Newcastle Emlyn 33
NEWCASTLE EMLYN became the first ever winners of the WRU Division One West League title on Wednesday night when they defeated Gorseinon at Dol Wiber. With a number of players still suffering from the effects of Sunday’s cup f nal, Director of Rugby Marc Lloyd was forced to make a total of nine changes from Sunday’s starting line- up. It was a tribute to the strength in depth of the squad and also the excellent coaching they have received all season from Lloyd, player coach Arwel Davies and scrum specialist Charles Gale that these players were able to slot in and perform in the manner they did to clinch the title with one game left. Knowing that a bonus point win would give them the Championship, Emlyn started the game at a rate of knots and soon put the Gorseinon line under a great deal of pressure. However Gorseinon had not read the script and were not prepared to roll over and hand the title to the home side.
They defended their line resolutely and the first half saw almost total Emlyn territorial dominance but when the excellent referee Justin Williams blew for half time Emlyn only had one try on the scoreboard. What a try it was, after some fifteen minutes play Gorseinon took a twenty two metre restart and the ball was caught by Emlyn flanker Joel James. He then slipped a pass to oncoming full back Shaun Leonard, his pace took him past two defenders. Leonard off loaded in the tackle to supporting winger Teifi on Davies and when he was tackled he passed to the impressive Joel James who took a defender with him over the line for a try converted by Leonard. The large crowd then settled down expecting a try fest, but it was not to be as a combination of over complication behind, poor option taking and the stern Gorseinon defence meant that there were no further additions to the score in the first half.
The half time team talk by coaches Lloyd and Davies must have been worth listening to as it had an immediate effect on the home side. Emlyn went back to doing what they do best, using forwards to set up two, three phases of play then moving it wider. In number eight Luke Kendall and Joel James they had two back row forwards who carried the ball with purpose always taking at least a couple of defenders out with their powerful runs. The Emlyn front row of props Dai Jones and Gethin Davies along with hooker Bedwyr Davies had the upper hand all evening and the next score originated from a scrum. Gorseinon managed to wheel two Emlyn attempts at push over tries and on the third scrum the ball was moved wide for outside half Steffan Evans to use his strength to force his way over the line for a try converted by Leonard. Lloyd now started to empty the Emlyn bench when an arm injury forced Joel James off to be replaced by Brynmor Jones and there proved to be no let up for the visitors defence as Jones linked well with Kendall to carry the ball at the visitors line. The two second rows, of returning skipper Gethin Greves and Bleddyn Davies also supported the runners intelligently as did the front row. When regular scrum half Mike Jones came on to replace the rapidly developing back row forward Gareth Thomson this necessitated a tactical switch.
Owain Powell reverted to his normal open side position and then veteran Arwel Davies replaced Bleddyn Davies, Gorseinon’s hopes of getting anything from the game virtually disappeared. The tempo of the game increased greatly and the off loading out of the tackle was a joy to behold as Emlyn went in search of the two tries which would hand them the title. But with the introduction of greater experience from the bench there was far greater control to the Emlyn game. The wild passes and over ambitious moves of the first half were a thing of the past as Emlyn laid siege to the visitors line. The third try came from a fi ne two handed line out catch by Arwel Davies and a drive to the Gorseinon line, held up short, the ball was moved back on the blind side for powerful number eight Kendall to cross for a try converted by Leonard. From the restart Leonard caught the ball and went on a long mazy run and ignoring the support outside him the full back looked certain to score the all important fourth try but a desperate tackle from behind brought him down a couple of metres from the line. With hooker Alex Williams and prop Gareth Lloyd on the field giving the home side not only fresh legs but greater scrum power due to their freshness, the home side camped on the visitors line. Scrum after scrum was wheeled to be reset, drives close to the scrum were stopped by determined tackling. Eventually the ball was moved wider for centre Alun Howells to come on a run back to the forwards. When he was held up it was his co-centre Viv Jenkins who managed to rip the ball out of the maul and cross for the fourth try, greeted by a huge roar from the crowd, converted by Leonard.
