Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Young gun Bryan takes Carmarthen Junior title

JAMES Bryan fired a terrific two-round total of 137 to win the Junior Club Championship at Carmarthen in style.

Scores of 67 and 70 gave Bryan the title, a full seven strokes clear of second-placed Tom Hughes, who carded rounds of 69 and 74.

Kieran James was a further five shots adrift in third with a 36-hole total of 149 following rounds of 76 and 73.

There was no doubting who the winner was though and the victory was just reward for Bryan after a consistent season to date has seen his handicap drop from 22 to 14.

Meanwhile, Jamie Dean beat Osian McAvoy to win the red tees event and Rhys Jones overcame Nicholas Evans in the blue tees competition.

The Blenheim Cup attracted another big field and division one honours went the way of David Thomas, who won on countback from Peter Williams after both had scored a net 67. Eirian Evans was third on 73.

Division two was headed by Steffan Griffiths, also with a net 67, with Chris Jones taking second with a round of 70. Eirwyn Roberts was the best of three golfers on 71 to claim third place.

Jimmy Myo won division three courtesy of a net 70, one stroke in front of Tony Hurd and three clear of Kevin Jones. Thomas won the Cup on countback from Williams and Griffiths.

The Ladies Captain’s Day raised more than £300 for charity and produced some good scores on the course too. Elin Jones won division one an excellent 39 points from Ann Morris, who was the best of four golfers on 31.

In division two, Susan Saunders won with 36 points with Sheila Reed-Smith the runner-up on 32 and in the third division, Lowri Thomas produced an amazing round to win with 47 points with Eleanor Goodman second on 38. Olive Lloyd won nearest the pin and Sheila Reed-Smith won nearest the line.

The third and final round of the Seniors W L Davies competition was won by Simon Barratt with 39 points. Keith Howells was runner-up on 38, just edging out Mervyn Lewis over the back nine.

This means Barratt wins the Cup with the best two-round score of 77 points. Mick Fenney (76) and Tim Harries (75) made up the top three.

The Ladies President’s Day saw Ruth James win division one from Edna Morris. Lorna Rice beat Sheila Reed-Smith in division two and Anne Williams beat Brenda Nolan in the third.

Williams won nearest the pin and Ann Morris took nearest the line while £250 was raised for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

Members at Southerndown finally had the chance to play golf in some nice weather with the scoring reflecting the fine conditions. Matthew Little carded an excellent 39 points to claim victory in division one of the White Box Stableford. Matthew Rees registered 38 to come a close second.

In division two there were some equally impressive scores as Andrew Finucane sealed victory with 39 points and Jonathan Hughes came second with 38.


Derllys Court

Club Stableford; (div one) 1. R. Thomas 40pts, 2. M. Sillars 39, 3. P. Davies 37, (div two) 1. G. Jones 42, 2. P. Evans 41, 3. C. Morshead 41, (div three) 1. A. Jones 39, 2. R. Bowen 35, 3. W. Davies 34

Langland Bay

4BBB Medal; 1. J. Bolter & M. Reeves 64, 2. D. Allnutt & R. Gallagher 65, 3. A. Evans & N. Gorvett 66


White Box Stableford; (div one) 1. M. Little 39pts, 2. M. Rees 38, (div two) 1. A. Finucane 39, 2. J. Hughes 38

Griffiths not overplaying Welsh derby

North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths has said that he won’t be overplaying the Welsh derby against South Wales Scorpions at The Gnoll in Neath on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) to his players.

The experienced former Wales international coach has said that his squad will be treating it as any other normal game despite the nation’s Rugby League bragging rights for 2013 being at stake.

“It’s just another game for us,” he said. “It’s fantastic to have North Wales v South Wales going head to head again in a competitive environment and it’s great for the fans to get behind their ‘region’ but I don’t want to overplay it.

“We’re both building for next season and we will do the best we can. Next year, both of us will be hell-bent on getting out of this league and into the Championship. We’re looking at the players we have and how we’re going to do that in regards to recruitment for next year. I’m sure Dave Clark at the Scorpions is doing exactly the same thing.

“Right now, we’re playing teams who are at a similar level as us in the league. We know that South Wales Scorpions can play well so we’re on our guard. Us, Scorpions, London and Gateshead are all in a bit of a mini-league now to get at least seventh place. We’re going into every game believing we can win and that’s how far we’ve come. The Scorpions will be looking at us as a winnable game to take them up the table and they’ll want to jump over us by the end of the season.

“If we put a couple of back to back wins together and Oldham slip up then who knows, we could sneak into sixth. The top four is just that bit beyond us now and I don’t think we’re ready for promotion yet. It’ll be a massive upheaval. Going forward to the future though, the players have got so much to play for.”

Griffiths, pleased at how the season has gone, says that the club’s biggest asset has been their fans, who will almost certainly follow the club in droves in their pilgrimage to the south this Sunday.

“I’m amazed at the support we have and I want to go public on this - I want to give the fans a massive pat on the back,” he said. “There’s a great rapport between players and fans, we’ve been attending events with the supporters, and win lose or draw they’re 100% behind you.

“We took hundreds to Rochdale the week before last and I think we’ll have hundreds coming down to South Wales too. It was like a home game in Gateshead the week before that as we outnumbered their fans! There might as well be thousands the way they get behind the team, even in the bad times. They gave us a standing ovation even though we lost. I expect them to be at The Gnoll as that’s how they are.”

