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Swansea storyboard going to the wire

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Jonathan Twigg

ROY RACE of Melchester Rovers, fashionable with a golden mop of hair, will be returning to embrace a new generation of readers, seventeen years after he last appeared in print in 2001, where for 19 years when he appeared as a weekly comic; with it comes the cloud of magic that lived with that generation of avid readers, the original kick off in 1954 in the Tiger comic, Roy epitomising the character of the footballer of the time; hard, but fair; energised, his forte a man of steel, committed to his club where he lifted nine league titles, eight FA Cups and three European salvos.

Swansea City have become every sport writers dream, calling up ‘Roy of the Rovers’ moments which the Welsh public have savoured, honouring a returning Michu warmly greeted by the 20,900 ensconced in the Liberty Stadium, on Saturday (Apr 28).

Those fans remember the European trails burnt, flirtations with domestic cups as League cup winners in 2013 and quarter finalists this season in the FA Cup, the first since 1964. Those halcyon days when they watched first division football under John Toshack in the Eighties before mooched off to Real Madrid.

A storyboard, added to recently with seven seasons in the Premier League, thanks to Brendon Rogers sending the Jack army into elation with a Wembley play off triumph over Reading.

Four minutes into the action and the dream was wavering, Spanish international Fabregas scored for the first time in 26 games, the story dictated by a Belgian crème de la crème in Eden Hazard.

The first half review saw the Swans way off the pace, perhaps referee Jon Moss adhering himself fully, but the home side needed impetus, a King (Andy) replaced by a saviour.

Nathan Dyer is no ‘Hot Shot Hamish’, a Hebridean man revered in comic book nostalgia as having the hardest shot in football, but boy did he bring a ‘Billy Whizz’ swagger alongside Tom Carroll who replaced debut making youngster Connor Roberts.

Dyer ran, direct and with pace, the quality on the end of his endeavours missing, needing that Hamish Balfour’s power shot, the West London boys not having to go through the gears to maintain their lead.

A final roll of the dice, Wayne Routledge for Martin Olsson, Kyle McNaughton testing Thibaut Courtois from 20 yards. England hopeful Alfie Mawson strode purposefully forward to test the Blues goal as the ‘Whites’ looked for that all important breakthrough, Ki Sung Yueng adventurous and Carroll a whisker wide.

Brothers Jordan and Andre Ayew unable to unlock the defence, the final action Routledge warming the hands of Cortois, the story ending in defeat, manager Antonio Conte’s fiftieth premier league win for Chelsea.

Memories linger; Terry Coles and Milmoor Lane in the Millennium; 2003 survival in the football league by a hairsbreadth with a win over Hull City.

That first victory in the Premier League, West Bromwich Albion in the September and after the trials and tribulations of the past two seasons, Carlos Carvalhal, in situ since December having three games to secure the points.

He has galvanised the Club, Roy Race style, meaning the trip to Dean Park, Bournemouth, on Saturday (May 5) brings pressure before the final two games at the Liberty Stadium against relegation rivals Stoke City and Southampton.

Suffice, for this comic book story line to fit the ending, two wins should do it.

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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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