Rugby Preview - March 2nd 2024 - by Bill Carne


Otters to keep winning and Preseli Men should power home - and The Seasiders should sink The Mariners in the top local derby

With the rugby season limping towards a conclusion after so much bad weather alongside so many weeks wasted because of the blinking Autumn internationals and now the Six Nations competition (will Wales win a match there?) we at thought it would be interesting to look at what is almost a full programme on Saturday (again dependent on weather!)

Narberth skipper Tom Powell will be in the thick of the action


Championship (West):

Narberth v Ammanford


On paper the easiest match result to predict because everything seems to be in The Otters’ favour, including home advantage, key players in tip-top form and a home team eager to continue their amazing run of 15 league victories on the treat this campaign.

Narberth are runaway leaders and beat Ammanford, who are in eighth place, with six wins from 16 starts, when they won the reverse fixture by 42-22.

In Lewis Gibby and Jon Rogers they have half backs who can swing a game around and winger Dean James has the most amazing ability to run through defences and has a shed-load of tries as his reward.

Throw in a ball-winning pack, superbly lead by skipper Tom Powell, with Roy Osborne as the most consistent  forward I’ve seen this season, plus Alex Jenkins,  with Will Blackburn and the Hamer boys all showing a huge improvement alongside them..

Verdict: The Otters to win comfortably, with a bonus point as an almost certainty!


Crymych v Tata Steel


Again on paper this should be an easy home win against a Tata side which has lost all its 18 games, including a 26-20 reverse when The Steelmen lost at home to The Preseli Men.

Elgin Vittle’s squad are currently seventh in the table in their first-ever season at this high level, with a pack that is quick about the field and amongst their backs they have the talented Phillips’ boys (loads of them!), Laurence Headlam, the Freebury brothers and a few Davies’s as valuable extras!

Verdict: A clear-cut Crymych win, their eighth in 18 starts, hopefully with a bonus point!



Whitland face another tough battle at Kidwelly


Division One (West):


Kidwelly v Whitland


This has been a difficult campaign for The Borderers with a relatively inexperienced squad and they are currently in 12th place having won once and drawn once alongside 15 defeats.

But they have battled away and lost several matches by narrow margins, sometimes conceding the vital winning points in the closing moments.

Undoubtedly their star player has been No 8 Zac France-Miller, who is sure to be far and away their top try-scorer and man of the match - with Geraint Jones and Jonathan Thomas featuring well amongst the backs.

‘Old war horse’ Raff Williams continues to give total commitment and Marc Jones puts his experience to good use as hooker.

Kidwelly are currently fifth, with 10 wins and four losses, and beat The Borderers 25-7 at Parc Llwyn Ty Glyn so will be hot favourites to complete the double.

Verdict: I would love to see Whitland do well but I think they will struggle to make this win No 2 - but I would love to see them getting a bonus point!



Division Two (West):


Tenby United v Milford Haven


This Pembrokeshire derby is eagerly anticipated in both camps but with The Seasiders favourites to sink The Mariners on home turf - but aware that they are always pushed all the way by Steve Martin’s boys.

Tenby start favourites since they are in fourth place and still in with a chance of promotion, a point that Jonathan Evans will be hammering home to his players, who have lost a couple of games they should have won as proof that they need to have a consistent run of form.

The Seasiders are a couple of games behind some of the other contenders with 11 wins and three defeats whilst Milford are in seventh spot, with  six victories in 15 games, but have this year beaten the likes of Lampeter and Pontyberem - and lost by just two points to leaders St Clears after leading until the last moments.

On their day, Tenby are a very good side with some very promising young players and experienced players like Lloyd Thomas at No 10 and skipper Luke Dedman as a key ball-winner up front - plus a very strong back row which will include Dan Colley, who has scored a pile of tries this campaign!

Verdict: I think The Seasiders will win at Heywood Lane but wouldn’t be in the least surprised if they are pushed all the way and The Mariners edged home or took a bonus point back to The Obs with them!


James Griffiths - the Fishguard skipper will lead by example


Loughor v Fishguard & Goodwick


Loughor are still in contention as they sit second so start as favourites against  Steve Jenkins’ relatively inexperienced squad which has so many talented young players alongside skipper James Griffiths and Jake Jenkins.

Loughor have won 11 out of 14 matches but lost at The Moors as The Seagulls gained a surprise, but deserved 16-14 win to show their capabilities - and since then Fishguard haven’t been as consistent as they might have been, but they pushed another contender in Lampeter in their drawn last match - and beat Tenby United 10-5 at home as another big result.

But The Seagulls are in ninth place after some disappointing away results and need to improve on a record which includes six wins and a draw alongside six losses.

Verdict: The Seagulls will need to lose a bit of their travel sickness and I think Loughor will win here!



Division Three (West) A:


Cardigan v Pembroke


Cardigan are very much in contention at the top of the section table as they sit in third place with 11 wins and a draw against only two defeats - and so they must start as firm favourites against a Pembroke side who were relegated two divisions and beginning the rebuilding process in this season with so many new players beginning to feel their feet and guided along by skipper Lloyd Davies, former captain Scott Powell, Will Edwards and Seamus ‘Moose’ Wiseman.

The Scarlets currently sit in seventh spot with a playing record o f 5 wins and 7 defeats and they travel to The King George Vth Playing Fields to take on The Teifisiders, who have Shaun Leonard and Tom Taylor in the key positions of Nos 10 and 8.

Cardigan also have pace and power aplenty in a number of occasions and they will be eager to beat their old rivals in the first meeting between the teams this season.

Verdict: I have to go a for a Cardigan win, probably with a bonus point - and would be pleasantly surprised if Pembroke can manage a losing bonus point if the the game goes to form!

Scott Powell - the former Pembroke captain will lead from the front against high flying Cardigan



Pembroke Dock Harlequins v Neyland


When these teams met in their local derby at The Athletic Ground it was Neyland who came out easy 36-10 winners and will start as favourites to complete the double against The Quins at Bierspool after making the two-mile trip across the Cleddau Bridge.

The All Blacks have been ravaged by injuries but Steve Evans has managed to keep them in sixth place, with six wins from 14 matches, with his sons Iestyn and skipper Owain playing well up front alongside Ben James, Alex Swales, Jack Harries and ‘old timer’ Mark James.

The Quins have also struggled to field the same team over a number of matches as Gethin Bradney and Ben Hathaway have led by example,  and find themselves in tenth place (only four wins alongside 14 defeats) but have played better than their lowly position suggests, but unable to finish opponents off and paying the price.

Verdict: I have to go with a Neyland victory and rare double - but it might be a little closer than I envisage!


Iestyn Evans - is in good form for Neyland who travel to Pembroke Dock Harlequins 


St Davids v Llanybydder


St Davids have enjoyed one of their best seasons for years as skipper Nathan Foster, Jack Jones, Zac Morgan and coach Morgan Griffiths have been key figures - whilst Llanybydder went for most of the season before collecting their first win, against Llangwm in January to go with 14 defeats, some of them by big margins.

But Llan are a gritty bunch who enjoy their rugby despite so much travel - although this extra-long trek to St Davids sees them take on a team which is in fifth place, having won half of their matches, including a 52-12 win when the teams met earlier in the campaign.

Verdict: I think The Saints will be far too strong up front and I am very confident they will pick up a bonus-point victory!