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Warriors edged in controversial game

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Mixed Ability Rugby

Swansea Gladiators 32

Llanelli Warriors 27

Camaraderie: Both sides at the end of a gruelling game

Camaraderie: Both sides at the end of a gruelling game

THE WARRIORS travelled to Swansea Uplands to play out the latest chapter in their oldest rivalry with the Swansea Gladiators.

The two oldest mixed ability sides clashes have always been fraught but even by those standards this was a controversial one.

The Warriors travelled with a strong side, knowing it would take a big effort to secure a result away from home, whilst many of the Gladiators were playing their 1st game for the club.

It was the Gladiators who got the 1st score when they got a good position in the Warriors 22 and moved the ball wide, despite the cries of ‘knock on’ the Gladiators played the whistle and scored out wide.

From then though the Warriors edged territory, if marginally, and looked to be settling well. Both sides had their moments, but the Warriors got on the scoreboard when Nathan Murphy was worked into a bit of space and he crossed for a try improved by Simon Jenkins.

A spring now in their step the Warriors moved the ball about, Dion Mitchell-Lewis making space for those outside him and Craig James got a try and within minutes a similar move saw James cross again, captain Davies adding the extras.

The game was becoming increasingly feisty especially up front with the ref working hard to keep things under control. The match was a traditional battle of the big Gladiator pack versus the Warriors sharp backs, though that is to simplify matters with the Warriors pack having their own victories, and the Gladiators backs no slouches with the ball in hand.

Warriors’ veteran Dean Gilasbey scored next though, streaking through a gap to score. The Warriors were getting frustrated at some decisions they felt went against them but as two players were shown yellow cards in quick succession for high tackles they had to dig deep and get on with the game.

The Gladiators took their time to exploit the advantage but when the try came it was a cracker, sweeping down the right wing, nearly halted but great determination seeing them over out wide. The half ended with the Gladiators missing a penalty.

Having worked hard to restrict the Gladiators to just the one score while they were down to 13 men, the Warriors started the 2nd half strongly. Good chasing from kick off saw them gain positions deep in Gladiators territory and Nathan Murphy went through twice, making scores for Andrew Davies and Tom Hall.

The physical nature of the game was taking its toll on the Warriors who lost several players including halfbacks James and Jamie Evans to injury. This coupled with the introduction of another Gladiators debutant in Tom Bos saw a definite swing to the Gladiators for the last quarter.

The Warriors put in some heroic defence, but the Gladiators scored a long range tries through Bos and his centre partner to put the game in the balance. At this point the ref stated he believed the Gladiators to be just 7 points behind and so the game was truly back in the balance.

The Gladiators exploited the inexperience on the Warriors right wing and kicked that way, a mistake in defence resulting in an easy try to bring the score level. With time running out, they repeated the trick and despite the valiant efforts of Ben Kitson, managed to score again, virtually on the final whistle.

Warriors Team: Lee Rowlands, Ben Kitson (Simon Day, Ryan Morgan), Nathan Murphy, Ben Winstanley, Gareth Ladd (Dylan Harris), Jamie Evans (Dean Gilasbey), Craig Lewis (Dion Mitchell- Lewis), Mark Lewis (Alun Stephens), Richard Hapus (David Haines), Huw Jenkins (Will Browne, Chris Hancock), Andrew Davies (Cpt), Darren Pollitt (Tom Hall), Nathan Lawson, Simon Jenkins (Richard Taylor), Gwilym Lewis.

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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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