Tickets for the big Welsh derby - South Wales Scorpions v North Wales Crusaders on Sunday 5th August - are now on sale. They can be bought by going to www.scorpionsrl.com or in person from the Neath RFC club shop in Old Market Street, Neath on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week.

Shellard relishes the challenge of his Ponty return

Shellard back at Sardis

Dynamic flanker Rhys Shellard has returned to the ranks of Pontypridd RFC with a renewed vigour for the game and an appetite for the challenges that lie ahead.
One of a crop of talented youngsters who were developed through the Celtic Warriors Academy, and thrown into senior level rugby with Pontypridd in the Premiership, Shellard then departed to represent The Blues and Cardiff RFC.
Currently contracted to the Wales Sevens squad, and by now a player with a wealth of experience at senior level despite still being only twenty-seven years of age, Rhys Shellard has made the move back to his club of origin Pontypridd ready for the new season.
“I felt the time was right to make a move, and having loved my time with Ponty earlier in my career, it was the club to which I wanted to return” explained Shellard.
“When the opportunity came along to do so I jumped at it, and I can’t wait now for the season to get underway and be back playing in the black and white.”
The foraging openside flanker, despite his enthusiasm, is taking nothing for granted as he integrates with the Ponty squad.
“I realise that there is stiff competition in the back row here” said Shellard, “with Wayne O’Connor the master craftsman and youngsters like Calum Thomas and Tom Hetherington coming through. My first task will be to claim a place in the starting line up.”
A slight calf strain has held Shellard back during summer training, but a return to full fitness and an opportunity to make a contribution with Pontypridd is within his sights.
“I hope to make my mark pre-season and be able to help the club off to a good start in the league.
“There are high standards to maintain here at Ponty, and the whole squad is focussed on retaining the league title, regaining the Welsh Cup and improving on our status in the British & Irish Cup.
“There is so much to play for and if I can make a contribution to the club’s success it will more than justify my decision to come back here.”

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Dyffryn narrow gap at the summit

In the battle at the top of Division Four, Cimla saw their lead cut to just three points when they went down to title rivals Dyffryn by one wicket.
Cimla set a target of 213 with Chris Stephens making 55, while Arun Rengaswamy struck a high class half century 58. Ieaun Jones was the best with the ball for Dyffryn capturing 6-52.
Dyffryn in reply clinched the win carding 214-9, with Jones once again the star of the show smashing 62, while David Aubrey hit 44 and Richard Davies chipped in with 41.
Llantwit Major Cavaliers were also frustrated by the rain after their clash at Ystradgynlais also resulted in a no differential draw. The Cavaliers were chasing when the rain halted play, with the visitors looking in a strong position of 91-2 in the 24th over. 
Felinfoel dished out a 216 run drubbing to the division’s whipping boys Kidwelly.
Foel posted 350-3d, with Rhys Harris smashing a mammouth 184 off just 151 balls, blasting 27 four’s and 4 sixes, and fellow opener Andrew Thomas also striking a century (114).
Kidwelly in reply never looked likely of troubling the hosts' total and were dismissed for 134, with Craig Richards the pick of the bowlers capturing 4-16.
Elsewhere, Baglan defeated Neath 3rds by four wickets and Llandarcy thumped Llandeilo by seven wickets.

Briton Ferry tighten their stranglehold at the top

Briton Ferry Town tightened their stranglehold on the Division Three title with a routine five wicket victory at Margam
The hosts batted first but were restricted to 125 with Afaq Shah (5-44) and Yakoob Ali (3-26) starring for the leaders. Luke O’Connor’s 31 was the only high point of the innings for Margam.
Town in reply convincingly reached their target with Ali once again the star, top scoring on 34, while Shakeel Amin knocked a solid 26 and Adrian Mainwaring struck 23.
Meanwhile, second placed Porthcawl picked up an invaluable hard-fought, three wicket win at Pontyberem.
The hosts posted 191-6 in their allotted overs, with Craig Howells top scoring with 59, while Emyr Harris chipped in with 27.
The Seasiders in reply chased down the runs with just two balls to spare carding 194-7, with Steve Doherty taking the acclaim as he finished undefeated on 64, while Brett Davies fell just short of his half century, and Josh Lyddon chipped in with 28.
Hills Plymouth remain hot on Porthcawl’s heels as the race for promotion heats up, but the Merthyr outfit had to make do with a no differential draw against Landore due to a rain interrupted match.
The Methyr side batted first and set a total of 255-6, with Matthew Davies striking 55 not out, while Aled Walters knocked 56 and Chris Shopland contributed 41. Landore were 170-2 in the 40th over when the rain came, forcing the match to be abandoned.
At the other end of the table, Pwll look more and more likely of pulling off an Houdini-esque escape from relegation after bagging their second straight victory with a seven wicket win over Maesteg. Pwll, who have propped up the table all season, now sit third from bottom with a three point advantage over their relegation rivals.
In the day's other fixture, Swansea Civil Service’s hopes of back to back promotions looks to have faded as they were beaten by Drefach.

