By Jonathan Twigg
WHITLAND emerged from their local derby with a 23-17 victory over Carmarthen Athletic at Park Llwyn Ty Gwyn on Saturday (Jan 6), in a game which saw the sides share five tries whilst both had a player yellow carded by Trimsaran referee Alan Emmanual.
On a pitch, described as spongy at best to a quagmire in places and where a biting Northerly wind made handling errors more pronounced, the game was won in the last ten minutes when Whitland capitalised on outside half Nico Setaro’s rebounded penalty attempt from the upright.
Having just conceded a converted try to lead 17-16 the green machine showed true character to take play deep into their visitor’s territory and glean a penalty when down to 14 men after winger Liam Price was side lined for being off side at the ruck.
Setaro’s kick from in front of the stand fell nicely into the hands of flanker Ryan Morgan following up the kick. He set up a ruck situation which allowed the ball to be recycled by replacement scrum half aaron Ebsworth to Setaro who put his skipper Marc Jones on a straight angle in space.
As he was tackled the ball was popped up to supporting second row Micaiah Jones who crashed over wide out, capping a fine all round performance from the youngster alongside his boiler house partner Raff Williams.
Promotion chasing Whitland had led throughout the game after Setaro had opened the scoring just after a quarter of an hour when hi slotted over his second penalty attempt after good work by scrum half Adam Davies had made ground down the blindside with his winger Liam Price before the penalty for offside was awarded.
The referee’s whistle was a predominant feature of the opening period with the black and red shirts running a close line on infringements which Setaro had decided to nurture into touch until he was comfortably within his kicking range.
The plethora of home penalties’ had come as the outside half ran an array offensive of lines, incorporating inside centre Josh Thomas on the heavy ball down the middle interlinked with missed passes from which Price and fellow winger Scott Candler benefitted from.
Number 8 Jack Mason, like his opposite number Richard Bloomfield was excellent carrying from the base of the scrum, setting up second phase from which Davies and Setaro could stream quick ball.
The opening try came after a free kick for delaying the scrum was kept alive by prop Aaron Mayne taking a quick tap penalty; Davies and Setaro found their skipper Jones in midfield and the hooker made ground with Kirk who put centre Johnny Thomas in the clear to score in the corner.
Whitland had the upper hand, having more than parity in the scrum set piece but for all their game time dominance they weren’t clinical in turning the possession into points.
Prop Dafydd Bowen scored an excellent try for the Athletic after second row Williams caught the ball in an offside position as they got a foothold in the game.
Centre Gethin Francis had put in a thumping tackle on Thomas in midfield, as young skipper Dan Evans and second row Llyr Owen came to the fore alongside Bloomfield.
From the penalty given for Williams offside the visitors set up a line out, won by James Williams and his pack got a head of steam in the maul to destroy the home defence, with Owen touching down for an unconverted try.
The first half ended 8-5 with the visitors reduced to 14 men after hooker Paul Gravell took a yellow card after Emmanuel’s tolerance gave way, but it was a catalyst for the Athletic to start the second half with tenacity and spirit. Full back Robbie Davies was adventurous when running the Setaro line kicks back upfield linking well with his back row and scrum half Nick Rees.
Mason, for the green machine and his backrow colleague Ryan Morgan were doing a lot of unsung work on the floor and Mason set up the second try as the hour mark approached.
He won the wrestle for the ball as it went to ground, allowing Setaro to free Johnny Thomas and Price to make haste down the field. Young centre Josh Thomas had held pace with the fast moving break up field to arrive on a definitive angle where his strength carried him over by the posts for a converted try and a 15-5 lead.
Whitland were off colour with their finishing, perhaps the upshot of playing back to back derby games had clouded their focus as they lacked a spark and fizz from their back division.
Carmarthen were back in the game thanks to the opportunism of winger Josh Watson, after the flyer received the ball from Bloomfield.
Prop Carwyn Francis and Evans created the platform before Watson saw a half gap appear and he didn’t need a second invitation to put on the afterburners to leave his opponents failing in his wake, for Tom Gravell to convert.
Setaro extended the lead to 18-10 thanks to another penalty but the Athletic had an attacking axis as Carwyn Evans and Chris Howells set up a line out deep in the Whitland 22 metre area.
The catching line out had been an attacking platform all game and the visitors from up the A40 saw this as their D day.
Formed as a Club on June 6, 1944 they went through over a dozen phases of play where the forwards made small and direct gains, with Bloomfield the centre of the cyclone. Liam Price was dismissed and with a man advantage at the scrum the no 8 and Evans set up an opportunity for fellow back row man Rhydian Walters to score and Gravell convert.
Credit to Whitland who knuckled down to win the game when perhaps in seasons past the opportunity would have passed them by.