Gorseinon never gave up and ran the ball back at the home team at every opportunity. In centre Andrew Burden they had a powerful runner who took some stopping and scrum half Jack Gronow tried his best to get his threequarter line moving, but as many sides have found out this year, breaching the Emlyn defence is not an easy job and defensively as well as in attack Howells and Jenkins have proven to be an excellent combination. Emlyn by now were rampant running the ball from all parts of the field with the confi dence of a side that knew they had the game and championship won. Both wingers Teifi on Davies and fi reman Daniel Davies were bundled into touch short of the line after excellent runs. The fifth and final try was an absolute gem scored in the dying minutes of the game. From a midfi eld scrum just inside the Gorseinon half, Kendall picked up from the base drew two defenders and put scrum half Mike Jones away on another run. He then drew the last defender and slipped the pass to the supporting Leonard who crossed for a try, which he was unable to convert to complete the scoring. * With the title already won Emlyn went away to Crymych for their fi nal game and went down to a heavy 41-8 defeat to their nearest rivals. It will have mattered little to Emlyn who capped a season that saw them in a Millennium Stadium final with the league trophy. However it will serve as bragging rights for Crymych, who finished the season in fourth position, for the summer months before the new season begins.
Rugby pays tribute to Tommo
TRIBUTES have poured in following the news that popular Scarlets match-day announcer Andrew ‘Tommo’ Thomas has passed away at the age of 53.
Tommo was a huge character at Parc y Scarlets on match-day, bringing his infectious personality to the mic.
An official statement from the Scarlets said: “We are devastated to hear that the voice of Parc y Scarlets, Andrew ‘Tommo’ Thomas, has passed away suddenly.
“Tommo was a hugely popular figure as the Parc y Scarlets match-day announcer, a passionate Scarlets fan who brought his character and energy to every match.”
Scarlets chaplain Reverend Eldon Phillips said: “We are devastated to hear this tragic news. Tommo loved the Scarlets and put his heart and soul into his role as our match-day announcer.
“A huge character, he was much loved by supporters, players and staff.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Donna and son Cian at this sad time.”
Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney said: “This is desperately sad news. Tommo will be greatly missed by us all. I’ll miss his smile, energy and passion. Gone too soon, much love to his family at this terrible time.”
Attack coach Richard Whiffin tweeted: “Incredibly sad news. Tommo will be greatly missed by us all. Will miss his match day hugs! Love to his friends & family at this terrible time.”
Referee Nigel Owens took to social media to say: “Rwy methu credu y peth. Well I am devastated. A great man and a true friend. I Cant beleive it. Cydymdeimlad dwys iw wraig ar mab ac ir teulu I gyd. Bydd colled enfawr ar ei ol. Always had a smile on his face. RIP Tommo
Tommo was hugely popular with Scarlets players who posted tributes on their own personal social media pages.
Springbok Uzair Cassiem said: “Devastated by the news of your passing! Always got the biggest smile, big handshake before and after games! To the family and friends of Andrew Tommo Thomas, condolences from my family and myself.
Wales prop Rob Evans said: “Really sad to hear the news about Tommo tonight. Thoughts are with his family, a great man full of laughs.”
Former Scarlets captain Rupert Moon said: “Lost a great friend @TOMMORADIO …… my brother by another mother. Thoughts with his family & all his many friends. Sleep well buddy. Big boys do cry.”
Another ex-Scarlets skipper Matthew Rees said: “Can’t believe the news coming from west tonight. Tommo you were a true gent. PYS will never be the same!!”
Former Scarlets full-back Morgan Stoddart said: “Hearing of the passing of @TOMMORADIO, dreadful news. What a great man. He brought laughter to any room he entered. Will be remembered and missed. #TrueScarlet
Title-winning Ireland lock Tadhg Beirne, now with Munster, said: “Very sad news to hear of the passing of Tommo. An absolute gentleman, a passionate Welshman, and a true Scarlet.”
Among the other former players to pay their tributes were Kieron Fonotia, Michael Tagicakibau, Ryan Lamb, Rhys Thomas and Gareth Maule, while messages of condolence came from Cardiff Blues, Dragons and Ospreys,
Dragons hooker Richard Hibbard said: “Really sad news, RIP Tommo. What a great bloke.”
Tommo was also a popular radio presenter. He had been with BBC Radio Cymru between 2014 and 2018. He then left to present a daily program on Nation Broadcasting station. In 2011 he won the Radio Presenter of the Year award for his work on Nation stations in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.
Rhuanedd Richards, Editor of BBC Radio Cymru, said: “Tommo was proud of his roots and a unique broadcaster who loved to entertain his audience on Radio Cymru. With his powerful voice and larger than life personality, his love for his family, west Wales and of course the Scarlets were a great influence on his broadcasting.”
Swans grab last gasp play-off spot
WAYNE ROUTLEDGE’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a handsome away victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic Wednesday night (July 22).
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the half through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
The Swans started on the front foot, with centurion Connor Roberts having particular joy down the right-hand flank.
Brewster then nearly threaded Conor Gallagher in on goal after fine work by Andre Ayew, before Roberts hit a strike into the ground and over the bar after Jake Bidwell had made the overlap on the opposite flank.