Wanderers remain in pole position

Barring an absolute catastrophe, Carmarthen Wanderers will be making an immediate return to the top flight, after the Division Two pacemakers picked up their eighth win over Briton Ferry Steel.
Briton Ferry Steel, who were also relegated along with the Wanderers last season, struggled at the crease and could only post 99, with Tim Stevens top scoring with 29. Andrew Edwards shone with the ball for the leaders taking 4-21, while Gareth Thomas claimed 3-29 and Ian Marsh picked up 2-11.
The Wanderers, inspired by the division’s top batsmen 16 year old Daniel Jones, easily chased down the runs for the loss of no wickets, with Jones finishing unbeaten on 55 which took him over 500 runs for the season.
Cowbridge remain in the hunt for the title after they picked up their seventh win of the season at Llandysul.
The Carmarthenshire side posted 273-5 with Tom Warner the pick of the bowlers capturing three wickets, but the real story lied in the chase with Cowbridge getting the runs required in the final over,  276-5, thanks to a superb unbeaten century from Sam Wood (110) and a solid 35 not out from Chris Willey. The victory sees them 45 points clear of third placed Bronwydd, but 27 points behind leaders Carmarthen Wanderers as the title race intensifies.
Skewen’s captain, John S Jones, made his 500th league appearance for his side on Saturday, but it didn’t prevent them from slipping to an eight wicket loss at Bronwydd.
The visitors were skittled for just 61 with Tom Gleeson the star with the ball capturing 4-14, while Steven Williams claimed 3-13.
The Carmarthenshire side in reply needed just 14.4 overs to get the runs required posting 67-2, Steffan Jones top scored with an unbeaten 38 while Meirion Davies struck 21 not out.
Elsewhere, Aberdare’s clash with Gorseinon resulted in a no differential draw, with Aberdare posting 261-4 in 50 overs and Gorseinon finishing on 153-7.
In the day's other fixture, Morriston secured a winning draw over Llanelli but the result means they remain 29 points clear of safety at the bottom with only four matches left.

Pacemakers maintain slender advantage

Thomas Carroll Division One pacemakers Dafen maintained their slender advantage at the top when they saw off Clydach by four wickets, as they look to secure back to back titles.
Clydach were all out in the 38th over posting 142 after meeting a Dafen attack in potent mood, with both Steven Devonald and Chris Hudson claiming three wickets, and Andrew Rowlands and Matthew Evans bagging a brace apiece. Cameron Protheroe’s 47 made him the best with the bat for Clydach.
Dafen, who lost for the first time last weekend at Swansea, made light work of the chase making 144-6, Nicky Davies top scored with 39 while Johnny Griffiths struck 30 and Dafydd Nicholas chipped in with 23.
Meanwhile, Swansea remain hot on their heels after they all but ended Ynystawe’s title bid at the weekend with a four wicket victory.
Ynystawe batted first and posted 190-8, with the prolific Andrew Beasley once again producing a fine display with the bat knocking 69. The hosts were faltering at one stage, however, having been on 141-7, but a solid hit by Alex Fletcher (28n/o) led them to a respectable target. Gareth Hayden was once again amongst the wickets capturing 5-37, while Johnny Hubschmid took 3-54.
Swansea in reply chased down the runs in the 46th over carding 191-6, with Ashley Pass shining at the crease smashing an undefeated 77, while Hubschmid was also on form striking 42. The four wicket win sees second placed Swansea move 31 points clear of Ynystawe as we come to the sharp end of the season.
Maesteg Celtic gave themselves some breathing space at the bottom of the league with an invaluable 43 run victory over Neath.
Celtic batted first and, inspired by a scintillating performance from Phil Poole at the crease, carded 199-9 with Poole finishing unbeaten on 101, while Lyndsey Harris contributed a solid 35. Tom Jones was the pick of the bowlers from Neath, taking 4-54.
Neath in reply fell well short of their target despite a determined undefeated 43 from Huw Davies. Poole was one again amongst the action picking up 2-27, while Lee Hicks captured three wickets.
The win sees Celtic move 58 points clear of the drop zone, with their victory augmented by the fact that their relegation rivals Pontardawe and Llangennech both lost.
Basement boys Pontardawe were on the wrong end of a 211 run hammering at Gowerton.
The hosts batted first and posted 300-5d off 47 overs with veteran Sam Lyle smashing 120 while his son Jack struck a half century (51) and Steve Inwood knocked 65.
Ponty in reply never looked likely of coming close to Gowertons total and they were skittled for just 89 with Inwood capping a good day’s worl claiming 4-5 off just 2.5 overs while Ian Capon picked up 3-22.
In the day’s other fixture, Tata Steel defeated Llangennech by 8 runs.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Celtic Manor pro guides stars of the future

The senior teaching professional at Ryder Cup venue Celtic Manor is to take up the role of helping to guide the future golfing talent in South East Wales.
John McDonald will take over the role as the South East Academy golf coach for the Golf Union of Wales, combined with his work at Celtic Manor, nurturing the talented junior golfers in the area as they progress through to the Wales squads and beyond.
“I am delighted to have the chance to play a role in helping so many of the best young golfers in the area,” said McDonald, from Efail Isaf, who worked at the Vale of Glamorgan resort before moving to Celtic Manor.
“I have had a taste of working with the elite players in my time at the Vale and Celtic Manor, as well as the knowledge and confidence I have gained through becoming a national technical representative for Titleist.
“This has exposed me to many elite performers and given me a great insight into their performance keys, I am looking forward to being able to pass that on.
“I have a lot of experience of the modern methods of golf coaching and analysis within the industry.
“I have a passion for learning and enjoy seeing others benefit from my skill as a golf professional, I would like to become a world class coach and to enable me to achieve this I have been shadowing elite coaches working with European Tour players and amateur international golfers.”
McDonald completed his PGA foundation degree in 2011, finishing fourth in training, as well as a first class sports science degree from the University of Glamorgan with his dissertation covering details of the golf swing in novices and professionals.
“We are very pleased that John will be joining the team of top class professionals who are guiding the young players in Wales,” said Golf Union of Wales Director of Performance Ben Waterhouse.
“He was an outstanding candidate for the role who will certainly bring a high level of skill and experience to the position of working with the elite junior golfers coming through the ranks in South East Wales.
“Talent identification will also be a key part of the role as we work towards developing the best young players in Wales to prepare them for the top levels of amateur golf and hopefully the professional ranks beyond that.
“We have a strong team of coaches all around Wales feeding into the national structure under men's coach Neil Matthews and ladies coach Jeremy Bennett, so it is great to have John as part of that team.”

