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Wales open 6 Nations with emphatic victory over Scotland

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By Jonathan Twigg

WALES defeated Scotland 34-7 on Saturday (Feb 3) at the Principality Stadium with ten Scarlets in the starting line-up, plus former Pontyberem winger Josh Adams, now the Aviva Premiership top scorer for Worcester Warriors.

With the stadium roof closed it encapsulated a cauldron of emotion as the Natwest Six Nations championship got under way, with ten year old chorister Heddwin York, of Blaenavon Male Voice Choir leading the pre match build up. Later on the same day another son of Pontyberem was setting a championship record, with Nigel Owens referring his eighteenth game, at the Stade de France when Ireland came calling.

Winning the toss Scotland’s ‘Scarlet’ John Barclay got Finn Russell to kick off towards the City End and Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones sailed high to secure the ball, all before opposite number Jonny Gray had a barn storming 30 metre gallop and the afternoons tempo was set, with both Adams and fellow winger Steff Evans taking opportunities to run with ball in hand.

Not one person missed the tumultuous opening by perishing in the queues outside the ground, witnessing the opening try after five minutes; scrum half Gareth Davies intercepted a long pass and raced 70 meters towards the River Taf End to score wide out, full back Leigh Halfpenny converted.

Flanker Aaron Shingler set up a scintillating attack from the restart, featuring prop Rob Evans and Evans, who failed to catch a difficult pass from Skipper Jones with the try line at his mercy beneath the posts.

The Wales scrum won a free kick, opted for another scrum, outside half Rhys Patchell nearly reached the promised land before play swung back across the theatre of dreams and Halfpenny converted his own touchdown after 12 minutes.

Dream rugby or a defence coaches’ nightmare? Both sides played exhilarating rugby with ball in hand, as somewhere amongst this fantastic ‘hymn’ that the full house of 74,169 spectators enjoyed, a settling influence was needed.

Centres Hadeligh Parkes and Scott Williams brought that mantra to the ‘Dragons’ play, through their tackling which impacted on the Scarlets ‘front row’ of Evans, hooker Ken Owens and Samson Lee to turn the coal face red.

Having played just 25% of the game in the Scottish half coach Warren Gatland’s side built a more stable platform through phased play, nullifying Scottish momentum and hearts as they won turnover penalties.

Shingler was a key target in the lineout as the ‘Evans’ boys featured in beating despairing tackles. Halftime came and went with Wales driving forward through diminutive scrum half Davies, securing an early penalty which Halfpenny slotted over for three points.

Four Men Aloud had returned to the pitch for half time entertainment but the sweetest battle cry came from Shingler, the Hendy back row man secured a penalty on the halfway line, which the Gorseinon born kicker chalked up with confidence.

Max Boyce couldn’t have written bards to describe the expressive serenading from the stands to match the play, the Scottish talisman Stuart Hogg without influence as his peers made error after error. That ‘mould of solid gold, that once made Barry John’ hasn’t broken after all and the tint upon the flowing locks of Patchell shone as the outside half dictated play with speed, vision, kicks and tricks.

The game entered the final quarter with the Men of Harlech now dominating possession and territory and Patchells dart for the line saw Evans flick the ball to Halfpenny who crossed for his second converted try.

The flower of Scotland had wilted, the closed roof restricting their water of life as new breath revitalised the Dragons lungs, replacement hooker Wyn Jones plunge for the line ruled out by the TMO.

Aled Davies came on for his sixth cap, replacing his Scarlet team mate to feed the scrum and watch as it destroyed the now demoralised visiting pack with such ferocity it set the stadium alarms ringing towards heaven. Man of the match Shingler straightened the line with eight minutes left, Parkes made ground strongly and the flying Evans, back after an enforced lay off was airborne on the touch line to one handily place the ball for the bonus point converted try.

‘Feed me till I want no more’ was the cry from a baying Welsh crowd although Gatland et al were happy to take the Bread from Heaven to Twickenham next week. The ‘Prophet Max’ composed suitable vitriol decades before, to be retold with vigour by the travelling congregation heading to HQ on Saturday (Feb 10).

This game ended 34-7, replacement Pete Horne crossed for the Russell to convert after the Scott’s picked up a consolation score for their endeavours driving around the fringes, the customary handshakes occurred a minute later as Hadleigh put the ball off the Park and Wales took the spoils, bonus point included.

