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Scarlets try-fest secures semi-final place

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SCARLETS welcomed Toyota Cheetahs to Parc y Scarlets for the Guinness PRO14 Final Series quarter-final on Saturday (May 5) looking for a victory to keep the Championship-retaining run alive.

A beautiful Spring evening was the perfect touch for a final home game of the season as the Scarlets faithful came along to say a fond farewell to the individuals moving on at the end of the season.

The home side crossed the whitewash for six fantastic tries as the sun set on Parc y Scarlets’ season and the team didn’t disappoint putting in one final performance to keep the home winning record alive.

Scarlets got the scoreboard ticking over after five minutes of play with winger Steff Evans crossing in the corner. The ball came out from a Cheetahs line out as play continued despite an injury to Rob Evans in midfield. Rhys Patchell and Hadleigh Parkes made strong breaks through centre field and made the all-important territorial gains putting Evans in over the whitewash. Halfpenny added the conversion.

A penalty then came Scarlets’ way just inside Cheetahs territory as the game headed towards the quarter of an hour mark. Halfpenny stepped up for the long range penalty but the ball hit the upright and the Cheetahs looked to play from deep. Scarlets are on heightened alert and Tadhg Beirne wins the turnover in their 22. They were given another penalty and Halfpenny made amends for his earlier miss to make it 10-0.

Within a few minutes Scarlets were back on the rampage from inside their own half as Gareth Davies gets the ball away from the scrum. Centre Parkes motored up the outside and finds Halfpenny in support who cuts a great line to the whitewash before converting his own try.

Cheetahs then got their first points on the board after 21 minutes of play with outside half Johan Goosen slotting a penalty.

Halfpenny was replaced by Dan Jones and Patchell stepped up for a long range penalty. He has the range, just like Halfpenny did earlier on in the half, but it sailed just wide of the upright.

Photo by Darren Harries

With just a few minutes remaining in the first half Steff Evans made a wonderful break in midfield. He danced around five or six Cheetahs defenders, frees himself, puts in a chip over the top and scores a second try! Patchell added the conversion and the Scarlets looked comfortable with a 24-3 half time lead.

Scarlets fired in to action early on in the second half with a try from winger Tom Prydie. The Scarlets put the Cheetahs under huge pressure in their half and after scrum half Gareth Davies was replaced by Jonathan Evans the Scarlets pack got the ball flowing through the hands with Scott Williams putting in a wonderful pass before Prydie touches down under the posts. Patchell added the conversion.

Wyn Jones made a return to the field on the 45 minute mark, his first game since the Six Nations campaign when he injured his hamstring.

Whilst John Barclay receives a standing ovation from the entire ground, including the coaching staff, captain Ken Owens goes and scores from the rolling maul for their fifth try of the evening with Patchell converting.

Replacement scrum half Jonathan Evans crossed for the region’s sixth try on the hour mark as he dashed towards the whitewash from the 22 line. He dives in time to touch down and Scarlets go 43-3 ahead.

With fifteen minutes remaining Tadhg Beirne was replaced by Aaron Shingler. An emotional send off as Parc y Scarlets erupts. Every man, woman and child were on their feet.

Scott Williams leaves the field of play at Parc y Scarlets for the last time as a Scarlet. Another emotional farewell.

The Cheetahs cross the whitewash with ten minutes remaining after frantic defensive work by the Scarlets. The TMO is called upon for foul play earlier on in the phase where Tom Prydie is manhandled without the ball and the try was disallowed.

It was the Cheetahs who finished the game strongly with fullback Clayton Blommetjies scoring Cheetahs’ only try of the evening.

That was the last action of the games and the Scarlets sealed an impressive 43-8 win. They now go on to play Glasgow Warriors at the Scotstoun Stadium on Friday, May 18.

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Aber earn famous win

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ABERYSTWYTH Town secured a famous JD Welsh Premier League victory as they downed league champions and full-time outfit The New Saints 1-0 on a brilliant Friday night (Nov 2) at Park Avenue.

17-year old local Lee Jenkins’ 52nd minute goal was enough to see the Seasiders to victory as Aber picked up their third successive JD Welsh Premier League win to climb back into the top six in the table.

It was the hosts who started the brightest, as Ryan Edwards surged into the penalty area after just 5 minutes where his looping cross was met by Rio Ahmadi, who saw his header cannon off the crossbar and into the arms of the fortunate Paul Harrison in goal.

After just 15 minutes, Aber were forced into an early substitution as Jack Rimmer appeared to injure his hamstring, resulting in 17-year old Lee Jenkins coming on in his place at centre half.