Dicomidis retains captaincy of Pontypridd

The captaincy of Pontypridd RFC will remain entrusted to towering lock forward Chris Dicomidis for another season.

The twenty-six year old is by now a senior member of the Ponty squad, and will take on the captain’s duties for a third successive year, having already led his team to Swalec Cup glory in 2011 and to the Premiership title in 2012.

Familiarity in the role does not in this case breed any contempt, as Dicomidis explained:
“This is once again a massive honour for me, to be given another opportunity to captain the club. It is a big responsibility, but one that I enjoy.

“We have a strong squad at Pontypridd with plenty of experience and also some youthful enthusiasm. Whether a player has been at the club for five years or five minutes, they all have a say and that helps me a lot in captaining the side.”

Nominated as Dicomidis’ deputy for the coming campaign is abrasive centre Dafydd Lockyer, whose exploits on the field last season earned him the Premiership Player of the Year and the Welsh Rugby Writers’ Club Player of the Year awards.

“Locks’ performances have earned him a lot of respect” said Dicomidis of his vice captain. “He is one of the big characters in the squad, he can raise a few laughs off the field but when we go into action he is a class act and can lead through example.”

A tough season awaits Pontypridd as defending Premiership champions and contenders for Welsh Cup and British & Irish Cup glory, but in captain Chris Dicomidis and his vice Dafydd Lockyer they have two loyal servants fully committed to leading the club to further success.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Hook makes U-turn to become Pooler head coach

PONTYPOOL’S former defence guru Mike Hook has made a sensational return to the club as head coach just days after leaving.

Hook, the brother of Wales international James, left Pontypool Park last Wednesday for personal reasons but will now fill the void left by James Chapron.

He left at the end of last season to concentrate on his role as head of the Dragons’ Academy, leaving Hook, team manager Shaun Rees and development XV head coach Matthew Chapman with the task of building a side for the new campaign.

That task was made all the more difficult when Pontypool lost their High Court case against the WRU over their relegation from the Welsh Premiership.

Hook, 29, resigned last week as club officials looked for a new head coach to take the team into the National Championship, the league now one below the Premiership.

Now in charge, Hook, who has spent four years at Pooler, has named prop-cum-hooker Jamie Juene as his captain with centre Chris Macey installed as vice-captain. Juene takes over the skipper’s armband from Geraint Morris.

After sorting out things in his personal life, Hook is happy to be back and, despite the uncertain financial future of the club, is ready to put together a new-look squad for a crack at the Championship.

He said: “I never really wanted to leave but there were a few things off the field that I felt needed sorting. Things look a bit more settled now and I am delighted to be back.

“This is a great opportunity for both me and the squad. It’s a fresh start and we have a young, hungry team with a few experienced players mixed in.

“Training has been encouraging and there is the chance to build over the next couple of seasons. I am excited by the challenge.”

Negotiations to hold on to the likes of back row forwards Luke Dyckhoff and Mike Barber and talisman prop Nicky Blake are on-going.

North Wales Crusaders prepare for Welsh derby clash

North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths is pleased that his side will have a weekend off before facing South Wales Scorpions at The Gnoll on Sunday 5th August (kick-off 3pm).

It’s the second big Welsh derby of the year and with the North Wales side taking the first honours back in March, he believes that time off will help his side claim a double over their Welsh rivals, with the Scorpions having to travel to London Skolars this Sunday in a rearranged match.

“I am pleased that we have a weekend off,” Griffiths said. “We’ll have a full bill of health then for that. The only thing is will be my selection process. Danny Hulme will hopefully be fit by then after his ankle strain. Jamie Durbin too after his groin injury. Everybody will be hunting down a place for this game.

“I read that the Scorpions are going to use the next five games to build for next year. Well we’ve been doing that since we started - building for 2013 as this is our first year and we were going to try and test players.

“Against the Scorpions on August 5th, we will give a few players a game who’ve not had the chance recently. I’ve been rotating the team like that over the last few weeks.”

The Crusaders will be going into the game on a defeat, after losing 34-6 to Rochdale Hornets last Sunday and Griffiths knows that the loss was down to his side not taking their chances.

“It was one of those days. They played well and we didn’t where it mattered, it was a simple as that,” he said.

“We did do a lot of good defence but whenever we made a mistake, they were clinical. To be fair to them, they were refreshed after their break. For 15 minutes it was an arm-wrestle then one misread in defence and they were away.

“We had some chances but we bombed one or two of them. We could have been 12-10 up at one of those points and then it would have been a different complexion on the game.

“To be fair they took another chance just before half-time, that made it 16-6 and we knew we needed to get the first chance of the second half and we didn’t take it.

“But ’m not down about it as we created so many good chances. We’ve got the ability to turn over anybody and I mean that, we just need to take our chances. We’ll need to do that against the Scorpions at The Gnoll a week on Sunday to get the win.”

Tickets for South Wales Scorpions v North Wales Crusaders are now on sale at a special online price of £10 for adults, £6 for concessions and £2 for children aged 12-16. Entry is free to all aged 11 and under.

