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Clinical Scarlets put Leinster to the sword

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SCARLETS 23
LEINSTER 13

THE SCARLETS maintained their unbeaten record at Parc y Scarlets in style with a stunning win over reigning Pro12 champions and three-time European champions Leinster. In the process they closed the gap on sixth place Connaught to just three points, with just five games remaining in the race for automatic qualification for next year’s Champions Cup, as the Irish side were controversial last gasp losers at Cardiff Arms Park on the previous night.

An entertaining first half saw some classy backline play from both sides, with former All Black Regan King, making his 100th league appearance for the Scarlets, impressing with his slight of hand and creative vision and Leinsters’ own Kiwi Ben Ta’o showing his power and pace to break the home sides defensive line on more than one occasion.

King wasn’t alone in producing a display of real class for the Scarlets. Back rowers John Barclay and James Davies also put in big performances. Experienced Scotland international Barclay showed his powerful running and guile at the turnover whilst 24 year old Davies, younger sibling of current international and former Scarlet Jonathan Davies, put in a man of the match display. Davies is enjoying his breakthrough season on the regional stage and if he can produce more performances like this one, Warren Gatland will be watching with keen eyes.

The Scarlets took the lead as Steven Shingler notched a penalty following good running from Wales centre Scott Williams, who was released from international duty for the game. This lead didn’t last for long after a needless penalty was given away near halfway by the home side. Flyhalf Gopperth did the honours, striking the ball to touch to give Leinster a line-out opportunity on the Scarlets 22. A training ground move was enough to undo the otherwise water tight Scarlets defence as hooker Sean Cronin received the ball from Mike McCarthy and drove around the back of the line-out. Quickly recycled ball created space for the lethal Ta’o who slid inside Scott Williams and brushed off the desperate last-ditch tackle of Parkes to score his first try for the club. Gopperth added the extras and also notched a penalty to give the visitors a 10-3 lead.

On the 30 minute mark the Scarlets turned on the style as Regan King unlocked the Leinster backline and sent marauding back-row Barclay into the corner for the the first Scarlets score. Although Shingler couldn’t add the extras from the touchline, the home side went in at half time just 2 points behind in what had been an enthralling forty minutes.

The second half began with another burst from powerhouse centre Ben Ta’o, but sensing a second try he was stopped in his tracks by a superb covering tackle from the ever-present James Davies. Barclay was able to turnover possession and after a number of phases the Scarlets produced the try of the game. King again was the creator, drawing South African fullback Zane Kirchner to put Jordan Williams in under the posts. Shingler added the easy extras and the Scarlets had a lead they never looked like relinquishing even when Leinster added a penalty to bring the score to 15-13.

The Scarlets put the game to bed as Barclay and Davies combined again to create the games final try. Barclay tackled and Davies turned over to give replacement back-row Rory Pitman the chance to brush off Gopperth and crash over. The try went unconverted but Priestland made amends by putting the game beyond doubt with a late penalty to give the Scarlets a well deserved and crucial home win, to the delight of man of the match James Davies.

“It was a massive win for us. We talked about it all week; this block of four against Irish teams has been tough. We looked at this one as probably one of the biggest – at home and wanting to keep our unbeaten record.”

Davies went on to say: “The defence was outstanding. The boys worked tremendously hard and it all came down to good attitude. We’re so pleased with the win.”

Scarlets return to Guinness Pro12 action on Saturday March 28 as they take on Edinburgh Rugby at Parc y Scarlets, kick-off 2.40pm.

Teams:

SCARLETS: Jordan Williams; Harry Robinson, Regan King, Scott Williams, Hadleigh Parkes; Steven Shingler, Aled Davies; Phil John, Ken Owens (capt), Peter Edwards, George Earle, Johan Snyman, Lewis Rawlins, James Davies, John Barclay.

REPLACEMENTS: Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones, Jacobie Adriaanse, Jack Payne, Rory Pitman, Gareth Davies, Rhys Priestland, Adam Warren

LEINSTER: Zane Kirchner; Fergus McFadden; Ben Te’o; Gordon D’Arcy; Luke Fitzgerald; Jimmy Gopperth; Eoin Reddan: Cian Healy; Sean Cronin; Martin Moore; Mike McCarthy; Kane Douglas; Rhys Ruddock; Dominic Ryan; Jack Conan.

REPLACEMENTS: Michael Bent; Richardt Strauss; Tadhg Furlong; Tom Denton; Isaac Boss; Noel Reid; Dave Kearney.

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Primary Schools Cross Country returns after three-year absence

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THE 33rd edition of the Carmarthenshire Primary Schools Cross Country Championships returned for the first time in three years on Thursday evening, September 29, 2022.

Organised by Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club and supported by Carmarthenshire County Council, the 2022 race moved to a new Carmarthenshire venue at Pembrey Country Park situated between Burry Port and Kidwelly. Prior to 2022, the United Counties Showground in Carmarthen had been the location for three decades.

Several runners have highlighted this event as the start of their running careers that have led to professional contracts and representing Great Britain internationally.

It gave youngsters in four primary school year groups the opportunity to get involved in running and enjoy the race experience alongside their school friends, whether they were experienced club runners or trying out cross country for the very first time.

Approximately 1,200 runners from over forty Carmarthenshire primary schools competed in the evening sunshine.

Watched on by hundreds of parents, family members and teachers, eight races were on offer with the year 3 and year 4’s completing 1km whilst the year 5 and year 6 races were over 1 mile. There were between 100-150 finishers across each year group.

Held on Monks Field within the park next to the National Closed Cycling Circuit and Ski Centre, competitors ran along fast grass and hill sections.

Individual and team awards were presented to the first five in each race and the winning school team in each year group combined – Ysgol Iau Llangennech (Year 3), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 4), Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 5) and Ysgol Y Dderwen (Year 6).

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to pupils from twenty two schools on the podium.

Top 3 positions:

Year 3 Girls: 1 Erin Jones (Carreg Hirfaen), 2 Farah Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Evie Issac (Swiss Valley)

Year 3 Boys: 1 Daniel James (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Gruff Davies (Rhys Pritchard), 3 Eligh Youngman (Iau Llangennech)

Year 4 Girls: 1 Zara Phillips (Rhys Pritchard), 2 Erin Bowen (Llangynnwr), 3 Mared Lili Rees (Y Dderwen)

Year 4 Boys: 1 Steffan James (Y Dderwen), 2 Elgan John (Y Bedol), 3 Zyiah Onoh (Mynydd Y Garreg)

Year 5 Girls: 1 Gwenno Jones (Nantgaredig), 2 Emilia Matthews (Pontyberem), 3 Elsie Davies (Saron)

Year 5 Boys: 1 Jasper Davis (Llandovery College), 2 Tai Jones (Y Bedol), 3 Tyler Greggory (Bro Banw)

Year 6 Girls: 1 Manon Phillips (Peniel), 2 Megan Evans (Cynnwyl Elfed), 3 Olwen Williams (Y Dderwen)

Year 6 Boys: 1 Tomos Cai Davies (Y Dderwen), 2 Miles Hayhurst (Ferryside), 3 Jayden Fergus (Saron)

The top 10 individuals in each school year can be viewed here: https://www.carmarthenharriers.co.uk/latest/carmarthenshire-primary-schools-cross-country-championships-2022-makes-a-welcome-return-to-the-county-pembrey-country-park/

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Carmarthenshire man with PTSD to run Cardiff Half for veterans

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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.

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Old Gold earn big win over Ynyshir

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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.

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