Sunday, 29 January 2012

Stunned Cambrian lose long unbeaten record

CAMBRAIN & Clydach’s long unbeaten run was finally ended by Barry Town following a 3-1 defeat at King George’s New Field.
Christian Doidge’s double strike and a goal from Nicky Jones inflicted the Rhondda club’s first loss of the season in Welsh League division one.
That 15-game spell has taken Cambrian & Clydach to the top of the table, but with Cwmbran Celtic beating Ton Pentre 1-0 on Saturday their lead has been cut to a single point.
Division one top scorer Jason Bertorelli did keep up his excellent scoring form for Cambrian & Clydach but they’ll have to regroup ahead of this weekend’s mouth-watering clash in Cwmbran.
The leaders’ slip-up also benefited West End and Bridgend Town in third and fourth respectively.
It was raining goals in Swansea as West End overcame Goytre United 4-3 with the ball finding the back of the net five times in the first 20 minutes.
Danny Cavanagh (2), Alex Chrysanthou and Rob Shannon were West End’s heroes while Bridgend had no problems beating Cwmaman Institute 3-0.
High scorers were Haverfordwest County who blitzed Pontardawe Town 7-0 with Darren Griffiths and Micky Woodrow both bagging a brace.
Elsewhere, Aberaman Athletic won the basement battle with Caerau (Ely) 2-0, John Phillips and Richard Evans scoring in the first-half, and Bryntirion Athletic won 1-0 at Taffs Well.
Division two leaders Monmouth Town were left frustrated as their match at Dinas Powys was postponed, giving Newport YMCA the chance to make inroads into their 18-point lead.
And they did just that with a 4-2 triumph at Newcastle Emlyn. Ben Laurence struck twice and Oliver Beckett and Nick Potts helped seal the three points.
Third-placed Tata Steel thrashed lowly Treharris 6-0 with David Brown completing a hat-trick and Oliver Bowen finding the net twice. Darren Thomas got the other goal.
Caerleon hit Aberbargoed Buds for five at the Recreation Ground while Croesyceiliog in fourth were beaten 3-2 at Ammanford. Penrhiwceiber also edged Ely Rangers 1-0.
The top two in division three, Undy Athletic and Pontypridd Town, recorded 4-0 wins at Llanwern and Tredegar Town respectively.
Gareth Cullimore scored twice for Undy as they maintain their two-point advantage in the standings.
UWIC won 4-2 at Risca to go above Llanwern into seventh and Goytre registered their ninth victory of the season, winning 2-1 at Treowen Stars.
By David Williams

Swalec League Round Up

With the Swalec Cup competitions taking precedent, there was a truncated League program with the only Division Two East match of the day seeing Abercynon bag a 32-24 home victory over Fairwater in a highly entertaining match at Y Parc.
The hosts picked up a try bonus point in their sixth win of the season with Matthew Turner producing a man of the match performance, amassing 22 points through two penalties, three conversions and a brace of tries, while Luke Davies and Jack Perkins also crossed.
Pontarddulais picked up only their second triumph in Three West thanks to a hard fought 17-14 victory at Lampeter.
The Black and Ambers crossed twice through Nicky Hopkins and Jonathan Hire, while Matthew Jones was on target with a penalty and two conversions.
Elsewhere, Tenby United were comfortable winners at Penclawdd, producing a strong second half display to run out 32-11 victors at the Rec.
United ran in four tries to secure the bonus points with Sam Smith, Toby Smith, Thomas Lewis and Jack Gurreiro touching down.
Meanwhile, Seven Sisters put struggling Aberavon Green Stars to the sword in Three South West, running out 62-7 winners.
Seven helped themselves to nine tries through a Mike Smith brace, with Huw Whitney, Daniel Naughton, Andrew Lewis, Kyle Davies, Anthony Llewellyn, Peter O’Sullivan and Andrew Thomas also touching down. Mike Smith meanwhile added seven conversions and a penalty.
Clwb Rygbi Cymry Caerdydd extended their lead at the top of Five South East to 15 points thanks to a 59-5 thumping of basement boys Deri.
The trailblazers produced a completely dominant performance to run in nine touchdowns through Geraint Morgan, Dylan James, and James Shaw, with Owain Tudor, Elgan Davies and Rhydian Jones all bagging braces.
Dinas Powys dented Cefn Coed’s hopes of promotion with a hardfought 19-18 home success.
The hosts' eighth win came courtesy of a Nick Coles touchdown, with Adam Williams bagging a brace while David Lloyd added two conversions.
Cefn Coed meanwhile will have to make do with a losing bonus point thanks to a Jason Price double with Jason Wilkes also touching down, while Jonathan Lewis fired home a penalty.
Elsewhere, Beaufort closed the gap on the leaders Markham in Six East to six points, courtesy of a 43-5 success at St Josephs.
The highfliers crossed for six tries including doubles for Kyle Pusnell and Dan Croft, with Scott Griffiths and Andrew Morgan also touching down.