Visitors TNS gradually began to see more of the ball, and on 22 minutes showed their first glimpse of threatening play as Jamie Mullan’s low cross was brilliantly cleared by Ryan Wollacott in the six yard area.

Soon after, Mullan combined with Aeron Edwards on the edge of the box but Aber ‘keeper Terry McCormick was there to mop up the danger. As the first half wore on, Aber began to edge their way back into the game, and on 34 minutes had another good opportunity as Mathew Jones forced a fine stop from Harrison with a curling free kick, before Declan Walker curled a right footed effort just over the crossbar.

Then, on 42 minutes, the hosts had another opportunity as the effervescent Jones burst through from midfield only to see his left footed strike go inches over the crossbar.

As half time approached, so did a moment of controversy, as Geoff Kellaway scampered down the right flank in the 45th minute and produced an inch-perfect cross for Joe Phillips who’s first time volley landed in the top corner of the net – only to be denied by the assistant referee’s offside flag.

Aber’s vocal supporters voiced their displeasure at the decision as the referee blew for half time, with the Seasiders going in unfortunate not to be ahead.

The black and greens started the second half much the same way as they ended the first, pressing the visitors with great intensity and not allowing them a moment’s time or space on the ball.

On 52 minutes came the moment the home fans had been sensing, as local starlet Mathew Jones whipped in a fantastic corner kick, where Lee Jenkins was on hand at the back post to tap the ball over the line and make it 1-0. It was a truly memorable moment for the Seasiders with two home grown teenagers combining to put them ahead against the league champions, as Aber suddenly had a lead to hold on to.

Just four minutes later, the Saints almost found an equaliser as Ryan Brobbel’s goal bound effort was heroically blocked on the line by Wes Baynes, before Geoff Kellaway surged through on goal on the counter attack only to be denied by a last ditch Simon Spender challenge.

As the hour mark passed, Aber not only defended their lead superbly, but attacked with a pace and dynamism that caused the league leaders no end of problems.

On 64 minutes, Joe Phillips almost doubled Town’s lead as he cut inside and curled an effort inches wide of Paul Harrison’s post, before Mathew Jones fired an effort straight at the Saints ‘keeper from the edge of the penalty area. On 70 minutes came the Saints best opportunity to equalise, as Spender crossed for Brobbel who looked sure to slot the ball home, but instead fired wide of McCormcick’s post and Aber could breathe a sigh of relief.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes, one would have assumed the hosts would tire against their full-time opponents, but instead the Seasiders seemed to find another level of energy – summed up by the tireless efforts of midfielder Ryan Edwards, tasked with the job of marking playmaker Aeron Edwards who was positioned in the pocket behind strikers Ebbe and Byrne.

The hosts went close to doubling their lead once more on 77 minutes as Baynes rifled a free kick into the side netting, before the visitors began to throw the kitchen sink at Aber’s phenomenal back line.

Geoff Kellaway was replaced by Ash Ruane as the game entered the final minutes, but still Aber stood strong and defended their lead admirably. Then, in the fourth minute of additional time, Aeron Edwards earned his side a free kick on the edge of the penalty area where substitute Chris Seargeant stepped up only to see his strike superbly saved by McCormick – a save that was greeted with the loudest roar of the night from the home supporters.

It turned out to be one of the final acts of the night as referee Huw Jones blew for full time to mark a magnificent victory for the Seasiders on a great night at Park Avenue.

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Cardis too strong for Llangwm

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CARDIGAN picked up their third win of the season on Saturday (Oct 27) as they beat Llangwm 34-14 at Pill Parks.

It was a chilly afternoon in Llangwm and the game started slowly before the home side got the first points on the board.

Llangwm scored the first try through Craig Grice who finished well after a powerful break and good offload by Josh Hicks. Luke Hayman added the conversation.

Cardigan soon hit back and Sion Hughes lead from the front for Cardigan and opened up spaces for their sharp back three.

There wasn’t much to choose between the two teams at half time. Cardigan’s scrum was strong and gave them a solid platform.

They were soon leading after the oranges until Louis Murphy hit back for Llangwm to make it 22-14 with the Wasps still in with a chance.

From the resulting kick off Hicks caught the ball and made a length of the field break after a couple of hand offs. This gave Llangwm threatening territory with their tails up.

However, an unsavoury scrap resulted in both Grice brothers leaving the field for Llangwm, one red and one yellow.

This was a game changer and Cardigan ran in two late tries to seal the win.