They can be bought by going to http://www.scorpionsrl.com/page.php?id=1991 or can also be bought in person at the Neath RFC No 13 club shop in Old Market Street in Neath.

Glamorgan County RFC hail another successful year

Glamorgan County RFC held a successful AGM at Pencoed RFC at which, outgoing President Keith Roberts (South Wales Police) handed the chain of office to the incoming President Howard Jones for the third time, in a County career spanning over 30 years.

Mr Jones is also the Secretary/Treasurer/Match Secretary of the County and the longest serving official. He was congratulated on a healthy balance sheet by the Auditor, Alan Williams.
A total of 101 Clubs entered the Silver Ball Competition last season with the holders Maesteg Quins losing to Glynneath 13-10 in the final at Llanharan. Glynneath last won in 1963, being the first to win in three consecutive seasons.
The County presented cheques of £5,000 to the winners Glynneath, £2,500 to runners up Maesteg Quins, £1,250 to semi-finalists Porth and Kenfig Hill apiece, and £500 each to quarter-finalists Bryncethin, Cefn Cribbwr, Llanishen and Maesteg Celtic. 
Three WRU Members Roy Giddings, Aurwel Morgan and Geraint Edwards attended the AGM with Mr Morgan stating that the Silver Ball was ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ and thanked the Committee for this outstanding competition which creates so much interest.
Minute Secretary, Bryan Cuss was presented with a barometer and became a life member after 20 years of service.
Bryan Cuss becomes a life member after 20 years of service.
Dennis Gethin WRU President and County Patron closed the meeting saying he was delighted and thanked all Clubs for their support.  “Grass roots rugby is so important to the game, and an unpaid committee keeps it going.” 
Mr Roberts stated what a great honour it was to be President and was saddened that his year was finally over. He thanked the Committee for their work and all clubs that he visited for a warm and friendly welcome.
He also stated how much he had enjoyed being involved with the Glamorgan County Worthington’s Silver Ball Competition, which once again was a great success.
Mr Jones thanked all players who represented the County last season.
In their first match to celebrate Nantymoel’s 125th anniversary, the County won by 57-15, but unfortunately, they could not play the annual match against the British Police, who were touring in Ireland.
Maesteg stepped in, however, with the County winning 41-0, before taking a strong team to play Bryncethin to celebrate that club’s entry to WRU status.  The match was played at the Brewery Field in front of a large crowd with the County winning 52-5.  This coming season’s matches are: August 18th - Aberavon Green Stars; August 25th - Tonna; and November 11th - Pontyclun (all three celebrating 125 years), while on August 22nd, Glynneath meet Bryncethin in the President’s Cup.
Next year, the County will help Pontycymmer and Cefn Cribbwr celebrate 125 years, as well as Baglan's 50th anniversary.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Ospreys get home advantage for LV= Cup starter

THE Ospreys will get next season’s LV= Cup under way with a home clash against Gloucester in front of the Sky cameras.

Dai Young takes his London Wasps side to former club Cardiff Blues on the opening weekend while the Dragons go to Bath and Scarlets travel to Worcester Warriors.

Reigning champions Leicester Tigers start the defence of their title away to Saracens and London Welsh host Exeter Chiefs, a game which is live on S4C.

Ospreys and London Welsh were drawn in Pool Four and will play the four clubs in Pool One – Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester and the Dragons.

Meanwhile, the Blues in Pool Two take on Scarlets, Saracens, London Irish and Wasps in Pool Three during the round-robin stages.

The Tigers lifted the trophy last season following a convincing win over 2009 victors Northampton Saints at Sixways Stadium. Tries from Steve Mafi and Scott Hamilton plus 12 points from the boot of George Ford secured the crown.

Sponsors LV= continue their support of the competition which last year saw 10,000 supporters turn out for the final at Sixways, as well as the introduction of the LV= Breakthrough Player award, presented to Jonny May. 

The 12 English clubs have been allocated to pools depending on their finish in last season's Aviva Premiership while the Welsh regions were placed where they are to avoid repeating fixtures from the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup where possible.

Pool 1

Harlequins, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, Newport Gwent Dragons

Pool 2  

Leicester Tigers, Sale Sharks, Worcester Warriors, Cardiff Blues

Pool 3

Saracens, London Irish, London Wasps, Scarlets

Pool 4

Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, London Welsh, Ospreys

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Llandudno return to winning ways

Leaders Llandudno recovered from their humiliating defeat last weekend to dish out a nine wicket hiding to North Wales Premier whipping boys Llay Welfare.
Llay won the toss and elected to bat but they were only at the creases for a mere 24 overs as they were dismissed for a measly 37. Gordon Kerr hit the visitors for six capturing 6-11, while captain Jack Rimmington took 4-17.
After they were skittled for just 18 the previous week, Llandudno looked determined not to fall victim the second week running as they chased down the total in the 12th over, 40-1. Duncan Midgley was the top scorer on 14, while Aled Williams finished unbeaten on 12.
This modest total, however, means Mochdre now sit just two points behind the leaders, after they thumped Mold by 91 runs.
Will Evans smashed an inspired 88 to set Mochdre on their way to a total of 208-9, while Adam Campion produced a resolute display in finishing unbeaten on 43.
Although Russell Wiseman knocked a determined 42, Mold never looked like troubling Mochdre and were dismissed for 117, Russell Boswell picking up 3-42 to help seal the one sided win.
In the battle to avoid the drop, Bangor bagged a much needed win defeating relegation rivals Northop by five wickets.
Northop batted first but were only able to set a target of 106, with Simon Murley capturing 5-5 and Chris Jones taking 3-28, halting any progress the hosts had.
Bangor in reply reached their goal on the 33rd over with David Winter top scoring with an unbeaten 33, while Gwilym Lloyd Jones chipped in with 22.
Menai Bridge squeaked home to a nail-biting victory at Connah’s Quay running out winners by one wicket
Connah’s Quay’s last wicket pair added 34 before they were all out for 135, Robbie Jones taking 4-33 and Ashley Wood 3-9.
In reply, Menai Bridge looked to be in real trouble at 86-7, but tail-ender Tom Hull steered his side to victory with an unbeaten on 34, while Gethin Roberts had earlier scored 29.
Elsewhere, there were draws in the games between Pontblyddyn and St Asaph and Denbigh and  Brymbo.

