RUGBY league came to Llanelli on Saturday (Oct 15) by way of the World Cup qualifier between Wales and Serbia. Both teams desperately needed to win this game and the next if either were to be in with a chance of qualifying.
Stebonheath Park was packed with the rugby league faithful, most of whom gathered in the covered stand, sheltering from the rain. The pitch was in superb condition and looked made for fast-running rugby, despite the downpour.
That is exactly what we got from the whistle. Wales struck first after five minutes with a try from Gil Dudson, but it was disallowed as the referee judged the pass to be forward. The Serbians replied with a try after seven minutes but that was also disallowed for a forward pass.
Wales continued to put pressure on the Serbian team and the breakthrough came 12 minutes in when Rhys Williams went over in the corner for a lovely try. An unsuccessful conversion left the score Wales 4 – Serbia 0.
It only took another seven minutes before Williams went over again in the corner, this time aided and abetted by Elliot Kear. Lloyd White converted to take the score to Wales 10 – Serbia 0.
Despite their superior bulk, the Serbs were looking rather rattled and chance after chance went begging through unforced errors.
Wales must have sensed the frustration in the Serb side who, by now, were barking at each other under the posts, insisting that there were to be no more tries before half time. Wales continued to ramp up the pressure and it paid off with a lovely piece of play between Courtney Davies and Andrew Gay to send Regan Grace over for his first try of the match.
Five minutes later and a charge down by Rhodri Lloyd was collected beautifully by Ollie Olds, who touched down for another try, leaving the Serbian team under the posts again looking at the prospect of going into the changing rooms with a 20 point deficit if Lloyd White converted the kick. He did and it was 20 – 0 to Wales at half time.
There was no let up in the pace and ferocity of the game as crunching tackles went in from both sides, more so from Serbia as they tried to stop the onslaught of a very impressive Welsh team.
Two minutes in and Wales looked to have scored another try but it was disallowed for a knock on.
The crowd didn’t have to wait more than six minutes before Rhys Williams broke the line and passed to Courtney Davies who touched down and converted the kick to stretch the lead to 26 – 0.
Frustration began to show again in the Serb team, as Pero Madžarević headed for the sin-bin having tripped Elliot Kear who was destined for the try line. With one man off the field, Wales capitalised with a try by Andrew Gay, who picked up the ball up from first receiver and made his way over the line. Courtney Davies duly converted to take Wales into a comfortable lead of 32 – 0. Wales could have taken their foot off the gas at this stage but it was obvious they had come to entertain the 800 or so strong crowd and pile on the points, which could make a crucial difference when the group stages end.
Serbia were beginning to look as sad as the poor photographers and TV crew who by now were well-anointed by the Llanelli rain. However, the sun continued to shine on the Welsh side, as they set Stebonheath alight again with a blistering run from Regan Grace from within his own half, going over to take his tally to two and Wales to 38 – 0 the better as Courtney Davies converted.
Two quick Welsh tries after Grace’s second were disallowed, sparing the Serbs from more time under the posts.
Serbia were coming under attack from all areas of the field, including aerial bombardments from Ollie Olds, one of which was dropped by the Serbian defence only to be collected by Olds and popped down over the try line for his second try. Lloyd White converted to make it Wales 44 – Serbia 0.
With just four minutes remaining of the game, Wales had one last nail to insert into the Serbian coffin as Gil Dudson picked up from a yard out and barged his way over the line for a try. Lloyd White did the formalities and converted the kick to take Wales to a half century.
Wales Coach John Kear must have been delighted with his squad’s performance.
Speaking to The Herald before the match, he said that his team were in peak condition and that this was a ‘must win’ game.
Wales now go on to Play Italy in Monza and they will be hoping to repeat this outstanding performance and qualify for their ticket to Australia.
Carmarthenshire man with PTSD to run Cardiff Half for veterans
A VETERAN from Pont-Henri in Carmarthenshire is putting his best foot forward to supporting wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.
Anthony Spencer, 34 – who suffers with PTSD after serving two tours of Afghanistan – will be on the start-line of the Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon on 2 October.
