SCARLETS head coach Wayne Pivac, as an ex-policeman, orchestrated a crime of immense proportions at the Recreation Ground in Bath on Friday (Jan 12), when his Scarlet side won their must win European encounter 35-17.
Greeted onto the pitch by Greenhill School’s year 10 students as flag bearers, the game got off to an electric opening when Wales international centre Scott Williams caught the kick off and immediately referee Jerome Garcos awarded a penalty.
Outside half Dan Jones line kicks missed touch in the initial stages and his nervousness in such a titanic game was obvious.
Second row, Irish international Tadgh Beirne, rescued the situation by taking the line out ball against the throw, with the tackling strong from the visitors who were unable to recycle the ball as the game settled.
A blooded nose for skipper Ken Owen as ‘Bread of Heaven’ rang loudly from the Thatcher’s terrace, alongside sympathy for former outside half Rhys Priestland, whose birthday celebration were ruined when he limped off with a pulled hamstring to be replaced by Freddie Burns.
The Scarlets, now set and stable and got a nudge on at the scrum to establish the mantra for the evening with scrum half Gareth Davies darting clear on the blindside; England international full back Anthony Watson showed a clean pair of heels himself in response when running 40 metres from deep in his danger zone with flanker Sam Underhill in support.
A score was inevitable with such a frantic opening and it was the Scarlets who got the scoreboard rolling in a scintillating manner after nine minutes, starting from Beirne’s clawed line out ball.
Williams made the initial break, finding the support of second row David Bullring; centre Hadleigh Parkes took up the mantle finding Australian winger Paul Asquith, to flanker Aaron Shingler as they moved the ball with silky hands hitting gaps before it fell once again to the marauding Beirne.
From 15 metres out, he produced a Phil Bennett sidestep to screech in for a try converted by outside half Dan Jones.
Hymns and Arias was resounding into the cold air but the try was sweet, Neil Diamond’s appreciation of Caroline perhaps a better analogy for possibly the try of the season from the Land of my Fathers.
Freddie Burns pinged the Bath opening score after No. 8 John Barclay stopped their forward impetus and left the field for ten minutes on the French referee’s direction.
It was the Scarlets however who then dug deep, making ground and managing the game time superbly.
Shingler, running straight and with purpose made the gain line.
Full back Rhys Patchell and Parkes endeavour had the 13,822 crowd on the edge of their seats, which put Asquith in corner for a score despite being down to 14 men.
There was no stopping the red tide as five minutes later scrum half Davies rumbled 25 metres and found Welsh international Parkes on his shoulder and the centre crossed for his ninth try in 71 appearances, under duress, for a converted score and a 19-3 lead.
Williams was on fire, making another break to set up a scrum when the Scarlets were living in the moment; if he timed the pass his side were clear again for a score and perhaps on reflection needed just to consolidate their exuberance and make half time with their tail feathers unruffled may have suited.
A war of attrition with short passes and yardage in the tight areas wore down the clock and with it the Bath players and supporter’s hearts. The dominant scrum was verbalised loudly from prop Rob Evans and Jones slipped over the penalty for a half time lead of 22-3.
Bath as a city welcomes an array of nationalities but the atmosphere that trounced around the English fortress in January was full of ‘Heart and Soul’.
The Welsh contingent were delirious with their melody for a team of ‘Samson Lees’ eloquently reverberating around a city’s proclaimed architecture. Having been missing from the front row for many weeks before Christmas the prop was quite superb alongside fellow international Evans and his skipper, Ken Owens anchored between them.
Pivac has been coaching for 22 years since his first footstep on the rung in Northland, New Zealand but the victory in the back yard of the Aviva Premiership rugby giants was surely up with his best moments. Pro 12 champions last season having beaten Munster in Dublin to return a week later and rumble Leinster in the same venue included.
The ‘Rec’ was a cultural phenomenon, when Scarlets rugby once more came of age as they sat on the brink of a place in the European quarter final for the first time in 11 years. Bath rugby had lifted this trophy 20 years ago under the leadership of Scottish scrum half Andy Nicol’s but through their parade at half time, would have been in awe of the first half performance.
Music and Wales go hand in hand. Greenhill School, on tour at Backwell with the year ten students playing football, rugby and netball had the experience of a lifetime arranged through PE teacher Phil ‘Taffy’ Williams.
A school whose equally renowned musical talent under Samantha Hughes would have taken the Irish love ballad ‘Fields of Athenry’ to new heights given the opportunity.
