Sunday, 29 April 2012

Swansea see off Gowerton in SWCA opener

The South Wales Cricket Association campaign kicked off with a fascinating clash between last year’s Division One runners up, Gowerton, and Swansea, who were relegated from the Premier League.

At a damp Victoria Road, it was Swansea that came out on top prevailing by four wickets. Gowerton batted first and were dismissed for 165, Dwayne Bachelor, 57, and Sam Lyle, 33, were the most notable performers with the bat.  The visitors' Johnny Hubschmid, 3-35, and Josh Tobin, 3-45, were the best with the ball.

Swansea reached the target in the 47th over for the loss of six wickets carding 166-6. Josh Hughes hit a half century 55 including three 4’s and two 6’s, while Hubschmid produced a great all round performance chipping in with 27, with Gareth Hayden finishing unbeaten on 22. Ian Capon was lethal with the ball, collecting 4-50, but it was not enough to avoid defeat.

Clydach hosted Neath and saw off last year’s third placed side with a five wicket win. It was the visitors that batted first and they struck 223-3 including an unbeaten century from Keiron Thomas (128), with Gareth Davies chipping in a solid 36.

Clydach in response comfortably reached their goal in the 47th over carding 227-5, with opener Jason Davies hitting a sublime undefeated century (125), before Sion Jenkins notched up 35 as well as a handy 27 from Steff Davies.

Meanwhile, Tata Steel clinically dispatched Ynystawe at their Margam base with the Steelmen skittling the visitors for 80. Michael Jones was the most lethal with the ball capturing four wickets.

Elsewhere, Maesteg Celtic and Llangannech have been made to wait to make their Division One debuts after Celtic’s match at defending champions' Dafen and Llangenench’s encounter against Pontardawe both fell foul of the inclement weather. 

Seagulls seal crown with classy display

Fishguard and Goodwick sealed the Division Five West title with a 46-13 victory over St Clears.
The Seagulls had to contend with the first half wing blowing a gale in their face, but blew away their opponents when playing with the advantage in the second half, running in seven tries in all including doubles for James Griffiths and Nathan Jenkins, while Gareth Adamson, Rhys Morgan and Dan Harries also touched down. Griffiths also had a fine day with the boot firing home a penalty and four conversions.
All of St Clears' points came before the interval through touchdowns from Richard Sharpe-Williams and Andrew Davies, as well as a penalty from Chris Rodenhurst.
Nantgaredig pushed Fishguard all the way in the race for the title but had to settle for runners up position despite an 18-12 victory at Pembroke Dock Quins.
The visitors crossed twice through a Guto Roberts brace while Barry Thomas added a conversion and two penalties.
Swansea Uplands finished their campaign on a high with a 43-0 whitewash of strugglers St Davids.
Uplands, once again inspired by the Edmunds brothers, were rampant throughout with James Edmunds collecting a hat-trick, while David Lees, Mark Crimp and Ben Greenslade also went over. Ton Edmunds had a fine day with the boot slotting five conversions and a penalty.

Pontypridd finish top of the pile

Pontypridd finished top of the Welsh Premiership and will now face the winner of either Llanelli or Aberavon in the play–off final, after beating Llandovery 20-0 at Sardis Road.
A touchdown either side of the break from centre Dafydd Lockyer and veteran full-back Gareth Wyatt saw the hosts ease to victory, one which will give them home advantage for the championship decider on May 18.
Pontypridd went into the match knowing a victory would guarantee them top place in the league, while the Drovers also knew that a place in the play-offs was  up for grabs for them, but in the end, it was Dale McIntosh’s men who were celebrating following a deserved and hard-fought triumph.
The hosts nearly got off to a perfect start after five minutes only for scrum-half Lewis Jones to knock-on just a yard out before fly-half Lewis K Williams pushed a penalty just wide of the left-hand post.
Both Pontypridd wingers saw plenty of the ball early on. Matthew Nuthall on the left flank came close to breaking the deadlock following good work in midfield from Wyatt and Lockyer, while also showing their mettle at the scrum.
Nuthall was in the thick of it moments later when he off-loaded in the tackle to find Wyatt who put Chris Clayton away down the right. He looked set to score but spilled the ball five yards from the line.
The reverse fixture earlier in the season had been won by Pontypridd with just a solitary penalty, and yesterday’s match was following a similar pattern with both defences cancelling each other out.
But on 22 minutes, and with referee James Jones playing them a penalty advantage, the hosts got that all-important first score. Jones picked up from the base of a scrum close in and fed Williams who found Lockyer, cutting back on the scissors to touchdown under the posts. Williams duly added the extras.
LLandovery struggled to make their possession tell as they suffered a lack of creativity in the opposition 22, although they were up against a very determined defence on the day.
Leading 7-0 at the interval, the hosts didn't have to wait long in the second-half to extend their advantage, this time with a Williams penalty.
No 8 Dan Godfrey broke from a scrum in the shadow of his own posts, released Lockyer, and the centre kicked up field where the covering defence were penalised for holding on under pressure from the attackers following up.
Llandovery were reduced to 14 men when second row Matthew Harbut was adjudged to have collapsed a rolling maul a few metres from his own try-line.
Moments later, the 2,500 strong crowd nearly had their second try to cheer when a superbly judged cross-kick by Williams agonisingly bounced just out of the grasp of Clayton, but on the hour it was 13-0, when Williams landed a second penalty after the Drovers were penalised for infringing at a scrum.
With the numerical advantage, Pontypridd put the clash to bed thanks to some lovely interplay involving Gary Williams, Nuthall and Wyatt which ended with the latter gleefully diving over.
Williams landed the awkward touchline conversion and although replacement Jake Thomas was yellow-carded for a tip tackle late on, the visitors couldn’t breach the Pontypridd line and they have to settle with a very credible fourth place in the Premiership.
The play-off final could well be a repeat of last season when Llanelli travelled to Sardis Road and upset the form book to take the title. This time, the Scarlets have to see off Aberavon on May 12 for the honour of meeting Pontypridd six days later.