And while he laughs at his “abysmal” training ahead of the event, he says he will pound the streets of Cardiff in order to raise money for True Heroes Racing – the UK’s only motorcycle race team dedicated to supporting UK Service personnel and veterans who are wounded, injured and sick:
“As a military veteran myself who still suffers with PTSD, I understand the difficulty that face those who leave the military with mental, physical or social difficulties. True Heroes Racing is a family open to anyone with military ties and I’m hoping to raise much-needed funds to continue my support for this great cause.”
Spencer joined the military as a Royal Engineer when he turned 16:
“Over the course of my career in the army, I was involved in many incidents. I was part of a frontline patrol unit working with the Afghanistan National Army.
“Perhaps the most catastrophic event was a roadside IED – an improvised explosive device – in Helmand province. It hit me a year or two later and I started drinking more and I was becoming more distant and reserved.
“Even now, it affects me. It impacts on my sleep – I only get a few hours here and there a night. And it affects my anxiety levels which make tasks such as travelling incredibly stressful. Loud noises and day-to-day stresses can seem unbearable.”
He was discharged in 2016 and since then he has thrown himself into work. Now a Chief Technical Officer for a Global Technology company.
“I managed to get a successful job. After having a rough ride of things myself but coming out the other end, I decided to try and do something good.
“There isn’t much support for veterans – medical or financial – so what this race team does is absolutely astonishing. We currently have two riders who are amputees and they are both racing at incredibly high competitive levels against able-bodied riders.”
The bikes are customised so that riders who have disabilities can race:
“The customisation is ground-breaking. We have a variety of veterans and serving personnel racing including an arm amputee so True Heroes Racing have been able to adapt the bike for him. But it all comes at a cost. Racing is an expensive sport and in many cases it can cost £40,000 or more per year to run a bike.
“We’re one big family and lots of people can get involved whether it’s as a mechanic, a photographer, a rider or helping to sell merchandise. It’s a great thing to throw your energy into after leaving the military.”
You can donate to Anthony’s Justgiving page here: Crowdfunding to Raise vital money for a great cause http://trueheroesracing.co.uk. A unique team for military veterans and serving personal on JustGiving
The Wizz Air Cardiff Half Marathon sold out earlier this summer, just three and half months after entries going on sale.
The race is on track to generate its £20 millionth pound in fundraising at the 19th edition of the event this year. Race organisers are urging the public to get behind the event to help it reach this incredible milestone. Over £3 million is raised each year via partnerships with over 90 charities.
A record number of runners from outside Wales (both across the UK and overseas) are registered to take part this year. To celebrate, organisers will be using the event as a platform to celebrate Wales; showcasing everything that is so special and distinct about Cymru and to offer visitors a warm Welsh welcome.
The race is now a part of the SuperHalfs – an international half marathon series including races in Lisbon, Prague, Valencia, Copenhagen and Cardiff. It challengers runners to complete the five race circuit in 36 months in order to earn a ‘SuperMedal’ and other exclusive benefits/prizes.
Old Gold earn big win over Ynyshir
CARMARTHEN put the disappointment of the defeat against Barry Town in their last Cymru South League match well and truly behind them by inflicting this crushing victory on Ynyshir in this first ever meeting between these clubs.
And the Old Gold put the hosts under pressure from the very start with a series of penetrating attacks. As early as the 1st minute Greg Walters, in his own half, sent a superb pass through to Will Rikard who in turn set Noah Daley racing clear and into the penalty area – however, while his subtle lofted shot defeated goal-keeper Howe the ball flew narrowly over the bar.
Then on 3 minutes Bradley Gibbings sprinted along the right flank and threaded the ball through to Liam Thomas just inside the penalty area but Town’s all-time top scorer saw his crisp drive denied by Howe diving swiftly down to claim the ball.
