Blues see off brave Seagulls
10:33am Thursday 7th March 2013 in Sport
Haverfordwest 27 Fishguard 18
HAVERFORDWEST booked their place in the Pembrokeshire KO Cup semi final after overcoming a gutsy Fishguard side at Merlins Bridge.
The Blues, who play two divisions above The Seagulls, trailed 6-0 early on but then scored tries through Graham Jenkins (2), Alun Harries and Craig Barnett to set up a final four clash with Millford Haven.
The visitors had been dealt a blow before kick off when skipper Steve Jenkins was forced to pull put with a groin injury, but they made a bright start and took the lead 10 minutes in when outside half James Griffiths slotted a penalty.
The home side responded with a spell of pressure that saw full back Craig Barnett bundled into touch just short of the line, but then The Seagulls doubled their lead 20 minutes in when Griffiths made no mistake with another penalty from 35 metres out.
Just three minutes later though, The Blues opened their account. Outside half Steve Williams was tackled by Fishguard centre Ilasau Torau, and although the ball was spilled in the tackle, Barnett was quickest to react and he sped over from close range.
Williams was wide with the conversion before opposite number Griffiths was inches short with a penalty from half way.
The Blues then took the lead with the final play of the half. Williams kicked a close range penalty into the corner, and after the Fishguard pack repelled the initial drive, hooker Graham Jenkins powered over for an unconverted try.
Trailing 10-6, The Seagulls were then left to rue their luck in the opening minute of the second half. They won turnover ball in their own half and Torau sped upfield, but the Fijian pulled up injured at the crucial moment and the attack came to nothing.
No 8 Alun Harries then thought he'd extended the home lead when he sped over from scrum half Richard James' chip kick, but the referee had already blown up for a penalty to The Blues.
But moments later, Harries did get his try when he drove over in the corner, and Williams nailed the difficult conversion to make it 17-6.
The same player soon made it 20-6 with a penalty, before falling just short with a long range effort.
However, just when it seemed the division four west side were beaten, they instigated a brave fightback. After a heavy spell of pressure, No 10 Griffiths threw a dummy and dived over the line although crucially, the missed conversion kept The Blues more than a score ahead.
Williams then struck the post with a penalty before a controversial moment. Home centre Dan Birch collected a 22 drop out and did brilliantly to cut through and set up Jenkins for his second try. But a brawl ensued after the try and Birch was given a red card for violent conduct.
However, the try was still allowed to stand and replacement outside half duly Mike Jones converted.
Again though, The Seagulls refused to lie down and finished the game in the ascendancy. No 8 Simon James broke through but his final pass went astray, before centre David Evans set up winger Ed Bendall for a try in the dying seconds, that Griffiths converted.
But it was The Blues who deservedly went though, and they will be clear favourites to reach the final against a Milford side currently struggling in division three west.
Haverfordwest: Craig Barnett, David O'Leary, Dave Williams, Dan Birch, Darren Salmon, Steve Williams, Richard James, Gareth Green (capt), Graham Jenkins, Dan Miners, Brett Davies, Adam Clarke, Ryan Banner, Matthew Clarke, Alun Harries. Replacements: Jamie Zambass, Gareth Phillips, Matthew Morgan, Tim Phillips, Mike Jones, Carl Rees.
Fishguard: Gareth Adamson, Matthew George, Ilasau Torau, David Evans, Ed Bendall, James Griffiths, Rhodri Morgan, Alan Phillips, Owain Morgans, Gerwyn Davies, Rhys Lewis, Richard Hunter, Mark James, Mark George, Simon James. Replacements: Romeo Collella, Andrew Gittins, Adrian Squelch, Nathan Jenkins.