Reds taken to the edge in cup thriller

WELSH Cup holders Llanelli held their nerve to squeeze into this season’s quarter-finals after being taken to the wire by Rhyl at Belle Vue.
In one of three fourth round ties to go the distance, Reds boss Andy Legg saw his side progress thanks to a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory against the former Premier League club.
Legg breathed a huge sigh of relief when Craig Williams converted the winning spot kick following a thrilling 3-3 draw at the end of extra-time.
The encounter had finished 2-2 after 90 minutes, Rhyl taking the lead through Tom Rowlands only for Llanelli to equalise just before the break courtesy of a Rhys Griffiths penalty.
Stuart Jones gave the reigning champions the lead on 67 minutes but just when they thought they could celebrate, up popped Rhyl’s Ryan Williams to level.
Four minutes into the extra 30, Chris Venables struck from Griffiths’ knockdown as Llanelli regained the initiative but yet again Williams was on hand to make it all square.
He slotted home from the spot when Reds skipper Jones brought down Mike Pritchard in the area. In truth, it was all Rhyl deserved given they had been down to 10 men since the eighth-minute when Neil Coverley was sent off.
The first eight shoot-out penalties were all successful until Rhyl’s Shaun Dowling had his effort saved by young stand-in ‘keeper Craig Richards.
Llanelli will travel to Bala Town in the last eight after they won 4-2 at Buckley Town on Saturday. Bala required an extra 30 minutes to win through with Lee Hunt completing a hat-trick in the 104th minute.
Welsh League side AFC Porth pushed Carmarthen Town close before succumbing 3-1 in extra-time. Veteran striker Julian Alsop got Town’s third to go with goals for Nick Harry and Tim Hicks.
Airbus UK will host Carmarthen next after they needed penalties to see off Afan Lido, who levelled the match at 2-2 right at the end of normal time.
Goals from Mark and Gavin Cadwallader cancelled out an Andy Hill penalty on 12 minutes only for Liam Williams to send the game into extra-time with his first strike for the club.
There was shoot-out drama at Park Avenue as hosts Aberystwyth beat Llandudno Town 5-3 on spot kicks. The visitors took a first-half lead through Lee Jones before Alex Samuel levelled with 15 minutes left.
Prestatyn were the only Premier League club to lose to lower-ranked opposition, going down 2-0 at home to Cefn Druids, visitors to Aberystwyth in the quarters.
Adam Hesp gave Cefn the lead early on and Mark Harris sealed a quarter-final place in the last minute.
The New Saints scored all four of their goals against Newport County’s second string in the first-half. Connell Rawlinson, Alex Darlington, Greg Draper and Craig Jones secured the win before the break.
Finally, Neath were comfortable 3-1 winners at Flint Town United for whom there was a familiar name on the scoresheet. John Rush, son of Ian, netted a consolation for Flint after Craig Jones (2) and Chris Jones put Neath 3-0 up.
Neath will make the trip to The New Saints for a place in the semi-finals with all of the quarter-final ties to be played on February 25, 26 or 27.
By David Williams