Town continued to dominate these early stages of the game and, almost predictably, they soon took the lead. In the 13th minute Thomas, from the half-way line, sent a fine pass forward to Rikard who in turn swiftly fed the ball onto Gibbings – the influential midfielder then finished this delightful move by drilling a 15-yard shot beyond Howe’s reach and into the back of the net.
While the Old Gold maintained their hold of the game, for a short spell they seemed unable to test the Ynyshir defence in any meaningful way and with both teams too often guilty of misplacing passes there was little prospect of goalmouth action.
Yet that all changed after 37 minutes. A poor back-pass by an Albions’ defender forced Howe into making a hurried clearance – however Thomas, alert to the situation, blocked the ball at close-range and it rebounded into the net much to his delight.
Encouraged by that success Carmarthen once more began to dominate the play and on 43 minutes they extended their lead. Mathew Delaney embarked on a determined run from the half-way line to reach the by-line before sending a fine cross into the goalmouth where Thomas found space to drive the ball past Howe and into the back of the net.
Then after 45 minutes Gibbings made a strong run into the penalty area and held off two defenders before releasing a fierce shot that Howe, dropping smartly down, managed to turn around the post.
After the interval Ynyshir began positively and were soon rewarded with an early goal. On 48 minutes a smart passing move from the right-wing opened up the Town defence and finished with Cambell, in clear space on the edge of the goal area, firing the ball past goal-keeper Ivan Knott and into the back of the net.
For a spell the Old Gold defence remained under some pressure but it coped capably and no further significant threat to their goal arose.
While the rest of the match was quite evenly-balanced in open play, it was evident that Carmarthen were far more of a threat in sight of goal – and, almost predictably, they extended their lead when on 59 minutes Delaney, from the left flank, sent an inviting free-kick across the face of the goal area and saw Daley, at the far post, tap the ball into the net.
Town went close to scoring again after 71 minutes. Adam John fired a free-kick deep into the goalmouth where Lee Surman saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line – the ball rebounded to Sam Parsons but his follow-up shot was also cleared.
However, the late frenzy of activity in and around the Albions’ penalty area did have a productive ending for the Old Gold when, deep into added time, another corner-kick reached Scott Tancock beyond the far post – he headed the ball back into the packed goalmouth where Parsons forced it into the net.
This win has consolidated Carmarthen’s position in the top six of the Cymru South League and with just 3 points currently separating those clubs every point from forthcoming matches is clearly vital – the next being against Afan Lido on October 1, at Richmond Park k/o 2.30pm.
Late goal sees Lido beat Ammanford
Report and photo courtesy of Ian Parfitt
AMMANFORD suffered the heartbreak of late defeat at Afan Lido on Friday night with an 87th minute winner from Liam Griffiths securing a 2-1 win and all three points for the hosts.
Afan Lido started the match on the front foot and Ammanford were clearly struggling with the pace on Lido’s flanks. A foul in the box led to a penalty for Lido in the 11th minute which was dispatched by Chris Jones.
Afan Lido were largely on top in the first half however were unable to add to their goal. Ammanford were restricted to half chances although Callum Silcox did hit the post with an angled shot.
Ammanford would have hoped for an early goal in the second half and that’s exactly what they got in the 48th minute, the excellent Jordan Langley spotting the keeper off his line and hitting a looping shot into the net from 30 yards.
This goal clearly settled Ammanford and spurred on by a vociferous away support went in search of a second goal.
Afan Lido rode their luck in the 63rd minute when Owyn Airey smashed a shot against the bar.
Callum Silcox then forced Lido keeper Steve Cann into an excellent save in the 74th minute with a rasping, long range effort.
Ammanford looked the most likely team to score and had several other opportunities which they failed to convert.
Ammanford were playing well with Morgan Clarke particularly influential in midfield.
Just when it looked as if a hard fought contest was heading for a draw Griffiths swept home from close range in the 87th minute following a Lido corner.
Ammanford frantically went in search of a second equaliser in the time that remained but this eluded them and the final whistle brought about feelings of what could have been for the away team.
Ammanford will look to put things right in their next match, a home encounter against Goytre Utd on Friday (Sept 30).
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