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Last minute semi-final heartache

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Bridgend 22 Carmarthen Quins 20

Quins heartache : Bridgend celebrate reaching the Millennium Stadium

Quins heartache : Bridgend celebrate reaching the Millennium Stadium

CARMARTHEN saw the final remnants of what had at one stage looked like being a promising season disappear, as countless mistakes and spurned chances led to last minute woe.

Despite starting the game with several injuries, the Quins headed into the game as favourites having dispatched Bridgend on previous occasions and also because of the Ravens poor league position.

However the Quins couldn’t put their advantage into action as knock-on’s, poor scrummaging and misplaced passes had their say on the outcome.

The early minutes saw both sides moving the ball and an interesting afternoon was expected. After four minutes a powerful Quins lineout catch and drive saw Rory Gallagher crash over for a try, which was awarded by the referee to the clear bemusement of both the Bridgend players and spectators, as the ball had seemed some distance short of the line. The strong wind gave Craig Evans no chance with the conversion, but still the Quins had made a fast, positive start.

Bridgend missed two chances to go into the lead, with Owen Howe both of his penalties wide in almost impossible conditions, but the Ravens did eventually draw level as they utilised their set-piece dominance to good effect. From a scrum in the Quins twenty-two, scrum-half Chris Williams was able to gallop down the blindside to cross for his side.

With the wind behind them and the set piece thriving Bridgend started to take the game to the Quins and were enjoying vast amounts of possession in the Carmarthen twenty-two. From this spell of possession, more strong forward play, coupled with weak defence, allowed flanker Adam O’Driscoll to race over for his side’s second which was converted by fullback Owen Howe.

With fighting breaking out on a few occasions both captains received a warning in what was becoming a scrappy game, largely owing to the Quins inability to hold onto passes when good opportunities were presented. Rory Gallacher was shown a yellow card with 30 minutes on the clock but it didn’t provide any further points in the half for Bridgend and instead seemed to spur on the Quins.

With the wind clearly playing on his mind Owen Howe turned down two good opportunities to kick for goal from penalties, instead going for the corner, which proved fruitless at a dysfunctional lineout.

With Bridgend seemingly reeling despite the man advantage Carmarthen turned the screw, with winger Chris Banfield crossing for an unconverted try leaving the Quins trailing by two at the interval. With the strong wind behind them in the second half and with their side back to the full quota of fifteen, the Carmarthen outfit would’ve been hopeful of sealing their place in the final.

This belief would’ve been enhanced with just two minutes gone in the second half. Banfield this time turned provider as his clever run put Iolo Evans over, with Evans finally adding a conversion the Quins led 17-12

With the expectation that the Quins would now capitalise on their lead, mistakes crept into their game and chances were missed when it would have been easier to score. Carmarthen changed their half-backs with twenty minutes remaining in the hope that the error count would decrease.

This wasn’t to be as on 70 minutes the Ravens levelled matters with their third try, with hooker Ashleigh James crossing smartly. The lead didn’t last long as Carmarthen retook it thanks to a well taken, wind assisted penalty form Dan Jones.

A series of mysterious refereeing decisions left the Quins supporters seething and when another decision went against them the Ravens kick to touch gave them a throw in on the eighty minutes. They won possession and their drive put wing Tom O’Flaherty over for the telling score. The missed conversion signalled the end of a miserable afternoon for Carmarthen and a dour three months since Christmas.

Next up is another visit to the Talbot Ground when Aberavon will play hosts to the Quins on Sunday April 19 in a televised game.

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Llanelli Warriors RFC Win World Award

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THE LLANELLI WARRIORS were named double Ability Rugby International Champions, the results announced with perfect timing just as the Warriors held their presentation evening.

The Ability Rugby International Championship compares the results of all the mixed ability sides across the globe, with an emphasis on games played but with a win element incorporated.

The results for 2018/29 have been much delayed but saw the Warriors regain the title from Scottish National Clan team. They edged out newcomers the Dragon Allstars who were playing their debut season. The 2019/20 season may have been curtailed, but the Warriors still managed more fixtures than any other mixed ability side, this time edging out another new side, the Port Talbot Panthers.

