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Reds hit back to beat Blues

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Report by Alan Evans

GRENIG Park has proved to be something of a graveyard in the past for the Reds, but in their penultimate league game of the season on Wednesday (May 9), they defied the odds, and came away with a creditable win, although they were pushed to the limit by their opponents.

All the goals came in the first half, with the hosts taking the lead through Craig Spring, before some top class finishing by Chris Jones, Jordan Follows and James Loveridge eased the visitors into a half time advantage.

However, they have goalkeeper Craig Morris to thank in the second period as he pulled off a number of important saves which kept the Cwm attack at bay, while Rob Jones in the home goal was seldom tested.

After an early Loveridge effort was diverted for a corner, Cwm went ahead on 14 minutes when the ball was circulated to the right where Spring despatched a speculative attempt across the face of goal, and it struck the inside of the far post and into the net.

The lead was short-lived, as within three minutes a Reds move involving Lee Trundle and Joe Clarke ended with Jones striking a superb 25 yard shot which rocketed low past the keeper.

When the home side countered, Chris Allen lofted his finish over the top when he was found in space, before the visitors struck again in the 21st minute following a delivery by Loveridge which was met by Follows on the volley to comprehensively beat Jones.

The Reds were well on top at this stage, and increased the lead further after 34 minutes when a typical piece of Trundle magic saw him nutmeg a defender with a backheel which found Clarke, and he in turn played in Loveridge who fired home.

With a two goal cushion at the break, the visitors were probably confident of adding to the tally, but the second period proved to be something of an anti-climax with their opponents mainly dictating play, and Morris was by far the busier of the two keepers.

His first save was a block to deny Rhys Morgan when he found himself unmarked close to goal, and then did even better by pushing over a close range header by Allen following a free kick into the goalmouth.

Robert Thomas brought off a timely tackle on Colin Harris when he threatened to break through on the Reds` goal, and he was a thorn to the visitors throughout, playing in Allen who was again thwarted by Morris who got down to divert his finish for a corner.

Cwm were now in the ascendancy, pegging back their opponents who were being confined to long range attempts, with Follows curling one just wide and then being closed down in the box by Gareth Howarth when Clarke set up the chance.

Kyle Ashford was the next home player to offer up a threat, but again Morris was equal to the task, keeping out his near post shot.

The visitors` made a number of changes, with Liam Samuel, Ross Jones and Luke Morgan replacing Kyle Graves, Clarke and Loveridge respectively, but the contest ended with Morris again in action, this time saving from Spring when he directed a close range header goalwards following a Jack Medwin free kick.

The Reds finish their league campaign on Saturday (May 12), when they travel to Cwmbran Celtic.

Cwmamman still have two league games to play starting on Saturday when they take on Goytre away. That is followed by their final game at home on Wednesday, May 16, against Cwmbran Celtic.

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Scarlets slay Dragons

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Pro-14 Conference B
Scarlets 20 – Dragons 3
SCARLETS started 2021 as they ended 2020 with a Welsh derby victory at Parc y Scarlets.
Tries from man-of-the-match Sione Kalamafoni and replacement Sam Costelow, combined with the boot of Dan Jones ensured Glenn Delaney’s side made it a festive double to move them up to second in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 standings.
The Scarlets weren’t at their free-flowing best and will be frustrated by the amount of handling errors and ill-discipline in their performance, but the winning run continues ahead of next week’s clash with Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Despite a rare dry night in Llanelli, the opening 40 minutes was littered with errors from both sides and it meant the game had little flow.
The Scarlets enjoyed plenty of possession and territory, but too often passes failed to go to hand.
It was the Dragons who were first on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty from the boot of ex-Scarlet Josh Lewis.
Wales lock Jake Ball limped off moments later with a knee injury to be replaced by Tevita Ratuva, while Wyn Jones, on his 100th appearance, also left the field for a head assessment.
The outstanding Kalamafoni made a powerful surge up the middle of the field to put the Scarlets on the offensive, but again a promising move broke down.
Dan Jones levelled matters on 29 minutes, then added another penalty on the stroke of half-time after a quick tap from Kieran Hardy.
The Scarlets continued to enjoy the better of play in the second period, but had to wait until 57 minutes for the game’s first try.
More pressure led to Gareth Davies being taken out off the ball and Dragons lock Matthew Screech being shown yellow by referee Nigel Owens.
Scarlets went for the corner instead of the shot at goal and a well-worked training move saw Kalamafoni charge across the whitewash for his first try in Scarlets colours, a score converted by Jones.
With former Scarlet Rhodri Williams adding a spark, Dragons looked for an immediate response, but a brilliant turnover from Ratuva snuffed out the threat.
Then in the final play, replacement Sam Costelow picked up a loose ball, sped through the gap and around the final defender for a superb solo score, with the Wales U20s fly-half adding the conversion for good measure.
After the hard-fought win, Scarlets coach Glenn Delaney said: “I suppose it was a compelling contest of a different nature. You saw a lot of kicking battles going on, neither team wanted to give the other counter-attacking opportunities.
“I thought defensively we were very resolute, I never felt we were in danger on our goal-line, it was a bit stop-start with a couple of drop balls, but I am delighted to get the win and we did create a bit more in the second half.
“With these derby games, I am learning every time we play one, they all seem to be pretty much like this and perhaps bring out the best and worst in us because of the individual competition and contest.
“We would have liked to have done a bit more with the ball and the attacking breakdown with us was poor, the Dragons turned over a bit of ball there so we need to be better in that area and make sure when we make the breaks we are able to capitalise.”