Talywain power into fourth round

Talywain’s quest to emulate last year’s Swalec Bowl Champions Senghenydd remains at full throttle thanks to a 20-9 home victory over fellow Four East outfit Chepstow at Emlyn Park to move into the last 16.
The hosts bagged three touchdowns through Mark Bromley, Jamie Parry and a penalty try, while Morgan Day landed a conversion and a penalty.
Six Central pacemakers Glyncoch pulled off a big upset overturning Four South East highfliers Pontyclun at their base 15-10.
The visitors put in a display that belied their league position as they outscored their rivals two tries to one, with Gerwyn Williams and Gareth Way both crossing, while Sean Baggs added a conversion and also found the target with a drop goal.
The Badgers could only manage a Matthew Theaker touchdown, while Gavin Pascoe slotted a conversion and a penalty.
Meanwhile, Six East’s Caerleon also bagged a shock win, doing just enough to defeat Usk 19-18 at Red Shed Meadow.
The visitors were outscored on the try count but some excellent goal kicking from Josh Jones converting Dai Burgess’ touchdown and firing home four penalties was enough to keep their Cup dream alive.
Amman United convincingly progressed with a 33-7 victory over Burry Port.
United helped themselves to five tries including a brace for Chris Rees, with Stuart Herbert and Dean Williams (Shane’s brother) also crossing.
Division Five South West leaders Tycroes went head to head with Five West Pacemakers Nantgaredig with Tycroes picking up a comfortable 22-0 away triumph.
The visitors ran in four tries including a double for Staurt Mander, with Rhodri Danter and Mike Hopkins also touching down. Grant Williams added a solitary conversion.
In an all Four South West clash, Glyncorrwg came out on top at home 26-18 over Cwmavon.
The hosts crossed twice through Gareth Kingman and Lee Bevan, with Gareth Goodrich producing an outstanding display with the boot, firing home four penalties and two conversions.
Division Four East side New Tredegar were made to work for their win at lower league Abertysswg, eventually triumphing 9-0 thanks to three Colin Jones penalties.
Up north, there were comfortable wins for Two North highfliers Dolgellau who dispatched Shotton Steel 18-10, while COBRA bagged a 22-12 home success over Colwyn Bay.
Elsewhere, Treherbert did just enough to defeat the visiting Wattstown 7-5 with Lee Stone’s conversion of Scott Berkely’s touchdown proving to be the difference between the sides.

Dunvant give Loughor the Blues

Dunvant produced the Cup upset of the day to move into the fourth round of the Swalec Plate when the Three West side overcame the odds to defeat highflying Two West outfit Loughor 17-14 at Villa Field.
The visitors crossed through Nick Charlier, while outside half Adam Williams stroked home four crucial penalties to seal victory and keep their Cup dreams alive.
The Blues' hopes of emulating Ammanford’s triumph of last year will have to be put on hold till next season, after they could only manage three Tom Davies penalties and a James Renowden touchdown.
Last season’s runners up Glynneath remain on course for another date at the Millennium Stadium after moving into the quarter finals, courtesy of a comprehensive 41-13 victory at Ystalyfera.
The Two West pacemakers were never in danger of coming unstuck and dominated their lower league opposition to help themselves to six tries through Dai Evans, Lloyd Richards, Greg Roberts, Kyle Roberts and Craig Tennant, as well as a penalty try. Outside half Jack O’Reily added four conversions and a penalty to complete the scoreline.
There was a famous victory for Maesteg Quins who defeated bitter rivals Maesteg 13-11 for the first time in over a hundred years in a tightly contested affair at South Road.
Quins' crossed for the only try of the match through Dean Ronan, while the toast on the Quins' side of the town will go to Gareth Lewis who landed a conversion and two penalties, with Lewis firing home the final penalty in the dying moments.
Meanwhile, Two East pacemakers Ystrad Rhonnda defeated Three South East’s Fairwater 16-5 at Ashcroft Park.
Ystrad's only touchdown of the match came through Dave Gratton, while Alex Webber was on target with a conversion and three penalties in a fine display of goal kicking.
In an all Two East clash, Penallta continued their incredible run of results, picking up their twelfth consecutive win in a comprehensive 32-9 defeat of Ynysybwl.
Centre Andrew Jenkins crosses for his third of the afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Penallta RFC

The Pitmen’s centre Andrew Jenkins produced a clinical display to bag the man of the match award, helping himself to a hat trick of touchdowns, while second row Lee Rowlands capped off an outstanding display with a try of his own. The ever reliable Andre Soroko added three conversions and a penalty to complete the scoreline.
Nant Conwy got one over on their title contenders Caernarfon, running out 28-5 home winners.
The hosts crossed four times through Elgan Davies, Carwyn Ellis, Eryl Jone and Carwyn ap Myrddin, with the latter also landing four conversions.
Reigning Swalec Bowl Champions Senghenydd continued their impressive knock-out form, defeating the visiting Llanishen 17-9 but needed extra time with the scores tied 9-9 at the whistle.
The Saints had to wait till the third minute of extra time for their only try of the match courtesy of Lloyd Rowlands, while Alyn Ford slotted an extra time penalty to his three earlier efforts to seal the win.
In a Two West showdown, Kidwelly comprehensively defeated the visiting Aberystwyth 53-24 at Parc Stephens.
The Black and Ambers had too much fire power for the visitors and helped themselves to seven tries, including well taken hat-tricks from Andrew Francis and Chris Moore, with Craig Thomas also crossing.
Elsewhere, Tylorstown's good run of results came to a juddering halt at the hands of Builth Wells, with the Bulls bagging a 28-8 victory.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Last gasp pen sees Quins progress

