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Butchers try can’t prevent Scarlets loss

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Alisha Butchers: Powers away for the last score of the game (Pic. Riley Sports)

Alisha Butchers:
Powers away for the last score of the game (Pic. Riley Sports)

THE GAME of the third round of the Women Regional Championship saw the Scarlets Ladies take on their local rivals, the Ospreys, at the BT Sports Cardiff Arms Park last Sunday, December 20th. Both teams went into the game with unbeaten records so something had to give. The two teams went on to produce an outstanding display of rugby, which was yet another great advert for Women’s Regional Rugby in Wales.

The girls in red were on the back foot from the start. The Scarlets failed to deal with the initial kick off reception adequately allowing the Ospreys a strong attacking foothold deep inside the Scarlets half. When the Scarlets infringed at the breakdown, outstanding Ospreys outside half, Robyn Wilkins was on hand to settle any Ospreys nerves with a welltaken penalty with barely 2 minutes on the clock. The Ospreys continued to dominate early possession but the resolute defence of the Scarlets held firm. The Scarlets finally gained some possession and it was their turn to show their attacking qualities and from a free flowing move the Ospreys were caught off side.

Centre, Jodie Evans stepped forward to slot an excellent penalty from near the 10m line to tie the scores. From the restart, the Scarlets once again went on the attack. A scything break by Scarlets no 10, Hannah Jones saw her cut through the Ospreys defensive line. Jones was brought down with the line at her mercy by a fantastic try saving tack by Ospreys winger Ffion Bowen. Fortunately, Jodie Evans was on hand to gather Jones’s off load to score near the posts. Uncharacteristically Evans pushed her attempt at the extras wide of the upright. The game was now ebbing and flowing, with both teams creating opportunities and neutralizing those opportunities with ferocious defensive play. For the Ospreys, Scrum Half Keira Bevan was a constant threat with her elusive running whilst Scarlets captain Sioned Harries led by example in both attack and defence.

As the half drew to a close, the Scarlets’ discipline began to let them down. A series of unforced penalties gave the Ospreys momentum and finally from yet another soft infringement at the breakdown, Wilkins was able to slot her second penalty of the day and draw the first half to a conclusion with the Scarlets holding a slender 8-6 lead. The Ospreys started the second half by far the better. Barely 3 minutes into the half the Ospreys were camped on the Scarlets line. The Ospreys scrum had been gradually gaining dominance over the Scarlets 8 and that dominance came to the fore as they powered over the line for No 8 Shona Powell-Hughes to score. Wilkins adding the extras.

The game was taken away from The Scarlets over the next 10 minutes thanks to a further three excellently taken Wilkins penalties. The Scarlets poor discipline at the breakdown was once again costing them dearly allowing the Ospreys dominance of both territory and possession, allowing Wilkins the opportunities to demonstrate her unerring accuracy with the boot. The final Ospreys score came barely 3 minutes later. A flowing move by the Ospreys outside backs resulted in centre Adi Taviner breaking through the Scarlets defensive line. Taviner fed the ever-impressive Powell-Hughes who powered over for her and the Ospreys second try of the game.

Wilkins again converting to give the Ospreys a 29-8 lead. To their credit, the Scarlets came back into the game and were rewarded by scoring their second try of the game. After a period of sustained pressure by the reds, a break by centre Elen Evans saw her release back rower Alisha Butchers to score under the posts. Jodie Evans added the extra 2 points to draw the game to its conclusion.

Speaking after the game, Scarlets Captain Sioned Harries was in positive mood despite the loss; “I’m extremely proud of all the girls’ efforts and commitment throughout the campaign so far, entering the championship as the current title holders will always bring great pressure, but I thought the girls were excellent today and showed great endeavour. Unfortunately, we didn’t start the second half as we ended the first and the Ospreys punished us.  We know what we need to work on for the next round of games and I am confident we will come back stronger for this experience. Our main focus is giving each player the best opportunity to showcase their talent on a regional and national scale whilst developing our ability as a squad.”

