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Raiders no pushovers in friendly defeat

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By Ian Golden at Stebonheath Park

PRE-SEASON friendly matches don’t often tell us too much, especially when sides use so many substitutes, but one thing’s for certain, West Wales Raiders don’t look like they’ll be pushovers this year.

Sure, there are a few creases to iron out before they face Coventry Bears in a fortnight in the League 1 opener, but already one can see a far more solid defence, conceding just six tries in this 34-0 loss to an extremely well-drilled Wigan Warriors “reserve” side, who rightly showed quality in every position.

Out of the 23 players named by the Raiders, only nine turned out last season, one of those being new skipper Ashley Bateman who made just a solitary appearance at the start of 2018 before requesting a move to Coventry.

But this is a new Raiders, new season, new coach and plenty of new recruits from both Wales and abroad, and the difference showed straight away as they pounded Wigan’s backline throughout the first five minutes. An interception cost them a second minute try and good defence prevented the Welsh on the next time they had the ball.

It took eight minutes for Wigan to get into the Raiders’ half, scoring on their first attack. Winger Cian Tyrer did well to leap onto a grubber to ground in the corner.

Again Raiders looked for a try, again they couldn’t finish it. Mike Connor was held up over the line, and Dan Maiden missed an opportunity to leap onto a bouncing ball.

Wigan scored their second try on 19 minutes. From an interception, Joe Brown raced 30 metres to score. Callum Green converted.

Fighting for a third, Ethan Havard was held up over the line. Morgan Smithies was also stopped in his tracks when going for the whitewash.

Photo by Darren Harries

Finally, Brown broke for the line with two minutes to go in the half for Wigan’s third, Green converting again to put the half-time score on 16-0 to the Super League youngsters.

Raiders once again applied the early pressure when the second half started. Twice in five minutes was winger Sam Baker was blocked by the solid Wigan defence after the Raiders won a repeat set.

But once again when Wigan got into their opponents half, they scored. Big prop Ben Kilner forcing his way over and Green converting.

From kick-off, Corey Hall scored Wigan’s fifth, grounding in the corner from Ryan Forshaw’s kick, with Green adding the extras again.

As the game entered its final stages, Raiders continued to fight hard to get on the board. After winning a penalty on Wigan’s ten-metre line, they had another determined set of six, but again the Warriors backline stood painfully firm.

The final say went to the Warriors as Jack Kennedy finished off a length of the field move for them to score their sixth of the afternoon. Joe Shorrocks converted.

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Wanderers edged out by Gowerton

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LLANELLI Wanderers came close to victory against Gowerton on Saturday (Feb 16) but were unable to find a winning score as they were beaten 14-18.

Gowerton had taken the lead early on with a penalty and an unconverted try gave them an 8-0 lead at half time.

The Wanderers hit back in the second half with Sianco Morgan going over for the try and the conversion from Lewis Jones brought them to within a point of their opponents.

They then took the lead as Lloyd Thomas went over and Jones again added the extras to make it 14-8.

Gowerton hit back with a converted try of their own and they were back in the lead by a single point.

They then scored a penalty to make it 14-18 with six minutes to play. Try as they might the Wanderers could not find a way through and they had to settle for a losing bonus point.

The Wanderers are next in action on Saturday, March 2, when they travel to Crymych.

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Nant hold off Trimsaran

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NANTGAREDIG remain unbeaten in League 3 West B after they sealed a narrow 17-18 win away to promotion rivals Trimsaran on Saturday (Feb 16).

The visitors took the lead with an early penalty scored but Trimsaran responded well with a try to take the lead but the conversion was missed and the home side led 5-3.

Nant hit back and got their first try of the game thanks to and the extras were added for a 3-10 lead.

They then extended their lead to 5-15 with an unconverted try and with half time looming, the lead was extended further with another penalty.

Lloyd Williams kicked one conversion and two penalties. Ben Nichols scored a try and Rhydian Evans scored the other.