Battle for promotion goes down to the wire

Pill Harrier and Senghenydd both remain in the hunt to clinch the runners up and final promotion spot in Division Three East.
Pill currently sit in the coveted final promotion spot and strengthened their position with a try bonus 36-8 triumph over Abertillery B G. The highfliers crossed four times through Dave Tovey, Dwayne Bailey, Brendan Lampitt and Curtis Watkins.
Senghenydd meanwhile, who travel to Pill Harriers next week in a promotion showdown, also bagged a valuable victory with a hard-fought 15-12 win over Pontypool. The Saints touched down twice through Lloyd Rowlands and Nathan Gittens, while James Hallett was on target with a conversion and a penalty.
Meanwhile, Nelson moved into pole position to bag promotion along with Llanishen from Division Three South East with a nail biting 7-6 triumph at Dowlais.  The Unicorns went over for the only try of the match through Darryl Thomas, while Dan Jones added the all important extras.
Maesteg Quins maintained their amazing record in Division Three South West with a 59-6 home success over Taibach.
The Quins, who triumphed in Four South West last season, were never troubled by the visitors as they crossed for nine tries though Ryan Lovett, Andrew Healy, Owen Richard, Nathan Morgan, Lee Ronan, Sean Cleary and a well-taken hat trick from Dean Ronan.
The Tigers, who could do little to prevent the one side encounter, could only manage two Michael Sweeney penalties.
Elsewhere, Tumble ended their Division Three West campaign with a 26-22 home win over Gorseinon.
The Magpies, who trailed at the break, came out firing in the second half, adding to Steve Hewitt and Daniel Matthews' tries through Gareth Jones and Nathan Wilcox touchdowns, while Hewitt added two penalties.
Gorseinon had to be content with a losing bonus point thanks to four Andrew Colwill penalties, and touchdowns from Josh Simmonds and Alun Evans.

Glynneath bag back to back titles

Glynneath claimed back to back league titles once again, pipping rivals Kenfig Hill this time to bag the Two West crown, as they capitalised on the Mules' 15-10 defeat at Skewen with a try bonus 36-5 victory over Aberavon Quins.
Last year’s Three South West Champions put in a stylish performance as they crossed for six tries through Anthony Lee, Greg Roberts, Ashley Evans, Stuart Leach and a double from Kyle Roberts.
In the day's other fixture, Maesteg’s woeful season ended with a 32-17 defeat by Kidwelly at the Old Parish.
The Black and Ambers bagged a try bonus thanks to touchdowns from Aaron Warren, Berian Watkins and a double by Rhys Gravel, while Stuart Morris notched up 12 points with the boot.
The Llynfi Valley side did run in five tries of their own through Mike Powell, Scott Hicks and Grant Epsom.

Ystrad seal Two East crown

Ystrad Rhondda capitalised on Penallta’s midweek slip up at Ynysybwl to secure the Division Two East title with a comfortable 26-13 home victory over Llantrisant.
Ystrad, who were relegated from One East last season, will be making an immediate return, as the hosts crossed four times through Neil Walker, Dan John, Alex Webber and Cain Rees, while Webber also added three conversions.
The Champions will play their final match of their campaign next week at Ynysybwl, with the hosts  looking to clinch the fourth and final promotion place from Heol y Cyw.
Elsewhere, basement boys Rhymney wrapped up their league program with only their third win after a 27-8 home success over Tylorstown.
The Brewers cut loose, running in five tries with Dafydd Hellard notching up a hat trick, and Sean Murphy grabbing a brace.
The Tigers meanwhile could only manage a Luke Ramsey touchdown and penalty.

Waterwheelers end season on a high

Tondu saved the best till last in their inaugural season in Division One West with a 40-10 win over UWIC.
It was the students that got off to the better start when full back Rhys Davies went over early on, but the Waterwheelers hit back, first through scrum half Dereck Treadwell touching down, and then prop Lloyd Elliot extended their lead just before the break, with outside half Paul Smithson adding the extras to both to take a 14-5 lead.
After the interval, it was all one way traffic with the hosts running in a further four tries through Stephen Bevan, Darren Thomas, Smithson and Matthew Davies.
UWIC, who finish the season in eighth place after looking like title contenders before the Christmas break, had to be content with a second half consolation try from wing Pierre Tucker as they now turn their attentions towards the National Champioship next season.
Elsewhere, third placed Carmarthen Athletic ended their campaign on a high with a hardfought 18-8 victory over local rivals Whitland.
Athletic outscored their rivals three tries to one with touchdowns from centre Viv Jenkins, and wings Luke Morgan and Owain Herbert, while Mike Sauro slotted a penalty.

