Sunday, 30 September 2012

The New Saints regain top spot with five star show

Welsh football weekend round-up

THE New Saints went back to the top of the Welsh Premier League with an Alex Darlington hat-trick helping them thrash 10-man Port Talbot Town 5-0.

Prestatyn had gone top following their 4-1 home victory over GAP Connah’s Quay on Friday night but Saints underlined their tag as title favourites to go into first place on goal difference as Paul Keddle was sent off for Port Talbot.

Darlington pounced after just five minutes and when he doubled the lead from the penalty spot the result was never in doubt. Chris Seargeant added a third before Darlington completed his first-half treble just prior to the interval. Michael Wilde finished the rout on the hour mark.

Rumours circulated that Llanelli boss Andy Legg and assistant Steve Jenkins had walked out of the club an hour before their home game against Bala was due to kick-off.

However, despite the squad not being paid for the last two months, Legg and Jenkins were in the dugout to see the Reds beaten 4-1 by a side struggling themselves on the pitch.

Mark Connolly, Kenny Lunt and Ian Sheridan put Bala 3-0 up, Martin Rose pulled one back for the hosts, but Lewis Codling sealed the three points in injury-time.

A second-minute Chris Simm strike gave Bangor a 1-0 win at Carmarthen and Airbus continued their goof form with a commanding 5-1 hammering of lowly Aberystwyth. Steve Abbot was the second scorer of a hat-trick in the Welsh Premier while Wayne Riley and Ryan Wade also found the net.

A Mark Jones own goal five minutes from time gifted Newtown a 3-2 win at Afan Lido. In a crazy second-half, Steve Blenkinsop gave Newtown the lead, Kieran Howard levelled straight away then three minutes later Zac Evans’s penalty made it 2-1 to the visitors.

Paul Evans equalised and just when a draw was looking the likely outcome, Jones turned the ball into his own net.

Barry Town moved back to the top of the first division of the Welsh League thanks to TJ Nagi’s winner against basement boys Tata Steel.

Jason Davies’s first-half strike saw AFC Porth beat Bridgend Town 1-0 to stay in touch with Barry while Swansea side West End blasted seven past Cwmbran Celtic in a 7-2 romp. Darren Griffiths, Sam Brown and Jeff Aspinall all scored twice while Richard Evans got the remaining goal.

Defending champions Cambrian & Clydach eased to a 3-0 win over Bryntirion Athletic 3-0 thanks to goals from Steve Turner, Liam Hutchinson and Tom Walbeoff.

In division two there was a 10-goal thriller as Caerau (Ely) drew 5-5 with Croesyceiliog and, not to be out done, the match at Cwmaman Institute also had 10 goals in it, but the hosts weren’t so lucky as Goytre left with a 7-3 triumph. Meanwhile, AFC Llwydcoed thrashed Bettws 8-0 in division three.

In the Huws Gray Alliance, Rhyl’s 100% record came to an end as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Buckley Town.

The seasiders led 2-0 through Mark Evans and a Paul McManus penalty but the home side fought back with Derek Taylor scoring twice after the break to secure a deserved point.

Rhyl’s nearest challengers, Cefn Druids, took all three points from their clash at Ruthin Town, running out 2-1 victors in a match which had a frantic finale.

Druids opened the scoring in the first period through Warren Duckett then, with four minutes left on the clock, Rhys Darlington added a second but Ruthin hit back with a last-minute effort from Eilir Edwards.

Flint Town went down to a surprise 3-1 defeat at the hands of bottom club Porthmadog whose goals came from Graham Boylan, Chris Williams and Loen Newell. Sam Jones scored Flint’s goal but they were reduced to 14 men in the closing stages.

A Lee Davey brace gave Conwy Borough a deserved 2-0 triumph at Penrhyncoch while top scorers yesterday were Caersws who moved into third place with a 5-0 thrashing of Holyhead Hotspur. Mark Griffiths netted twice and Scott Williams, Iwan Lewis and Neil Mitchell were also on target.

There was a dramatic end to the game at Rhayader where an injury-time strike by Will Thomas gave Guilsfield a thrilling 4-3 win. Luke Evans and Mike Collister (2) were Rhayader’s scorers while Guilsfield’s other goals came from John Harris and Ian Probert.