Scarlets Team: 15 Dyddgu Hywel 14 Angharad de Smet 13 Elen Evans 12 Jodie Evans 11 Jess Kavanagh 10 Hannah Jones 9 Ffion Lewis; 1 Emma Edwards 2 Delyth Davies 3 Danielle Jenkins 4 Ffion Jones 5 Elin Hywel 6 Alisha Butchers 7 Sioned Harries 8 Natalie Walsh Replacements: Morfudd Ifans, Rachel Norris, Gwenllian Prys, Awen Prysor, Jennie Collins, Steph Harries, Beth Jones, Brittony Price.

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Sport

Matchroom Reds continue good form

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MATCHROOM REDS continued their good Llanelli Snooker League form with a fine 5-2 victory on their trip to Burry Port Legion.

The highlight an impressive 92 clearance-break from Reds’ cueman Craig Price; J.Bullen, R.Evans and B.Newcombe added winning support; Rob Davies and Dean Thomas hit back for the home side.

Elsewhere  in Division 1, Pontyberem also posted a convincing win, a 6-1 victory against Snooker  World Whites, courtesy of A.Harris, E.Bowen, C.Rees, K.Selwood and Kieran Evans (54 break); just D.Jones’ frame avoided the Ammanford side the whitewash.

Similarly, only C.Howells was on top as Burry Port Reading Room Blues crashed 6-1 to Trimsaran; for the latter, J.Tudor, L.Holland, K.Proctor, M.Foreman and C.Thomas all contributed points.

Llanesco were 5-2 winners at the expense of Gorseinon Workmens’, after L.Lloyd, S.Thomas, C.Lloyd and C.Rees had struck; M.Davies and J.Wilcox were on song for the Brighton Road side.

Meanwhile, Jeff Jones (42 break), Paul Martin, Adrian Phillips and Gary Stead steered Cross Hands B to a 5-2 success away at Ponthenri Social, whose winning duo were Nigel Lewis and Jeff Howells.

T.Rees and L.Davies were Matchroom Whites’ winning pair as they sank to a 5-2 defeat at Upper Tumble blues; E.Rees, J.Bradley, I.James and N.Walters were frame winners for the hosts.

Morfa Social swept to a comprehensive 6-1 victory against Pontarddulais Workingmens’, with Rob Hughes, Scott Ashford, G.Lewis, B.Follows and Andrew Hatto all on top; only Steve Davies won for Bont.

In Division 2, the Gremlin Club kept up their impressive form with a thumping 7-0 victory at Pontarddulais Cons B; B.Price (32), R.Barney, M.Dagnall, L.Collins, K.Gronow and G.Stollery completed the rout.

It required the aggregate point to separate Bryn and Trallwm A and New Lodge B as Bryn edged home 4-3, thanks to the efforts of J.Townsend, M.Boland and J.Jones; Andrew John, Gary Williams (27) and Roy Morgan hit back for Lodge.

It was more clear cut at Matchroom Blacks, where the home side defeated Bryn B 6-1, courtesy of Rhys Morgan, Ryan Maides, Thomas Williams, Cory Jenkins and Nathan Brain; Kurtis Myhill was the visitors’ solitary point-earner.

Cross Hands A saw off the challenge of Upper Tumble Reds to win 5-2, after Jeff Howells, Matthew James, Elwyn Williams and Gerald Evans each won their frame; S.Marshall and K.Evans replied for the Tumble cuemen.

Liam McGhee, S.Crump, K.James and J.Jordan earned Llandybie RFC a solid 5-2 win against Tycroes RFC, with M.Walters and A.Rees replying.

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Llangennech prove too strong for Crymych

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LLANGENNECH earned their third bonus-point win in a row on Saturday (Dec 4) as they beat Crymych 30-10.

The home side started well and it was Andrew Thomas who crossed for the game’s first try.

That went unconverted but replacement no.10 Osian Evans then extended Llangennech’s lead to 11-0 with two penalties.

Crymych were then reduced to 14 players for ten minutes following a yellow card and Llangennech then picked up their second try of the game as Jordan Saunders touched down.

Evans then added the extras to give the home side an 18-0 lead at the break.

Crymych started the second half well and were rewarded with two unconverted tries for Tomos Lewis and Ilan Phillips.

However, there was then a red card for replacement tighthead Liam Tobias meaning Llangennech would be down to 14 men for the remainder of the game.