Quins fullback Chris Banfield's last minute penalty clinched victory for the hosts
Carmarthen Quins advanced to the third round of the Swalec Cup with a narrow 20-18 victory over Bridgend Ravens at Carmarthen Park.

It was second time in a week that the two sides faced off, with Quins also coming out on top 34-17 last week at the Brewery Field. This, however, was a much more tightly contested match with a last minute Chris Banfield penalty needed to clinch the win.
Dai Flanagan kept the Ravens scoreboard ticking over.

In a tightly contested opening half, Quins took a lead into the changing rooms thanks to centre Alex Pickersgill’s touchdown converted by full back Banfield after the Ravens had taken the lead through an early Dai Flanagan penalty with Flanagan kicking a second penalty on the half hour to narrow Quins advantage to a single point.
The Quins should have extended their lead but failed to take advantage of a yellow card handed out to Matthew Dwyer three minutes later and the score remained 7-6 at half time.

It was the hosts that came out firing after the break with Gareth Morgan crossing, with Banfield adding the extras and also slotting his second penalty.

The Ravens for the second week running faced an uphill struggle as the game slipped out of their grasp, but the young Bridgend team dug in and hit back through two tries of their own through Josh Leyshon and Arthur Ellis, with the latter converted by Flanagan to leave the visitors 18-17 up and moments from victory.
Quins hooker Ricky Guest tests the Ravens defence

As the game drew to a close, the Quins pressed and were rewarded with a penalty, and with virtually the last kick of the day, Banfield stepped up and sealed a dramatic late win.

Friday, 27 January 2012

David Williams’s Welsh Boxing Blog - No. 1

IT doesn’t seem long ago that the future of Welsh boxing wasn’t looking too rosy.