Steelmen retain title in style

Ebbw Vale retained the Division One East title in emphatic fashion with a 52-0 whitewash over strugglers Tredegar.
The Steelmen faithful had just a three mile trip to make to the Recreation Ground and they weren’t left disappointed, as their heroes wrapped up the try bonus point before the break crossing five times through a Wes Cunliffe double, with Dan Haymond, Dan Dearden and Gareth James also touching down. Dorian Jones added the extras to four.
After the interval they continued where they left off, running in a further three tries through Dearden, a penalty try and a brilliant individual try from his own 22 by Dorian Jones to seal the 52-0 whitewash.
Meanwhile, Newbridge sealed third place with a ten try 66-12 demolition of fifth placed Beddau at the Welfare Ground.
The hosts were dominant throughout with outside half Neil Burnett controlling proceedings wonderfully, unleashing the backs with excellent effect. Wing Gareth Jones grabbed a hat-trick, Brendan Howells and Geraint Thomas each crossed twice, while Ceri Young, Shaun Thomas and Mark Curtis also went over. Burnett landed eight conversions.
Beddau were restricted to two touchdowns either side of the break through Glen Slater and Keiran Thomas, while Gavin Pearce added the extras to the first.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tense title race enters home straight

THE race for top spot in Division Five West will go down to the wire after leaders Fishguard and Nantgaredig in second both recorded huge wins on Saturday.

Fishguard head their rivals by four points meaning they only need to avoid defeat at St Clears next weekend to finish first.

They battered poor Llangwm 92-3 with 15 tries firmly underlining their intent to hold onto the lead. James Griffiths and Mike Jenkins crossed for hat-tricks, Gavin Walsh scored two tries and Richard Hunter, Dai Evans, Simon James, Gwilyn Evans, Mark George and Rhys Morgan also touched down.

Meanwhile, Nantgaredig were also in imperious form at home against Penygroes, with Huw Harris bagging three tries in a 52-0 hiding.

Mike O’Leary (2), Clinton Morgan (2), Cled Richards, Brian Edmunds and Barry Thomas put their names on the scoresheet and Nant must now beat Pembroke Dock Quins and hope St Clears can do them a big favour.

On a day of high scores, the Quins racked up 64 points as they dished out a trouncing to Pontyates who couldn’t manage any.

There were braces for Rhys Scourfield, Adam Gawley and Paul Jonkers as the visitors were well and truly put to the sword.

Three clubs remain in with a shout of winning Five South East and all of them won at the weekend. Old Illtydians are still at the top, three points ahead of CRC Caerdydd and Cilfynydd.

CRC Caerdydd smashed St Joseph’s 53-19 at home with Sion Horan completing a hat-trick of tries and Dafydd Shermer getting two.

The leaders won handsomely against Deri, 57-7, and Cilfynydd beat Dinas Powys 29-22.

Hafodyrynys won a high-scoring clash against Newport Saracens 35-30 to move onto 106 league points but second-placed Monmouth have plenty of games in hand to claw back the deficit.

In Five South West, Penlan came out on top in the clash between first and second as they breezed past Tycroes 29-0 and just for good measure, Bryncethin, champions of Five South Central, won 23-10 at second-placed Cefn Cribbwr.

Hat-trick heroes give Wanderers title

HAT-TRICKS from fly-half Jonathan Griffiths and wing Karl Evans helped Llanelli Wanderers clinch the Division Four West crown against Burry Port.

The Wanderers have been involved in a titanic tussle with Amman Utd all season and had to beat Burry Port with a bonus point to make sure they could not be caught by their closest rivals who have one game remaining.

And Saturday’s 42-10 win was never in doubt as the home side eased their supporters’ nerves with half a dozen tries, all of which were converted by Rhys Phillips.

Llanybydder were also on form as they saw off the challenge of Aberaeron 30-13, winning by four tries to one. Gary Evans (2), Paul Davies and Llyr Jones bagged the tries.

In Four South West, champions Maesteg Celtic were beaten 31-12 at Trebanos for whom Christian Jones, Rhys Thomas, Sean Haymer, Chris Balfe and Matthew Edwards all touched down.

A win in their final league outing will guarantee Trebanos the runners-up spot though if they slip-up, Resolven, who won 31-13 at Cwmavon, can take advantage.

Porth Harlequins have been confirmed as champions in Four South East following their 19-14 victory at Abercwmboi while there is still a four-way race for the title in Four East.

Leaders Abercarn won 48-19 at New Tredegar, second-placed Cwmbran triumphed 41-17 at Oakdale, Talywain in third thrashed Blaina 85-0 and Cardiff Quins beat Chepstow 33-12.

Llanishen wrap-up Three South East title

LLANISHEN are Division Three South East champions after they beat Tonyrefail and Rhiwbina lost at Fairwater.

Only needing to avoid defeat in the Rhondda, Llanishen didn’t leave anything to chance as they secured a bonus point in a 29-13 win.

Mike Carrol (2), Gareth Jones and Alex Edwards scored the all-important tries for the Cardiff club while Rhiwbina were edged out 22-21 in the Welsh capital.

Tries from Dan Murphy and Shaun Coughlin, along with three penalties and a conversion by Richard Saltmarsh were not enough for Rhiwbina.

