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Cricket season gets underway

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CRICKET returns to South Wales today (Saturday, Apr 28) for both the South Wales Premier and South Wales Cricket Association leagues.

In Division 1, Ammanford will be captained for the ninth year by former Glamorgan batsman Alun Evans (426 runs; 26 wickets). Now a Residential Child Care Officer for Carmarthenshire, Evans has a fully fit squad to choose from, bowlers Tom Murphy and Sean Coaker having recovered from injury.

Daniel Roberts (494 runs) has arrived from Mumbles to play alongside brother Matthew as leading run gatherer Matthew Fisher (529) continues as vice-captain, crucial also to the Boars will be his bowling, where he took 30 wickets.

Ellis Richards will open the innings alongside Glamorgan’s Jack Murphy, who has spent the winter in Melbourne playing grade cricket for Hampton Cricket Club. Stalwart wicketkeeper Gareth Slade keeps the gloves, with second team leader Ben Ledger promoting youngsters Joseph Davies, Matthew Davies and fifteen year old Owain Davies into the first team squad.

Sponsored by Morganstone Ltd and Solid Fuels, the Park in Ammanford will be prepared for the opening fixture against Port Talbot Town again by Lyn ‘Tosh’ Davies with ‘Gary the Scorer’ continuing in the ‘Box’ for his twenty eighth year.  Assisting Evans on match day will be former Llanelli Knights U19s coach Iwan Richards, with Club stalwart Ian Rees continuing the important role of skippering the Clubs third eleven in Division 6 of the SWCA league.

Llanelli make a return to the Premier League as Dan Radcliff cup holders, ninety years after they first lifted the trophy in the SWCA’s third season. Skipper Marcus Leaf maintains the side which took the championship by 20 points where he plundered 570 runs as opening batsman, supported by Craig Howells (457).

Ioan Phillips will be given the opportunity to enhance his development, all-rounder Iwan Rees (438 runs; 26 wickets) will partner Leaf to open the innings.  Player of the year, leg spinner David Richards (32 wickets) will have another key part to play alongside Chairman Vaughan Thomas (23 wickets) who will take the new ball in his thirty third season with the Club. Sharing the new ball at Toppers sponsored Stradey Park for their opening day derby with Carmarthen Wanderers on a pitch prepared by Joe Wyatt, is another veteran, Steve Devonald (22 wickets and 378 runs).

The side also has a new wicketkeeper with Llanelli rugby player Ben Edwards taking over from the retired Mike Davies, with all-rounders Matthew Roberts, Alex Symmonds and Ryan Nicholls keen to make an impression in Karen Weeds scorebook.  Second team skipper Gareth James will develop Jack Rees, Tom Westcott and Wales Girls U15 leg spinner Sarah Phillips to step up when required.

Carmarthen Wanderers will hope for a stronger start to the campaign than last season which saw them anchored to the foot of the table until the mid-point of the season, all-rounder Leighton Walters (284 runs; 27 wickets) once again leading the side which has lost Steffan James and wicketkeeper Owain Evans to Whitland.

Gareth Thomas (804 runs; 28 wickets) form will be key, alongside attacking batsmen Stephen Mills (416) and Stephen Inward (408), where veteran spinner Ian Hughes (23 wickets), all-rounder Owain Binding (208 runs; 17 wickets) and youngsters Garmon Dyffri and Liam Rogers will look to make an impression, alongside Wales under 17s players Rhodri Crawford and Josh Thomas on the wicket prepared by Llandysul based Mike Turner.

Bronwydd, who celebrated their fortieth anniversary with a black tie dinner on Saturday (Apr 21) have wicketkeeper / batsman Oli Furneux (300 runs) at the helm once again as they begin their season at Cwnc Y Deri against newly promoted Swansea Civil Service. George Gleeson (386 runs; 13 wickets), Meirion Davies (369 runs; 12 wickets) and James Cale (329) are key alongside Gleeson’s brother Tom who took 41 wickets with the new ball alongside change bowler Pauluge Gihan Secstus Fernando (26 wickets).

Dafen Welfare welcome Cowbridge on the opening day of the season, with veteran Wales Senior international and club stalwart after 30 years’ service, Chris Hudson skippering the side for the second season. Sponsored by the Owens Group of Dafen, the Club also have the Marchant Company, Astley’s Estate Agents and Manhattan on board as keynote sponsors, with the grounds maintained by second team captain Chris Randall, Wayne Powell and Llanelli Rural Council.

Wicketkeeper Dai Williams has moved to Llangennech and quick bowler Scott Phillips to Ynysygerwn, meaning off spinner Hudson (23 wickets) and his Chairman of selectors Rob Green acquired seam bowler Rhys Marchant from Newport and all-rounder Andrew Rodgers from Skewen to support last season’s SWCA leading wicket taker David Dunfee (42 wickets).