During the eight months or so from March to November 2008, the country, and Calzaghe gym in particular, saw its three world champions’ reigns come to an end.
As the dust settled on Joe Calzaghe’s retirement - his last fight against Roy Jones followed title defeats for Enzo Maccarinelli and Gavin Rees – there were fears boxing in Wales would never reach the same heights again.
In truth, for a country the size of Wales to have as many fighters at the top of their respective weights at the same time was a once-in-a-generation occurrence.
The success of Messrs Calzaghe, Maccarinelli and Rees had spoilt Welsh boxing fans for so long that when the time came for them to be knocked off their perch or call it a day it was inevitable a void would be left.
It was more than two years between Calzaghe bowing out with a unanimous verdict over Jones and Wales crowning a new world number one.
And, while at one point Nathan Cleverly looked like he would be the country’s sole flag bearer on the international stage, it now seems the next generation of fighters from the principality are ready to stand up and be counted.
As 2012 shapes up to be a year to remember for Cleverly and co, don’t forget Wales’s top two amateurs – Fred Evans and Andrew Selby – are also bidding for glory on home soil at the Olympics.
So, what are the prospects for the nation’s prize fighters this year?
NATHAN CLEVERLY - current WBO light-heavyweight world champion, former European, British and Commonwealth champion, won all 23 of his fights
Cleverly is one of only two reigning British world champions after claiming his title last May when Jurgen Braehmer was stripped of the belt. The 25-year-old has made two successful defences since then, the second against bitter rival Tony Bellew in October providing him with his toughest test to date.
He makes his third defence in Cardiff on February 25, a long-awaited homecoming following more than four years fighting outside Wales. His opponent, Tommy Karpency, will be a big outsider against the man who has expressed his desire to take on the best from America.
Could that happen before the year is out? Possibly, though it wouldn’t be sensible to take a fight with one of the big guns – Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson or Jean Pascal – on US soil and maybe a unification duel with Kazakhstan’s Beibut Shumenov is more likely to happen.
However the year pans out, Cleverly has to be patient. He is still young and although the temptation to fight Hopkins et al is foremost in his mind, 2012 could be a building year for the Welshman with a few mandatory defences developing his experience as champion a la Calzaghe.
GAVIN REES - current European lightweight champion, former WBA light-welterweight world champion, Prizefighter winner, lost one of 37 fights
Rees recently turned down a shot at Ricky Burns’ world crown to defend his European strap in Paris in March, a decision trainer Gary Lockett attributed to the bigger payday on offer against Frenchman Anthony Mazaache.
Only time will tell if that was the right thing to do. It could be a gamble on Rees’s part because, at 31, if he loses, he may regret not taking the Burns fight.
He shouldn’t lose to Mazaache though and with Lockett in his corner it would be a brave person to bet against Rees going on to become a two-weight world champion later this year.
LEE SELBY – reigning British and Commonwealth featherweight champion, one defeat in 13 outings, former Welsh champion
One of the breakthrough boxers of last year, Selby won all three of his title fights in 2011, a run which started with him beating James Ancliff to claim the vacant Celtic crown.
An impressive eighth-round TKO of Stephen Smith saw Selby take the Liverpudlian’s British and Commonwealth titles in his own back yard before the boy from Barry held on to them with victory over John Simpson in December.
Selby is currently ranked as the top featherweight in Europe by boxing website Boxrec and he will no doubt be eyeing EBU king Alexander Miskirtchian’s crown in 2012.
GARY BUCKLAND – current British super-featherweight champion and former Prizefighter winner
With Selby, Buckland move up a level in 2011, and proved he was no one-hit wonder by beating Gary Sykes, the man he knocked out on the way to winning Prizefighter, to lift the British strap.
He is scheduled to meet Paul Truscott in March in a scrap between puncher and fighter.
Win and the natural step will be to European level where, like Selby, he is rated as the best by Boxrec.
THE ‘VETERANS’ – Enzo Maccarinelli, Jamie Arthur, Bradley Pryce
Back at light-heavyweight, Enzo Mac has insisted the fires are still burning inside him to taste world glory again.
His defeat to David Haye in 2008 seemed to be the beginning of the end for Swansea’s finest and although he bounced back to become European champion, that was brutally taken away from him in 2010 by Alexander Frenkel.
He’s talked of a showdown with former sparring partner Cleverly but for now the younger man has bigger fish to fry.
One thing boxing fans have learnt about Jamie Arthur since he turned pro is when the 32-year-old says he is retiring you should never fully expect him to go through with it.
On February 4 he gets his third shot at a Lonsdale Belt against Scott Quigg in Bolton, the fight that tempted him out of retirement this time.
You’d think a defeat would force him to call time on his career for good, allowing him to focus on bringing through talent at his gym in Pontypridd.
Meanwhile, Pryce, another of Lockett’s charges, is in action on February 10 against Steve O’Meara, looking to build on a solid display in beating Danny Butler last October.
You feel Pryce is in the last-chance saloon and can’t afford any more setbacks.
THE PROSPECTS – Craig Evans, Lewis Rees, Luke Robinson, Liam Williams
If you’re wondering who to look out for when it comes to the next generation of Welsh boxers, look no further than the four men above.
Evans is unbeaten in all five pro contests so far and, if he can become more active in 2012, the rewards are there for him.
Robinson, son of Welsh great Steve, seems to have all the basic boxing skills and more. Three victories from three to date may have come against journeymen but the Cardiff fighter has dealt with the lot comfortably.
Rees enjoyed a successful start to his pro career last year and, in time, could develop into one to watch, as might Williams, a product of the Cleverly gym in Bargoed who makes his debut next month.
Upcoming confirmed fights involving Welsh boxers;
February 4 – Scott Quigg v JAMIE ARTHUR for the British super-bantamweight title, Reebok Stadium, Bolton
February 25 – NATHAN CLEVERLY v Tommy Karpency for the WBO world light-heavyweight title, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
March 2 – GARY COOPER v KERRY HOPE for the Welsh middleweight title, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
March 2 – ROBERT TURLEY v Gavin Reid for the vacant Celtic super-bantamweight title, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
March 24 – GARY BUCKLAND v Paul Truscott for the British super-featherweight title, Ponds Forge Arena, Sheffield