Michael Foley, Daryn Mota and Daren Walsh all crossed the whitewash for Fairwater to help seal the title for Llanishen.

The match between Senghenydd and Caerphilly in Three East was abandoned with 24 minutes played and the home side leading 7-0.

Reports suggest that when a Caerphilly player broke his leg the referee wasn’t happy for the match to continue and when the injured man was moved the visitors didn’t the fixture to carry on.

Elsewhere, Risca won 20-14 at Abertillery with both sides scoring two tries each.

Champions' unbeaten record still intact

MAESTEG Quins remain on course to win Division Three South West without losing a single game after they saw off Brynamman 22-10.

It wasn’t vintage Quins and they didn’t manage to register four tries for a bonus point but the victory made it 18 straight successes this season with two matches to go.

Andrew Healy (2) and Nathan Morgan were the try scorers while Gareth Lewis kicked seven points to ease his side past the visitors.

No doubt where the biggest score of the day was as Ystalyfera battered Aberavon Green Stars 114-8 with Damian James the star man scoring four of the 18 tries.

Craig Watkins (3), Gareth James (2), Ashley Carter (2), Jesse Pattern (2) and Carwyn Williams (2) all made hay as did Morgan Harris, Dane Clancy and Phillip Thomas.

A dozen of the tries were converted with Damien James on target with nine of them.

Mumbles ended their campaign on a high with a 50-18 win at Vardre, Andrew Evans running in a hat-trick of tries and Andrew Claypole two. Tudor Hughes got the other.

Claypole scored half his team’s points with an extra four penalties and four conversions. Liam Garland (13) and a penalty try got the hosts’ points.

Morriston ran in four tries as they beat Bryncoch 33-10 to end the campaign on a positive note. Adam Somerfield, James Richards, Chris Shill and Connor Dewar touched down for the bonus point.

In Three West, champions Haverfordwest suffered a hangover from their title celebrations as they slipped to a surprising 29-12 reverse at Pontyberem.

Tries for the home side came courtesy of Matthew Murphy, Shaun Davies, Chris Lewis, Iwan Harris and Owain Jones with David O’Leary and Dan Birt replying.

In the only other game, Lampeter disposed of Tumble 39-5, Gethin Roberts crossing twice along with efforts from Gareth Griffiths, Richard Hawke and Llion Russell. Josh George got Tumble’s consolation score.

Glynneath seize chance to go top

GLYNNEATH took their chance to move top of Division Two West with gusto, running in 10 tries to thrash visitors Aberystwyth 64-0.

With Kenfig Hill not playing on Saturday, Glynneath knew a win would see them leapfrog their rivals – and they did so in emphatic fashion by blitzing their West Wales opponents.

James McKenna was top try scorer with three, Stuart Leach was next best with two and there were also tries for James Parry, James Pike, Kyle Roberts, Anthony Lee and Ashley Evans.

Johnny Morgan got in on the act with seven conversions and Glynneath now lead the division by two points with two games left for them and Kenfig Hill.

Cwmllynfell are out on their own in third place and they eased past Crymych 27-5, scoring four tries in the process through Gareth Drewson, Anthony Rees, Owen James and Alex Wilkins.

Peter Thomas slotted two conversions and a penalty while Crymych’s only points was a Dyfan Davies try.

Bottom club Maesteg did well for period of their clash with Skewen despite the hosts registering six tries in a 34-21 victory. Maesteg got three tries themselves through James Olds, Adam Wellington and Grant Ebdon.

But Richard Davies (2), Anthony Bussell, Scott Jeremy, Aled Mogford and Simon Jeremy helped Skewen to a bonus-point triumph and what will now be a solid mid-table finish.

Kidwelly can’t end the season any worse than eighth after an impressive 20-18 success at Loughor. Tom Edwards and Callum Brennan scored tries for the home side but Rich Watts and Chris Moore replied.

Loughor will be kicking themselves though following a red card for Kidwelly’s Osian Lloyd and a penalty which hit the post with the last kick of the game.

Two East leaders still locked together

PENALLTA and Ystrad Rhondda cannot be separated at the top of Division Two East with both sides locked together on 77 points with just a few matches left.

Top spot is currently held by Penallta by virtue of the number of games won – 17 to 16 – but that’s only because Ystrad Rhondda have played one less than the Pitmen.

On Saturday, Penallta needed all their grit and determination to come through a tough encounter with Heol y Cyw. Their 10-7 victory was down to a try from Seb Toms and Jonny Wright’s conversion and penalty.

On the other hand, Ystrad Rhondda came close to breaking the 100-point barrier as they routed Fleur de Lys 88-5 in the Rhymney Valley.

They scored 14 tries with David Gratton grabbing a hat-trick and Alex Webber, Sam Hotter and Bleddyn Davies all crossing twice. Joseph Couch, James Sheppard, Carl Facey, Ashley Macey and Masin Al Azzawi were the other players to get their name on the scoresheet.

Webber converted nine of the tries to finish with a personal haul of 28 points while Flower’s only reply came through Dean Higgs’ consolation try.

Ystrad Rhondda can take the outright lead on Tuesday when they host Heol y Cyw but if the Bridgend outfit play as they did on Saturday it might not be as straight forward as some may think.

Llantwit Fardre were something of surprise winners against Ynysybwl, coming through 35-24 at home, and both teams scored four tries to grab a bonus point.

