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Secretary's report 2018

In fading light, and in some cases with the use of car headlights!, the final boule of our 20th league season has been thrown and champions, promotion and relegation all concluded. We have been blessed with a season of very fine weather in which 40 teams and over 150 players have played weekly matches from April to September. My thanks to club/pub proprietors for their support and post-match sustenance and to those team members who have promptly reported results - with no wrong results this year!

May I remind you to send me numbers for the annual presentation on Friday 9th November. The cup/plate competitions will be played at the Wheatsheaf on Saturday 8 September between ROF Nomads & Caerleon A and Caerleon Cohort & Upper Cocks respectively. The Champion of Champions will be played on Sun 7 October - participants are winners/runners up of Divisions 1 & 2 and winners of Divisions 3 & 4.

League Summary

In Division 1, long-time leaders and cup-finalists Caerleon A repeated their 2017 form by retaining the Division 1 championship. The 2018 campaign featured a run of 13 consecutive wins, with only 1 defeat and a final winning margin of 13 points - 9 points in 2017. ROF Nomads and Caerleon Blues needed the final game to decide who would be runners-up. ROF finished strongly with 6 wins out of the last 7 games to pip Caerleon Blues who had started the season with 6 draws out of 7 games. Both teams ended on equal points but ROF had a marginal advantage with 1 more win than the Blues who finished 3rd. This reversed the positions compared to 2017. The top 3 had clear daylight ahead of Rising Sun Shunters in 4th place. Second from bottom in 2017. Shunters started well with 1 defeat in the first 8 games to challenge the leading teams and, despite 5 games without a win in mid-season, can be well pleased with a win ratio of almost 50%. Completing the top half of the table is Wheatsheaf Eagles who mirrored their 5th finishing position in 2017. Although a slow start with only 1 win in first 9 games, the Eagles were strong at home with only 1 defeat. A steady season was improved by reaching the cup semi-final.

In the bottom half of the table, Machen Mountaineers consolidated 6th place, same as in 2017. After a quick start, being only 1 point off the lead after 5 games, the loss of 4 of the last 5 games meant Machen slipped down the table. In their second season in Division 1, Pilcs struggled early on with just 1 win in 9 games but picked up points in all games. They rallied in the second half of the season with 3 wins in last 5 games, finishing 7th - as in 2017. Caerleon Greens hovered around the relegation zone all season, losing 7 of their last 9 games. Their finishing position of 8th equalled their position in 2017 and meant that all the sides from 5th to 8th finished in the same position as in 2017. After being promoted together, Red Lion and Ponthir House are relegated together. Both sides lacked any consistency with wins scarce throughout the season. Red Lion lost 7 of their last 8 games while Ponthir won only 1 game and failed to pick up any points in 8 games.

In Division 2, another very close finish with 1 point separating the winners from the next 3 sides. Talywain Tigers are Champions after narrowly avoiding relegation in 2017.  Promotion contenders all season, 11 games undefeated at the start was the cornerstone of their challenge. At the end of the season, form dipped resulting in 2 wins in the last 7 games but an undefeated home record made the difference. Wheatsheaf Falcons also gained promotion back to Division 1 following their relegation to Division 2 last season. An unbeaten home record and 4 wins in last 5 games combined to edge out Clytha A and Little Crown with all 3 teams on the same points. After Clytha A narrowly avoided relegation last year, they put in a strong challenge and just failed to get a promotion place. 2 wins in the last 6 games was not quite enough but can feel pleased with 3rd place.  Little Crown continued to show consistent form with another 4th place - as in 2017 - picking up points in all games. No wins in their last 3 games meant they were pipped for promotion. Completing the top half of the table is Halfway Allstars who were promoted from Division 3 last year. A successful first season in Division 2 with 1 defeat in first 6 games and 1 defeat in the last 7. Only a mid-season slump of 5 defeats and 7 points prevented an even better finish.

In the bottom half of the table, Monmouth were playing in Division 2 as Division 3 Champions in 2017. After a slow start, they consolidated in the second half of the season to finish 6th, being unbeaten in 8 games before losing their final match. ROF Cannons failed to improve on last year's 5th place, and ended the season in 7th. They kept above the relegation zone by picking up points in all but 1 game. 3rd in 2017, Caerleon Cohort have had a less successful league season although they have reached the plate final. Their 8th position reflects better home form but 6 defeats away.