Innate to the Irish famine of 1845 this anthem of the ‘underdog’ often resonating at Landsdowne Road or even Anfield a mercurial throw back to the task that sat before the visitors.
Top of Conference B the Scarlets took control early in the second half as they went in search of their bonus point try. The home eight were not match at the scrum set piece as Owens didn’t hesitate in choosing a rumble instead of taking a pot at goal.
Three times they drained the time and the Bath spirit, perilously close to crossing the try line through forward drives. Six minutes into the second half Patchell received the ball to deftly put a grubber kick through, allowing Williams to dab down wide out and Jones add the extras for 29-3.
The red tide were feeding the baying supporters cries for evangelical bread, where the ‘manna’ and intensity was unyielding. The team of Samson Lee lost their talisman on 55 minutes as his replacement Werner Kruger was rock sold as the choristers ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ resonated loudly and proudly.
Bath coaching guru Todd Blackadder needed his side to develop a pattern of play as they refused a kick at goal in search of a try, which came when winger Matt Banahan caught Burns kick in the corner allowing the outside half to convert with an hour played.
‘Long John’ Welsh second row Luke Charteris, a man with a biochemist degree and a fluent French speaker to boot took the hand-me-down inspirational singing to his hear. Not one for ‘losing my religion’ the boiler house man’s efforts allowed him a well earned rest at the same time as opposite number Bullring.
Over 150 years of rugby history in North Somerset has placed foundations from which the home side ran with their head of steam. Pivac manipulated his cast list with the game and full points in the bag, with Aled Davies arriving at inside half. Tried and trusted combinations saw Owens and Beirne orchastrting the line forcing Watson to desperately run from deep as the ‘big shift’ put in from down West was recognised.
Owens, Hong Kong born Barclay, and Evans were done but still the tide wouldn’t subside, drawn to their supporters in the Dyson stand as Pivac’s decision to play a six to two forward split off the bench drew a scrum penalty.
Jones added the points for a 32-10 and a fourscore lead with 12 minutes to play. The defensive patterns were as impressive as any offensive effort, Patchell making a last ditch cover tackle on Zach Mercer with five minutes to play typifying the ‘hywl’.
Top of the ball line out and replacement Josh Macloed madeground and play was outside the danger zone with Jones clearance. Back came Bath and No. 8 Zach Mercer couldn’t be denied in the opposite corner for a converted try after a cutting run from winger Aled Brew, skipper Matt Garvey and second row Paul Grant.
Williams and Prydie responded to gain a penalty for offside with ‘Sospan Fach’ finishing proceedings fittingly, with Jones boot, edging the score to 35-17.
The Bath faithful, forlorn and remorseful took an early bath wondering what had happened.
LTC Mobility sponsored Furnace rugby club members summed it up amidst their exuberant acclaims.
Centre and club vice captain Scott Davies hoarsely crooned: “It’s the best away trip I’ve experienced. Our 1800 strong choir left nothing in the changing room and it was certainly a factor in lifting the squad.”
On Saturday (Jan 20) another blockbuster awaits, when Toulon visit Parc Y Scarlets and the home side need a minimum of a bonus point to progress into the knockout stages.
Davies smiling face finished the evening with: “Let this be the springboard to the next level. This could be the year we lift the Heineken trophy and the whole of Europe will stand up for the champions.”
Bow Street celebrate 2018/19 season
AN excellent gathering of players, wives, girlfriends and officials attended the annual Bow Street Football Club dinner at the Marine Hotel in Aberystwyth on May 17, to celebrate the end of the 2018/2019 season.
The season saw both the first and reserve teams consolidate themselves in their respective leagues after indifferent starts. The highlight though was the Under 19 team winning the Mid Wales League Cup and finishing runners up in their league.
All enjoyed a magnificent carvery, and the Chairman, Wyn Lewis thanked the Marine for the superb welcome and warm hospitality.
The Chairman thanked all at the club who had contributed during the season both on and off the field.
He was particularly proud of all the support that the teams had received during the season.
He then announced the first award of the evening – ‘Clubman Of The Year’.
This proved an extremely popular announcement as it was awarded to Richard Lucas, who is stepping down from the first team Management after 5 years.
Richard has contributed fully to the activities of the club for over 20 years as a player, junior coach and coordinator and as part of the senior team management.
Sion Manley and Rhys Evans the Under 19 Managers then introduced the awards for a team which had exceeded all expectations by winning the prestigious League Cup.