Lloyd Morgan, Chris Moss, Lewis James and Carl Thomas were on target for Fardre as they completed their league programme on a high note.

Late drama gives Bro win over battling Mold

BRO Ffestiniog cemented third place in Division One North as they came from behind with a try three minutes from time to see off Mold 14-12.

No 8 Dewi James struck late on to draw the scores level and give Huw James the easiest of conversions from in front of the posts to snatch the win.

The sides couldn’t be separated in the first-half and they went into the interval without a single point behind scored.

However, the hosts seized the initiative when winger Lee Aspden scampered over and James converted. But Mold were back in it when the impressive Ollie Hughes, making his first-team debut, touched down and Luke Jones added the extras.

With the game having entered the last 10 minutes both sides knew it was there for the taking and it looked like the visitors had won when Jones launched an attack with a chip and chase and Richard Hopkins out-sprinted the Bro defence to score.

Jones couldn’t make the conversion from wide out but, with Mold seemingly cruising to the final whistle with victory in sight, disaster struck and a missed tackle opened the smallest of gaps for No 8 James to canter in under the sticks.

“I think the continued learning for us was the intensity we brought from the off and what pressure we could put the opposition under as a consequence – that’s the real thing that we’ll take out of today’s match and where we need to be,” said Mold head coach Les Byrne.

In the only other game in One North on Saturday, Bethesda earned their 12th win of the season with a 25-8 triumph over Llangefni.

Steven Roberts (2) and Graham Davies scored Bethesda’s tries with Gareth Wyn Roberts converting two and kicking two penalties. Llangefni’s only try came through centre Tomos Williams.

Tondu stun Athletic for shock victory

DESPITE being outscored five tries to three, Tondu produced one of their best performances of the season as they defeated Carmarthen Athletic 30-29 away from home.

The visitors, two places off the foot of the Division One West table, fought back from a 20-12 half-time deficit with Paul Smithson grabbing a try, three conversions and three penalties.

In fact, Tondu were the dominant side in the first 40 minutes as they bossed a Carmarthen team that had seven changes to the one that beat UWIC a week before.

The hosts were punished for countless handling errors and ultimately a few missed conversions as Mike Sauro could only added the extras to two of the scores from himself, Viv Jenkins, Rhys Lewis, Rhys Lane and Gareth Bennett.

Matthew Davies and Matthew Phillips crossed for Tondu as they held on after the break to record a superb away victory at the side guaranteed of finishing the season in third.

Waunarlwydd bagged a bonus point in their 28-23 win at UWIC although despite losing the hosts also picked up two points.

It was the Students who held a narrow 15-13 lead going into the second-half in a game that swung back and fore throughout.

Pierre Tucker, Tom Bax and Leyton Bellamore scored tries for UWIC before the break while Ben James and Nathan Hart replied and Leigh Evans kicked a penalty for the visitors.

Waunarlwydd’s Daniel Fox and Evans crossed the whitewash after the interval and although Owen Jenkins replied in kind for UWIC the home side couldn’t find a way back to claim victory.

Steelmen made to wait for One East title

EBBW Vale will have to wait a little longer to sew up the Division One East title after they were beaten by third-placed Newbridge at home on Saturday.

The Steelmen have slipped to second following Bargoed’s victory over Treorchy but the Eugene Cross Park side should regain top spot and clinch the trophy next weekend when they take on lowly Tredegar.

Ebbw had led 10-0 at half-time against Newbridge but the visitors fought back to secure a 19-16 success with Darren Hughes and Andrew Bevan scoring their tries and fly-half Neil Burnett kicking three penalties.

Gareth James registered Ebbw’s only try, converted by Dan Haman, while he also slotted two penalties with Dorian Jones adding one of his own.

Even if Ebbw somehow don’t pick up any points at bottom-of-the-table Tredegar they still have the luxury of an encounter with Mountain Ash at home on May 2 but realistically it shouldn’t get that far.

Bargoed’s 44-23 triumph at home against the Rhonnda club was their last fixture of the campaign and they outscored their opponents by six tries to two to move up to first place in the division for the time being.

Mike Roberts and Darren Lynch both bagged two tries each while Gareth Dare and Lewis Protheroe also crossed the try-line. Matthew Hurley contributed 14 points with the boot, including two penalties and four conversions.

The Zebras’ points came courtesy of a penalty try and a score from Peter Hutchings and 13 points from Celyn Ashton.

Elsewhere in One East, Tredegar put up a brave fight at home against Blackwood before going down 45-23. Right wing Matthew McGovern (2) and Christian Jones got the hosts’ tries but the visitors, who only led 19-11 at the interval, got seven of their own.

Kristian Perry, Rhodri Lister, Lee Taylor, Rhys Morgan, Adam Jones and David Ford were all on target with Jones converting five of them.

Glamorgan Wanderers won their final match of the season, 11-6 at home against Beddau, with an Andrew Bradbury try and two Gareth Cull penalties helping their cause.

