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Llanelli set champions back on track

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jackcondyPontypridd 38
Llanelli 6

SARDIS ROAD was a ‘House of Pain’ for Llanelli once again on Saturday (5 Dec) as they emerged from the encounter with nothing to show for their efforts, despite being well in the game with fifty minutes played, trailing by just eight points to six. Pontypridd had lost their last three games in the league, and this run (unprecedented in recent years) had seen them drop to fourth in the table, but Llanelli duly obliged to set the reigning champions back on the right track, as they were torn apart in a thirty minute second half blitz which saw the hosts run in four unanswered tries.

In a tight and nervy first half, the hosts wasted a good opportunity to go into the lead on the quarter of an hour mark, as fullback Geraint Walsh through wildly over winger Alex Webber’s head when he was in the clear to score, after an overlap was created through good phase play. Just over five minutes later though they were over, as Webber, who will have good memories of playing Llanelli as he became the historic first scorer of a 6-point try at the Parc in September, crossed for the opening score.

The winger chased down his own kick to gather and dive over the line, to the delight and relief of the large home crowd. With confidence understandably low, Ponty were far from their best but having been so dominant they wouldn’t of expected Llanelli to get back into the game on the stroke of half time. Josh Lewis kicked for the corner when the visitors were awarded a penalty, and with everyone predicting what has now become a routine catch and drive in the Premiership, they instead went through a number of phases, before centre Steffan Hughes, in only his second game back after injury, chipped a delightful ball through the home defence, which Lewis gathered to score.

He failed to convert his own try, meaning the hosts were two points to the good at the interval. Llanelli took the confidence gained from this try into the second half, and were enjoying a great deal of possession, when, against the run of play, Ponty did what champions do, and crossed the line themselves. When Webber caught an interception pass in his own 22 he raced clear, and although he was held up short, the ball was worked wide for Godfrey, who dived over for another converted score.

This proved to be the turning point in the game and with the black and whites now firmly in control, they crossed again as flanker Jake Thomas converted a simple opportunity with twenty-five minutes to play. With credit to Llanelli they kept battling, and didn’t concede again until the 77th minute, when the diminutive Webber grabbed his second try, to secure the bonus point for the home side, with Lewis Williams notching the conversion.

With just minutes remaining, Godfrey made a miserable half hour even worse for the reds as he crossed for his second to round off what on paper seems a much easier win for the hosts than it actually was.

Speaking on the loss, Llanelli coach Dai Flanagan said: “We were on top at the start of the second half; our style of play challenged Ponty in the wider areas and we were able look threatening. “We fronted up for long periods against the champions and no doubt we threatened them. “It was a massive step up performance wise from the last game against Newport, even though the scoreline doesn’t reflect it.” A two week break from league action will see Llanelli focus on the Fosters Challenge Cup, before they return on Boxing Day with a tough trip to Bridgend.

Teams: Pontypridd: 15.Geraint Walsh. 14.Alex Webber. 13.Gavin Dacey. 12.Dafydd Lockyer 11.Chris Clayton. 10.Lewis K Williams. 9.Tom Williams: 8.Dan Godfrey 7.Rhys Shellard 6.Jake Thomas 5.Chris Dicomidis. 4.Shaun O’Rourke. 3.Mitchell Auger. 2.Ashleigh James. 1.Bradley Thyer. Replacements: 16.Lloyd Williams. 17.Harri Millard. 18.Dale Stuckey. 19.Huw Dowden. 20.Wayne O’Connor. 21.Hemi Barnes. 22.Corey Domachowski.

Llanelli: 15.Dion Jones 14.Andrew Spowart 13.Nathan Edwards 12.Steffan Hughes 11.Gareth Walters 10.Josh Lewis 9.Josh Guy: 8.Jack Condy 7.Trystan Lloyd 6.Tom Phillips 5.Jack Jones 4.Adam Powell 3.Ben Leung 2.Taylor Davies 1.Rhys Thomas Replacements: 16.Rhys Fawcett 17.Torin Myhill 18.Tom Kaijaks 19.Christian Long 20.Liam Puckett 21.Justin James 22.Billy McByde 23.Paul Davies

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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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WRU Cup round up: Wins for Llangennech, Pontyberem and Nantgaredig

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THE WRU Cup competitions got underway last weekend and there were some exciting matches across all groups.