The popular management duo of Rhodri Jones and Leighton Reynolds introduced the awards in relation to the Reserve team, and Barry Williams, Richard Lucas and Amlyn Ifans, the First team management, announced the awards relating to the senior team.
The final award of the evening was the Pat Evans Memorial Award, which was given to the ‘Supporters’ Player Of The Year’ – winner being Tomos Wyn Roberts.
The evening, concluded with short speeches from Dylan Roberts on behalf of the sponsors and Allan ‘Baba’ Evans, vice president of the club.
Bow Street FC Firsts
Players player of the year: Matthew Pemberthy & Tom Wyn Roberts
Supporters player of the year: Tom Wyn Roberts
Top Goalscorer: Tomos Williams
Manager’s player of the year: Matthew Pemberthy
Young player of the year: Ryan Evans
Most improved young player: Bradley Walsh
Bow Street Reserves
Managers Player of the Year: Jac Williams
Player of the year: Neil Davies & Shaun Jones
Top goalscorer: Shaun Jones
Top goalscorer: Shaun Jones
Players Player: Siencyn Jones
Managers Player: Harry Turner
Clubman Of The Year: Richard Lucas
Bow Street reveal new Football Festival sponsor
THE prestigious Bow Street FC Junior festival celebrates its 17th anniversary on July 13-14 this year, and the club are delighted to reveal their new event sponsor.
Castell Howell Foods, firmly established as one of the UK’s leading independent food wholesalers, has agreed to sponsor the extremely popular event for the next two years.
Bow Street FC Chairman Wyn Lewis said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods on board as our tournament sponsors.
“Castell Howell are well known for their commitment to community-based activities especially junior sport, and we appreciate the faith they have shown in us by agreeing to become our new partners.
“Brian Jones is a hugely respected figure in Welsh life and having been fortunate to meet him on a few occasions, it is obvious he has a huge passion for supporting youngsters and grass roots organisations.
“Our well-established Junior football festival is now supported by teams from across Wales and we believe that our new partnership demonstrates both its profile and the Club’s values and aspirations.”
Castell Howell’s Managing Director, Brian Jones said: “May I say how delighted, happy and proud we are to be associated with this now very well established, popular and hugely successful Junior Football Festival organised by Bow Street FC.
“We at Castell Howell are big supporters of communities and believe greatly in giving our youngsters opportunities and we are delighted to support this superb event in Bow Street.”
Under 19s retain National League trophy
ABERYSTWYTH Town’s Black and Green Under 19s retained their National League Trophy on Monday night (May 6) at Newtown with a well deserved 2-1 victory over Northern Champions Cefn Druids, thanks to goals from Lee Jenkins (36 mins) and captain Tom Evans, whose 75th minute strike won the match following Lewis George’s injury time equaliser for the Ancients.
Looking to repeat their first of last season by winning the Club’s first ever National League Trophy, Bari Morgan’s team started well with Dylan Benjamin and Tom Evans prominent down the right, and Harri Rowe impressing on the left side.
A number of opportunities were created with Liam Doherty and Niall Coleridge amongst others going close, but then nine minutes before the break Welsh Schools Captain Jenkins rose like a salmon to power home a header and give the Ceredigion side a priceless lead.
Oli Farebrother did brilliantly to deny George in a one on one but then in the third minute of injury time George sneaked in at the back post to equalise, leaving the game in the balance.
In truth Aber had dominated the first half without taking all their opportunities, and that pattern was repeated in the second half with Town’s back four of Rowe, Jenkins, Ryan Evans and Benjamin looking solid, Liam Berner, Carwyn Morgan and the tricky Niall Coleridge controlling the midfield and the front three of Steff Gittins, Doherty and Evans always looking dangerous.
Finally with a quarter hour remaining Evans down the right was played in by Doherty, and he expertly spun his man before blasting the winner low into the corner of the net.
Druids’ Ryan Davies was sent off with eight minutes to go and Aber saw the game out comfortably to ensure another hugely impressive triumph.
Captain Tom Evans received the Trophy amid joyous scenes and Manager Bari Morgan, Assistant Stefano Antoniazzi and Goalkeeping Coach Dave Owen were proud men as their young side celebrated another remarkable triumph.
They have a chance to earn a third Trophy of the season on Friday night at Machynlleth when they face Llanidloes Town in the Central Wales FA Youth Cup Final.
Everyone at the Club congratulates the entire squad on a wonderful achievement, which bodes well for the future of Aberystwyth Town FC and football in Ceredigion.
Photo by Colin Ewart
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