All Beddau could muster was a couple of Steve Robinson penalties though they have one game left at Newbridge next Saturday.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Division One East Predictions

Bargoed v Treorchy
Bargoed will be looking to secure second spot in the league with the final match of their campaign. The highfliers could move above leaders Ebbw Vale but with the Steelmen having a game in hand, Bargoed know that they are unlikely to take home the crown. The Zebras defeated the hosts in the reverse, but their last match was at the end of March and the lack of regular rugby may hinder their performance. There is no doubt that both sides will be well up for this contest as it brings their respective seasons to a close and I think Bargoed in strong form, as well as home advantage, will come away with the win.
Verdict-Bargoed by 6 points
Ebbw Vale v Newbridge
The Steelmen know a win will seal back to back Division One East titles as they eye up their place in the Championship next season although to secure the crown tomorrow, they know they will need to be in top form as Newbridge come in high on confidence after pushing Pontypridd all the way in the Cup and winning the reverse narrowly back in October. However, Ebbw Vale will be determined to wrap up the title on home soil and although it will be a tight contest, I think they will bag the victory.
Verdict-Ebbw Vale by 3 points
Glamorgan Wanderers v Beddau
The Wanderers' final match of the season sees them host Beddau at the Memorial Ground. The hosts were comprehensively defeated at Gilfach in midweek but still have the ability to unleash a final big performance, as their resounding victory over Tredegar last week proves. Beddau, who finished third last year, have had another solid campaign and know a win would wrap up a top five finish, with a difficult trip to Newbridge to come. Beddau won the reverse in a tight contest and I expect another close match this time round.
Verdict- Glamorgan Wanderers by 3 points
Tredegar v Blackwood
Tredegar, who have been rooted to the bottom of the table all season, face a tough last two matches. First up, they welcome Blackwood who, although they have lost their last five matches, will present too strong an opposition for the strugglers.
Verdict-Blackwood by 7 points

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Cofis captain hoping success breeds success

CAERNARFON skipper Rhys Evans hopes back-to-back Division One North titles can breed success in the next generation of players coming through the club’s ranks.

The Cofis sealed the One North crown back in March, making it their third league title in five seasons, and were presented with their trophy following last Saturday’s North Wales Senior Cup semi-final defeat at home to local rivals Bro Ffestiniog.

Caernarfon were the first team in the Swalec National League to get their hands on silverware this season after a victory over Bala as rivals Nant Conwy slipped to a surprise loss at Ruthin.

And Evans is hopeful the community club’s success can inspire more young talent to emerge from the juniors and into the senior set-up.

“We are a young club and want to be a part of our community and winning titles really helps that,” said the back-row.

“We have an under-7s section, which has more than 100 kids, and hopefully winning things will mean more kids in the community will want to play the game and join the club after what we have achieved.”

Evans admitted that receiving the league trophy was a big consolation after losing in their North Wales Cup semi-final and missing out on the chance of a double.

The Cofis crashed to an 18-16 home defeat to Bro, losing in the same stage of the North Wales Cup for the second successive year to the same team.

“It’s disappointing to be knocked out of the cup, but Bro are a strong team and finished third in the league,” added Evans. “This doesn’t take away from what we have achieved this season and we are champions for a second year running.

“Ironically, I don’t think we have played as well this season as we did last season. We do have a strong squad and that helps and there is a real bond between all the players. We all go out together and train hard and push each other through the season.

“We have a fitness coach Osian Williams who killed us in pre-season and that has made a real difference to us but also brings the players closer together because you don’t want to waste that work you have put in during the season.”

Evans also paid tribute to a number of senior players, singling out scrum-half Tristan Gwilym in the process.

“Tristan, who is one of our senior players, has been really important for us and he has scored key tries in key games when we have needed it,” said Evans.

“We’ve all bought into the new ideas they have brought in and utilised all we have learnt during the season. We always try to play open attacking running rugby and, I think, that is why the players enjoy being at the club so much.”

Caernarfon won their title by five clear points in the end and lost only three times during the season. They lost only once the previous season and won the title by 20 clear points, scoring 91 tries. They managed 72 this season, but conceded three fewer.

Arch-rivals Nant Conwy, who are themselves celebrating reaching the final of the Swalec Plate and are still in the semi-finals of the North Wales Cup, were runners-up this year in the league as well as last season.

Nant lifted the title in 2010 by a single point from Caernarfon, while in 2009 – in the then named Division Four North – Caernarfon finished level on points with Nant Conwy and Ruthin with 89, yet finished third. Caernafon also lifted the title in 2008.

It means that over the past five seasons the Morfa club has played 98 league fixtures, remarkably winning 85, drawing one and losing just 12.

The club is desperate to acknowledge the work of head coach Ieuan Jones, who has decided to step down, while forward Paul Williams has also elected to retire.

New mum Lauren lifts County Championship

NEWPORT super mum Lauren Hillier added another Monmouthshire Ladies County Championship to her collection just 10 weeks after giving birth to new son Milo.

Hillier, who had won the title several times as Lauren Diggle, beat two former champions in the shape of Danielle Cobley and Jessica Evans on her way to lifting the trophy with a 7&6 thumping of the latter at St. Mellons.

Hillier and runner-up Evans had been the form players in the silver division qualifying round as they carded the best gross scores to start the matchplay stages as the two top seeds.

And there was no stopping Hillier as she beat Llanwern’s Ann Harrison in the last 16 before easing past Dewstow’s Patricia Fernon in the quarters. Cobley, the 2010 champion, was dispatched in the last four then Newport clubmate and defending champion Evans was seen off in the final.

