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Harriers on the road

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CARMARTHEN HARRIERS indoor and cross country athletes were out on the road in Cardiff and Newport on Saturday, February 18.

In an action packed weekend in the indoor Welsh Championship which attracted nearly 600 juniors from across Wales, 3 Harriers struck gold to be Welsh Champions and the tally was added with a further 2 bronze.

Frank Morgan had possibly the most comfortable win of the day, bettering his silver medal from last year his winning time of 4:47 gave him the 1500 metres gold by over 100 metres from his under 13 rivals. In doing so he moved top of the UK indoor rankings for his age.

Another outstanding performance was Lily Church who dominated the under 15 age group in the high jump. Jumping a big 1 metre 63 the bronze medallist from last year confirmed her position as one of the country’s best.

The teams form in the high jump then continued in sensational form with William Edwards once again passing 2 metres to win the under 20 men’s title. To round of the jumps Olivia Haines made the podium to take Bronze in a best jump of 10 metres 17.

Finally in the 1500 metres for under 17s Iestyn Williams ran a dogged race to stay in contention in a fiercely contested last lap to be rewarded with a bronze medal.

Other notable performances included under 13 athlete Sophia Reid-Thomas who in the younger year of her age group qualified for the B final finishing 3rd in a blanket finish in a very quick 9.13 seconds. Zak Daly and Tomos Rees also had good runs in the 200m heat and 3000 metres. Meanwhile in Sheffield, Glen Elsdon and Aled Price were up against the best in Britain in the UK 60m hurdles event and recorded times of 8.32 and 8.53 seconds.

The cross country runners battled the bitterly cold wind at the fourth round of the Gwent Cross Country League at a new course in Newport. In the Novice Boys which started the programme, Ifan Bowen did not disappoint as he maintained his 2nd place finish.

Iwan Thomas secured another top 10 finish and is on course for an individual medal. Jac Thomas 16th, Steffan Davies 38th and Jake Lynock in 56th competing in the same race scored valuable points for the team.

There was another top 3 placing in the Under 13 boys category, this time being Liam Edwards who kept up the pace with the leading pack and he was closely followed behind by Dafydd Jones in 6th – both will now be eying an individual prize in a few weeks.

The third scorer for the squad was Dafydd Thomas, who crossed the line in 21st position.

The Under 15 age group had five representatives – Archi Morgan was the first Harrier home in an improved 6th and supported him was Gareth Thompson in 12th and Casper Farquhar. In the girls, the ever reliable Eva Edwards and Maddie Morgan had good performances in 20th and 31st respectively.

In the older age groups, Ben Thomas continued his fine form running alongside talented English athletes in the U17s while in the seniors, Gordon Orme won his 70+ category with Gill Edwards and Lisa Forest also doing well in a large field.

The under 11 boys and under 13 boys teams are on course to win a team medal next month while the under 15 boys are also in with a good chance, currently just outside the top 3 in the standings.

The 5th and final round of the league for the first time in many years will be hosted at home by Carmarthen Harriers & West Wales, in conjunction with the County Council at Pembrey Country Park on Saturday, March 4.

The league – formed in 1963 has continued across South Wales and South West England every year since then and attracts the best cross country runners from Wales and England.

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Sport

Swans still sweet on Premier League survival

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By Jonathan Twigg

SWANSEA’s clamber through the trials and tribulations of the Premier League can be compared to that of a child running amok in a sweet shop, so many tantalising favourites to devour, with the occasional reminder that not all sweets are sweet.

A retro walk down the Bridge Meadow Lane would have taken a child past the shop run by Connie Clarke, renowned for her welcome on the bell clanging. Supporters of Haverfordwest County and their opponents on match day, welcomed with few words but with the knowledge her confectionary delights never failed to deliver.

Following Saturday’s (Apr 14) 1-1 draw with Everton, who arrived without former Swans stars Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson in their line-up, supporters left knowing the sweet taste of success held by the Premier League is still within their grasp.

With two of the bottom three to visit the Liberty in the final week of the season this point is one gained in search of extending their Premier League status to an eighth season, although manager Carlos Carvalhal nearly led his side to five consecutive home wins, something no other manager has done since the heady days of John Toshack in 1981.

Swansea welcomed Jordan Ayew back from a three game suspension to partner elder brother Andre as Bolton based referee Lee Mason began the game in front of 20,933, the returning brother setting the tone alongside Andy King at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium.

Carvalhal has worked some magic since his arrival on the cusp of Christmas, tactically leaving opposite number former England supremo Sam Allerdyce to venture to the touchline with his pocket ball side kick Sammy Lee to stem the tide; the blues were overrun in midfield, Jordan Ayew having a wonderful chance cleared off the line as was captain Frederico Fernadez header from the resultant corner, before Andre’s sight of goal was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.

Alfie Mawson has grown to be imperial at the back for the Swans, attracting the interest of Manchester United, one of those mints that the longer you savour, the better it lingers. Luciano Narsingh however can be likened more to a quickly dissolving peppermint cream, releasing the taste with speed, rousing the Jack Army with an immediate hit, succulent whilst it lasts, inspiring the Swans to drive forward.

Former England captain Wayne Rooney had one of those games, like an aniseed ball, many unable to relish his taste as he left his mark, literally with some raking tackles; his class, undoubted, when it finally came to the fore.

An opening goal came with the aid of goal line technology, just before half time, Lucas Fabianski brilliantly making a double save from Bolasie, before a ricochet off Kyle Naughton and a half time lead, Fabianski thankfully however saving from Cenk Tosun a minute later.

Jordan became the first recipient of a yellow card in the second half, substitute Nathan Dyer creating a stir as the game went up by a level with a sugar surge, the vocal chords tingled with honey from a locket, in the form of striker Tammy Abraham’s arrival.