Rhydymwyn had Lee Reynolds to thank for their 1-0 victory over Llandudno while Rob Fox scored the only goal in Llanrhaeader’s defeat of Penycae.

Super Bowl opener for Nantgaredig points machine Davies

Swalec Bowl weekend round-up (selected games)

IT wasn’t a great weekend for shocks in the first round of the Swalec Bowl but there were still some standout performances from both teams and individuals.

On an individual level, no-one was going to better the display given by Nantgaredig’s Meirion Davies who scored more than half his side’s points in their 75-13 hammering of St Davids.

Davies contributed no less than 40 points in all as Four West beat Five West to reach the second round when the likes of Glyncoch, champions last season, will be involved for the first time.

They, along with several other clubs, received byes in the first round while New Tredegar, the club Glyncoch beat at the Millennium Stadium in May, are also safely through following a 63-0 dismantling of Six South Central outfit Tref y Clawdd.

Marc Vaughan (3), Gavin Stockman (2), Daniel Davies (2), Steve Osbourne (2) and Ryan Powell scored New Tredegar’s tries as the Rhymney Valley side showed their dominance to full effect.

The two-division gap also told in the match between Cilfynydd of Four East and Six South East’s Llanrumney where the hosts won 60-8. Owen Sheppard grabbed a hat-trick and Josh Waughington crossed twice on his debut.

In fact, only Newtown and Ogmore Vale defeated teams in higher divisions than them, the former beating Nantyffyllon 18-15 on home turf and the latter ousting Machynlleth 45-24. Junior Dean was the man of the match for Newtown with four tries – Barry Lloyd and Rowan Meek got the others.

Laugharne of Four West were comfortable 62-0 victors in their home tie against Five West’s Llangwm. Liam Price was yet another player to register a hat-trick while Tom Denham also crossed.

A two-try salvo from Gethin Jones helped Tregaron of Six West to a 26-5 win at Aberystwyth University and, in an all-Five East derby, Brynithel got the better of Llanhilleth 25-24, Gavin Hayes scoring twice for the winning team.

The highest scorers yesterday were Two North’s Abergele who blew away Bangor of Three North 107-3! Shotton Steel scored 12 tries in a 74-3 blitz of Benllech and back in the South, Betws edged a thriller against Swansea Uplands 34-33.

Builth batter Haverfordwest thanks to hat-trick hero Duggan

Swalec Leagues weekend round-up

THE top three clubs in Two West all won yesterday with Builth Wells hitting a half-century in their thrashing of winless Haverfordwest.

As well as scores for Luke Murray, Gethin Davies and two from Sam Gillian, Ben Duggan went over for a hat-trick and Rob Lloyd converted all bar one and slotted a penalty.

Leaders Maesteg were given a stern test at home by Dunvant before coming out on top 28-23 but they didn’t pick up a four-try bonus point. Their three scores came from Mike Powell, Laurance Howley and Owain Evans.

However, Seven Sisters in second did manage the extra point as they beat Felinfoel 29-22. In another tight affair, Crymych overcame Taibach 19-13.

Two East produced some thrilling matches with frontrunners Nelson showing their prowess with a 38-20 defeat of Pill Harriers. Carl Maybank got two of the Unicorns’ six tries with Dan Jones, Matthew Williams, Richard Jones and Iestyn Herne grabbing the others.

Bedlinog No 8 Luke Morgan was his side’s unlikely hat-trick hero in a nail-biting 35-33 win against Abercynon at the Recreation Ground. Owen Rees and Rhydian Jones and the kicking of Ben Grzesica secured the Foxes’ other points.

There was a red card for each side in the Llanishen-Rhiwbina fixture but in the end it was Mike Callow’s two tries that helped the hosts to a 26-20 victory over their Cardiff rivals. Ben Howie also touched down for Llanishen.

A late penalty gave Llantwit Fardre the honours in a 30-29 success away to Llantrisant, who actually outscored their visitors by five tries to three. Martin Betterson, Chris Green, Glen Holloway, Bedwyr Harries and Martin Griffiths were their five scorers.

In yet another belter, Fleur de Lys edged Garndiffaith 31-27 thanks to two tries for Josh Charles and Senghenydd won 42-3 at Tylorstown.