The players had made a statement, to those who had prophesised pre match but more importantly to the ‘Great Redeemer’ whose well-trodden path around Jordon and intrinsic belief in them was justly rewarded.

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Mumbles win well against Ammanford seconds

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AMMANFORD seconds suffered a heavy 125 run defeat at the hands of Mumbles at Marespool.

Winning the toss, Ammanford invited Mumbles to bat first, and a terrific 188 run partnership for the second wicket, featuring Ben Jones (94) and Stuart Seaton (77), helped the home team to a healthy 221 for 4 in 45 overs.

Several Ammanford batsmen got into double figures but none were able to stay long enough to make any impression on the run chase. Eirian Morgan top-scored with 25, but the Ammanford innings finished disappointingly on 96 all out.

Gethin Morgan and Phil Roche each took three wickets for Mumbles.

Thirds beaten by Landore

Ammanford thirds travelled to Landore only to lose their match by 50 runs.

Ammanford skipper Carl Griffiths put Landore in to bat, and the home team scored 148 for 9. Landore
skipper Terry Summerfield top-scored with 33.

Ammanford’s Tom Davies was chief wicket-taker with 4 for 38.

Despite a solid 30 from opener and man-of-the-match Tom Davies, Ammanford failed to get anywhere near the required target and folded their innings on 98 inside 34 overs.

The defeat dropped them out of the top half of division six on the SWCA.

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Cwmamman United Juniors host end of season event

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CWMAMMAN United juniors held their end of season event at Clwb Godre’r Mynydd Ddu Glanamman.

As they celebrated throughout the day with their different age groups from Under 6 to Under 14 it looked as if almost every child in the Cwm had attended at some point.

The Juniors section at the club has grown to around 150 children over the last couple of years and with a dedicated and enthusiastic group of committee, coaches and volunteers behind them the club is excitedly anticipating further growth.

A fantastic time was had by all with all age groups proudly having their moment in the sun.

Robert Griffiths the Clubs Junior Chairman said: “I have to thank all our fantastic people at the club that get the kids out playing whether sorting games, coaching, fund raising or organising events such as our club parties and awards such as these.

“We continiue to grow and if your child would like to be part of a safe, healthy and fun environment they are most welcome here.”

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Depleted Ammanford beaten by seven wickets

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A DEPLETED Ammanford lost by seven wickets to Bridgend Town in a rain affected match at windswept Newbridge Fields on Satuday (Jun 25).

With the start delayed by over an hour because of rain, the match was reduced to 39 overs before a ball was bowled, and the toss immediately became the crucial factor in deciding the game’s outcome.

Bridgend won it and, predictably enough, put Ammanford in to bat.

The writing was on the wall as the visitors lost two wickets for 9 runs on an unpredictable wicket which was one of the first bowler-friendly tracks encountered this season.

Only four batters reached double figures as wickets fell at regular intervals. Top scorer was 14 year old wicket-keeper Gruffudd Owen (19no) who took the game to the visitors and looked capable of scoring many more had he not run out of partners.

Ammanford were all out for 90 inside 30 overs.

Tea was taken early as more heavy rain swept across Newbridge Fields, but unfortunately for Ammanford the sun made a reappearance and play eventually resumed.

The Bridgend batters did not have it all their own way, quickly losing both openers to opening bowler Owen Davies.

Davies removed a further wicket in a good spell of 3 for 15, but Thomas Cogbill (43no) and Luke Humphries (18) saw Bridgend safely home without further trouble inside 24 overs.

Next week, Ammanford welcome second placed Swansea to the Park, the memory of their 700+ run clash at St Helen’s still fresh in their minds.

Thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run

Ammanford thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run in a rain adjusted match at the Rec.

Batting first, Ammanford reached 132 all out, thanks mainly to their captain Carl Griffiths (41) and Dafydd Wyn Jones (21).

Rain meant that Pontardawe’s reply was restricted to just 16 overs, during which they had to score 53 runs.

They came very close, but two wickets each from Oliver Pallot and Iwan Matthews interrupted their progress and they fell short by a single run, finishing on 51 for 5.

The victory moved Ammanford into the top half of SWCA’s Division 6.

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