Something positive did come out of the competition for Fernon as she, Catherine Nutley, Deborah Hudson and Diane Pollard won the team trophy – the Paton Cup – for Dewstow. It was the second year in succession that a Dewstow quartet had claimed the crown.

The bronze division championship was won by Woodlake Park’s Janet Cavaciuti with a 2&1 victory against Newport’s Rosemary Ford.

Llanwern’s Jack Davidson and former Dewstow member Joshua Davies, who now plays at the Celtic Manor, were part of the Wales U15/16 team that lost 10.5-7.5 to Yorkshire at Wrexham.

There were mixed fortunes for both players as Davidson won his foursomes match alongside Charlie Spencer-White before coasting to a 4&3 victory over Humza Rafique in the singles. However, Davies lost his two games, the latter to Calum Hey.

Wales Boys, who included Greenmeadow’s Otto Mand and St Pierre’s Oliver Mottram, also suffered defeat, this time at Cardigan against a strong Ireland team.

However, Mand and Mottram stood up to the Irish assault and although Wales lost the tie 13-7, the two Gwent players contributed three-and-a-half points to the total. Mand won his foursomes and one of his two singles while Mottram secured a point in the foursomes and a half in the singles.

Meanwhile, Mand was the best-placed of the Gwent contingent at last weekend’s Duncan Putter, a tournament which was eventually shared by Welshmen Luke Thomas and Ben Westgate.

A four-round total of 292 saw Mand finish in a tie for 14th while Mottram and St Pierre clubmate Richard Bentham were down the leader board in 34th and 41st respectively. Newport’s Joe Vickery missed out on key Welsh Order of Merit points by failing to make the cut.



April Medal; (div one) 1. A. Morgan 63, 2. B. Kennedy 65, 3. A. Spary 66, (div two) 1. M. Pryce 66, 2. C. Jenkins 71, 3. I. Jenkins 73


Hubert Watkins Cup & Addawint Qualifier; 1. S. Price & M. Price 63, 2. C. Williams & P. Gabriel 64, 3. H. Harris & P. Davies 64, 4. M. Metcalfe & D. O’Brien 64

Ladies Bank Holiday Medal; 1. A. Bridges net 77, 2. P. Roberts 85

Welsh Team Handicap Qualifier; (0-12 Hcp) 1. N. Blandford net 64, 2. M. Leighton 69, 3. A. Ross 69, (13-18 Hcp) 1. A. Long 65, 2. D. O’Brien 69, 3. R. Tuck 69, (19-28 Hcp) 1. M. Williams 61, 2. D. Davies 68, 3. N. Taylor 69

This weekend's Premiership Predictions

FOUR clubs are vying for three places in the end-of-season Welsh Premiership championship play-offs ahead of the last set of weekend fixtures.

Current leaders and play-off champions last term, Llanelli, Aberavon, Llandovery, and 2011 regular season table-toppers Pontypridd are the only teams that can triumph this year.

Whoever finishes top of the table goes straight through to the championship play-off final next month while the sides in second and third must meet to decide who plays them.

In the last campaign, Pontypridd, despite heading the standings at the end of 26 games, fell at the final hurdle against Llanelli at Sardis Road – the Scarlets had seen off Neath to get there.

This time around, Pontypridd sit fourth though crucially they have a game in hand, at home to Llandovery next Wednesday. This Saturday, the valleys outfit face what on paper looks an easy task when they travel to Swansea.

Two wins and one extra bonus point will guarantee Pontypridd top spot no matter what Llanelli, Aberavon and Llandovery do in their remaining matches.

Swansea v Pontypridd

With Ponty averaging more than 45 points in their last four league games, an away win seems on the cards at St Helens. The fact that they put 50-plus points on the Whites earlier this month also points towards an easy afternoon for Dale McIntosh’s men.

Swansea were hammered 38-6 by Llandovery on Tuesday night but although it’s been a season to forget for coach Jason Hyatt and his troops, they do still have the chance of finishing the season above rivals Cardiff in ninth place.

Verdict – Pontypridd by 20 points

Aberavon v Cross Keys

After beating Cornish Pirates to reach the British & Irish Cup final, Keys haven’t been at their best as they scraped through to the Swalec Cup final on try count against Ebbw Vale and flattered to deceive at Tonmawr in the league last night.

The Wizards have won the last five, including a convincing victory over Keys at Pandy Park, and with the Gwent club’s eyes now focused on their two cup finals in May, you’d expect the hosts to win and therefore book a place in the top three.

Verdict – Aberavon by 12 points

Pontypool v Llanelli

Llanelli timed their run perfectly last season and no-one would put it past them to do the same this time around and win back-to-back play-off finals.

Just a win should be good enough given Llandovery’s tough assignment at Pontypridd next week though the visitors will more than likely get a bonus point too at Pontypool Park.

They too are on a five-game winning streak and go for a league double against their hosts.

Verdict – Llanelli by 15 points

Cardiff v Neath

With only pride left to play for, both teams are looking to finish the campaign on a high. Given Neath’s start to the season, it’s disappointing for them they haven’t at least banked a play-off place as they did in 2011.