The hosts responded by having a good spell of possession, probing and asking a few questions of their own.
But the visitors hit the lead in the 16th minute through Brewster. The striker picked the ball up some 30 yards out and got the ball out of his feet before smashing a long-range drive that completely deceived Rafael in the Reading goal.
John Swift curled a free-kick over at the other end, while more good work by Roberts could not quite end with Bidwell getting on the end of a deep cross before Rafael made a hash of dealing with a Gallagher cross.
Swift headed straight at Erwin Mulder from a good counter on the half-hour mark, with Ayew quickly advancing up the field to work Rafael again.
Opportunities were coming at both ends, with Mulder called into action again as Meite took aim from the left side of the area.
Swansea were riding their luck a little and had a let-off when a sliced clearance landed on top of the bar.
Matt Grimes had a free-kick pushed away by Rafael before the home side were reduced to 10 men after Meite had pushed Mike van der Hoorn in the face after a tussle for the ball.
But the hosts made light of the numerical disadvantage by levelling after Bidwell was adjudged to have fouled Andy Rinomhota, with Puscas beating Mulder – who got a hand to the strike – from the spot.
However, the Swans should have led at the break. Ben Cabango’s shot was blocked and fell to Jay Fulton, but the Scot pulled his shot wide of the target.
Rafael pushed away an Ayew drive right on half-time, with Swansea frustrated that referee Stephen Martin did not award them a penalty of their own as Fulton went down under a challenge from Omar Richards.
With Cardiff winning and Nottingham Forest losing, Cooper knew goals were needed and he made two changes at the break.
Yan Dhanda came on for Fulton, while Routledge replaced van der Hoorn, and they were immediately on the front foot.
With Swansea committing so many players forward, Reading looked to sit deep and play on the break and they proved resolute as the visitors battled to find a way through.
Grimes curled a free-kick wide of the target and Gallagher also threatened from distance, but the hour mark came and went without any clear-cut chances to show for their dominance of possession and territory.
However, when they did craft a sight of goal they took the chance clinically. Grimes produced a lovely ball, and Routledge controlled superbly to loft the ball over Rafael and into the net.
Unfortunately for the Swans, that goal went in moments after Forest had equalised against Stoke, which appeared to put a sizeable dent in their playoff aspirations.
Nevertheless, Cooper’s side continued to search for more goals in the hope events in the East Midlands would turn back in their favour.
They so nearly made it 3-1 with 17 minutes to play as lovely link play from Rutledge and Bidwell ended with Ayew steering just wide.
The situation was changing all the time, and Stoke retook the lead at Forest to leave the door ajar for the Swans.
And, when Stoke scored a third at the City Ground and Cullen coolly fired home his first senior goal for the club with six minutes remaining, they suddenly only needed a goal to finish in the play-off places.
Grimes had a deflected shot tipped over but the Swans then got the goal they needed in stoppage time as Routledge popped up to nod in at the far post, with Stoke’s fourth goal putting the matter beyond doubt a few moments later to spark delighted celebrations among Cooper, his players and his staff.
Glamorgan launch new kit
GLAMORGAN Cricket has unveiled its new Vitality Blast playing kit for the 2020 season.
Designed by the Club’s official kit supplier, Masuri, alongside Glamorgan’s management, players and coaches, the brand-new Vitality Blast strip contains a subtle Welsh twist.
Fitting Glamorgan’s traditional colour schemes, the top is dark navy with a tonal dragon across the front – a nod to the old Glamorgan nickname and the Welsh identity – while a sharp yellow trim on the neck and sleeves frames the top.
The famous ‘Daff’ sits on the heart of the shirt, with MiPost’s strong Welsh brand centre-stage. Appearing on the collars are the logos of ‘Official Players Car Partner’, Mon Motors and Welsh company, Philtronics Solutions, with Discover Leeks on the right sleeve and SA Group on the back.
The famous Aston Martin logo features on both side of the Glamorgan T20 cap, as they continue their ongoing support of the club.
Head of Commercial, Huw Warren, said: “We’ve enjoyed working with Masuri throughout the design process and together developed an exciting new kit we’re sure our supporters will love with its strong connections with Wales.
“Our Masuri kits have always been hugely successful with players and fans alike and we look forward to continuing our commercial partnership with them.
“We can’t wait to see our players wearing the new kit when the Blast gets underway later this summer.”
Masuri CEO, Sam Miller, said: ‘’Once again it has been a pleasure working with the team at Glamorgan to bring this year’s kit to life, and we are looking forward to seeing it in use during the much anticipated Vitality Blast this year.’’
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