were bundled into touch short of the line after excellent runs. The fifth and final try was an absolute gem scored in the dying minutes of the game. From a midfield scrum just inside the Gorseinon half, Kendall picked up from the base drew two defenders and put scrum half Mike Jones away on another run. He then drew the last defender and slipped the pass to the supporting Leonard who crossed for a try, which he was unable to convert to complete the scoring. * With the title already won Emlyn went away to Crymych for their final game and went down to a heavy 41-8 defeat to their nearest rivals. It will have mattered little to Emlyn who capped a season that saw them in a Millennium Stadium final with the league trophy. However it will serve
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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