Llangennech sealed victory in their first game of the Division 1 Cup as they beat Kenfig Hill 32-17. They led 13-7 at the break and increased that in the second half.

Jordan Saunders scored the first try for Llangennech and Tom Neale converted before adding two penalties.

Joseph Hutchings was next to get on the scoresheet and Neale again added the extras to make it 20-12.

Replacement Rhys Davies then scored two tries with Neale converting the second one to complete the scoring.

The other game in Group H saw Llanelli Wanderers suffer a 21-30 defeat at the hands of Bridgend Athletic.

Lewis Jones scored two tries for the Wanderers and he added the rest with the boot.

In Group I, Hendy were also beaten as they suffered a 14-43 loss at the hands of Waunarlywdd.

In Group J, Felinfoel were beaten 23-8 by Bonymaen.

In the Division 2 Cup, Nantgaredig were victorious in an entertaining Group G game against Seven Sisters. They eventually ran out 32-29 winners.

The other game in that group saw Kidwelly beat Maesteg Celtic 52-7. Kidwelly put in a solid performance and their defence held up to some extreme pressure during the parts of the game.

Pontyberem were victorious in their first game in Group H as they beat Pyle 19-10.

The Bont worked hard for the win, scoring three tries with fly half Dominic Sauro crossing, and two tries for the returning back Mikey Jenkins. It was a solid enough performance against an experienced and rugged side.

In Group J, Burry Port suffered a narrow 23-26 defeat at home against Morriston. Tries for the Blacks came from Lewis Ellar and Osian Thomas. Lee Evans added two conversions and three penalties but it wasn’t enough for victory.

In Group L, Tycroes suffered a 3-39 defeat at the hands of Builth Wells.

In the Division 3 Cup, Tumble suffered a 22-42 defeat against Nantymoel in Group G.

In Group H, New Dock Stars earned a 22-13 win over Llanybydder. Tries came from Iestyn Bunyan, Adam Gealy and Glen Williams. Adam Gealy added two conversions and a penalty to help seal the win.

Trimsaran’s first game in Group I saw them beaten 13-32 by Aberavon Green Stars.

Bynea suffered a 52-0 loss in Group J against Tonmawr and in Group M, Betws were beaten 14-20 by Swansea Uplands.

In Group O, Furnace United were beaten 17-29 by Taibach.

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Scarlets denied victory by late Ospreys try

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A stoppage-time try denied the Scarlets a derby victory in a pulsating BKT United Rugby Championship clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Scarlets produced a dominant second-half display to lead 23-16 going into the final minutes, but some late ill-discipline proved costly with replacement Rhys Davies crossing and Jack Walsh converting to steal a 23-23 draw for the visitors.

Fly-half Sam Costelow was the outstanding figure on display, racing over for a brilliant individual try and kicking 13 points in a player-of-the-match performance. Centre Johnny Williams was also not far behind, delivering a powerful midfield showing that included a fine try of his own.

It was the Ospreys who started the stronger with the impressive Gareth Anscombe taking an inside pass for the opening try, which he also converted. Anscombe landed a penalty before Costelow struck back.

The Ospreys 10 was on target again to make it 13-3 then after Costelow was yellow carded for an illegal clear out, it needed a determined defensive effort to prevent the visitors crossing for their second.

On the stroke of half-time came one of the game’s many talking points with Justin Tipuric catching Johnny McNicholl with a late challenge. McNicholl was forced to leave the field for a head injury assessment and it led to a second penalty for Costelow.

After a rusty opening 40 minutes, the Scarlets went through the gears after the break.

A brilliant counter from the lively Tom Rogers paved the way for a third Costelow success, then from the restart Anscombe responded with three of his own.

Wing Keelan Giles was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on and the Scarlets took immediate advantage when Williams burst through midfield and fended off defenders to the line.

Williams could have had a second, but the move was brought back for obstruction.

Then, with 15 minutes minutes remaining, Costelow produced a moment of magic to race clear to the posts for a score (after deliberation by TMO) that he also converted.

Costelow came within inches of a second, but the Scarlets kept pressing for the match-clinching score.

Instead it was the Ospreys who held out and in a dramatic finale headed down the other end of the field where Davies pounced before Walsh landed the game-equalling conversion with the last kick of a dramatic finale.

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