Cardigan’s next game comes on November 24 when they host Milford Haven while Llangwm are without a game until December 1.

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Aber up to sixth

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ABERYSTWYTH Town moved themselves into sixth place in the Welsh Premier League on Friday night (Oct 26) with a 3-1 win against Llanelli Town to inflict more trouble on the Reds.

These are troubling times for Llanelli Town as they slumped to yet another home defeat at the hands of the Seasiders, with their record at Stebonheath from the six matches to date yielding a solitary point with just three goals for and eighteen against.

In addition, an appalling disciplinary record of eight red cards from twelve games is obviously having a hugely detrimental effect on the side, with the latest culprit being Anthony Finselbach, who was making his first appearance following a previous three match ban.

These constant disruptions to the squad is making life a nightmare for manager Andy Hill, who is unable to name a settled eleven from one match to the next, forcing him to select academy players to fill the voids left by the offenders.

Another cause for concern is the lack of firepower, with James Loveridge seemingly the sole outlet up front, typified in this latest clash when Terry McCormick in the Aberystwyth goal was barely tested throughout, in stark contrast to his opposite number Oliver Davies, who saved the Reds from going down to an even heavier defeat with some important interventions.

As in the previous game at Jenner Park against Barry Town United, the hosts found themselves trailing to an early goal with the Seasiders` going ahead after 3 minutes through Paolo Mendes, when he was found in space before rounding the sprawling figure of Davies and finding the vacant net.

Photo by Darren Harries

Just two minutes elapsed before the scores were level, when a Chris Jones corner swung into the goalmouth led to McCormick attempting to punch clear but instead only succeeding in diverting it into the goal.

A run by Loveridge led to him finding Jordan Follows, but his strike was deflected past the target for a corner.

Within a short time of one another, both Mendes and Finselbach were shown yellow cards by referee Nick Pratt, and these were to have consequences later in the contest.

When the visitors were awarded a free kick, Matthew Jones`s strike rebounded off the wall , and when he met the loose ball, it clipped the top of the bar on its way over.

The home side were showing little sign of causing their opponents too many problems, with possession being given away far too often, and Aberystwyth were by far the more dominant, and when a Wes Baynes cross into the box was met by Joe Phillips it was cleared with some difficulty for a corner, which was then whipped invitingly across the face of goal with nobody able to apply a finish.

Photo by Darren Harries

The nearest the home side came to a sniff of a chance arose from a set piece awarded when Jordan Davies was brought down by Ryan Wollacott just outside the box, with Loveridge driving the kick inches wide.

This was a rare opportunity for the Reds who continued to play second fiddle to their opponents, and feared the worse when the Seasiders were awarded a penalty In the 37th minute following a tackle by Anton Nelson on Ryan Edwards, but were rescued by Davies who kept out the spot kick from Declan Walker.

Their elation as this let-off was short lived, as within three minutes they found themselves trailing again, when a corner by Jones found the head of an unmarked Wollacott to power his finish past Davies.

On the stroke of half time, a loose ball by Carlos Indja was seized on by Walker, but he directed his finish over the top.

Seven minutes after the restart, the visitors were reduced to ten men when Mendes was shown a second yellow, but this setback did not deter them to any great extent as they still continued to dominate proceedings, with a far post delivery by Stefan Edwards being met by Ashley Ruane whose finish struck Indja and out for a corner.

Disaster then struck the hosts when their numerical advantage was cancelled out following the dismissal of Finselbach after 63 minutes, again for a second caution, and they came under even more pressure following this.

Davies again came to the rescue, keeping out an attempt on target by Jones, before being called into action further, this time coming off his line to deny Ruane when he was played through into the area.

Daniel Alfei got in the way of a goal bound shot from Ruane, and with the clock running down, the Seasiders were only being kept at bay by some desperate defending, with Walker somehow contriving to have his attempt blocked from point blank range when it appeared easier to score.

Former Red, Geoff Kellaway, replaced Phillips on 70 minutes for the visitors, and was almost immediately in the thick of the action, forcing Davies to brilliantly turn over his connection from an assist from Ruane.

Ruane, himself, suffered the same fate when another chance went begging with Davies keeping it out, but with a minute left, Kellaway finally put the contest to bed when he accepted a chance to collect a ball wide on the right before cutting inside and slotting it beyond Davies.

Yet another demoralising defeat for the home side, who now face the daunting prospect of a long trip next Saturday to take on high-flying Connah`s Quay Nomads who inflicted a crushing 7-0 win at Stebonheath on the opening day of the season.

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