SCARLETS had to withstand late pressure from Guinness Pro14 Champions Leinster on Saturday (Sept 8), as they earned their first win of the season at Parc Y Scarlets.
The men in Red were boosted by the returns of a number of injured internationals for the mammoth clash including Leigh Halfpenny, Jake Ball, Hadleigh Parkes and Samson Lee.
Tries from captain Ken Owens and Gareth Davies as well as conversions and three Leigh Halfpenny penalties was enough to secure an all-important second round victory for the Scarlets.
Scarlets put the pressure on Leinster’s line early on with flanker Josh Murphy shown a yellow card after only six minutes of play. Despite the man advantage they were unable to put points on the board.
Scarlets retained possession and built through the phases again before Hadleigh Parkes made a sweet break into Leinster’s 22 before passing the ball back inside to Gareth Davies who crosses the whitewash. He touched down but the TMO was called for confirmation and unfortunately it was deemed that the ball had been knocked on.
It wasn’t long before Scarlets were back on the attack and they had a scrum inside Leinster’s 22 which was picked out and Captain Ken Owens claimed the try with Halfpenny adding the extras.
Ioan Nicholas then replaced Johnny McNicholl who went down in the earlier encounter as the try was scored.
Minutes later Scarlets were penalised in their own half for an infringement at the line out. Leinster’s Ross Byrne is offered a penalty opportunity but his kick was wide of the mark keeping Scarlets seven points ahead.
Leinster then brought themselves back into the game as winger Fergus McFadden crossed in the far corner for Leinster’s first try of the evening with Byrne adding the conversion.
With five minutes of the first half left, Halfpenny put the Scarlets ahead with a penalty.
Leinster finished the half the stronger and thought they had scored but Samson Lee was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul on review by the TMO.
They pushed forward and from a scrum Leinster were able to take advantage of the extra space to find James Lowe who crossed in the corner before Byrne added the extras.
That gave the Irish side a 14-10 lead at the break but despite still being a man down, it was the Scarlets who got the first score of the second half. Leinster were penalised for a knock on and Halfpenny added the conversion.
Leinster looked to respond and were given a chance to increase their lead with a penalty but Byrne missed and the score stayed the same.
Scarlets pushed forward on the hour mark and won a penalty and Jones sent the ball into touch. The home side came close to going over but were kept out until a penalty gave Halfpenny the chance to put them back into the lead. He made no mistake and the Scarlets were ahead.
The home side then had to defend well as Leinster came forward but they kept them out and won the ball back after an error.
Scarlets continued to push forward and Hadleigh Parkes burst through a gap and made an excellent offload to Gareth Davies who touched down under the posts giving Halfpenny an easy conversion.
Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock reduced the gap with six minutes to go and Byrne then added the extras to set up an exciting end with the score at 23-21.
The visitors looked for a way through but Scarlets defended well once more and also kept their discipline, not giving anything away.
Scarlets held on for an excellent win giving them a good confidence boost going into their next fixture at home against Bennetton on Saturday (Sept 15), kick off 5:15pm.
More signings as Cwm build squad
FOLLOWING on from announcing their three new signings last week Cwmamman United have announced a further six this week.
Nathan Davies, who has captained the Carmarthenshire League Select side, joins from Bwlch Rangers while Rob Morgans joins having played with Haverfordwest County and Goodwick United previously.
They also announced the signing of four tremendously talented young players in Oliver Diamond, Korey Palmer, Stevie Evans and Joe Lewis.
“We are really pleased to have these boys on board as we are not only strengthening our first team squad with some really talented players ” said Ryan Stephens, First Team Manager, “but we are also building for the future.”
Ammanford romp to friendly win
AMMANFORD romped away in a goal fest in this pre season friendly beating their plucky opponents Pontarddulais by ten goals to nil on Friday (Jul 12).
Ammanford Manager Gruffydd Harrison will be pleased with his teams workout and even more excited with his forward line finishing prowess.
There were hat tricks for Gavin Jones who showed excellent pace and new signing Tristan Jenkins along with goals from Lee Trundle, Bruno Forkouh, Mathew Fisher and Craig Frater.
Ammanford have another friendly this Friday (Jul 19) when they take on Ynysygerwn.
After that they travel to Pontardawe Town on Tuesday (Jul 23) before a trip to Welsh Premier League neighbours Carmarthen Town on Saturday (Jul 27).
Carmarthenshire cyclist heading to Mont Blanc
WITH THE TOUR DE FRANCE in full swing and the World’s best doing battle against each other, there is another big cycling event taking place within the French Alps.
The Tour du Mont Blanc claims to be the Worlds toughest road cycling event and Llangadog based cyclist, Matthew Page will be lining up and attempting to complete the arduous route.
The event is a non-stop, circumnavigation around the alpine peak of Mont Blanc, starting in France alpine resort of Les Saisies and heads through Switzerland and Italy before returning to finish back in Les Saisies.
Covering a total of 330km (205 miles) with 8300 vertical metres (27,300 feet) of climbing it is roughly the equivalent to tackling two of the toughest Tour de France stages, back to back without stopping and takes in well known alpine passes including the Grand Saint Bernard, Petit Saint Bernard, Cormet de Roseland and Col de la Forclaz.
Matthew is a former professional Mountain Biker, who competed internationally and specialised in 24hr solo competitions and also Carmarthenshire Sports Personality winner. Now a cycle event organiser and cycling media journalist he organises major off-road events within the county including Battle on the Beach, Gritfest and in November 2019 will be organising a round of the British Cycling cyclocross national series within Pembrey Country Park.
With less than 50% of starters likely to finish, Matthew is understandably apprehensive about the challenge: “This will undoubtedly be one of the hardest days I will ever encounter on the bike and despite having done 24hr events previously, the extra challenges the Tour du Mont Blanc brings, including lack of a support crew, route navigation, logistics and uncertain weather especially at higher altitudes. The event has been a major focus for me this year and I am looking forward to the challenge”.
The event takes place on Saturday July 20, with the fastest riders expected to finish in under 12 hours.
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