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Rugby record as Hendy beat Athletic

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By Jonathan Twigg, photos by Sue Bows

HENDY remained top of the Division 2 West table with a bonus point 28-17 victory over Carmarthen Athletic, in the only league game to survive the weather on Saturday (Mar 3).

In a year which will see them celebrate their 125th Anniversary Season with a gala dinner at the Strady Park Hotel on Saturday (June 1) promotion remains a priority for the coaching team of Dorian Jones, Chris Morgan and the Shingler brothers, Aaron and Steven.

The icing on the cake would be to pip challengers Whitland to the title, their showdown game scheduled for Saturday (May 5) at Hendy but there is a lot of rugby to be played before that date.

The micro climate that hovered over the village on Saturday allowed the aptly named groundsman Steve ‘Snowy’ Williams to perform wonders in ensuring the game was played. The ground resembled conditions akin to an early season friendly, the pitch able to take a stud but was hard in places.

Snowy, a local landscape gardener had his work cut out to maintain the surface to allow it to go ahead, after close dialogue with Llangennach based referee Jack Boswell and East Wales based match referee Lee Gibbs.

Efforts rewarded: Hendy forwards reaped the rewards in 28-17 victory (Pic Sue Bows)

The Beast from the East certainly wasn’t Gibbs and once the game was under way the home side broke the deadlock through centre Josh Davies, who benefitted from the silky hands of full back Jake Newman putting him into space to score under the posts.

Versatile player Josh Batcup, playing at outside half as regular Rhydian Morris was unable to travel due to the snow in Cardiff slotted over the conversion. The move started with off the top line out ball from second row Rhodri Hughes who alongside prop Ben Batcup had outstanding games, not only at the set piece but also around the park with their tackling and tracking back.

Such play was reminiscent of former flanker Max Easey who tragically passed away recently, the two sides showing impeccable respect for his life before kick-off, the first opportunity Hendy have had to pull on the ‘jersey’ in seven weeks to acknowledge such an emotional tribute.

Athletic full back Robbie Thomas skated over to equalise the scores after winger Tom Gravell kicked the conversion, before Newman intercepted the ball on the ten metre line to race clear and just manage to touchdown despite pressure from his opposite number Thomas.

Gravell kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to two points at 12-10 before the well drilled home set piece set up two more tries from driving line outs. Hughes was again the key component in the tries, the first to boiler house partner Ashley Banford and the second to live wire flanker Matthew Wotherspoon to establish a 22-10 half time lead.

The Athletic scored the only try of the second half through Marcus Francis-Curtis converted by Gravell to bring the game back within a score, which was a just reward for the physical and direct play from the red and blacks.

Hendy skipper Chris Bowen had led his side well in the second half, kicking for touch to set up the game deep in the opposition half and capitalising on the mistakes made, eventually opting for two long range penalties from Newman to ensure the victory.

Guest speaker Scott Quinnell will have a lot to talk about at the gala dinner and the situation surrounding the only game to be played, although the Athletic are no strangers to being involved in games when everything else is postponed. In 1985 their fixture survived the frost as did the only other game played involving Cardiff RFC.

Chris Morgan, Hendy coach said: “We are delighted with the result, with the conditions difficult, with the hard ground and late afternoon rain making it difficult for the players. We have kept the players spirits high but missing games for such a long period was bound to leave us rusty.

“Opportunities arose in the second half, but we didn’t capitalise on the territory we had fought for, especially as the Athletic were tenacious at the breakdown and probably edged the play on the gain line.”

Hendy make the trip to Llanybydder on Saturday (Mar 10), whom they defeated in the reverse fixture 38-6. Morgan has an ‘expectation for another physical encounter, against a side whose bottom of the table position doesn’t give a true reflection of their ability’.

The Athletic meanwhile welcome local rivals Tumble to Ystrad Fields hoping to record a double over the Magpies after the 24-13 victory in November and in doing so consolidate their position in the top four with six games of the season remaining.

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Sport

Under strength Raiders beaten

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By Sian Golden at Stebonheath Park

IF anything showed up the farcical registration rules inflicted by the RFL, it was Keighley’s club record win on Saturday (Sept 15).

Ordinarily a 112-6 rout would be celebrated, but West Wales were only able to field 12 fit players and after frustrating red and yellow cards, were down to 10 by the end of the game.

There are Welsh players who would have turned out, and perhaps the RFL should allow clubs to register community lads, who have never played professionally, to make up the numbers?

New Raiders coach Kim Williams arrives this week and his presence is much needed. It’s been a long season in Llanelli and, as plenty of arguing showed during the game, it’s a camp which needs a boost and fast.