“We maintained our belief and mental toughness despite facing a storm in the final onslaught” said a delighted home coach Gareth Bennett.
“We showed tremendous character to come away with a victory and the players heads are down as they felt it should have been more comfortable than what it was in the end. We play with a smile on our faces and will work on the learning points in training this week.”
Whitland head to bottom of the table Llanybydder on Saturday (Jan 13) welcoming Loughor in a needle encounter the week after before heading to Hendy at the end of the month.
“One game at a time” chortled Bennett. “Let’s enjoy today’s result but both Dan (Mason) and I know where we have to improve and will be nurturing the players along this week towards our goal, promotion back to Division 1 West.”
Carmarthen Athletic next welcome St Clears to Trinity Fields with the confidence shown by their young side allowing them to fear no opponents in the Division.
Sometimes the difference between winning and losing is miniscule or on the ball falling kindly.
If the Setaro penalty hadn’t fallen back into a team mates hands the Athletic boys may have been waking up ‘Early in the morning’ and looking back on a win as opposed to just the losing bonus point they achieved in the Swansea Building Society sponsored match.
Felinfoel ease past Baglan
FELINFOEL’s Anthony Matthias took five wickets to set up a comfortable eight wicket win for his side against Baglan on Saturday (Jul 14).
Matthias tore through the top order to leave Baglan reeling on 65-5 and they were unable to recover, eventually being bowled out for 104.
Matthias struck early on when he had Rhys Gaskins-Davies caught by Craig Richards for a score of 4 and he then had Martin Rees caught by Julian Griffiths for a second ball duck.
Jonathan Lewis and Josh Lyddon did offer some resistance with a stand of 41. However, Matthias returned and had Jonathan Lewis caught by Stuart Parmenter for a score of 21.
Moments later Lyddon was caught by Julian Griffiths for a score of 23 and Matthias wasn’t done there as he had John O’Leary stumped by Andrew Thomas for a duck.
Stuart Parmenter then had Jason Carpenter caught by Andrew Thomas for a score of 13 and Rhys Harries had Steven Kempton caught by Jonathan Cheal.
Parmenter trapped Martin Lewis leg before while Rhys Harries bowled Craig Jewell.
Taylor Rees offered some resistance with a score of 28 which included three fours and two sixes before being caught by Andrew Thomas off the bowling of Cheal.
Felinfoel lost two early wickets in their reply as Andrew Thomas was bowled by Taylor Rees for a four-ball duck and Rees also had Rhys Harries caught by Jason Carpenter for a score of 2.
Despite those wickets, Rhys Jones and Julian Griffiths shared an unbroken stand of 100 to send Felinfoel to victory.
Rhys Jones hit six fours as he finished not out on 29 while Julian Griffiths hit fourteen fours as he finished not out on 64 from 51 balls.
On Saturday (Jul 21), Felinfoel will be looking for another win when they travel to bottom of the table Cimla.
Dafen and Felinfoel earn derby wins
IN Division 1 of the South Wales Association Cricket League last Saturday, Dafen earned victory over Carmarthenshire rivals Llandysul.
Llandysul batted first in their game with Dafen and they were bowled out for 186 in 49 overs.
Opener Gary Williams got Llandysul going with a score of 84 and Rhidian Harris scored 12.
Ben Edkins scored 52 but when he fell to the bowling of Philip George, Llandysul suffered a late batting collapse.
Their remaining batsmen failed to make it into double figures as they went from 161-4 to 186 all out.
George finished with excellent figures of 6-21 from his 10 overs while Chris Hudson also took three wickets.
In reply, Nicky Davies made an early score of 32 before he was caught off the bowling of Andrew Edwards.
Simon Davies scored 19 and Matthew Evans top scored as he hit ten fours in a knock of 69.
Jonathan Randell then finished not out on 27 to help Dafen to victory by five wickets.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Dafen will look to pick up another win when they take on Gorseinon while Llandysul travel to Merthyr Tydfil.
The other game in Division 1 saw Bronwydd beaten by second placed Cowbridge.
Cowbridge made 250-8 from their 50 overs and had opener Thomas Merilaht top scoring on 91.
Ben Wright scored 40 before he was bowled by Matthew Vaughan and Tatenda Chiradza scored 27.
Brad Evans scored 37 and Jack Cropper scored 15 but no other batsmen made it into double figures as Bronwydd hit back.
Dafydd Morgan finished with excellent figures of 4-36 while Pauluge Gihan Secstus Fernando took three wickets.
In reply, James Cales scored 23 and James Dickson scored 38 while Oliver Furneaux scored 22. Meirion Davies scored 44 but that was as good as it got for Bronwydd.
Three wickets apiece from Brad Evans and Nicholas Wood ensured that the Carmarthenshire side were bowled out for 174.
