CHAM­PI­ONS HAV­ING A BUSY TIME OF IT

Llanelli Star - - LOCAL RUGBY - CARL FIELD swansea­[email protected]­line.co.uk

IT’S one down, two to go for tre­blechas­ing Ystalyfera.

The cel­e­bra­tions were un­der way at the Ynysy­dar­ren Ground on Satur­day evening af­ter the club were crowned cham­pi­ons of One West Cen­tral with two games to spare — with­out even tak­ing to the field.

That is af­ter Bony­maen’s slim hopes of over­haul­ing them ended with their 21-14 re­verse at Maesteg Celtic in their fi­nal league match of the sea­son.

“We’re very proud that we’ve man­aged to finish on top,” said Ystalyfera vice-chair­man David Carter.

“It’s been hard work and a long sea­son; there are good sides in di­vi­sion one and it has been a con­test all the way through.

“We have ev­ery re­spect for Bony­maen, who we know well. They are a very good side and one of only three sides to have beaten us this sea­son in any com­pe­ti­tion.

“For us, as we’ve been go­ing along it has only been about the next game, rather than the big­ger picture, and we’ve done it our way.”

The Fera can now look for­ward to a two-legged play-off against One West cham­pi­ons Felin­foel when at stake will be pro­mo­tion to next sea­son’s WRU Na­tional Cham­pi­onship.

In ad­di­tion, the Swansea Val­ley side are also in two cup fi­nals.

They will de­fend the West Wales Cup against fel­low One West Cen­tral out­fit Glyn­neath, while they also have a High Mo­tive Glam­or­gan County Sil­ver Ball fi­nal show­down with Nan­tyffyl­lon at Brid­gend’s Brew­ery Field on May 18.

Ystalyfera made the fi­nal of the Sil­ver Ball af­ter de­feat­ing Nant’s fel­low Two West Cen­tral ti­tle chal­lengers Birch­grove 30-15 in their semi-fi­nal clash at Glyn­neath last week.

Ryan James, Luc Caines, Ben Wil­liams, Jesse Pat­ton and a penalty try were on the score­sheet for the Fera. St­eff Cas­tle also sent over a penalty.

Lewis Cox and Natha­nial Llewellyn got the Birch tries, with Jamie Sturgess ad­ding five points from the tee.

Ystalyfera have al­ready recorded a win over Nan­tyffyl­lon in a cup com­pe­ti­tion this sea­son, de­feat­ing them 49-14 in the first round of the WRU Na­tional Plate at the end of Septem­ber.

The Fera last met Felin­foel at the end of last sea­son, de­feat­ing them 27-6 at Loughor to lift the West Wales Cup.

Should they pre­vail in the play-off, the club would then have a big de­ci­sion to make about whether or not to take pro­mo­tion to the Cham­pi­onship.

“That de­ci­sion would be en­tirely up to our play­ers,” said Carter.

“They would get together and de­cide, as it’s them who have got to go out on to that field. It would be a big chal­lenge and ob­vi­ously the Cham­pi­onship is a very hard di­vi­sion.”

Go­ing up would not frighten the club, though, says Carter, con­sid­er­ing where they’ve come from.

He con­tin­ued: “Over the years we’ve come out from the old di­vi­sion eight way back, that’s where we started in the Na­tional League.

“We’ve worked our way up and we’ve done it grad­u­ally and steadily.

“We’ve sort of jumped into di­vi­sions, man­aged to hang on for a cou­ple of sea­sons and then we’ve got our heads together, rose to the top of the di­vi­sion and won pro­mo­tion.

“I re­mem­ber when we were cham­pi­ons of di­vi­sion three (in 2013-14) we were, thanks to a league re­or­gan­i­sa­tion at the time, put into di­vi­sion one.

“Peo­ple were say­ing then that it was a hell of a jump, that it would be tor­ture and we were go­ing to get ham­mered ev­ery game.

“But it didn’t work like that.

“Yes, we lost a few games and were over­whelmed by cer­tain sides, but we hung in there and we won enough games to keep us there.

“We’ve stead­ied our­selves in di­vi­sion one, just avoided rel­e­ga­tion twice, but then we crept up into midtable, last sea­son we fin­ished sec­ond and this year we’ve fin­ished top.”

Ystalyfera have two games left, both at home. They wel­come Skewen on Satur­day be­fore en­ter­tain­ing Am­man­ford a week to­mor­row (May 2).

They have won 16 of their 18 games in the league, los­ing only at Glyn­neath and Bony­maen. Their only other de­feat so far was at the hands of Tre­orchy 27-26 in the sec­ond round of the Na­tional Plate.

A date and venue for the West Wales Cup fi­nal with Glyn­neath has yet to be con­firmed.

The West Wales Bowl fi­nal be­tween Pen­clawdd and Loughor will be staged at Dun­vant on May 9 (7pm), while Ty­croes will host the West Wales Plate fi­nal be­tween Nant­garedig and Trim­saran on May 24 (also 7pm).

Pic­tures: Phil Davies

Pon­tar­dawe’s Mike Hodge (in black shirt) and Pan­tyffyn­non’s Harri Crid­dle chal­lenge for a high ball, while right, Pon­tar­dawe’s Aaron Davies races in for a try.

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