ABERYSTWYTH Town held off Carmarthen Town as they booked their place in the semi-finals of the JD Welsh Cup on Tuesday night (Mar 6).
The last meeting between the two sides just over a week ago, also at Richmond Park, saw the Black and Greens take a 3-1 lead only for the Old Gold to come back and earn a 3-3 draw.
A similar story seemed to be developing in this game as Aber took control with goals from Joe Phillips, John Owen and Malcolm Melvin gave them a 3-0 lead.
Despite Liam Thomas’ goal there was to be no repeat and Aber held on to book a semi-final date with rivals Newtown at a neutral venue on the weekend of April 7/8.
Following Saturday’s postponement of the original date Manager Neville Powell’s most pressing task which was to ensure that all his Players were available for the hastily rearranged date, and credit must be given to the First Team who made it to South West Wales en masse and ensured that Town could field an unchanged eleven.
Carmarthen made a lively start with Clayton Green lobbing over the bar and Liam Thomas bringing a save out of Mullock.
Aber responded when Declan Walker curled a shot over from Ashley Young’s corner.
Young made a superb defensive block to deny Ceri Morgan a clear chance but then the visitors made the breakthrough when another corner from Young was glanced home by Phillips for a crucial opener which put Aber’s vocal tifosi into raptures.
A rather cautious game ensued after the harem-scarem of last week, with both sides struggling to find a rhythm, and chances were restricted to Ryan Wade finding the roof of the net with a cute lob, Tom Owens firing a shot just wide and Chris Mullock doing well to gather Green’s cross, and Aber found themselves ahead at the break by 1-0.
Into the second half, Dwayne Coultress’ early shot glanced wide and Kieran Lewis lobbed over as the hosts tried to make a game of it, but once again Walker troubled the Carmarthen goal with a glancing header from Phillips’ deep cross.
With the home defence tiring John Owen started to display his dazzling skills and a backheel from the Criccieth cracker set up Matthew Jones for a low shot which Lewis deflected goalbound, and Lewis Thomas in the home goal pulled off a superb save.
Then at the three quarter mark Owen turned his marker at the edge of the area and angled a low drive into the far corner for a stunning strike to double Aber’s lead.
Three minutes later the visiting fans were disco dancing in dreamland as Owen did brilliantly to feed Phillips and his crossfield ball was perfect for Melvin to fire a beautiful 30 yard drive into the net for 3-0.
The hosts inevitably brought Aber right back to earth by getting a goal back two minutes later with Thomas firing home from close range, and with the Old Gold hitting incessant long high balls into box the pressure was on.
Walker did head over for Town, and Melvin brought a diving save from Thomas, and with Craig Hobson’s arrival as sub the Black and Greens had a strong header at both ends of the pitch.
Aber were relieved to see a Carmarthen goal chalked off on 80 minutes for offside but from that point on they defended well and ensured that the ball spent most of the six minutes of injury time upfield, and David Morgan’s final whistle ensured that Neville Powell’s Aber had booked a Welsh Cup Semi Final place with something to spare.
Aber’s fifth Welsh Cup Semi Final of the Welsh Premier era (following previous appearances in 1997,2001, 2009 and 2014) gives the Club a huge end of season boost and the tie against Newtown, at a venue yet to be decided, gives Neville Powell the chance to dream of an historic fourth Welsh Cup Final victory.
Aber must now turn their attentions to their next league game, against rivals Newtown at Latham Park on Saturday, 2:30pm kick off.
Cave Celebrates in Cork
WELSHMAN Tom Cave took his first British Rally Championship win in a four-wheel-drive car on the West Cork Rally last weekend (March 16/17).
Along with co-driver James Morgan, the pair won the event by a mere 4.8 seconds in their Hyundai i20 R5 from reigning champion Matt Edwards (Ford Fiesta R5) in second, while defending Irish Tarmac champion Josh Moffett (Ford Fiesta R5) rounded out the podium.
Cave’s win was the first BRC win for the Korean manufacturer Hyundai since David Higgins in 2004.
The Clonakilty Park Hotel West Cork Rally formed the second round of the BRC for the very first time and the event provided two-days and over 200km of exciting rallying action. On some of the most iconic roads in Irish rallying, the weather also provided a formidable challenge as a wet and slippery first day was coupled with a flat-out blast on bone-dry asphalt on the second.
FIA World Rally Championship regulars Craig Breen and Paul Nagle took a comfortable overall win, but it was the fight in Britain’s premier rallying series that kept everyone on the edge of their seats right until the end.
Defending Irish Tarmac Champion Josh Moffett with Keith Moriarty on the notes were quickest out the blocks – making their aspirations very clear and over the course of the opening five stages pulled out a 14.4 second lead. However, driveshaft woes forced them into two-wheel-drive on stage six – dropping them down to third and out of the leading battle.
Desi Henry was another driver keen to make his mark this weekend but unfortunately, he and navigator Liam Moynihan crashed out of second on the first loop of stages in their Skoda Fabia R5, thankfully both were unhurt.
Up stepped 2018 British Rally Champion and series leader Matt Edwards and co-driver Patrick Walsh in their Pirelli-supported Ford Fiesta R5. The Welsh crew were building the pace as the opening day unfolded and went into the overnight halt with a slender lead over Tom Cave.
Cave had a heart-wrenching time on the opening round in Wales when the 27-year-old suffered a double-puncture, denying him a second-place finish. On the Tarmac of round two, the Michelin-supported driver put his Cambrian nightmare behind him as he set about his first R5 win in the BRC.