Swansea Civil Service make lightwork of leaders

In the battle at the sharp end, Swansea Civil Service came out on top seeing off Division Three leaders Briton Ferry Town by four wickets.
The pacemakers batted first but could only set a target of 86 after encountering some fierce bowling from Ben Novis, 3-5, and Matthew Griffiths, 3-34. Chris Curtis’ knock of 23 was the only notable contribution.
Swansea Civil Service chased down the runs for the loss of six wickets carding 87-6, with Griffiths top scoring with an unbeaten 22, while Chris Heys chipped in with 19.
Title contenders Porthcawl failed to capitalise on Briton Ferry Town’s slip up at the top of Division Three when the Seasiders lost out to Maesteg by 37 runs.
The Llynfi Valley side batted first and set a total of 224-6, with Ryan Parley the star man at the crease blasting his way to 75, while Andrew King, 39, and Steffan Roberts, 33, also contributed useful totals.
The Seasiders in reply fell short of their target on 187, with the Maesteg attack sharing the workload and the wickets as Michael Bailey, Gareth Bailey and Roberts all clinched two wickets apiece. Josh Lydon’s 66 was the pick of the Seasiders' innings.
Menahwile, former pacemakers Hills Plymouth’s title challenge looks all but over as they suffered a 65 run loss to Pontyberem, with all rounder Daniel Griffiths starring for the West Walians as he captured 4-13 and also contributed 43 with the bat.
Eslsewhere, there were wins for the two sides propping up the table, with Landore defeating Margam by a mammouth 138 runs and Pwll saw off Drefach by 12 runs.

Wanderers on course for immediate return to the top flight

Carmarthen Wanderers' bid to make an immediate return to the top flight remains on course as they opened up a 24 point advantage at the top of Division Two, after easily seeing off Morriston by eight wickets.
The Swansea outfit batted first but were restricted to 118-9 in their allotted overs after some economical bowling from the Wanderers attack, with Ian Marsh picking up 4-21 and Gareth Grant collecting 3-34.
The Wanderers comfortably reached their goal 121-2, with Owain Davies, 45, and Gareth Thomas, 36, both fiishing unbeaten.
Although Cowbridge lost ground in the title race, they did open up a 48 point advantage over their nearest promotion rivals thanks to a 34 run triumph over Briton Ferry Steel.
Meanwhile, Aberdare, who were at one stage challenging for promotion, slipped to seventh after suffering their third loss of the season in a two wicket defeat at Bronwydd.
Aberdare won the toss and elected to bat posting 151-8 in their allotted overs, Mike Roberts and John Derrick were the best with the bat both contributing 34, while Luke Garthwaite finished 30 not out.
Bronwydd, who move up to third as a result of this win, had just three more deliveries remaining when they reached their total at 152-8. Steffan Jones was the star man for the Carmarthenshire side making 43, while Steven Williams hit a useful 33. Michael Weathersby was the pick of the bowlers capturing 3-48.
Elsewhere, there were winning draws for Llanelli and Llandysul over Gorseinon and Skewen respectively.

Swansea blow title race wide open

Defending Champions Dafen’s seven wicket loss to Swansea has blown the Division One title race wide open with only 20 points separating the top three sides.
Dafen, who had defeated the ex Premier League side earlier in the season, set a total of 172-8 with Nick Davies (44) and Dafydd Nicholas (30) putting on 77 for the second wicket, but some devastating bowling from Josh Tobin, who captured 5-32, halted the leaders' progress.
Swansea, who are desperate to make a swift return to the Premier League, showed their calibre at the crease, chasing the runs down for the loss of just three wickets. Johnny Hubschmid was the star with the willow smashing an unbeaten 60, while Ashley Pass (26), Josh Hughes (31) and Gareth Hayden (25) also contributed useful innings.
In the battle to avoid the drop, Maesteg Celtic crucially gritted their teeth to avoid defeat at title contenders Ynystawe.
The Tawe Valley side batted first and set a target of 232-7, with talismanic captain Andrew Beasley producing the goods with the bat as he smashed his way to an unbeaten 128, while Rowan Evans contributed a solid half century 65. Roger Barnes was the best with the ball for the visitors, picking up 5-37.
Celtic in reply never looked like clinching victory but were also never in danger of losing as they put in a steely performance at the crease. Ian Herbert was their top scorer on 70, while Phil Poole hit an unbeaten 50.
Tata Steel heaped more woe on struggling Pontardawe with a 110 run thumping of the basement boys.
The Steelmen batted first and posted 180-9 with Kelvin Bartle their top scorer knocking a half century 56, and Rhys Owen chipped in with 28.
Pontardawe in reply were dismissed for just 70, with Michael Jones in scintillating form with the ball capturing 6-43, while Matthew Jones picked up 4-9.
Meanwhile, Neath stay fourth after they defeated Gowerton by six wickets at Dyfed Road.
Gowerton made slow progress knocking 117-9 in 50 overs, Callum Eakins (34) and Ian Capon (29 n/o) were the best at the crease, putting 51 on for the 7th wicket. Matthew Davies, Huw Davies and Nathan Aubrey each bagged two wickets apiece.
The hosts in reply chased down the runs required in the 36th over carding 119-4. Keiran Thomas smashed a half century 51, while Gareth Davies knocked a 28.
Llangennech remain in danger of the drop after they suffered a four wicket home defeat at the hands of Clydach.
The hosts were dismissed for 121 with Dean Kriescher the most economical in attack for Clydach colletcing 2-7. In reply, the visitors easily chased down the runs, carding 122-6.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Cresselly aiming to make the most of cup reprieve