Despite being a man light Llangennech still pushed forward and they were awarded a penalty try off a driving maul.

Llangennech then got their bonus point in the last minute of the game as Kalum Evans touched down for an unconverted try to complete the scoring.

It means Llangennech sit top of the table with 15 points from their opening three games.

PHOTO by Darren Harries

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Reds earn win in John’s first game in charge

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IF the first game under the new management of Lee John and Dylan Blain is an indication of how Llanelli Town mean to progress, the future looks bright, as they were almost unrecognisable to the side that had performed so abysmally a fortnight previously against the same opponents.

John and Blain were in charge of the visitors on that occasion at Glanhafod Park, but their influence even at this early stage is obvious, with the home side once more demonstrating a fast-flowing style and passing game which has been sadly lacking for most of the season, and hopefully this trend will continue.

The only worry is the small squad of players available for selection, with two more, captain Kyle Copp and Zac Brown, leaving recently, while injuries are also a concern with the latest casualty being Robert Thomas who will probably miss the rest of the season.

Doubtless, there will be efforts made to strengthen the squad during the January transfer window, but until then reserve and academy players will have to be utilised to swell the numbers.

The hosts were on the front foot from the outset, with the midfield particularly prominent, producing opportunities for the front runners, with a Callum Saunders delivery into the box being pushed clear by Scott Coughlan in the Goytre goal just before Callum Bateman was about to make a headed contact.

Thomas then went down injured, and after efforts to play on had to admit defeat, being replaced by Morgan Weaver after 18 minutes.

Bateman fired over after being played in by Chris Thomas when he broke from the back, but ironically, despite their dominance the Reds went close to conceding when the visitors, with almost their first real threat, forced Exauce Dimonekene into a great save to deny Jay Thomas, and then make an even better stop to keep out the rebound from James Parry.

These near-misses spurred on Goytre, and a corner to the near post by Bradley Flay was headed against the upright by Tim Parker.

Having survived these near-efforts, the hosts retaliated when a short corner by James Loveridge set up Sam Parsons whose well struck finish into the goalmouth was just about kept out Coughlan before the loose ball was hacked clear.

Loveridge himself then had a chance of opening the scoring, but blazed over from a decent position, and the interval arrived with neither side being able to break the deadlock.

The dominant force in the first half, the Reds continued where they had left off by taking the contest to their opponents, and Miles John was unlucky when his near post attempt on target deflected off Daniel Birch for a corner.

From this, Nathan Logan directed a header across the area to Bateman, but again Coughlan did just enough to prevent an opening score.

Louis Gerrard fired narrowly wide of the Goytre goal from distance, but the final ball was somehow lacking, and the nearest they came was from a Saunders free kick which went inches over the bar. 

For all their dominance, they also had to be vigilant at the other end as their opponents gradually came more into the game, and John brought off a saving tackle on Parker to prevent him pulling the trigger inside the box, while Goytre really should have taken the lead when an unmarked Flay headed wide from a few yards out following a great cross by Joseph Pelosi.

The Reds capitalised on this let-off by going ahead on 76 minutes through Logan who was found some 25 yards out from goal, and he curled a delightful finish past Coughlan just inside the post.

This proved to be his last action as he was replaced by Dylan Williams on 80 minutes, but within three minutes the lead was extended with something of a freak goal when Saunders unleashed a speculative shot on target which Coughlan made a complete hash of, allowing it to bounce off his legs and into the net.

Despite this setback, the visitors hauled themselves back into contention in the 86th minute after some initial attempts on the home goal had been partially cleared, with the ball eventually running loose and being met by Kyran Steadman who fired a well- aimed strike into the bottom corner to set up a grandstand finish.

With the clock running down but with a potential substantial amount of stoppage time to be added, the hosts were anxious to ensure they were not about to concede their advantage, and both Williams and Gavin Jones went close, before matters were finally wrapped up by Saunders in the 5th minute of added time when he despatched a well-taken set piece past Coughlan to seal the points, and more importantly a winning start for the new hierarchy.    

Another tough assignment awaits them on Saturday (Dec 11) when they travel to the Rhondda for their fixture against Cambrian & Clydach, kick off 2.30pm.

PHOTO by Darren Harries

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