Verdict – Neath by six points

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ponty remain on course to retain Cup

Pontypridd will return to the Millennium Stadium next month to try and retain the Swalec Cup after overcoming plucky Newbridge 28-24 in a pulsating semi-final at the Arms Park yesterday.
The holders sneaked past the Division One East side to secure a return to the capital on Bank Holiday Monday May 7.
But title-chasing Ponty were pushed all the way by a mightily impressive Newbridge, who ended the game on the front foot.
Pontypridd deservedly led 18-8 at the break but they didn’t have things all their own way against the Division One East side.
In fact, Newbridge were the first to cross the try line when wing Ceri Young scored in the corner to make it 5-3 after 11 minutes.
But Ponty responded with a pushover try by lock Cory Hill and a lovely effort by Matthew Nuthall down the left wing plus five more points from the boot of fly-half Lewis K Williams.
Bridge outside half Neil Burnett added a penalty in the final minute of the half and, after Williams had scored a converted try just minutes after the restart, added another pair to make it 25-14 with half an hour remaining.
Williams eased some Ponty nerves with a penalty but back came Newbridge to make it a seven-point game when Burnett put Young under the sticks for his second.
Burnett, a former Ponty player, inched the underdogs even closer with a 75th-minute penalty but they couldn’t quite force a huge upset.

Cross Keys scrape past Steelmen on try count

Ebbw Vale’s giant-killing run in this season’s Swalec Cup came to an end at Rodney Parade as Cross Keys scraped through to next month’s final on try count.

The Steelmen looked on course for their fourth Premiership scalp on the trot and a showdown with Pontypridd at the Millennium Stadium as they led 19-16 with five minutes left.

But the Division One East leaders, who had accounted for Swansea, Carmarthen Quins and Newport in previous rounds, were denied when Cross Keys fly-half Dean Gunter landed a late penalty to tie the scores.

And, having scored two tries to Ebbw Vale’s one, a draw was ultimately good enough to see the British & Irish Cup finalists into May’s showpiece in the Welsh capital.

It was Ebbw Vale who had opened the scoring with a Dorian Jones penalty on five minutes but Cross Keys seized the initiative before the break with full-back Gareth David and front five forward Tom Lampard crossing.

Gunter extended his side’s 10-3 interval lead with another penalty soon after the restart only for Jones to reply in kind seconds later. The Ebbw Vale playmaker struck a third three-pointer on 53 minutes only for Gunter to make it 16-9 on the hour.

However, the Steelmen dug in and showed tremendous spirit as second row Ashley Sweet crossed the whitewash for Jones to convert with ten minutes to go.

And it got even better for the Eugene Cross Park outfit when Jones slotted a sweetly-struck drop goal to give his side a 19-16 lead with time ticking away.

But, Ebbw Vale were cruelly denied right at the end when referee Neil Hennessy awarded Cross Keys a penalty which Gunter converted to level the tie 19-19 and book the Gwent club’s place in a second cup final of the campaign.

Glyncoch defy odds to make Bowl final

Glyncoch’s fairytale will have a Millennium Stadium ending after all, with the Six Central side booking their place in the Swalec Bowl final with a narrow 24-21 victory over Four East’s Talywain at Blackwood.
The lower league outfit crossed twice through second row Lloyd Allen and back row Gareth Way, while Lee Goodard had a fine day with the boot, nothcing up 14 points through a conversion, drop goal and three penalties.
In the final, they will meet another Four East outfit New Tredegar after they saw off Five South West’s Tycroes 38-31 in an exciting encounter at Heol y Cyw.
The Newts outscored their rivals six tries to three with touchdowns from Mark Vaughan, Alex Davies, Dewi Winston, Gavin Stockman, Rhys Challenor and Craig Thomas, with the latter also adding four conversions.
Tycroes, who had led at the break, couldn’t live with their rivals after the interval although did run in three touchdowns of their own through Phil Williams, Rob Davies and Gareth Jones. The Carmarthenshire side will now turn their attentions to clinching the Five South West title.

Pitmen cruise into Plate final

Scrum-half Chris Thomas in full flight on his way to grabbing a brace

Penallta clinched their first trip to the Millennium Stadium, bagging a Swalec Plate final berth with a comprehensive 30-3 victory over Bethesda at Newtown.
With a large travelling contingent in great voice, the Pitmen got off to a perfect start when Penallta put Pesda under huge pressure at a defensive scrum and when the ball came loose after great work from flanker Ross Morgan, scrum half Chris Thomas was on hand to snipe over. Jonny Wright added the conversion to his earlier penalty.
Penallta's Gavin Jones makes head way against the Pesda defence
Bethesda did narrow the gap through a well taken Matthew Parry three pointer but Penallta extended their advantage just before the interval when wing Neil Roberts scored a lovely individual try, chipping the Quarry men’s defence to re-gather and go over in the corner, Wright was once again on target with the extras.
The Pitmen now look forward to the Plate final on May 7
The second half was a similar story with Bethesda failing to build on possession and letting their indiscipline get the better of them losing two players to the bin, as Thomas crossed for his second with another sniping run to dart under the posts and Wright continued his perfect record with the boot, landing two further penalties and a conversion.
In the final, however, they will not meet fellow Two East title rivals Ystrad Rhondda as predicted but One North runners up Nant Conwy, who narrowly won out 9-3.
In a close contest, all of the game's points came before the interval with Carwyn ap Myrddin landing three penalties for Nant and Alex Webber slotting one in reply for Ystrad.
However, the match was turned on its head on the stroke of half time when Ystrad Rhondda had scrum half Sam Hodder sent off for a tip tackle, which ended the match as a contest.