TIGHTHEAD prop Samson Lee returns to action for the Scarlets this Friday in the Welsh derby clash against Dragons Rugby at Parc y Scarlets.
Lee’s last appearance came in the European Rugby Champions Cup clash against Bath Rugby in October and is one of eleven personnel changes to the Scarlets side that secured victory over Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on New Year’s Eve.
Head Coach Wayne Pivac has made thirteen changes to the side, two of which are positional, and Lee is one-third of a fresh front row for the derby clash with Rob Evans and Ken Owens also making a return to the starting XV.
Australian Steve Cummins and South African David Bulbring pair up in the second row with Aaron Shingler and John Barclay returning to the starting line-up alongside Sunday’s man of the match James Davies.
In the backline injuries have forced a reshuffle with Rhys Patchell moving to fullback with injuries to both Johnny Mcnicholl (shoulder) and Leigh Halfpenny (pec). Tom Prydie keeps his place on the wing with Ioan Nicholas coming in for Paul Asquith who’s unavailable due to illness.
Hadleigh Parkes moves to inside centre with Steff Hughes coming in at outside centre. Aled Davies is named at scrum half with Dan Jones taking up the fly half mantle.
The replacements bench two internationals in Ryan Elias and Wyn Jones with Simon Gardiner offering tighthead cover. Lewis Rawlins returns from a foot injury to partner Will Boyde as loose forward cover.
Scrum half Jonathan Evans makes a return to action after suffering a high ankle sprain in the victory over Southern Kings in South Africa back in November alongside Rhys Jones and Morgan Williams.
Speaking ahead of the Guinness PRO14 clash head coach Wayne Pivac said: “These derbies have been tight affairs. We’ll be focusing on ourselves. It’s another derby and we’ve seen over the last two matches how tight they can be. That game will no doubt be another exciting game.
“We’ve done the double over the Ospreys and the Blues and the Dragons are the last Welsh team for us to play, it’ll be the first time we play them this season. It’s important for us to keep winning at home.”
Scarlets team to take on Dragons tomorrow (Jan 5), kick-off 7.35pm, at Parc y Scarlets;
15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Ioan Nicholas, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Aled Davies, 1 Rob Evans, 2 Ken Owens ©, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Steve Cummins, 5 David Bulbring, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 James Davies, 8 John Barclay
Replacements; Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Simon Gardiner, Lewis Rawlins, Will Boyde, Jonathan Evans, Rhys Jones, Morgan Williams
Five-star Old Gold sink students
AFTER Carmarthen opened their Cymru South League home programme some 12 days ago with a comprehensive victory over Llantwit Major they improved on even that performance with this crushing demolition of Swansea Uni who were kept deep under pressure in their own half for much of the match.
From the start Town launched a series of piercing attacks which the visitors struggled to contain.
On 5 minutes a sweeping move along the right-flank began with Jordan Vickers sprinting upfield and then playing the ball on to Liam Thomas who threaded a fine pass across to Matthew Delaney – from the corner of the penalty area he struck a fierce angled shot that goal-keeper Ben Edwards, at full-stretch, turned aside.
Yet soon afterwards the Old Gold took the lead. After 9 minutes Vickers passed the ball across Jamie Rickard who instantly sent it on to Thomas, inside the penalty area, and Town’s all-time top scorer clinically converted the opportunity.
Then on 12 minutes Delaney, from the right-wing, sent a fine long cross into the goalmouth where Scott Tancock saw his close-range glancing header fly just wide of the goal.
At this stage Town were dominating the game with their pace and movement. On 22 minutes Rickard threaded an excellent pass to Thomas on the edge the penalty area but with defenders nearby his hurried shot went marginally off-target.
In the 25th minute Vickers, a particular constant threat to the opponents’ defenders, fired an inviting cross into the goalmouth where Noah Daley was just unable to reach the ball for a simple tap-in opportunity.
The visitors, during all this time, had managed little in terms of creating a serious attacking threat. However on 30 minutes George Sellick broke clear from the centre-circle and struck a 25 yard volley which Carmarthen ‘keeper Ifan Knott, having raced some way out of his goal, first blocked and then claimed the loose ball.
But that was just a brief interruption to Town’s search for more goals and the certainty of three League points.
On 36 minutes Daley embarked on a remarkable solo run – having taken possession of the ball on the edge of the centre-circle he proceeded to pass 3 defenders and move into the penalty area then dismissively go around Edwards and drive the ball in to the empty net.
Soon afterwards, in the 39th minute, the Old Gold scored again when Thomas, on the half-way line, played a fine pass forward to Bradley Gibbings who raced free towards the penalty area where he neatly side-stepped Edwards, who was bereft of any defensive cover for the second successive time, and slid the ball into the net.
Then, to conclude a most productive 45 minutes a superb long pass out of defence was chased by Jaime Rickard deep into the visitors’ half – as Edwards came well out of his penalty area to challenge him Rickard neatly crossed the ball to Daley who converted an easy tap-in goal.
After the interval, with Carmarthen having such a commanding lead, neither team appeared to show much urgency in the blistering heat of the day. Yet in the 60th minute Town extended their lead with a well-worked move.
Vickers sprinted along the right flank before sending a deep cross to the far side of the goal area where Daley arrived with perfect timing and planted a powerful header past Edwards and into the back of the net.