Full backs McNaughton and Martin Olsson created chances, Tom Carroll serving buckets of sweet balls, to no avail; Dyer driving forward over from twenty yards, Abraham and the Ayews creating half chances, Mawson’s header cleared off the line before the full quarter was served, Jordan levelling the game with a right foot half volley.

The final fifteen minutes rocked the stadium once more, after dinner mints were all Swansea’s, although Seamus Coleman thundered a shot against the woodwork, Abraham missed a gilt edged opportunity at the other end, whilst a tall and well positioned defensive wall directed Rooney’s set piece opportunity over the bar.

Extra strong mints were needed, alas unavailable as the toffees held firm, not fudging their lines with Beni Baningime taking a yellow card for the team, the games conclusion seeing a share of the spoils.

Carvalhal’s magic stars will have to be at their best to out fox and unwrap three points on Sunday (Apr 22) when opponents Manchester City will have champagne liquor chocolates on hand, having been crowned Premier League champions.

Swansea then have the opportunity to welcome Chelsea to ‘fortress’ Liberty the week after; wispa it quietly, as many have their eyes on the final weeks’ trio of games, starting with a trip to the South Coast in search of the bounty available at Dean Park, Bournemouth, before a starburst performance at home to Southampton on the Tuesday and Stoke City for a final day picnic. There can be no wine gums on show, just the everlasting gobstopper which is Premier League football.

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Super Reds reach Cup final

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Report by Alan Evans

LLANELLI Town have their sights firmly fixed on another double to emulate the achievement of last season, as they currently top the league table and look favourites for the title, while they are also through to the Welsh League Cup final, a trophy they won in 2016/17, after comfortably seeing off Cwmbran Celtic at Afan Lido’s Marston’s Stadium in the semi-final on Tuesday (Apr 10).

A dire first half seemed to consist solely of how far downfield either team could send the ball, although the Reds looked the more likely to score in the few chances which were created.

When Chris Jones swung a corner into the goalmouth, Ryan Fleming in the Celtic goal punched it clear where it rebounded off Joe Clarke and then another Reds player before ending in a harmless goal kick.

Chris Thomas brought off a saving tackle on Josh Bull when the Celtic striker threatened to break up the middle, before Kurtis March glanced a header wide from close in from another Jones delivery.

When a loose pass by Jones intended for Antonio Facciuto was instead intercepted by Callum Wakeham, he made ground into the Reds` box, but some good defending snuffed out the danger.

Celtic then suffered a blow when Bull was forced off injured on 38 minutes to be replaced by Lloyd Kinsella, and when Simon Prangley picked out Iolo Jones wide on the Celtic left, he whipped a ball across the face of the goal before it was gathered safely by Craig Morris.

The second half had to be an improvement on the first, and so it turned out with the Reds, at least, displaying some modicum of a passing game, with Lee Trundle accepting a ball from Jones only to see his finish cleared off the line.

James Loveridge, with a surging run, forced Luke Jones to concede a corner taken by Trundle, whose delivery to the far post was met by Lee Bevan who powered his header past Fleming on 56 minutes to put the Reds ahead.

Ten minutes later, March played a pass into the feet of Trundle whose instant reaction to meet it left the Celtic keeper helpless as it nestled in the bottom corner.

Now totally in control, the Reds were looking capable of adding to their lead, with Loveridge forcing Fleming to turn his well struck shot around the post, before the tie was finally wrapped up six minutes from time when Trundle got his brace, picking up a long clearance from Morris before making room and firing into the net.

There was still time for Loveridge to see his finish pushed over by the Celtic keeper, but the Reds ran out worthy winners and now face either Pontypridd Town or Trefelin BGC in the final on Friday, May 18, at a venue still to be decided.

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Laugharne too good for Quins

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LAUGHARNE now sit third in League 3 West A after they beat Pembroke Dock Quins 55-10 on Saturday (Mar 31), before beating St Davids 10-49 on Easter Monday (Apr 2).

Saturday’s game was well orchestrated by Outside Half Stefan Evans and it was he who opened up the scoring for the afternoon after 10 minutes when he cut through the Quins defence to score close to the Posts. He then converted himself to put his side 7 points up.

The Quins at this stage were matching their bigger and more experienced opponents with the whole pack especially showing full commitment. It was the Quins who were next on the scoresheet with a well worked try for No 8 Harry Owen, as he showed some neat footwork before scoring halfway out, Full Back Lewis Davies pushed his conversion narrowly wide.

Laugharne soon responded with two quick fire tries from Full Back Thomas Davies, Stefan Evans converted both and for good measure kicked a penalty with the last kick of the half to send his side in with a 5-24 lead.

The Quins were under more pressure as the second half started as they were finding it more and more difficult to handle Stefan Evans as they attacked at every opportunity.

On 55 minutes Scrum Half Gethin Jones scored the all-important Bonus Point try which was converted by Stefan Evans. No 8 Mike Williams soon followed with a fine try in the corner which was converted by Stefan Evans with a magnificent kick.

Right Wing Gareth Spiers and Gethin Jones soon added two more tries with the latter being converted by Stefan Evans.

Tom Davies rounded off his sides’ scoring by completing his hat trick for the afternoon, Stefan Evans stroked over his seventh conversion of the afternoon to end with a match haul of 22 Points.

Young Left Winger Will Nicot finished off the Quins’ best move of the Match with a fine unconverted try in the corner with just five minutes left.

The Quins ended the game on the attack and were unlucky not to grab a third try, which spoke volumes for the effort and spirit that the Quins’ young side put in.

Laugharne will look to keep their good run of form going as they travel back to Pembrokeshire on Saturday (Apr 7), to take on a Neyland side buoyed by their last gasp win over Cardigan last weekend.

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