He will share the new ball with Matthew Donoghue (17 wickets) and experienced all-rounders Matthew Evans (18 wickets; 400 runs) and Phil George (26 wickets) will have key roles to play if the Club wish to reach their goal of promotion to the SWPL.

The ability of Jeremy Dawes (479 runs), young player Jonny Randall (19 wickets) alongside Kai Rees bodes well for Consultant Physician Hudson’s hopes of turning the runners up place twice in the last three years, into top spot, requiring them to overcome the challenge of rivals Gorseinon.

Llangennech, established in 1881 have a new captain in batsman Matthew Jones for the trip to Maesteg Town in Division 2, both sides having recruited new players during the close season.

Arriving at the Argents Associates and Tafarn Morlais sponsored Club to strengthen the side are Scott Lloyd from Gorseinon, Dai Williams (404 runs) as a wicketkeeping all-rounder from Dafen and Ammanford all-rounder Hedd-Wyn Jones from SWPL Division 1 outfit Ammanford.

All three will supplement Jones, who took 26 wickets and scored 385 runs last season, 12 runs behind leading run scorer James Taube, who top scored for the Club with 126* in their victory over Pontyberem. His brother Johnny will also feature alongside opening bowler Simon Clement (22 wickets), Owain Phillips, spinner Bav Patel and sixteen year old Jack Williams.

Eric Lewis and Keith Thomas will share the scoring duties as former Llanelli groundsman Jim Wyatt oversees the grounds.  Alan Warner continues as second team captain with Geraint Lodwig stepping down a team to captain the third eleven for the first time.

Felinfoel start their second season in Division 2 under the captaincy of Rhys Harries, at home to last season’s Division 3 winners Briton Ferry Town, having recruited all-rounder Atif Hameed (20 wickets; 161 runs) from rivals Llangennach. Harries will be looking to Julian Griffiths to continue his form with the bat which saw him accrue 496 runs, supported by Andrew Thomas (391) and Craig Richards.

Anthony Mathias and Stuart Parmeneter with 22 wickets apiece alongside Richards (21) and Griffiths (19) will lead the way with the ball, with Scott Davies leading the second team in Division 5.

Drefach make an opening day trip to relegated Briton Ferry Steel with opening batsman Dafydd Humphrey again leading the side, which shows no changes from last season.  Adam Goodman has made good progress from injury which didn’t see him perform last season and he should make an appearance for the Gwendraeth Valley side, whose top order batting need to deliver if they are to avoid the trials and tribulations of another relegation threatened season.

Leading run gatherer was Owen Donovan with 285 runs, as only two other players, all-rounder Rob Seymour and groundsman Leigh Davies scored over 200 runs. Both Seymour and Davies spin bowling will be heavily relied on by their skipper who has faith in youngsters Harry McBryde and Elis Lewis stepping forward.

The Club have built a strong youth culture with the top end now moving into Under 19 cricket, making the transition to senior sides easier, which bodes well for the side who are keen to start the season well, in contrast to recent years.

Sponsored by RM&S Roofing Humphreys second stint as captain will see him focus on his own personal performance which will help the team as stalwart opening bowler Joe Evans has moved to skipper the second team.

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Ingledon stars as Laugharne sweep Town aside

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LAUGHARNE remain second in Division 3 after they beat Haverfordwest Thirds by 150 runs in Division 3 of the Pembrokeshire League on Saturday (May 18).

The Carmarthenshire-side batted first and made an impressive total of 217-8 from their 45 overs.

James Ingledon was the mainstay of the innings as he top scored with 71 while he was supported by Carl Stephenson who scored 26.

Andrew Edwards added 22 and Kevin Pearce scored 21 as Town struggled to keep them below 200 runs.

Alistair Dyer was the pick of the bowlers for Town with two wickets for the loss of 22 runs.

There was also two wickets for Paul Jenkins (2-45) and Will Phillips (2-45).

Having starred with the bat, Ingledon then did so with the ball as he took five wickets for the loss of only 16 runs.

Carl Smith also took three for the loss of 15 runs as they helped bowl Haverfordwest out for just 67.

Jason Phillips top scored with 18 for Town but it did little to affect the outcome of the game.

The win keeps Laugharne nine points behind leaders Herbrandston who they play in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl tonight.

On Saturday (May 25), Laugharne are away to Llanrhian while Haverfordwest Thirds are at home to Narberth Seconds.

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Llanelli secure Premiership status

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LLANELLI secured their place in the Principality Premiership for next season on Friday night as they beat Championship winners Pontypool 27-16 in the play off at Aberavon.