Ben Donovan crossed for the first of Penarth’s five tries during their 33-27 win against Nantymoel in Three South East but two tries from Leon Richards couldn’t prevent Porth slipping to a 34-19 defeat at the hands of Brecon.

Dowlais remain hot on the heels of leaders Pontyclun following a 51-8 hammering of Cardiff Quins. Christian Owen and Daniel Butler each scored a brace of tries as Dowlais ran in nine in total.

In Three South West, Neath Athletic and Pencoed threw up a cracking encounter, drawing 29-29 with eight tries contributing to one of the games of the season so far – and the result was only decided with the last kick of the match.

Dan Guarneri had just seen team-mate Luke Wright touch down and then nailed the conversion to level the scores. Andrew Price, James Williams and Owen Schofield also crossed for Neath while Gareth Prentice, Chris John, Paul MacFarlane and Nicky Roberts did the same for Pencoed.

The big match in Three West went the way of Tenby Utd who registered three tries in a 20-6 win against Amman Utd. Toby Smith and Luke Redman (2) were Tenby’s scorers.

Both Daniel Davies and Daniel Davies (there’s two of them) scored for Newcastle Emlyn during their 43-12 defeat of Gorseinon and Tom Arnold scored 19 points for Milford Haven as they saw off Llanelli Wanderers 29-15.

Three points was the difference between Caerphilly and Abergavenny in Three East with the Cheesemen prevailing 27-24. Vaughan Thomas, James Kestrell and Lloyd Summers were Caerphilly’s try getters.

Craig Fuller grabbed a try treble for Gwernyfed and Steve Hanley crossed twice as Abercarn were thrashed 58-3. In Four West, Llanybydder racked up five tries in a 38-12 victory over Trimsaran at home.

Eight-try Tondu make struggling Aberavon Quins toil

Division One West, East and North weekend round-up

 Prolific kicker Gareth Rees bagged all Kidwelly's points including a individual chip and chase try.

ABERAVON Quins felt the full force of a rampant Tondu yesterday as the One West leaders scored eight tries without reply in a 57-0 demolition job.

Seeing at it was top versus bottom, a fifth consecutive defeat for the Quins was always on the cards and they had no answer to Tondu’s free-flowing back play and dominance up front.

Fly-half Paul Smithson wasn’t in the try-scoring form of recent weeks but he did convert seven of the scores and kick a penalty. Cai Lewis(2), Matthew Phillips (2), Dave Bishop, Gareth Powell, Gareth Holmes and Matthew Davies were the try getters for unbeaten Tondu.

Skewen took every opportunity to attack in their narrow loss  at Kidwelly
Gareth Rees was Kidwelly’s one-man scoring machine as his try and four penalties gave the hosts a 17-16 victory over struggling Skewen to remain in third place.

Tries from Anthony Rees, Lee Evans and Peter Thomas saw Cwmllynfell in second overcome Loughor 28-13 on home turf and Gareth Drewson landed three penalties and a couple of conversions to aid the cause.

The fans got their money’s worth at Ammanford where the home side and Waunarlwydd scored eight tries between them but ultimately it was the former who came out on top 30-23. However, Waun didn’t go home empty-handed, picking up two bonus points for their efforts.

Gary Stephens, Mike Evans, Rhydian Morris and Chris Moore crossed for Ammanford with the third of that quartet, Morris, contributing a full house with penalty, drop-goal and two conversions as well.

Kenfig Hill drew level on points in mid-table with Llangennech after beating their close rivals 23-19 with both sides earning a bonus point. Jason Davies, Steve Gillard, Tylan Mafi and Shaun Burnell touched down while Nathan Bowen, Liam Hutchins and Steve Davies did likewise for Llangennech.

In the other match yesterday, a serious leg injury sustained by Carmarthen Athletic centre Aled Thomas forced the referee to abandon the fixture at Glynneath after 60 minutes had been played. Glynneath were leading 23-13 at the time but now the game is likely to be replayed at a date to be confirmed.

Over in One West, there was a great return to rugby for Treorchy wing Peter Hutchings who scored a marvellous solo effort against Penallta having only recently returned to the game following knee surgery.

The Zebras edged a thrilling encounter 31-27 with the hosts’ other tries coming through a penalty try, Jordan Lloyd and Chris Jenkins. Outside-half Celyn Ashton had another fine day with the boot, landing three conversions and a penalty.