Super Mac set for Premier loan stint

WELSH League top scorer Daniel MacDonald will bid farewell to Monmouth Town after tomorrow’s match at Dinas Powys – but the striker won’t be away for too long.
MacDonald, who has scored a remarkable 34 goals for the division two leaders this season, 13 more than anyone else, is off to Premier League Carmarthen Town on a month’s loan.
And, when you look at his record so far this term, it’s not difficult to see why new Town boss Mark Aizlewood is keen to utilise his services as a prolific marksman.
MacDonald has contributed nearly half of Monmouth’s 77 league goals as they sit proudly at the top of the second division with an 18-point lead over Newport YMCA, who play Newcastle Emlyn tomorrow.
The centre forward has notched seven hat-tricks in the league, including five-goal hauls against Caldicot Town and Bettws, and has also netted seven times in cup competitions.
No doubt MacDonald wants to leave for Richmond Park on a high while the rest of the division will be glad to see the back of him, even if it is only for a month.
Up in division one, things are just a bit closer as Cambrian & Clydach hold a four-point advantage over Cwmbran Celtic. Tomorrow sees the pacesetters host Barry Town and Cwmbran go to mid-table Ton Pentre.
Meanwhile, there is a huge clash at the bottom of the table as Caerau (Ely) in 16th travel to Aberaman Athletic in 15th.
The top two in division three are both away with Undy Athletic, leading Pontypridd Town by two points, visiting Llanwern and their rivals going to Tredegar Town.
By David Williams

Pressure is on Llanelli says Rhyl boss Strong

RHYL boss Greg Strong is happy to go into tomorrow’s Welsh Cup clash with Llanelli as underdogs and believes all the pressure will be on the reigning champions.
Andy Legg’s men are favourites for the last 16 tie at Rhyl’s Belle Vue home but go up against a side that already have a Premier League scalp to their name in the competition.
The Lilywhites beat Newtown 2-1 in the last round and are now just one win away from reaching the quarter-finals.
And manager Strong reckons that despite the standout match of the weekend being screened live on television his players can still show off their own brand of football on the big stage.
“It will be a fantastic game,” he said. “The lads are looking forward to testing themselves against one of the best teams left in the Welsh Cup.
“We go into the game as underdogs which is fine by us as it takes the pressure off us a little.
“When you’re perceived as favourites the pressure to perform can sometimes work against you. It just means we can get to playing our style of football.
“Hopefully we can get a result and have people talking about Rhyl Football Club for the right reasons again.”
Strong’s only injury doubts are Will Thomas and Russell Courtney and he will be evaluating their progress before deciding on his match day squad.
The Rhyl supremo also issued a rallying cry to the club’s fans who he wants to see out in force at Belle Vue come the first whistle.
He added: “Our fans have many times become the 12th man for us in big games. I ask they do this again on Saturday and help push the lads on to victory.”
If Rhyl don’t manage to pull off a shock tomorrow then Huws Gray Alliance rivals Buckley Town could spring the surprise of the fourth-round when they host Premier outfit Bala Town.
It’s been an excellent season so far for Buckley, second in the Alliance behind gap Connahs Quay and scorers of 13 goals in the previous three rounds of the cup.
And not only does the Globe Way side face Bala after easing past Llangefni Town 4-1 last Saturday, they do so knowing that star striker Michael Burke has committed himself to the club for the rest of the season.
Talk of a move to the Premier League was quashed by Burke this week following a hat-trick against Llangefni took his tally for the campaign to 15.
In the other last 16 match-ups, Premier leaders The New Saints will more than fancy their chances against Newport County while Flint Town United could provide Neath with a few scares.
Aberystwyth entertain Llandudno, AFC Porth go to Carmarthen Town, Prestatyn should have too much firepower for Cefn Druids and there is one all-Premier clash between Afan Lido and Airbus UK.
By David Williams

Swalec Plate Round Three Preview

The Swalec Plate enters the third round this weekend with 32 clubs vying to emulate Ammanford’s victory in Cardiff last season.
The regionalised draw provides a feast of local derbies, including Maesteg Quins welcoming neighbours Maesteg to South Parade, with the Three South West trailblazers looking to clinch their maiden win over their bitter rivals and with Maesteg struggling in Two West, few would call it an upset.
In an interesting clash, Three South East pacemakers Llanishen travel to last year’s Swalec Bowl Champions and Three East highfliers Senghenydd, while the top two in One North go head to head when Nant Conwy entertain leaders Caernarfon.
Last season’s runners up Glynneath will be looking to go one better this year but know they can’t look past Three South West’s Ystalyfera when they travel to the Ynysydarren Ground.
Meanwhile, in an all Two East clash, in-form Penallta welcome Ynysybwl to Ystrad Fawr, while league leaders Ystrad Rhondda make the short trip to Three South East’s Fairwater.
Further west, Loughor host Dunvant, Crymych clash with Haverfordwest and Tumble will look to cause an upset when they meet Cwmllynfell at Parc y Mynydd Mawr.
Elsewhere, Three South East pacemakers Garndiffaith travel to fellow title hopefuls Pontypool United, and an all Two West match up sees Kidwelly host Aberystwyth.
The day's other fixtures are as follows: Fairwater v Ystrad Rhondda; Mold v Bethesda; Nelson v St Peters; Pill Harriers v Abertillery BG; Skewen v Vardre; Tylorstown v Builth Wells.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Swalec Cup Round Two Predictions