PEMBROKE County League side Cresselly take their place in the quarter-finals of the Gwalia Welsh Cup on Sunday despite being knocked out two rounds ago.

The West Wales club were handed a reprieve after not one but two teams were thrown out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player.

Cresselly thought their campaign was over when they lost to Cardiff by eight wickets at Forest Farm in round three. Cardiff then went on to beat Sully and should have been facing Newport in the last eight.

However, competition officials discovered that Cardiff had a player in their line-up against Cresselly who wasn’t eligible and Sully did the same in the next round.

That meant Cardiff and Sully were both ejected from the tournament, giving Cresselly an unexpected place in the quarter-finals.

And they received a further bonus this week with the news that the tie will now be played at Cresselly rather than Newport because the latter’s ground is unavailable on Sunday.

In the other matches, holders Swansea host Ammanford at St Helen’s just three wins away from defending their trophy, while Ynystawe face a long trip north to Llandudno as do Usk who go to Mochdre.

Usk were the last team to seal a quarter-final berth on Monday and they did it by the finest of margins. Their win over Pontypridd came courtesy of losing fewer wickets after drawing level on runs off the last ball of the match.

In other knockout competitions, Tata Steel host Carmarthen Wanderers for a place in the semi-finals of the Thomas Carroll KO Cup.

Whoever wins will join Gowerton, Ynystawe and Mumbles in the hat for the last four. Those three beat Skewen, Dafen and Ynysgerwn respectively in the quarters.

Llandudno praying for no repeat performance

Romida North Wales Cricket League weekend preview

BEFORE last Saturday’s debacle against St Asaph, you’d have put your mortgage on Llandudno beating Llay Welfare tomorrow.

The premier division pacesetters, who hold a six-point lead over Mochdre, will still be favourites to win their match against the side currently occupying last place in the table.

But that would have been the same situation prior to Llandudno’s total capitulation just under a week ago when they were bowled out by St Asaph for 18.

Mochdre go to Mold hoping for a repeat performance from Llandudno who surely can’t play as bad as they did again on their last outing.

Don’t count Menai Bridge out of the title race either. Just 14 points behind the leaders, they are not out of the running and a win at home to Connah’s Quay will maintain the pressure on the top two.

Fourth hosts fifth as Pontblyddyn try to hold off a buoyant St Asaph whose bowlers Dave North and Matthew Hulse are still buzzing from that clinical display against Llandudno – both took five wickets each.

Meanwhile, Denbigh entertain Brymbo and relegation-threatened Bangor will look to close the gap on Northop directly above them.

Division one pacesetters Llanrwst, unbeaten in 13 games, try to keep that record intact at home to Chirk with second-placed Hawarden Park playing mid-table Halkyn.

Big two all set to do battle in match of the day

Thomas Carroll South Wales Cricket Association weekend preview

THE biggest match of the season so far takes place tomorrow with the first division’s top two sides clashing in Carmarthenshire.

Dafen Welfare lead Swansea by 27 points but the visitors will be aware that a good win for them can cut that advantage in their bid to wrest the league title away from their hosts.

Luck was on Dafen’s side last weekend as their win over Llangennech was the only match to go the distance in division one and not be disrupted by the bad weather.

It was more than two months ago when Dafen won the reverse fixture at St Helen’s by 25 runs to lay down a marker against the side that were playing in the Swalec Premier League last year.

Steve Devonald was in the runs and the wickets on that occasion as Dafen made a modest 141-8 in 42 overs before bowling out Swansea for 116.

That maintained Dafen’s unbeaten start to the season, something they still boast with a third of the campaign left.

Ynystawe, third in the table five points behind Swansea, host Maesteg Celtic tomorrow knowing victory could see them move up to second.

Neath entertain Gowerton with both sides pretty much going through the motions as the season begins to wind down. Only a late charge would see Neath climb above Ynystawe and Swansea.

It’s looking bleak for Pontardawe and Llangennech at the bottom and it will take some turnaround in form for either to escape the drop to division two.

Both have home matches, Pontardawe taking on Tata Steel and Llangennech hosting Clydach, two more clubs with just pride to play for now.

Cowbridge are still in touch with second division leaders Carmarthen but they’ll probably have to wait another week before any chance of closing the gap.

That’s because the top two play the bottom two at home, Carmarthen facing Morriston and Cowbridge going up against Briton Ferry Steel. The latter appear to be going down already while there is still hope for Morriston.

They lie 21 points adrift of Llanelli, who host Gorseinon, one of five sides in a huge scrap for third place. Only 10 points separate Llandysul in third and Aberdare in seventh.