Photo by Darren Harries

With the score 18-5 at the break Trimsaran knew they would need to play well in the second half and they very nearly pulled off an excellent comeback.

Trimsaran scored two good tries with the latter try bringing the score to 17-18 setting up a nervy finish for both sides.

However, it was Nantgaredig who showed why they have not lost a game this season as they held on for the win.

They have now won 24 games on the bounce and look favourites for the title and promotion this season.

On Friday (Feb 22), Trimsaran are at home as they take on Penybanc with the game kicking off at 7:15pm.

Nantgaredig are next in action on Saturday, March 2, when they host CR Cymry Caerdydd in the quarter final of the WRU Bowl.

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Kidwelly come from behind to win thriller

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WITH both sides residing in a similar league position in Division 1 and a spot in the Senior Cup Quarter finals up for grabs, all was set for a close encounter between Kidwelly and Felinfoel on Saturday (Feb 16).

Felinfoel had home advantage and, having already beaten their opponents 3-1 earlier in the season, they were favourites to advance to the next round, but nothing is ever that simple in football.

During the first fifteen minutes Felinfoel dominated possession with much of the play happening in and around the Kidwelly box.

Felinfoel took the lead with twenty minutes gone when a dangerous cross was delivered towards the back post which resulted in a well-taken goal.

After the restart Kidwelly showed signs of resurgence with brothers Connor and Jordan Howells linking up well in midfield and creating problems for Felinfoel.

Photo by Darren Harries

The fightback, however, was short lived as Felinfoel sent a wide free kick into the box and the ball was headed into the back of the net.

There was not much Kidwelly could have done about either goal as the deliveries for each were superb.

With five minutes left of the first half and Kidwelly not threatening much, they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Winger Rob Hammond sent a superb high ball into the box and Kyle Griffiths, former centre-back turned midfielder, flicked the ball over the keeper and into the net to give Kidwelly a glimmer of hope.

The half time whistle went and even though Felinfoel had the better of the half Kidwelly had shown good resilience and were pleased to be only 2-1 down at the break.

The second half started with both sides playing at a high tempo with Kidwelly in a confident mood having scored before the break and having come from behind to win in other games this season.

As the game continued both teams were battling hard with some big tackle flying in. Kidwelly had far more possession in the second half and created numerous good chances.

Kidwelly were playing some good stuff but it wasn’t until the hour mark when Rob Hammond, Kidwelly’s top goal scorer, latched on to a huge goal kick and delivered a clinical finish to make it 2-2.

Not long after that, Hammond again latched on to a forward pass and with a bit of creativity managed to turn the defender and find the bottom corner with a quality finish to put his side into the lead.

Felinfoel looked to get back in the game and Kidwelly manager Gareth Evans introduced fresh legs replacing hardworking Liam Jones with club captain Luc Fitzpatrick who was returning from injury.

Photo by Darren Harries

This was an attempt to keep Felinfoel at bay but they threw everything they could at the makeshift Kidwelly keeper Danny Coleman, normally a number ten. However, Coleman made some tremendous saves and put his body on the line on numerous occasions.

Kidwelly survived three goal-mouth scrambles and on one occasion had ten players behind the ball trying to keep it out.

Unfortunately for Kidwelly, during one of those scrambles, veteran Chris Cray volleyed his goal keepers arm meaning Coleman would have to go off injured. He was replaced by striker Aled Giley with Daniel Griffiths, who was having an excellent game, having to go between the sticks for the rest of the game.

Both sides battled until the end with more strong tackles flying in but Kidwelly full backs Tom Hughes and Daniel Fitzpatrick had faced quality opposition wingers and came out on top.

Felinfoel played their part in an excellent cup game but Kidwelly, who have recently won five games on the bounce in Division 1, showed great resilience and team spirit to earn a thrilling win.

On Saturday (Feb 23), Kidwelly are at home as they play Pontlliw in the quarter final of the same competition, kick off 1:45pm.

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