Aberavon v Bargoed

The Wizards runners up last year will be keen to go one better this year, however they go into the match against the Division One East leaders on the back of two defeats. Both sides rely heavily on their big packs and I think the Wizards will have the edge in that department and will win convincingly.

Verdict-Aberavon by 15 points

Ammanford  v Tata Steel
Ammanford suffered a 67-6 drubbing at the hands of Division One West title contenders the Saints in the league last week. Although they have home advantage and cup pedigree winning the Swalec Plate last season, surely they won’t be able to turn around such a big deficit. Tata Steel have been flying in the league of late and the only concern for the coaches will be that the players underestimate the opposition.
Verdict- Tata Steel by 20 points 
Beddau    v   Mountain Ash
Beddau have already defeated the Old Firm twice in One East this season and come into the match having secured back to back wins over tough opposition. Although neither of Beddau’s victories over Mountain Ash were particularly one sided, I can only see one winner here.
Verdict- Beddau by 12 points

Bonymaen v Llanelli

Llanelli, the undisputed cup kings of Welsh rugby over the years, were given a kind draw for the second round and shouldn’t have too many problems seeing off their Division One West hosts. Bonymaen have won the last two in the league but Llanelli won’t want to get knocked out of a second cup competition in the space of a week or so.They can expect a hostile reception at Parc Mawr and may have to wait until the second-half to pull clear.
Verdict – Llanelli by 15 points
Cardiff v Glamorgan Wanderers

The Wanderers will get to renew their local rivalry with the Blues after being relegated from the Premiership last season. Having initially struggled with life in One East, the Wands have started to find their feet of late. Cardiff haven’t had a stellar season by any stretch of the imagination in the Premiership and sit mid-table. However, i feel they should comfortably defeat the visitors, although the opening half could prove to be a tight affair.

Verdict- Cardiff by 15 points
Carmarthen Athletic  v   Bridgend Athletic
In a repeat of last week's fixture, One West strugglers Bridgend travel to Johnstown looking to overturn their fortunes and a comprehensive defeat but the hosts I feel will be once again too strong for the visitors.
Verdict- Carmarthen by 20 points
Carmarthen Quins v Bridgend

It was only last weekend these two sides met in the Premiership. Quins’ 34-17 victory at the Brewery Field moved them up to third in the table, seven points off leaders Llandovery.
Quins will be looking for a third win over the Ravens this season when they square up in the cup. Last Saturday’s success saw them do the double against Bridgend following a 28-14 triumph earlier in the campaign.
Their growing confidence garnered through some impressive league form should see them through to the third round.

Verdict – Quins by 12 points

Cross Keys v Bedwas

There should only be one winner in this tie. Keys go into it on the back of a resounding thumping of Llanelli at Pandy Park in the British & Irish Cup and have home advantage again for this knockout fixture.That said, Bedwas pushed Llandovery all the way in the league last Saturday and came away from Church Bank with a losing bonus point so must have something about them on the road.
Fly-half Steffan Jones put in a virtuoso performance against Llanelli and Keys fans will be hoping for more of the same.

Verdict – Cross Keys by 10 points

Llandovery v Pontypridd

Arguably the tie of the second round sees the Premiership leaders host the Swalec Cup holders at Church Bank.Other sides may have games in hand on them but the Drovers are six points clear at the top of the league and, should they get past Pontypridd, could target silverware on two fronts this season.But Pontypridd have the cup pedigree and will be smarting from being dumped out of the British & Irish Cup last weekend.

Verdict – Llandovery by three points

Llangennech  v  UWIC

Llangennech have already defeated the students twice in One West but both matches have been tight affairs but the Carmarthenshire side have lost their last four matches on the bounce and will be eager to put in a big performance. The students meanwhile have had an indifferent start to the New Year but will feel confident they can pick up a win at the Park Rugby Ground.