The Old Gold continued to hold the advantage over the University team, in terms of both possession and territory, but the only further goalmouth action arose after 80 minutes – following a free-kick Rickard struck a promising 20 yard drive that Edwards, at full-stretch, turned around the post.
This was a most welcome result, not only in terms of the quality of the performance but also in that Town have now moved up into 5th place in the League table.
The Old Gold’s League programme now continues with a visit Goytre United on Friday, August 19, k/o 7.30pm.
Wanderers win to keep promotion hopes alive
CARMARTHEN Wanderers earned a big win on Saturday (Aug 13) as they beat Ynysygerwn by 162 runs.
The win keeps them in third place in Division 2 of the South Wales Premier League, 29 points off the top two. However, their next fixture is at home against league leaders Ynystawe.
On Saturday, Ynysygerwn won the toss and chose to field and they saw the Wanderers rack up 262-8 from their 50 overs.
Owen Bailey hit three early boundaries (1 six, 2 fours) before being run out on a score of 16 and Tom Davies reached a score of 25 before falling lbw to Emyr Lawrence.
Owain Binding made 17 before being stumped as the Wanderers were reduced to 82-3.
Gareth Thomas and Robbie Crawford took over and they shared 87 runs for the fourth wicket.
Thomas hit seven fours and two sixes in his score of 63 from 58 balls but he was then caught by Adam Davies off the bowling of Nathan Davies.
Carl Holding was also stumped and Liam Rogers fell on a score of 10 when he was caught and bowled by Nathan Davies.
Crawford then reached his half century as he and Eddie Byng added 34 runs for the seventh wicket but Byng became the third batsman to be stumped.
Ian Hughes was out for a third-ball duck before Crawford and Harry Conick finished unbeaten.
Conick hit a late six to finish not out on 8 while Crawford was unbeaten on 71 after hitting six fours and two sixes.
Ynysygerwn were in trouble early on in their reply as they slipped to 16-3. Ryan Sylvester made a score of 29 before falling lbw to Owen Bailey.
Adam Davies made a score of 15 for the home side but it wasn’t enough as they were bowled out for 100.
Binding was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with 5-22. Chris Turrell, Ian Hughes, Tom Davies and Owen Bailey all picked up a wicket each.
The Wanderers’ game with leaders Ynystawe starts at 12:30pm on Saturday, August 20.
Ammanford seal place in top flight
AMMANFORD sealed their place in next season’s top flight with a thrilling one wicket victory over Bridgend at the Park.
Bridgend won the toss and batted first, losing three quick wickets to the excellent bowling of Matthew Davies (2-20) and Dan Roberts (1-30).
However, captain Tom Baker joined opener Sam Wood at the crease and these two provided Bridgend’s main partnership of 81.
The hard track and fast outfield promised a big score but Ammanford’s bowlers stuck to their task and dismissed the visitors for 199 in their penultimate over.
Xavier Clarke bowled well for his 2 for 31 and Owen Davies cleaned up at the end with 3 for 61.
Ammanford got off to a poor start, losing regular wickets until, at 56 for 4, Rhys-Huw Davies joined opener Kurtis Marsh to provide a steadying half century partnership.
However, with the departure of Marsh for 42, three wickets fell for the addition of a single run, and Ammanford were staring down the barrel of another disappointing defeat.
Enter skipper Alun Evans, coming in at number 9 after recovering from a long afternoon in the field.
Evans and Davies added a quick 21 runs before Davies departed for an invaluable 33.
Ammanford were now well into the tail, 8 wickets down and still 68 runs short of their target. Their two last batsmen faced the daunting task of staying in with their skipper while he tried to knock off the runs.
Which, to their credit, is exactly what they did. First, Owen Davies (18) added 33 priceless runs with his captain while last man Matthew Davies (9no) courageously stuck in until the winning runs were scored. Evans finished a true captain’s innings unbeaten on 49.
Ammanford are now safe in 7th place, 60 points clear of bottom club Clydach whom they welcome to the Park next Saturday.
On Wednesday evening, Ammanford travel to Port Talbot to play the semi-final of the SWCA T20
knockout cup. Wickets pitched at 5.45pm.
Ammanford seconds lose by 67 runs
Ammanford seconds lost by 67 runs to Carmarthen Wanderers at Trinity Fields. Carmarthen batted first and were dismissed for 177 in the 42nd over
Top scorer was skipper Giles Thomas (41), supported by Oliver John (27) and James Connick (24).
Tomos Roach was Ammanford’s top wicket taker with 4 for 20. Cian Roach and Iwan Matthews picked up a couple of wickets each.
In reply, Ammanford’s batsmen just couldn’t stay in long enough to make an impression on the scoreboard. Cian Roach (27) and Steffan Williams (22) did their best but the overall response simply
wasn’t good enough and they were all out for 110 after just 25 overs.
Third XI lose by eight wickets
Ammanford thirds went down by 8 wickets to Llandarcy.
Ammanford reached 150 for 9 in their 40 overs, thanks to opener Steve Hagget (45) and skipper Neville Pritchard (35). Llandarcy’s Jon Pryce took 4 for 18.
Despite losing two early wickets, Llandarcy took just 22 overs to pass the Ammanford total, with unbeaten half centuries from David Noall and Gareth Richards.
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