The Pitmen didn’t go home empty handed though as they picked up both try and losing bonus points. The visitors crossed four times through Marc Jones, Gregg Haines, Rhys Silcox and Gareth Edwards, while they also had Lucas Edwards sent off late on.

Ystrad Rhondda are the new league leaders after they saw off Rumney 40-16, scoring five tries thanks to a Liam Davies brace, Alex Webber, David Grattan and Bleddyn Davies. Rhys Truelove kicked 15 points courtesy of a drop goal, two penalties and three conversions.

They may be second behind Ystrad Rhondda but RGC 1404 are the only team left with a 100% record having only played four games so far.

All four have come on the road and the latest was a 35-17 defeat of Rhydyfelin who have started well themselves. The North Wales outfit were trailing 17-0 at one stage as they struggled playing into the wind in the first-half, but touchdowns from Tom Parry, Harry Evans, Josh Leach, Richard Hopkins and a penalty try saw the visitors home.

Heol y Cyw are finally able to celebrate a win after beating Mountain Ash 29-14. The Cockerels have struggled since their opening day draw at Treorchy but they suffered no such problems against the Old Firm.

Kyle Lowry, Adam O’Driscoll, Zac O’Driscoll, Chris Howe and Wayne Howe all went over for the hosts, while Mike Huckbridge added two conversions. Merthyr heaped more woe on lowly Tredegar with a six try 39-17 win and Gilfach Goch recorded their first win with a 32-23 success at Ynysybwl.

In One North, Nant Conwy took charge of top spot thanks to a 25-10 win at former leaders Ruthin. Dafydd Morgan, Euroin Jones, Carwyn Ellis and Carwyn Roberts all crossed for Nant Conwy to take them into pole position.

Second place is occupied by Bro Ffestiniog following a hard-fought 18-13 triumph at Bethesda and three Steve Quinton penalties were enough to give Mold a narrow 9-5 win against bottom club Llangefni.

Reigning champions Caernarfon were pushed all the way by Bala before coming out on top 17-16, Dafydd Roberts and Lance Williams scoring the crucial tries. Rhydian Jones and Owain Aled replied for Bala.

Pwllheli had no problems seeing off Dolgellau 37-6 with seven tries giving them a bonus point. Robin Hughes-Jones (2), Dafydd Anwyl, Dafydd Myrddin, Deio Brunelli, Robert Williams and John Pugh ran riot for the hosts as Dolgellau’s only response was two Tom Roberts penalties.

Ebbw and Bargoed stay out in front in Championship race

ONLY five matches into the Championship season and it’s already looking like it could be a two-horse race for the title between Ebbw Vale and Bargoed.

Both won for the fifth time in a row yesterday to sit on 24 points at the top of table, but the two victories came in very contrasting ways.

The match of the day was at Eugene Cross Park where international referee Nigel Owens was drafted in to oversee Ebbw Vale’s showdown with Newbridge.

But the exciting game any neutrals there were hoping for didn’t materialise and in the end it was a rather one-sided 37-7 win for the hosts who scored five tries through Ronny Kynes, Tom Ashmead, Josh Lewis, Josh Davies and Wes Cunliffe.

All Newbridge could muster was a solitary first-half try for Tom Edwards converted by Neil Burnett. Dan Haymond kicked nine points for the Steelmen and Lewis also added a penalty.

In stark contrast, Bargoed had to fight tooth and nail to edge past Cardiff Met 21-20 – but that doesn’t tell the whole story of a classic match of two halves in the Welsh capital.

Pierre Tucker and Connor Trueman crossed for Cardiff Met tries and Mark Cooke converted both and landed two penalties to give the home team a commanding 20-0 advantage at the interval.

Whatever the team talk was from the Bargoed coaches at half-time did the trick as Gareth Dare, Lee Pearson and James Howe crashed over and Josh Prosser added the extras to all three to complete a remarkable turnaround.

That wasn’t the only Championship fixture where two clubs were separated by one point.

Further East, Pontypool, searching for a first victory, were seconds away from breaking their duck at home to Bridgend Athletic when the visitors’ Lloyd Evans touched down with the last play of the game.

