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Aber too good for Pembroke in KO Cup final

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ABERYSTWYTH proved too strong for Pembroke in the Pembs KO Cup Final on Wednesday (May 23), as they won by 44 points to 21 in St Davids.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game between the League 1 mid-Wales side and the League 2 bound Pembroke on what was a glorious evening.

Pembroke’s Tom Harding-Jones made an early break before he was stopped and Aber were able to win the ball back.

Aber pressed but a loose pass saw the ball go into touch. Pembroke’s lineout was taken by Aber who then won a penalty and an early chance to take the lead but Steffan Rees sent the penalty wide.

It wasn’t long before Aber were in front however as with eight minutes gone, Carwyn Evans received the ball in space and he ran over to score a try under the posts. Rees then added the extra two points.

Carwyn Evans scores Aber’s first try

Five minutes later Aber increased their lead as Llyr Thomas faked a pass before stretching over to touch the ball down despite the best attentions of Dom Colman and Billy Wood. The conversion went wide and Aber led 12-0.

With twenty minutes gone Pembroke were back in the game as Colman found Harding-Jones who cut inside before touching down. Toby Smith then added the extras to make it 12-7.

On the half hour mark Pembroke had a lineout but they missed the ball and Aber collected. They then won a penalty in front of the posts which Rees scored to extend Aber’s lead again.

With half time looming, Aber came forward and Rees passed to Owen Bonsall who dived over in the corner. Rees then added the extras and Aber held a commanding 22-7 lead at the break.

It was Aber who started the second half the better and a scrum saw them win another penalty which they kicked to touch. The ball was worked out right to Matthew Hughes who shrugged off the tackles to score under the posts and Rees added the extras for a 29-7 lead.

Pembroke then looked to get back into the game and came close but lost the ball at a key moment.

Moments later they scored their second try following an excellent move involving James Davies who found Harding-Jones who set off on another mazy run and he then found Fraser James who offloaded to Tom Lewis to touch down. Smith then added the extras to make it 29-14.

Rees then increased Aber’s lead a minute later as he sent a penalty through the posts.

The Scarlets came again and a high tackle again allowed them to kick into touch. They worked the ball to the left for Harding-Jones who found Luke Hartland who cut back inside before reaching over to score. Smith added the extras and at 32-21 with over ten minutes to play, Pembroke could sense another comeback.

However, they were unable to score again as they gave the ball away at key times and they were made to pay for those errors.

Aber’s Evans then went over for his second try of the match with ten minutes to go and he touched down under the posts to give Rees an easy conversion.

With four minutes to go Aber set the seal on their KO Cup victory with another try as Hughes scored his second try of the game and the conversion went wide.

Pembroke never gave up and looked for a late score but Aber defended well to keep them out and the final whistle brought an end to the game.

After the game, both captains thanked each other for a great game and Aber’s Arwel Lloyd was judged the man of the match before Aber celebrated their victory by lifting the KO Cup.

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Three summer tests announced for Wales

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WALES will play three summer tests in Cardiff this July as revised international fixtures have been announced.

Wayne Pivac’s side will face Canada (July 3) and back-to-back games against Argentina (July 10 & 17) at Principality Stadium.

These tests replace the scheduled summer tour to Argentina which has had to be cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty around travel restrictions.

The Pumas will now travel to Cardiff for two tests against the Six Nations Champions.

Wales will kick off their summer campaign on July 3 at home to Canada. The Canucks who are coached by former Wales captains Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley will visit Cardiff for the first time since 2008.

“We are looking forward to this summer, the opportunity it presents, and we are delighted to have three tests confirmed,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“It is disappointing not to have the opportunity to tour Argentina, especially on the back of our 2020 tour to New Zealand being cancelled, but in the current climate it is completely understandable.

“What is important is we have games and as we have said all along, this summer is a huge opportunity for us.   We are delighted and proud to have 10 players selected for the British & Irish Lions, it is reward for all their hard work and we wish them all the best this summer.

“With those players away we always earmarked this summer as an important development opportunity for us.

“It is an opportunity to bring players into this environment, look at them closely and expose them to test match rugby.  It is also an opportunity for current internationals to step-up into further leadership roles, so on both counts it is an important camp for us looking ahead to RWC2023.”

WRU CEO Steve Phillips added: “It is a huge credit to World Rugby that a full schedule of summer international rugby has been achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic.

“Whilst it is obviously disappointing not to tour, we are delighted in Wales to be hosting Canada and to be able to honour the 2017 San Francisco agreement by hosting the Pumas for back-to-back matches, which will be hugely important to our international player development.

“Wayne has been adamant that his squad needs matches this summer and World Rugby have certainly delivered on that front.

