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Llanelli fall to bottom with defeat

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Declan Smith: Clearing Llanelli’s lines (Pic. Riley Sports)

Declan Smith: Clearing Llanelli’s lines (Pic. Riley Sports)

LLANDOVERY gained a vital win which left the Fosters Challenge Cup Pool 1 wide open, with the Drovers now level on points with Neath, and one point adrift of Carmarthen Quins, although the tables top two sides meet on Saturday in a game that will put one of them in pole position. Llanelli now sit one point further back at the foot of the table, knowing that Wednesday’s return to Church Bank is now something of a must win game if they are to progress into the knockout phases of the new competition. With a howling wind swirling around the pitch, conditions were far from perfect with running rugby at a premium, and a lack of accurate kicking leading to a largely scrappy affair, in which the scoring was finished with some 35 minutes still to play.

Llanelli went in at the interval leading by two points thanks to tries from Matthew Owen and Greg George. However Llandovery went one better, notching three tries through Rhodri Davies, Richard Rees and Dafydd Hughes. With 13 minutes gone, having dominated the opening exchanges, the Drovers took the lead with Rhodri Davies crossing the line, however with the wind gusting against him, James Davies was unable to convert. With 26 minutes gone, Steffan Marshall was sent to the bin after slowing play down at the breakdown, and the visitors sought to take advantage, with Matthew Owen crossing out wide. Billy McBryde somehow managed to knock over a magnificent conversion from the touchline in tough conditions to give his side the lead.

With a numerical advantage Llanelli would’ve been hoping to increase their lead, but it was the 14-men who went ahead, as Richard Rees went over after a fine move in midfield, James Davies knocked over the extras, and Steffan Marshall returned to put the hosts in charge. The visitors regrouped and went in at half time in front when Greg George went over for a converted try, but after the interval a dour affair took over and the hosts ran out victors. Just four minutes into the second half, Dafydd Hughes crossed, concluding the scoring for the game, and giving the hosts a much needed boost. Llanelli will be hoping for revenge when the two sides meet again on Wednesday night at Church Bank.

Teams: Llandovery: 15. Lee Rees 14. Mike Evans 13. Rhodri Jones 12. Craig Woodall 11. James Davies 10. Steffan Marshall 9. Rhodri Davies: 8. Andrew Green 7. Richard Rees 6. Joe Powell 5. Colin Markham 4. Jake Baker 3. Berian Watkins 2. Dafydd Hughes 1. Jamie Kaijaks  Replacements: 16. Scott Jenkins 17. Bradley Davies 18. Jake Simm 19. Shaun Miles 20. Tom Ball 21. Ryan Morgans 22. Joe Morgan 23. Dan Brooks

Llanelli: 15.Ryan Davies 14.Shaun Pearce 13.Paul Davies 12.Mathew Pearce 11.Matthew Owen 10.Billy McBryde 9.Declan Smith: 8.Greg George 7.Nathan Hart 6.Dan Binks 5.Ben Davies 4.Christian Long 3.Tom Kaijaks 2.Torin Myhill 1.Rhys Fawcett  Replacements: 16.Sam Martin 18.Richard Bassett 19.Liam Puckett 20.Steve Williams 21.Justin James 22.Dan Guarneri 23. Jack Anderson

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Davies to captain Scarlets for 2021/22 season

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WALES international and British & Irish Lion Jonathan ‘Fox’ Davies will captain the Scarlets for the 2021-22 season.

Former Ysgol Dyffryn Taf pupil Davies has played 170 matches for the Scarlets since making his debut in 2006 and is one of the most decorated centres in international rugby having won 91 caps for Wales and represented the Lions in the Test series in Australia 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.

It will be his second stint wearing the Scarlets armband having been a co-captain along with Rob McCusker in 2013.

‘Foxy’ takes the reins from hooker Ken Owens who led the Scarlets for a record-equalling seven successive seasons.

“Jon is one of the most respected players in the game, someone with a huge amount of experience at all levels,” said Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel

“He has been a leader amongst our group for a number of years now and certainly since I have been here his leadership qualities have been there for all to see, on and off the training field.