Raiders held out for three minutes before Andy Gabriel caught Benn Hardcastle’s kick to score in the corner. Hardcastle converted.

Photo by Darren Harries

Cameron Leeming tore through the defence to ground the second try with another expert Hardcastle sideline kick.

A short kick-off led to the third as Dan Parker raced down the wing, the fourth came from a catch by Emmerson Whittell from a high kick by Hardcastle, who converted, before another short kick-off led to the fifth, this one scored by Ritchie Hawkyard and converted by Hardcastle.

Jose Kenga was next over, Leeming got his second, and James Feather scored a length of the field try. Three more Hardcastle goals made the score 46-0 on 25 minutes.

The biggest round of applause came on 33 minutes when Raiders finally broke their duck with an Alan Pope scramble to the line. Harrison Elliot converted.

There was still time for two more first half Cougars tries. Andy Gabriel was too fast for the Raiders defence, and Parker also raced over for his second. Hardcastle converted both. 58-6 at the interval.

Alfie Seeley scored the first try of the second half with Hardcastle converting, but that was before the game turned into more of a charade when Craig Lewis saw red for alleged backchat, this surely prompting Raiders’ chairman Andrew Thorne to tweet “As a chairman of a club of a club losing is hard to take but when you have 14 men on a pitch it’s an impossible task.”

Photo by Darren Harries

Hawkyard scored in the corner four minutes later with Hardcastle converting, and former South Wales Scorpion Billy Gaylor was next. Hardcastle missed the kick but got the next try, which he improved, before Chris Cullimore scored under the sticks, Hardcastle’s goal making it 86-6.

It was good work by Seeley, who weaved his way through the defence for his second, Hardcastle’s conversion bouncing in off the posts, but the game was to finish on 12 v 10 as the referee, who was evidently finding it tough to control the game, showed Hardcastle and Dalton Desmond-Walker yellow after a lengthy fight.

Gabriel claimed his hat-trick with Gaylor slicing the ball low under the sticks. Seeley sealed his hat-trick to take Cougars to 100 with Leeming also claiming his third. Gaylor, who was closer with his second conversion attempt, got this one over.

A length of the field Hawkyard try in the final minute gave him a triple and Gaylor’s goal brought down the curtain on the farce that Oscar Wilde would have been proud of writing.

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Sport

Draw made for Bowl second round

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THE draw for the second round of the WRU National Bowl has been made with a number of exciting ties to look forward to.

New Dock Stars’ reward for knocking out League 3 West A opponents Llangwm is another home tie against fellow League 3 West A side Llanybydder.

Former WRU Bowl Champions Amman United were given a walkover in the first round and they will be at home in the second round having been drawn to play South Gower.

Haverfordwest, who beat Pantyffynnon 69-5 on Saturday (Sept 15) have been rewarded with another home tie against Llangadog who won 50-14 away to Pontyates in their first round game.

Aberaeron, who beat Milford Haven in the first round, face a local derby with Lampeter Town who had a walkover against Pembroke Dock Quins in the first round.

Neyland, who had also had a walkover in the first round, have been given a home tie against Carmarthenshire side Cefneithin.

The two sides met in the same stage of last season’s competition and it was Cefneithin who came out on top on that occasion winning 25-3.

Laugharne have been drawn away to Trimsaran while Betws have also been drawn away to Cwmgors.

All matches will be played on Saturday, October 6.

Selected WRU Bowl second round fixtures:

Amman Utd v South Gower

Cardigan v Nantgaredig

Cwmgors v Betws (Ammanford)

Haverfordwest v Llangadog

Lampeter Town v Aberaeron

New Dock Stars v Llanybydder

Neyland v Cefneithin

Trimsaran v Laugharne

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Sport

Wanderers snatch late victory

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LLANELLI Wanderers earned their second win of the season on Saturday (Sept 15) as they beat Dunvant 22-19 thanks to a late try.

The powerful Dunvant pack helped their side to a 16-12 lead at half time but the Wanderers were still very much in the game.

Josh Leeds and Jordan Evans scored the tries for Llanelli while Rhydian Morgan added the rest of their first half points with the boot.

Dunvant held on to their lead in the second half as they defended well whenever the Wanderers came forward.

Photo by Darren Harries

However, with ten minutes to go the tables turned as the Wanderers cranked up the pressure even more.

Gruff Mathias, making his debut for the senior side having played in the youth team last season, went up for a Dunvant lineout and he knocked the ball down for Ryan Tovey who went on to score what would prove to be the winning try.

Morgan then added the extra two points and they were able to see the game out for an excellent win.

On Saturday (Sept 22), Llanelli Wanderers will look for another win when they take on Gorseinon away from home.

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