“We are, of course, acutely aware of current restrictions and the ongoing and complex global COVID-19 picture. We will continue to monitor the situation in terms of any potential spectator access, but will remain entirely compliant and vigilant of all restrictions.

“In the current circumstances we are simply delighted to be able to play international rugby and any advance on that will be a bonus.”

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Aber fail to break down ten-man Flint

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ABERYSTWYTH Town and Flint Town United played out a goalless draw on Saturday (May 8).

It could have been much different for Aber, though, as they played against a Flint side who had Ben Amiss sent off in the first half, but they failed to make their advantage count.

With Wales experiencing some unseasonal weather, the Deeside coast was battered by mother-nature in the build-up to the game and full credit must go to the volunteers at the Silkmen for producing an excellent playing surface.

Aber started the game brightly and carved out two great openings in the first five minutes.  Firstly, Louis Bradford volleyed over the bar from close range before some brilliant work down the left from Harry Franklin teed up a cross for Jonathan Evans who’s goal bound header looked to have given the Seasiders the initiative.

However, home stopper Jon Rushton had other ideas, pulling off a sumptuous save down low, pawing the ball away to safety.

After the two quick chances for Aber, Flint settled into the contest and began creating chances of their own.

The home side saw strikes from Alex Jones and Callum Brately fall narrowly wide of the post before creating their best opportunity of the half with 23 minutes having elapsed.

Great play down the right flank saw the ball land to Ross Weaver. His strike, via a deflection from Black and Green defender Ian Kearney forced Connor Roberts into a great stop.

Franklin was causing problems for the Silkmen and Aber’s most likely route towards victory looked to be coming down his wing. He had a glorious opportunity to give Aber the lead but couldn’t keep his effort under the crossbar. He did have the ball in the back of the net but an early flag from the linesman denied him his fourth of the season.

The game’s flashpoint came with just seconds to go until the break. A heavy tackle in midfield from Ben Amiss on Jamie Veale, sparking a 19-man melee in midfield and saw referee Bryn Markham Jones reach for his red card for the Flint Town United striker.

With Aber having a numerical advantage, they enjoyed more of the ball in the second stanza but could only create sporadic chances against a well drilled and organised back line. Mathew Jones saw a strike fall narrowly over the bar whilst Kearney’s header from a corner landed on the roof of the home net.

To their credit, Flint did look to gain a winner of their own and had spells of pressure but like their opponents, they couldn’t break down an organised Seasiders’ defence. The lively Jones for the hosts came closest with his header going wide of the far post.

Gavin Allen introduced Owain Jones and Marc Williams as well as Jamie Reed late on in search of the go ahead goal but despite the addition of additional fire power, there was to be no late drama.

Jon Owen saw a shot well stopped by Rushton whilst Jenkins tried to connect with a Jack Rimmer cross in the final minute but could only make connection with the home keeper, earning himself a yellow card in the process.

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Scarlets convincingly beat Ospreys

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Rainbow Cup • Scarlets 22 – Ospreys 6

SCARLETS delivered a dominant derby performance to claim their first victory of the Rainbow Cup campaign, beating the Ospreys 22-6, at a rain-soaked Parc y Scarlets.

Prop Alex Jeffries scored the only try of the match, with full-back Leigh Halfpenny delivering a typically dead-eyed goal-kicking display in atrocious conditions.

The platform was laid by the Scarlets pack, with skipper Ken Owens, Blade Thomson and Aaron Shingler to the fore; the man of the match Kieran Hardy mixed up his game intelligently, while a much-improved defensive display saw the visitors restricted to just two kicks at goal from fly-half Luke Price.

It was the Ospreys who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Price on two minutes, but the Scarlets responded strongly with Halfpenny levelling on 17 after the visitors were caught offside.

The outstanding Jonathan Davies looked like he made it over the whitewash after bursting through a couple of tackles, but the television match official adjudged the Wales centre had lost the ball as he slid over the whitewash and the score was chalked off.

Nevertheless, the Scarlets continued to boss proceedings.

With the Ospreys falling foul of Scottish referee Ben Blain, Halfpenny added a couple more penalties and an impressive half for the home side was capped when Jeffries crossed two minutes before the interval

A well-worked line-out move saw Davies burst onto a pass from Owens, breaking through a couple of tackles before feeding the tight-head prop on his inside.

Jeffries still had plenty to do but showed a superb turn of pace to race clear 20 metres to the whitewash to touch down against his former side.

That made it 16-3 at half-time with the Scarlets seemingly in firm control.

The visitors, looking for their first PRO14 win at Parc y Scarlets since 2015, did enjoy more of the game in the second period.

Price reduced the arrears with a penalty and it needed some superb defence to keep the Ospreys line-out maul at bay.

Another Halfpenny penalty five minutes from time extended the lead to 22-6 to ensure a comfortable victory and a seasonal double over the Scarlets’ arch-rivals.

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