Pontypool have only lost one game in three seasons but knew they would need to win to go up at the expense of Llanelli.

They started well but saw a couple of opportunities go begging early on and there was still no score with twenty minutes gone.

Six minutes later Pontypool charged down a kick and were given a penalty after Llanelli were deemed guilty of an offside for which saw yellow.

Pooler then sent the resulting kick through the posts to give them the lead.

Soon after, Shaun Evans had a chance for Llanelli when he ran into the Pooler 22 but after he was halted they went right when they perhaps should have gone the other way and the chance soon went.

Pooler then doubled their lead with another penalty as Llanelli were guilty of a number of infringements in the first half.

However, on the stroke of half time, Llanelli took the lead as they initiated a rolling maul and Taylor Davies went over for the try which was converted by Tom Prydie.

That gave the men in red a 7-6 lead at the break but they knew they would face a strong charge from Pooler in the second half.

Early in the second half, Llanelli looked to increase their lead when Ryan Conbeer went on a snaking run but he was halted just before the line by an excellent try-saving tackle from Lloyd Lewis.

Pooler then took the lead again with a penalty but Prydie answered with a penalty of his own to put Llanelli back in front at 10-9.

Soon after, Llanelli began to take control as they pushed a Pooler scrum backwards, earning a penalty, and Prydie kicked them further ahead.

Two minutes later they had another try as Steff Hughes kicked forward and Conbeer kicked on before falling on the ball in the try area. Prydie then added the extras to make it 20-9 with fifteen minutes to go.

They then scored their third try of the game as Lee Rees broke free after an excellent Callum Evans pass and the on-loan Llandovery player ran on to score. Prydie converted again to complete a great man-of-the-match performance.

With three minutes to go Scott Matthews touched the ball down under the posts and after it was confirmed as a try by the TMO it was converted bringing the score to 27-16.

Llanelli continued to play and thought they had scored late on but Callum Evans was called back after referee Nigel Owens, superb in the middle, spotted a forward pass from Prydie.

It left Pooler with little time to respond and Llanelli saw the game out to seal their place in the Premiership for the 2019-20 season.

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Spotlight on superstars in South Wales

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THE next two days around Cardiff will reverberate to the excited strains of a bowls community poised to experience the best of the best, when the first week of a two-week festival of international competition reaches its climax.

Over the five days the 2019 Atlantic Championships – featuring twenty-five bowling nations from the European, African and South American theatres at four host clubs around the Welsh capital – Barry Athletic, Dinas Powys, Penarth Windsor and Penylan – has gone through the qualifying stanza in women’s singles and fours, along with men’s pairs and triples.

In the short term the rewards are medals for excellence at this event, while qualification for next year’s world championships in Australia enjoys equal status.

Tomorrow and Thursday will be the stuff of which adventure heroes are made as many of the game’s greatest players strut their stuff – tomorrow’s elimination finals are at Barry Athletic and Dinas Powys, then the gold medal play-offs at Penylan on Thursday.

Spectators at Penalyn this morning enjoyed a teaser of what to expect when two superstars went at it in the flat green game’s version of a cat fight. It was a women’s singles encounter featuring a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist England’s Natalie Chestney, who won in Dehli in 2010; up against Scotland’s Caroline Brown, who has three world championship gold medals to her credit – the indoor singles at Potters in 2007, World Cup singles at Warilla in 2014 and the 2012 world fours in Adelaide.

The quality of bowls was exceptional as Chestney demonstrated the class that elevated her to the dizziest heights. After scores were level at 9-9 at eleven ends, the England star restricted Brown to just three scoring ends for the rest of the match, winning 21-14.

At major international events sectional top finishers graduate immediately to the semi finals, while the next two best finishers are sent to the elimination rounds.

Tomorrow at Dinas Powys, Scotland takes on England and Kenya plays Zimbabwe in women’s fours at 9.30am, with winners to play South Africa and Wales respectively at Barry Athletic at 2.30. Similarly, Malta plays Ireland along with Jersey against Guernsey in men’s pairs at Dinas Powys at 9.30am, with the winners heading to Barry Athletic in the afternoon to take on the mighty England and Scotland teams in the semi finals at 2.30pm.

Conversely, Barry Athletic will host England against Malta and Jersey versus Namibia in the morning men’s triples, with winners pitted against Scotland and South Africa respectively at Dinas Powys in the afternoon.

The blue ribbon women’s singles at Barry will see Natalie Chestney (England) v Colleen Piketh (South Africa) and Cindy Royet (France) v Ruti Gilor (Israel) at 9.30am – the winners playing Lucy Beere (Guernsey) and Caroline Brown (Scotland) respectively at Dinas Powys in the afternoon.

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