Verdict-Llangennech by 3 points

Llanharan   v   Newbridge
Newbridge have rediscovered their impressive early season form in One East and sit in third, while Llanharan have adjusted well to life in One West having been transferred there by the WRU this season. If the Dairymen can get the upperhand up front it should be an interesting contest but I think the visitors guided by Neil Burnett will be too strong.
Verdict- Newbridge by 7 points
Newport  v Ebbw Vale

The Black and Ambers have struggled in the Welsh Premiership so far although they have won their last two matches on the bounce but the in form Steelmen who remain in the hunt for the Division One East title will feel they will never have a better chance to beat their close rivals.

Verdict-Ebbw Vale by 3 points

Pontypool v Neath

Neath are one of the favourites to lift the cup this year and will have too much for Pooler.Winners against Llandovery in their last match two weekends ago, Neath look all set to pounce in the league and can use their trip to Pontypool to send out a message to the rest of the Premiership.A decent cup run would work wonders for Pooler but it will need the visitors to have an off day for that to happen.

Verdict – Neath by 15 points

Swansea v Tondu
Tondu’s position in Division One West doesn’t fully do justice to how they’ve played this season, pushing several of the top clubs close.Swansea are a very up and down side and will be glad they are on home turf for this one as they bid to salvage something from a season that just seems to be petering out.Their class should tell in the end, though the visitors may give them a problem or two to start with.
Verdict – Swansea by 20 points

Tonmawr  v Treorchy

The Zebras face another trip West after defeating Narberth in the last round and will fancy their chances against the Premiership whipping boys but the Pitmen will be desperate to earn their first win of the season and won’t have a better chance.

Verdict- Tonmawr by 5 points

Tredegar v Rumney
Both of these sides have struggled to assert themselves in One East this season with the newcomers Tredegar only picking up a single victory so far, but Rumney needed a last minute penalty to pinch a victory in the same fixture only a few weeks ago.
Verdict- Rumney by 6 points

Monday, 23 January 2012

Caton's keeper misfortune causes chaos

ANDY Preece’s reign as director of football at Airbus UK Broughton got off to the perfect start with a handsome 4-1 victory over Bala Town in the League Cup first round first leg.
However, it was a dismal night for Preece’s opposite number Colin Caton as Bala played nearly the whole match with 10 men after substitute ‘keeper Terry McCormick was sent off eight minutes after coming on the field.
His introduction came when first-choice goalkeeper Mark Pullman was stretchered following a collision with Wingmakers striker Craig Whitfield only two minutes in.
Pullman was left unconscious by the impact and taken to hospital in Chester. Happily, the Australian, who was making his first-team debut on Friday, was given the all-clear and discharged that night.
Stand-in stopper Mark Connolly couldn’t prevent Airbus running riot and his first task was to pick the ball out of the net from Mark Cadwallader’s penalty which McCormick had conceded prior to his red card.
Cadwallader doubled his tally on the stroke of half-time and was unlucky not to bag a third. Glenn Rule made it 3-0 on the hour before Gavin Cadwallader hit the fourth soon after.
A Mark Allen own goal on 75 minutes was the only highlight of an otherwise disastrous night for Bala, who will be clear second favourites when the teams meet for the second leg.
Striker Jack Christopher was the man responsible for giving new Carmarthen Town boss Paul Aizlewood a win in his first game in charge against Port Talbot Town at Richmond Park.
The Old Gold forward struck on 37 minutes to give Carmarthen a slender lead going into the second leg next week.
Port Talbot could have come away with a draw but Martin Rose’s penalty was easily saved by Town ‘keeper Mike Lewis early in the second-half.
Where Rose failed, Afan Lido’s Andy Hill succeeded in his side’s tie with Aberystwyth at the Marstons Stadium. Hill’s strike was bettered by Mark Jones midway through the opening period and 2-0 was how it finished.
Aberystwyth did have a gilt-edged chance to halve the deficit in the last minute but Ricky Evans’ penalty was saved by Chris Curtis.
And in the other first-round clash, a goal by Newtown’s Callum Wright cancelled out Jon Fisher-Cooke’s first-half effort for Prestatyn Town in a 1-1 draw at Bastion Gardens.
The first-round second legs will be played next Tuesday (January 31), apart from the Aberystwyth-Port Talbot game which is on the Wednesday.
By David Williams