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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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Cottage Inn 5K returns

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FOR the second time, runners of all ages and abilities headed to The Cottage Inn Pub, Carmarthen Road on the outskirts of Llandeilo on Friday Evening (Sept 6) for an event which was first introduced 12 months ago in 2018.

Thanks to the great feedback from those in attendance at the debut event in September last year, here it was making a welcome return in the road running calendar once again!

The Cottage Inn Junior Mile & 5K distances was a road running race held to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support with a donation also made to the Llandeilo Mayor Fund.

After starting across the field from the Cottage Inn pub itself, the course took runners on an out-and-back loop around the quiet country lanes of the area.

Once the morning rain had cleared away, the evening sunshine in West Wales saw a total of 101 finish the 5K whilst 41 children got involved in the Junior Mile with a number of parents and guardians running alongside little ones.

All finishers who completed the course collected their finishers’ medal, welcomed home with a round of applause by parents, friends and club mates. In addition, the first three boys and girls in the junior mile and the first three men and women in the 5K were presented with a trophy.

This all happened before runners and spectators socialised afterwards, enjoying some burgers, hot dogs and drinks in each other’s company.

Club vests were out on show from the local clubs of Llanelli AC, Amman Valley Harriers, Carmarthen Harriers, Trots and Sarn Helen. Junior mile children were representing Ysgol Llangadog, Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Ysgol Llangynnwr, Llandeilo CP, Ysgol Llandybie, Ysgol Brynaman, Ysgol Teilo Sant, Ysgol Ffairfach, Ysgol Gymraeg Rhydaman, Ysgol Nantgaredig and Ysgol Parcyrhun. Several Unattached athletes also got involved at their first appearance at a running event on Friday evening.

Two course records were broken in 2019 and both in the male categories. Macsen Toogood took nine seconds off his own time recorded in 2018 of 5 minutes 7 seconds, whilst David Keenan’s winning time of 16:59 in the 5K was sixteen seconds faster than 12 months ago.

Junior Mile – Boys: 1 Macsen Toogood (Ysgol Bro Dinefwr/Carmarthen Harriers) 00:05:07; 2 William Coles (Ysgol Llangadog/Carmarthen Harriers) 00:05:25; 3 Charlie Price (Ysgol Bro Dinefwr/Carmarthen Harriers) 00:05:47

Junior Mile – Girls: 1 Esme Lynock (Ysgol Llangadog/Carmarthen Harriers) 00:06:17; 2 Grace Toogood (Ysgol Teilo Sant/Carmarthen Harriers) 00:06:43; 3 Fflur Jones (Ysgol Llangadog) 00:07:18

5K – Men: 1 David Keenan (Llanelli AC) 00:16:59; 2 Matt Yelland (Amman Valley Harriers) 00:18:59; 3 Andy Mccall (Amman Valley Harriers) 00:19:00

5K – Women: 1 Wendy Price (Carmarthen Harriers) 00:20:09; 2 Elizabeth Tremlett (Carmarthen Harriers) 00:20:30; 3 Noami Williams (Amman Valley Harriers) 00:22:48

The event by now is annual and it is expected to attract big numbers when 2020 comes around.

Organised superbly and efficiently by Amman Valley Harriers’ Clara Davies, she thanked all the volunteers, runners and supporters alike who turned out to support the event and help raise money for a great cause.

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Borderers hold on to beat Pembroke

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Pembroke 24-25 Whitland

A LATE missed conversion saw Whitland take the spoils from an entertaining Pembrokeshire-derby with Pembroke on Saturday (Sept 14).

Pembroke drew 25-25 in Aberystwyth in their first game in League 1 West the previous week and they knew they would face another tough test against a strong Whitland pack.

The home side started the better of the two as they pulled their opponents around the park before scoring their first try of the game.

19-year-old Tom Harding-Jones picked up the ball from the backs and beat a couple of defenders to touch down. Toby Smith added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

They scored again soon after as Harding-Jones took a long pass from Smith before diving over in the corner. Smith missed the conversion.

Whitland were then given a penalty try as Pembroke were adjudged to have collapsed a driving maul, bringing the score back to 12-7.

Pembroke lost Lloyd Davies to a yellow card as a result of that and shortly before the break Whitland scored again through Jac Howells to bring the scores level.

It remained level at half time but Whitland went ahead early in the second half when Nico Setaro scored a penalty.

Pembroke then hit back as Sean Dalling went over on the right hand side and Smith then converted to make it 19-15 to the home side.

The Borderers then went ahead with an unconverted try that was scored by Marc Jones.

The home side then began to dominate as they looked to retake the lead but a loose pass saw Whitland kick ahead and it was Gino Setaro who won the race to the ball to touch down and increase their lead. The conversion was missed and the score remained 19-25.

With time running out Jordan Evans, on as a second half sub, picked up the ball from the scrum and ran 15 metres to score.

Smith faced a difficult conversion from out wide and was just unable to get the ball through.

It meant the score stayed at 24-25 and try as they might they were unable to find a late score which would have won the game.

Whitland held on for a thrilling win but Pembroke were left ‘gutted’ that they didn’t quite pick up the win.

Despite the result, Pembroke Head Coach Geraint Lewis was pleased with his squad which featured a number of young players adding that they had competed well with two good sides in their opening games of the season.

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Kia’ kit out Calsonic U16s

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GRAVELLS KIA KIDWELLY has gifted branded kit to a local football team, Calsonic Kansei U16s, as part of Kia Motors (UK) Ltd’s nationwide ‘Gift of Kit’ initiative which aims to support local grassroots football teams across the UK.

The new kit aims to help local players stand out on the pitch and since the initiative started, Kia has seen fantastic results for the local teams with 121 dealerships providing over 3,470 sets of kit to 129 football clubs and 127 cricket clubs across the nation.

Wyn Edwards, one of the coaches of Calsonic U16s commented; “We can’t thank Gravells Kia Kidwelly enough for helping this newly formed team feel professional in their new kit. We are hoping it will inspire them to perform well this season.”

Jonathan Gravell, General Manager of the Gravells Group said: “We are thrilled to be supporting Calsonic U16s. Playing in their new kit will be a great boost to them and their supporters. As a local business, we are passionate about giving back to our community and we look forward to seeing how the team performs.”

For more information about Kia’s ‘Gift of Kit’ initiative and to find out how you can get involved with future projects, please visit www.kiagiftofkit.co.uk/club.

You can also stop by Gravells Kidwelly SA17 4TF or call the team on 01554 890436 to find out what’s coming up in your area.

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