On Saturday (Jul 14), they will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Maesteg Celtic.
FELINFOEL also earned a derby victory over Llangennech as they beat them by 88 runs.
The home side batted first and were all out for 201 despite looking well set to make a good total on 166-3.
Opener Andrew Thomas scored 19 and Rhys Jones scored 36.
Julian Griffiths scored 24 while Rhys Harries was their top scorer with 81 as he hit 12 fours and a six.
Felinfoel then collapsed as Gareth George, Simon Clement, James Taube and Matthew Jones all took two wickets for Llangennech.
The visitors lost wickets at regular intervals in their reply as Hedd-Wyn Jones and Scott Lloyd both scored 10.
James Taube was his side’s top scorer with 33 runs, Matthew Jones scored 15 and Stuart Goddard made a late score of 21 but it wasn’t enough to help them to victory.
Tom Jones took four wickets for the loss of 25 runs for Felinfoel while Rhys Harries took three for the loss of 19 runs.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Felinfoel will look to keep their recent good run going when they take on Baglan.
Llangennech will look to get back to winning ways as they travel to Briton Ferry Steel.
The other game in Division 2 saw Drefach beaten by Maesteg.
Drefach batted first and scores of 59 from Dafydd Humphreys, 36 from James Carter and 62 not out from Owen Donovan helped them post a good total of 210-5.
Maesteg’s Andrew King then set his side on their way to victory with an excellent century. He was out on a score of 107 but other scores of 32 from Lloyd Wilkshire and 15 not out from Chris Parry saw them to victory.
Rob Seymour took two wickets for Drefach but the defeat means they stay third from bottom in the table.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Drefach will look to take themselves away from the drop zone as they travel to fourth from bottom Skewen.
Llanelli slip to defeat
JUST a week after their excellent win over Carmarthen Wanderers Llanelli suffered a disappointing 216-run defeat at the hands of Clydach in Division 2 of the South Wales Premier League.
On Saturday (Jul 7), Clydach won the toss and elected to bat and that proved to be a good decision as they posted a challenging total of 263-5 from their 50 overs.
Jonathan Hubschmid hit five fours and a six as he scored 57 while McKenzie Squires scored 25.
Sam Davies hit ten fours in a knock of 88 but he was then run out by Marcus Leaf as the home side did their best to keep the score down.
However, James Garland smashed three fours and a six in a score of 28 from 14 balls as Clydach piled on the runs late on.
Jack Todd then hit three fours and two sixes in a knock of 38 not out from 20 balls.
Llanelli struggled in their reply as only one of their batsmen, Marcus Leaf with 17, made it into double figures.
Jamie Lewis was in fine form for Clydach taking seven wickets as he had Leaf caught by Liam Garland, Iwan Rees trapped leg before and Steven Devonald caught by Christopher Donne.
Lewis took further wickets of Matthew Roberts, Ryan Nicholas, David Richards and Morgan Jones as Llanelli limped to a disappointing total of 47 all out.
Llanelli will look to put this defeat behind them when they take on Newport Fugitives away on Saturday (Jul 14).
Wanderers bounce back
CARMARTHEN Wanderers had better luck on Saturday (Jul 7) as they beat Panteg by three wickets in a high scoring game.
Panteg won the toss and elected to bat and they posted an excellent total of 236-8 from their 50 overs.
Will Bragg was the star of the innings for Panteg as he hit nine fours in a score of 103 before he fell to the bowling of Gareth Thomas.
Akhtar Balouch made 29 before being out to the bowling of Owain Binding and Daniel Wilkinson added 46 runs to the total.
In reply a score of 75 from Thomas got the Wanderers off to a good start and they also had captain Leighton Walters and Owain Davies make scores of 35.
Liam Rogers then finished not out on 43 to see the Wanderers over the line.
On Saturday (Jul 14), the Wanderers will be looking for another win when they take on third placed Penarth at Trinity Fields.
Ammanford up to third
AMMANFORD moved up to third place in Division 1 after they beat Ynysygerwn by 45 runs.
They made a solid start to their innings with Rhodri-Huw Davies making 56 and Elis Richards scored 17.
Daniel Roberts was the mainstay of the innings as he hit seventeen fours and a six in a score of 120 from just 95 balls.
He was run out by Josh Griffiths but that scored helped Ammanford post an excellent total of 272-7 from their 50 overs.
Alex McCormack scored 40 as the visitors made a steady start to their reply and Darren Thomas scored 77 and although Josh Griffiths finished not out on 20 Ynysygerwn fell short of their target on 227-9.
Matthew Fisher bowled well as he took four wickets and Sean Coaker also took two.
On Saturday (Jul 14), Ammanford are at home again as they take on fourth placed St Fagans.
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