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Rhyl seize play-off initiative from Town

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Carmarthen Town 1
Rhyl 3

CARMARTHEN began this match knowing that a win would give them a comfortable six-point advantage over their closest rivals Rhyl with just two matches remaining, and would have all but secured 7th position in the final Welsh Premier League table to claim the coveted UEFA qualifying play-off place.

However within 15 minutes of the start those prospects had been seriously damaged as the visitors stormed into a two-goal lead and went on to control the game, even during the last 35 minutes when they were down to ten men.

Yet the Old Gold started brightly and after only 3 minutes a poor clearance by ‘keeper Michael Askew was pounced on by Sacha Walters who played the ball across to Kyle Bassett and he took it forward before firing a 25 yard drive that Askew, diving at full-length, just managed to turn around the post.

But Rhyl responded positively, attacking at pace, and they went ahead in the 5th minute when Rob Hughes struck a crisp shot from the edge of the penalty area that took a fortunate deflection off Ceri Morgan and the ball fell nicely for Ashley Raune who fired it past ‘keeper Lee Idzi from close range.

This early pattern of rapid end-to-end play continued and on 10 minutes Morgan headed the ball through to Danny Thomas who released a superb 20 yard drive which drew an equally impressive save from Askew.

But Rhyl by now were playing with flair and confidence, they were quicker to the ball and making better use of it as they pressed forward with increasing urgency. And Town soon suffered a further setback when in the 15th minute Levi Makin sent a free-kick into the packed penalty area and after Idzi had produced a marvellous double save, acrobatically clawing one shot away from the goal-line, the ball eventually reached Ryan Astles who drove it back through a crowd of players past the unsighted keeper and into the back of the net.

Yet gradually the hosts, having withstood a further spell of pressure, began to force their way back into the game and on 24 minutes Walters won the ball off a defender in midfield and raced forward before striking a long-range effort just narrowly over the bar. The Old Gold continued to enjoy their fair share of possession but failed to provide any further threat on goal, while Rhyl, despite a series of counter-attacks, seemed unable to again break through the home defence.

But all that changed in the 41st minute when Hughes, who had already demonstrated some dazzling footwork on several occasions, scored an outstanding solo goal when from well inside his own half he surged forward through a number of feeble challenges to reach the penalty area and finished by sweetly curling the ball beyond Idzi’s reach and into the corner of the net.

And deep into added time Rhyl almost went further ahead as Hughes played a fine ball through to Tom Rowlands who raced clear into the penalty area only to see his sharp drive turned aside by Idzi with an inspired flying save.

After the interval Town were given an early boost, though not of their own making, when on 56 minutes the referee showed the yellow card to Rhyl defender David Thompson apparently for time-wasting at a throw-in and having been similarly cautioned for a foul in the first-half he was promptly sent-off.

Carmarthen failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority, while the players could not be faulted for their energy and commitment their collective performance continued to lack craft, vision and urgency and they rarely looked capable of penetrating the strong and disciplined Rhyl defence.

Meanwhile the visitors, although evidently content just to protect their comfortable lead, were still a threat on the counter-attack due largely to the pace and movement of Ruane and Hughes who continued to torment the home defenders.

However the Old Gold did manage a few isolated scoring opportunities. After 69 minutes Chris Hartland, from the left wing, sent a searching cross towards the far post where Chris Ham headed the ball back into the goalmouth and while that hit a defender Town’s young striker reacted quickly to reach the rebound but saw his instant angled close-range drive fly narrowly wide.

Then on 79 minutes Bassett delivered a long cross-field pass deep into the penalty area which Ham enthusiastically chased and he cleverly chipped the ball invitingly across the face of the goal where Jeff White was well placed to head it home. In added time Jordan Knott completed good work down the left flank by playing an astute pass back to Morgan who dispatched a promising 25 yard strike that was safely held by Askew.

With so much depending on this match it was a great disappointment for their fans that Town produced a dismal performance like this, although perhaps, given their generally poor form since Christmas, it was not entirely unexpected. It is now Rhyl and not the Old Gold who will approach the final two vital games of the League season with added enthusiasm and expectation.

Team:

Lee Idzi; Jordan Wells; Craig Hanford; Paul Fowler (sub Chris Hartland 54); Jordan Knott; Kyle Bassett; Ceri Morgan; Lewis Harling; Sacha Walters; Danny Thomas (sub Chris Ham 65); Luke Prosser (sub Jeff White 49);

Unused subs: Sion-Dafydd Williams; Hywel Llŷr; Glen Fearn

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Sport

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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