It was set-up nicely going into the final day as the two Welsh crews went head-to-head for the BRC win. Cave woke up in an inspired mood to go eight seconds quicker than Edwards and leap-frogged the M-Sport star in the process. The tussle for victory was to be a seesaw affair as the duo traded times and positions all afternoon with only 4.9 seconds going into the final stage.
Despite Edwards’ best effort, Cave was to be too strong this weekend and he and James Morgan won the BRC section of the event by 4.8 seconds to take their first BRC win together. After coming so close to an event win in recent times, Tom was elated at the finish.
“The feeling of finally winning in the BRC again is a brilliant to be honest. It was a difficult first day against the elements, but we pushed on hard on the second day to get past Matt [Edwards]. We gave it everything and we have been rewarded with first place BRC, so James and I are both very, very happy.
“After the pace on day one I felt there was more to come and we had a good feeling on the first stage on the second day and we took a lot of time out of Matt. Once that happened, I thought, lets keep pushing and we have been rewarded. I would like to thank everyone behind me for making this happen.”
As for the title, this gets his title back in the right direction.
“It’s heading the best way possible now and round one is way behind me and we always look forward. We are back in the mix and now it’s important to finish the Pirelli Rally which is up next and keep moving forward to close the gap to Matt at the top of the points standings.”
Matt did all he could, but a strong second place stretches his championship lead going into the Pirelli International Rally – the event he won last year. Josh Moffett’s rhythm was effected after his driveshaft issues, but did enough to round out the final rostrum position.
Elsewhere, Marty McCormack and Barney Mitchell couldn’t quite repeat their podium secured on the first round in their Skoda Fabia R5, but they can be happy with a fine fourth, while Jonny Greer and Kirsty Riddick (Ford Fiesta R5) chalked-up their first finish of the season as they rounded out the top-five.
Phillips: We’ve got a big match in us
WALES Women head coach Rowland Phillips believes his side can raise their game for their final Women’s Six Nations Test, against Ireland on Sunday (Cardiff Arms Park, 1.30).
Phillips has made two changes to the starting line-up with Elinor Snowsill starting at 10 and Alisha Butchers slotting back into the back row at blindside flanker.
Phillips said, “We want to capitalise on the confidence we’ve gained from the win over Scotland.
“We’ve shown a huge amount of character throughout this tournament – to hold Italy out at the end of that game and to come back from behind to win in Scotland showed remarkable attitude – and skill for such a young side.
“Despite that, I don’t feel we have shown how good a side we are and we’d like to do that on Sunday.
“Ireland are in a similar place as us. They played well against France last weekend. They have a strong back row and players who can make a difference. We certainly won’t be under-estimating them.
“However, we want to focus on ourselves, show what we can do with the ball and produce a better all-round performance. There’s a big game in us and hopefully we can showcase that on Sunday.”
Alisha Butchers, who earns her first start in the tournament since the opening round, is looking forward to some home comforts.
“Being at home lifts us girls massively. We’ve only had one home game this year and although England were tough opposition, we lifted our performance for our home support.
“Travelling away isn’t always accessible for our families so having them there boosts us. I love having my mum and dad and my brothers and sisters there, I can’t wait. There’s very much a family feel ethos and hopefully we can produce an entertaining game.”
“Last week’s game was really exciting and a good stepping stone for us. Moving forward I think we need to stick to our game plan, carry on working on our physicality and keep building as a team.
“Our performance was good last weekend but it can an still be better. We can use the confidence and momentum created by that victory to up our game and also spread the ball a bit more.”
Alisha is now working as a Hub Officer at Y Pant and Bryn Celynnog schools in the Pontypridd area, increasing the range of opportunities for girls to engage with rugby.
“I love it. I’ve already seen a huge increase in the number of girls playing the game and that inspires me – the thought that I’m having an impact on the next generation. They are both brilliant schools and we are getting 40 or more girls training now which is fantastic.
“Traditional 15 a side full-contact rugby isn’t for everyone so we make sure there are different formats and different opportunities all girls to enjoy taking part. A lot of them enjoyed the Rookie Rugby events we held recently, some play touch rugby, others enjoy crash mat rugby which is an introduction to contact or full contact rugby for the more established players who are keen.
“Hopefully a few of the girls – and boys – from the schools will come and support us on Sunday and bring their parents along to see what our game is all about. A few of the girls have role models within the squad, some are inspired by our captain Carys Phillips so I’ve promised they can have some photos after the match.”
Tickets available to print at home from www.cardiffblues.com/tickets and from 10am Sunday at the WRU shop, Westgate Street.
Wales Women V Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm, Cardiff Arms Park):
Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Jess Kavanagh (RGC); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Dragons) Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Lisa Neumann (RGC)
Borth comeback stuns Abermule
BORTH United welcomed Abermule to a cloudy Uppingham Fields on Saturday (Mar 9).
The match got off to a sensational start as the alert Nick Mumby gave the visitors the lead with a low shot into the bottom corner after two minutes.
However, Borth responded within a minute as Guto Huws cut in from the left wing and scored with a cool finish at the near post.
The hosts made the most of the wind on their backs as Sam Chapman broke free of the defence and scored with a rasping drive into the net.
Within a minute Chapman scored again with an identical goal to his first to give Borth a handy 3-1 lead at half time.
Borth’s defence were more than capable of safeguarding Ben Willis’s goal yet Abermule reduced the deficit on seventy minutes with Ricky Davies scoring with a deft finish.
As they searched for a late equalizer they were open to a Borth counter attack and in the last minute Zak Douglas cut in from the right wing and fed a through ball for Ryan Davies to slide the ball past the keeper and guarantee the three points for Borth.
Saturday’s win will give Borth fresh impetus of giving promotion chasing Hay St. Mary’s a tough match at Uppingham Fields on Saturday (Mar 16), ko 2.30pm.
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