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Town come from behind

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ABERYSTWYTH Town continued their surge towards a UEFA Europa League Play Off Spot by coming from behind to take all three points at Llandudno on Friday (Mar 22).

Goals from Ashley Ruane and yet another stunning strike from in form Geoff Kellaway made the difference after Les Davies had given the hosts the lead in first half injury time. The result sent Aber to the top of the JD Welsh Premier League Play Off Conference, but Cardiff Met’s win on Saturday sees them return to the top.

On a drizzly night the visitors kicked off with one change from their win over Carmarthen Town last time out, with Terry McCormick replacing Adam Walters in goal, and he proved to be a busy man as Llandudno enjoyed long periods of pressure throughout the match.

Davies clipped an early shot wide and then a deflected shot from George Harry brought a great stop from Town’s experienced netminder. Marc Williams sent in a cute ball which Ruane glanced against the post with a header for Aber, and Kellaway had a shot blocked but then back came the hosts and McCormick came out well to deny first Alun Webb, and then Danny Hughes in a one on one.

Kellaway released Ruane on goal but Aber’s striker couldn’t quite find the right angle, Les Davies had a shot deflected over and then back up the other end a surge from Ryan Wollacott earned Aber a corner, from which Matty Jones found Paolo Mendes’ head, only for home keeper Shaun Pearson to hold his goalbound effort.

Then two minutes before the break Llandudno grabbed a deserved lead when Davies headed home directly from Sameron Dool’s corner, and Aber were up against it at the break.

The hosts started the second half striving for the killer second to sustain their quest for safety. Alun Webb curled wide from a good position, then McCormick did well to catch Harry’s lob, but the knife-edge match turned six minutes after the break when Wes Baynes’ superb deep cross found Ruane at the far post, and he headed home an equaliser.

With both sides now needing a win for different reasons the game opened up into a thrilling and nerve wracking encounter.

Dool was flagged offside before he could put the hosts back into the lead, before Baynes’ goalbound free kick was tipped over the bar by Pearson with a superb save. Aber were now finding some rhythm to their game with some good passing moves evident going forward.

Jones’ corner to the edge of the area was curled wide by Ryan Edwards, then Man of the Match McCormick again denied Webb.

Then half way through the half came the key moment when the peerless Marc Williams found Kellaway down the left, and he unleashed a vicious volley which sneaked inside Pearson’s near post for yet another Goal of the Month contender, thrilling the vocal visiting fans so much that they rushed down the touchline to celebrate with the players – a la Malcom Melvin two years ago.

In a lovely move Kellaway then played in Ruane in a great position, who squared for Jones, but in vain.

Llandudno were now desperate for a score and enjoyed long periods of pressure, free kicks and corners galore but the visitors held out stoutly, with Declan Walker, Wollacott and Mendes all earning their corn. Ruane headed over another Baynes cross but at the other end Mike Pearson headed over from a great position, as did Harry from Steve Thomas’ later.

Aber threatened a third on the break when Kellaway dug out a cross for Williams, who headed just wide, then sub Jamie McDaid pulled out some super trickery down the right only for the chance to go begging.

Pearson came up for an injury time corner and was almost caught out as Aber broke, but McDaid’s lob from distance somehow bounced over the bar: but it did not matter, as Aber held out for a fifth win in five.

Without being at their brilliant best last night Aber did what needed to be done to win a tight game, and they now have earned 13 points from 18 possible since the split, returning to form in spectacular fashion since their Xmas and New Year slump.

Town’s next date with destiny is on Friday, April 5, at home to Llanelli.

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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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