Aberdare go to Bronwydd and Llandysul visit Skewen in the other two encounters in the second division.

A side that can ease clear of the relegation zone in division three tomorrow is Margam. They make the trip to Landore, the team immediately below them in the table, who won’t want the gap to Margam to increase any further.

Leaders Briton Ferry Town play Swansea Civil Service while the battle for second place is an intriguing one with Hills Plymouth and Porthcawl locked on the same number of points.

The seasiders have a short journey to Maesteg, Hills Plymouth host Pontyberem, and beleaguered Pwll go to Drefach.

In division four, Kidwelly Town have their best chance of picking up a first victory of the season in 13 attempts as they welcome Llandarcy, one place above them, to Morfa Maen.

Cimla and Dyffryn should stay first and second with wins at Ystradgynlais and Neath 3rds. Elsewhere, Baglan in third play Landeilo and Llantwit Major Cavaliers take on Felinfoel.

Golden chance for British athletes to shine in London

IN just over a week’s time the eyes of the world will be firmly fixed on London as the 2012 Olympics burst into life.

At the moment, most people seem to be talking more aboutsecurity issues and coach drivers with no sense of direction rather than the sport itself.

Of course it less than seven days until the football gets underway at the Millennium Stadium but the feeling is that the Olympics only officially start when the opening ceremony takes place next Friday.

Despite all of the well-publicised teething problems and organising hitches, the 29th Olympiad promises to be a spectacular celebration of sporting prowess – though the rain may have a big say too!

The two weeks plus of competition should also be a good one for Great Britain (yes, Northern Ireland is included in that) with the fact that the games are in this country are worth a couple of extra medals alone.

I don’t confess to being an expert on handball, shooting or synchronised swimming but I do know a little bit about athletics and am confident that Team GB (that will be the first and last time I use that) can excel on home turf.

For what it’s worth, here are my predictions for British golden glory in track and field.


DAI GREENE will win a medal and I reckon he can get gold, despite losing to rival Javier Culson in the last couple of races in the build-up to the Olympics. We know he’s a championship performer having already become European, Commonwealth and world champion over the last three seasons and, providing he doesn’t give the Puerto Rican, or anyone else for that matter, more than a two-metre lead with 50 to go he has the finish to come through.

I’m sure Lynn Davies is even getting a bit tired of being the last Welshman to win an Olympic athletics gold medal. It’s Welsh athletics' equivalent of the Welsh rugby team’s drought against the All Blacks.

MEN’S 5000M/10000M

I’ve been watching athletics for at least 24 years and never in that time has the UK had someone who can go toe-to-toe with the Africans in the long distance races – but now we do.

MO FARAH, like Greene, has also become a world-class performer and I feel he can win at least one gold medal in either the 5k or 10k. Who knows, maybe he can follow in the footsteps of Emil Zatopek and Lasse Viren and win both.

Farah’s devastating kick finish is likely to be the key to his chances of coming out on top in London. In the last few years it has helped him take three European and a world title.


Perhaps the athlete under the most pressure to bring home the bacon for Great Britain is JESSICA ENNIS in the heptathlon. Held up as the poster girl for the Olympics, Ennis will be competing at her first games with so much expectation on her shoulders.

If she does have an off day or two in the heptathlon, Ennis is also entered in the women’s sprint hurdles and I wouldn’t bet against her even making the final of that event given her brilliant form this year.


Until last weekend I must admit I thought PERRI SHAKES-DRAYTON would do well to scrape a bronze but after her massive personal best and new national record at Crystal Palace she is now a contender for the gold.


Had you asked me who ROBBIE GRABARZ was this time last year I wouldn’t have had a clue but the high jumper has enjoyed a meteoric rise this year with a huge PB of 2.36 and a European Championship gold to his name. Germaine Mason surprised everyone in Beijing by winning silver and there’s no reason why Grabarz can’t go one better.


Reigning 400m champion CHRISTINE OHURUOGU seems to be coming into top form at just the right time, as she did in China in 2008. Sanya Richards-Ross will again be the favourite this time but I just have this feeling that she is destined never to win the gold and Ohuruogu, a championship performer, could well snatch it from under the American’s nose once more.


TRIPLE JUMP – If – and it’s a very, very big if – PHILLIPS IDOWU can hold off his injury demons for a couple of jumps, he can win gold. On a good day, YAMILE ALDAMA could too in the women’s event although Ukraine’s Olga Saladuha is the athlete to beat.

LONG JUMP – There are medal chances for our men and women here with both GREG RUTHERFORD and CHRIS TOMLINSON podium possibles. And with no-one in the men’s long jump setting the world alight to say the least, the two men could have a golden opportunity to stake a claim for first prize. The same is true of SHARA PROCTOR who has recorded some big jumps this summer and can’t be overlooked for bronze, silver or even gold.

WOMEN’S POLE VAULT – British record holder HOLLY BLEASDALE has also had a rapid rise to the top and is one of the best performers in her event right now.

WOMEN’S JAVELIN – I’m probably tempting fate here but I’m including GOLDIE SAYERS in my list of medal hopes but only because she has come into form at the right time. She has often promised much but failed time again though.

RELAYS – I don’t care if the men get the baton round in the sprint relay, Great Britain still don’t have a hope of getting a medal. Well, actually, only if they run a perfect race and others mess up then perhaps but there are too many teams out there who are simply quicker than them. However, there is a medal up for grabs for the men in the 4X400M RELAY and they have a good pool of runners to choose from, including Dai Greene, Jack Green and Rhys Williams from the hurdles.

By David Williams