Machen Bouligans and Rising Sun Locos are relegated. Machen were in 7th last year and success has again been in short supply, with 7 away defeats. Rising Sun Locos are unfortunately the only side in all 4 divisions without a win. 6th in 2017, form has been elusive and although they fought hard to get 7 draws, 8 defeats in their last 10 games kept them in the relegation zone.

In Division 3, Twyn Y Ffrwd Fighters and Aber Reds surged well clear at the top of the division, with Fighters becoming Champions by 5 points. Their success was built on 10 clean sweep wins, and prior to a defeat in their last game, won 6 consecutive games without conceding a point. Third in 2017, Aber Reds went one better with 2nd place and promotion to Division 2. A strong foundation was built with an unbeaten home record - 9 wins out of 10 - and an end of season 8 games without defeat. 4th in 2017, Clytha C finished strongly in 3rd place, losing only 1 home match and winning 6 of their last 7 games. Division 4 Champions in 2017, Greenlawn A's debut in Division 3 led to a very creditable 4th place. Although form slipped with 4 lost out of the last 6 games, they picked up points in every game. Twyn A consolidated their position in 5th place - same as in 2017 - and ended the season on a positive note with 2 wins and a draw. 7th in 2017, Aber Blues improved their mid-table position to finish 6th, a high number of draws (10) being the main feature. Clytha B were pushed towards the relegation zone with no wins in the last 7 games but had accumulated enough points to secure 7th place - one lower than 2017. Star continued to be the draw specialists with 11 in 2017 and another 10 this year - including 7 consecutive draws. Second from bottom in 2017, they were also close to the relegation zone this year, but 2 wins in the last 3 games pushed them to safety. Relegated from Division 2 in 2017,  9th place Wheatsheaf Harriers just avoided relegation for the second year running, restricted by 1 win in the last 11. They were grateful for a home record with only 1 defeat. Relegated are Aber Golds and Rising Sun Buffers. The Golds struggled with no away wins and return to Division 4 from which they were promoted in 2017. Third from bottom in 2017, Buffers managed only 2 wins this season and were without a win in the last 10.

In Division 4, Upper Cocks are Champions after finishing 9th the previous year. They won with a 7-point cushion having won their last 7 games and being unbeaten at home. They are also in the Plate final against Caerleon Cohort. Relegated from Division 3 in 2017, ROF Exiles are runners-up and return to Division 3 next season but only after winning their last game to end a run of 6 games without a win. 5th in 2017, Caerleon Centurions missed promotion by 2 points. Centurions put themselves in a good position with 8 wins on the bounce mid-season but this was followed by 6 games without a win. Sharks were 4 points away from promotion in 4th place which was an improvement on 6th place in 2017 and a good season reflected by 10 wins. Rising Sun Sleepers gained three places in 5th place compared to 8th in 2017. Despite losing last 2 games, 8 wins ensured a mid-table place. White Hart Stags also improved on the previous year - 7th to 6th - supported by an unbeaten home record and 10 draws. In the bottom half, a change of fortunes for Talywain Cougars who dropped 3 places to 7th. On the plus side, a strong finish with only 1 defeat in last 5 games and reinforced by consistently gaining points in every game. Halfway Allstars Others won 4 of the first 5 games to go joint second, but form slipped and the team were without a win in the last 7 games. Despite this, the team improved 2 places to 8th. Bottom of Division 4 in 2017, Dormice were only able to climb 1 place. Although only 2 wins, it was encouraging to see only 1 defeat in the first 6, and they also acquitted themselves well to gain 10 draws. Newcomers Greenlawn B and Crown occupy the bottom two places but can be encouraged by their first season. Greenlawn, despite no win in first 9 as they gained experience, won 3 games and were able to secure points in all bar 3 games. Similarly, Crown gained points in all bar 3 games and proved their competitiveness with 10 draws and a welcome single win at the end of the season. Both will be stronger next season for the experience.

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