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Scarlets’ late surge sees off Ospreys

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Pro-14 Conference B

Ospreys 14 – Scarlets 16

 
A LATE try from Angus O’Brien secured the derby day spoils in a nail-biting Guinness PRO14 Boxing Day clash against the Ospreys.
The Ospreys, playing as the official ‘home’ team at Parc y Scarlets, had led for the majority of a tense contest.
But with 71 minutes on the clock, a superb off-load from replacement Blade Thomson paved the way for full-back O’Brien to slice through and dive over for the crucial score.
Man of the match Dan Jones added the conversion to put the Scarlets in front for the first time and the West Walians were able to finish the match on the front foot to claim the annual festive bragging rights and a crucial win to keep them in the hunt in the Conference B standings.
O’Brien hadn’t been named in the original match-day 23, but was brought in at the 11th hour as a replacement for Johnny McNicholl.
In blustery conditions, Scarlets enjoyed the early pressure, but despite hammering away at the Ospreys line were unable to come away with any points.
Instead, it was the Ospreys who were first on the board after 14 minutes through the boot of fly-half Stephen Myler.
The opening quarter was proving a cagey affair with both sides unable to get any momentum going.
A moment of individual brilliance from scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams, who dummied and sprinted clear from 40 metres, extended the Ospreys’ lead on 22 minutes, but the Scarlets’ response was swift with Jones landing a penalty straight from the kick-off.
Jones hit the upright with another attempt, then a pin-point cross-field kick from Steff Hughes just evaded the grasp of wing Steff Evans with the line at his mercy.
A powerful scrum on the stroke of half-time led to a long-range penalty chance, but O’Brien’s strike drifted wide with the Ospreys going in ahead 8-3 at the break.
Myler extended his side’s lead early in the second half, but Jones kept Scarlets in it with his kicking out of hand and off the floor.
Two more penalties from the Carmarthen fly-half to one from Myler made it 14-9 going into the final 10 minutes.
Then the Scarlets struck.
With Thomson having a big impact off the bench, the back-rower plucked a ball out of the sky as the Scarlets surged forward. He was involved again soon after, producing a sublime pass to O’Brien who cut a great angle to the posts.
With only two points in it, the Scarlets showed their composure to make their way downfield and set up camp in ‘home’ territory for the final minutes, denying the Ospreys any chance to snatch the win. 

Glenn Delaney reflected on the absence of fans from the stadium.
“You go back 12 months and there were 15,000 people here and I don’t think I have experienced anything like it. This place was electric.
“I say it every week, we are very fortunate to be in the position we are and we are only here by virtue of the supporters of this great club. We want the fans back here as soon as possible.
“Hopefully, they found a chance to shout at the TV screens, get involved and share the experience. The derby season is passionate, the only thing we are missing is the people. We must get the people back into the game, they would have loved the occasion.”
On the performance, while Glenn Delaney was ‘delighted’ with the win, he added: “There is plenty for us to work on. We stayed in the game and that’s what you have to do in a derby.
“There were a lot of things we weren’t happy about in terms of our skillsets and penalty count, we were very ill-disciplined and we need to correct that. We were putting pressure on ourselves. We were trying to play and we were quite close on a couple of occasions, a couple of pass-kicks almost went to hand.
“Probably not having a game for a week or so showed, our timing was a bit off; we have had a couple of disjointed weeks, we looked a bit rusty. I thought the Ospreys were excellent, put us under pressure and took their points well.”
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Council plasterer becomes world champion darts player

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A CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council plasterer has just become a world champion darts player.

Jonny Clayton, from Pontyberem, lifted the World Cup of Darts trophy on Sunday alongside fellow Welsh-man Gerwyn Price

The pair beat top-seeds England 3-0 in Salzburg, Austria, becoming the first ever Welsh winners of the championship.

When he’s away from the dart board, Jonny – ranked 16 in the world – spends his time plastering new and renovated homes and schools for Carmarthenshire County Council.

Council Leader Cllr Emlyn Dole said it’s an honour to have a world champion on the pay-roll.

“We are immensely proud of Jonny and all that he’s achieved,” he said. “What a fantastic achievement for him, a humble man from Pontyberem, to lift the trophy for his country in a sport that he loves.

“Jonny is a valued member of the Carmarthenshire County Council team, as talented at plastering as he is at darts. As with any member of staff representing their country in elite sports, we have given Jonny our full support to ensure he can work his day-job as well as having the time to train and compete.

“We’ll be proud to welcome him home to Carmarthenshire – and knowing Jonny, he’ll be back at work shortly having swapped his darts for his hock and trowel.”

The father of two – who earned his nickname The Ferret during his days as a scrum-half for Pontyberem RFC – spoke to media after his win describing himself as “the proudest man on the planet”.

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