“Foxy is the ultimate professional – when he speaks people listen. The way he conducts himself is an example to every player in the squad.

“He has been a big part of this club for a long time; he has grown up in the region, played his junior rugby here and it is clear that wearing the Scarlets jersey means a huge amount to him.”

Paying tribute to Davies’s predecessor Owens, Peel added: “Ken has been a fantastic leader for us over the last seven years and will continue to have a huge part to play in the leadership of this group.”

Davies, who captained Wales during the recent summer internationals in Cardiff, said: “It is a massive honour to be handed the Scarlets captaincy, you only have to look at the captain’s board to see so many great players and icons of the game who have led the club.

“I am fortunate that there will be a strong leadership group around me – British & Irish Lions and experienced Wales internationals who have enjoyed success at domestic and Test level. Those players also know there is a hard-working, driven group of youngsters pushing them for the jersey. There is a really exciting mix to the squad.”

Davies added: “Winning the PRO12 title with the Scarlets four years ago remains one of the highlights of my career and there is a real ambition and hunger among the players and coaching group to reach those levels again.

“There has been a good buzz about pre-season, the boys have worked really hard and we’re all looking forward to the start of the new URC season in Edinburgh on Saturday.

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Scarlets appoint Phil John as Academy coach

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FORMER prop Phil John is back at the Scarlets having been appointed to the role of Academy skills coach.

John made 330 Scarlets appearances over 17 seasons and holds the record for the most Scarlets matches played in the regional era.

Since hanging up his playing boots following his final game against Glasgow in 2016, he has worked with the RGC 1404 Academy and alongside another ex-Scarlet Mark Jones with the Premiership team in North Wales.

He also has experience coaching with the Llanelli RFC Premiership side and as an assistant to Danny Wilson for the Scarlets.

John, who started out on a rugby apprenticeship scheme at Stradey Park, replaces Emyr Phillips who becomes the Scarlets transition coach overseeing the academy players who are training with the senior side.

“It’s good to be back at Parc y Scarlets and I’m looking forward to working with a talented group of young players who have bright futures in the game,” said John.

“When you look at the players who were in the Academy five years ago when I was here, they are now starting week in week out for the Scarlets, it is great to see the journeys they have been on.

“The Scarlets Academy has a proud tradition of being a production line for the senior side and I’m excited by this opportunity to help make sure that continues.”

Scarlets Development Pathway Manager Kevin George added: “For us, this appointment was about getting the balance right in the coaching group with Emyr having been promoted to oversee the transition players.

“We had a lot of interest in the post and Phil, with his experience working with academies and the commitment he gave to North Wales, came out very strongly. We are delighted to have him on board to help nurture the next generation of Scarlets.”

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Five-star Felinfoel sink Tumble

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FELINFOEL kept up their unbeaten start to the season on Saturday (Sept 18) as they beat Tumble 5-2 at the King George playing fields in Division 1 of the Carmarthenshire football league.

However, they didn’t have it all their own way as Tumble took the lead after five minutes through Matthew James.

Foel kept plugging away and were rewarded when Chris James hit a 25-yard shot that was fumbled over the line by the keeper to make it 1-1.

Some good passing football then put Sam Ashford through on goal to put the ball past the keeper and make it 2-1 to the home side.

They weren’t done there as Chris James made it 3-1 with a great header.

In the second half, both sides were looking to score again but it was Foel who got their fourth when Mathew Ellis supplied top goal scorer Jordan Badman with the pass to make it 4-1.

Five minutes later the roles were reversed when Badman played in Mathew Ellis to make it 5-1.

To Tumble’s credit they kept plugging away and were rewarded with a goal two minutes from time as James scored his second of the game.

It was a great strike from James but it mattered little as Foel came away with the 5-2 win and their unbeaten record still intact.

On Saturday (Sept 25), Felinfoel are at hoem again as they host Bancffosfelen, kick off at 2pm.

Tumble are also in action as they travel to Llangennech.

Photo by Darren Harries

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