Mixed Ability rugby sees players with and without disabilities play alongside each other and against ‘normal’ rugby clubs. The concept continues to spread rapidly and the days when it was just the Warriors and their Swansea rivals the Gladiators, have long gone. 10 years ago the 1st sides started forming outside of West Wales and there are now over 100 teams and groups world wide.

Captain Richard Evans was very proud. “It takes a lot to organise fixtures regularly so this is a great reward for all our efforts. The boys are very committed and we just love to play. It’s great to see so many sides playing now and it’s great to be at the forefront of the movement”.

The news boosted the Warriors presentation evening where they looked back over their season.

James Anthony was the main beneficiary, playing his 1st full season his pace on the wing and accurate boot helped him lift the Top Points Scorer award and the Player of the Year titles.

Players’ Player went to 2nd row Tom Ashour. Quick enough to have previously played on the wing, he proved a reliable source of lineout ball and was always combative around the field.

Luke Pearse was named Most Improved Player, narrowly beating Will Browne, Lloyd Cawley and Dan Grinter.
The most closely contested was Sportsman where Luke Pearse, Arwel Thomas and Dan John were pipped by Chris Davies. The nominees were described as the glue of the club by Chairman Gwilym Lewis, and vital to the teams success.

The Warriors are especially anxious for Covid regulations to lift as the new season will be their 25th. Planning is difficult at present but they hope to have a number of special fixtures. At the end of the season they are due to head out to Ireland for the 3rd Mixed Ability world tournament which will feature 24 clubs from 8 different countries.

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New look Cwm aiming to bounce back

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During the lockdown period Ryan Stephens and his Cwmamman United
management team took the opportunity to undertake a major review of the
playing set up at the club and with training now having returned they have
already started implementing their exciting plan.

“ It was extremely disappointing to be moved down from Cymru South league
following the FAW average points formula, particularly when our form since
January suggested we could well stay up” said Ryan “ but these are difficult
times and to be honest we had not been consistent enough over the season”
Ryan continued ” We realised though that this was an opportunity to take a
good look at ourselves and create an identity and foundation where we could
enhance the way we developed our players and improve our professionalism.”
The club has recently introduced a new range of training and fitness
programmes, improved technical data and analysis capabilities as well as
create a players charter enhancing team spirit.

“ We have been busy bringing in a mix of young and experienced players to
join a squad where we have been lucky to keep a large group of key players
from last season” said Ryan. ” Combined with a strong group of existing key
young local talent that we expect to see step up this season and with two
strong reserve sides we feel we are in a really good place team wise. It is great
to see everyone buying in to the new approach”

“ We recognise this will be an extremely difficult league with many strong
sides but we are really excited about the challenge to get back to the Cymru
South. We aim to be a club where our players feel truly valued and our club
members, supporters and the community feel proud. We will continue our
preparations so that once it is safe to resume matches again we will be ready.”

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Tomi Lewis the latest to sign

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FLYING wing Tomi Lewis has become the latest player to agree a new contract for the 2020-21 season.

The 21-year-old speedster is among a group of exciting young backs coming through the ranks at Parc y Scarlets.

A member of the Wales U20s squad that competed at the Junior World Championships in Argentina last year, Tomi has also shone on the world seven series, scoring seven tries in his debut tournament in Dubai as an 18-year-old.

A former pupil at Llandovery College, he came through the age-grade system at the Scarlets and scored on his senior debut in an Anglo-Welsh Cup clash against the Dragons. He impressed for the Scarlets A team during this season’s Celtic Cup and linked up on loan with Ampthill RFC in the English Championship in January.

Scarlets recently announced new deals for 17 members of their squad with Tomi becoming the 15th player who has come through the Scarlets system to have agreed a new contract.

“Tomi is another young player who has an exciting future in the game,” said head coach Glenn Delaney. “He is working hard in the squad and has already shown what he is capable of playing for Wales at U20s and Sevens level. He is one of a number of talented young backs we are looking forward to seeing in Scarlets colours.”

Tomi said: “I am delighted to have signed a new deal with the Scarlets. I have been here since the age of 16 and have been fortunate to have been able to learn from some great players.

“At the moment, it is fantastic being in the squad alongside internationals like Liam Williams, Leigh Halfpenny, Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans and I’m looking forward to competing for the Scarlets jersey over the coming years.”

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