Steve Lewis, who had earlier slotted three penalties and converted Dan Davies’ score, banged over the conversion off the inside of the post to deny Pooler at the death. Pontypool had outscored their rivals in the try stakes with Clayton Gullis, Elliott Goodman and Matt Thomas crossing but it wasn’t to be as they lost 23-22.

At the Dairyfield, Llanharan raced into a 12-0 lead at half-time against Beddau having had a keen wind behind them for the first period. Full-back Sion Summers and centre Ryan Evans crossed and Cody Rees converted one.

Things were different in the second-half but with Rees kicking a crucial penalty, Beddau had to make do with a losing bonus point as a try and penalty by left wing Chris Roberts plus a conversion by Tom Benjamin was all they could manage. Llanharan held on for a 15-10 victory.

There was no separating Glamorgan Wanderers and Whitland as they fought out a 20-20 draw despite the hosts scoring three tries to two for the West Walians.

Lloyd Chalk, Owen Marshall and Josh Jacas were the try scorers for Wanderers while Will David and Mark Jones replied. The boots of Owen Thomas and Scott Newton were responsible for the rest of each side’s points.

Narberth moved up to sixth in the table courtesy of a four-try 35-15 success over Bonymaen with Rhys Roberts notching a try, two conversions and a hat-trick of penalties for the winners.

Finally, Blackwood were blitzed 38-9 at Tata Steel for whom Martin Luckwell (2), Cameron Davies, Jordan Skidmore and Gareth John crossed.

Neath facing tough times after Pontypridd drubbing

NEATH were left shell-shocked by the biggest defeat in their history yesterday as Emyr Williams’s red card contributed to a 64-15 mauling at the hands of Pontypridd.

The Gnoll side were 17-3 down when the flanker received his marching orders for motioning a head butt towards a Pontypridd player around a quarter of the way into the Principality Premiership clash.

Given the visitors’ start to the match is highly debatable whether Neath would have got anything from the encounter anyway had Williams not been sent off.

What it did do was make an already difficult task impossible and Pontypridd fully made use of the spare man, running in seven tries in all, five coming with Neath down to 14 men.

Neath have to travel to the Bridge Field in Bedwas next and they’ll know that their opponents will be smarting themselves having lost to Aberavon yesterday.

For Pontypridd, it was more or less a procession at the Gnoll with Mathew Nuthall crossing twice and Wayne O’Connor, Cory Hill, Dan Godfrey, Craig Locke and Scott Roberts also going over.

Fly-half Dai Flanagan put in a virtuoso performance with the boot, kicking five penalties and converting four of the tries. Deputy Lewis K Williams later added three more conversions to fully rub salt into the Neath wound.

All Neath could manage was tries from Gareth McCarthy and Rhodri Clancy and a conversion and penalty for Dai Langdon on a black day for the Welsh All Blacks.

Coach Patrick Horgan will have some job on his hands ahead of the trip to Bedwas and for the rest of the season after Neath suffered another hiding at home, their fourth defeat in six so far overall.

In the case of Bedwas, they’ll be wondering today how they let victory at Aberavon slip from their clutches as a late Craig Evans penalty gave the Wizards a first win of the season at the Talbot Athletic Ground.

After Rhys Hutchinson and Tom Rowlands crossed in the first five minutes and Richard Powell slotted a hat-trick of penalties as Bedwas led 19-5 early in the second-half. On other days the hosts wouldn’t have found a way back but this time they did.

With Richard Thomas having already scored, Jonathan Phillips did likewise then a penalty try put Aberavon in front for the first time only for Ethan Davies to seemingly win it for the away side with a penalty of his own.

But in late drama, Evans held his nerve in front of goal to give coach Simon King, his players and their fans one in the ‘W’ column.

Out in front at the top of the table though is Llandovery and they continued their remarkable start to the campaign by registering a fifth straight bonus-point win at home against Newport, scoring six tries in a 38-19 success.

They only led 12-8 at half-time and it was only in the closing 15 minutes or so that the Drovers pulled clear of the Blacks & Ambers. Aaron Warren, Rhodri Williams (2), Matthew Jacobs, Jake Randell and Wyn Jones were on the scoresheet with tries while Hywel Stoddart and Craig Attwell replied.

There was a real war of attrition at Parc y Scarlets where Llanelli defeated Cross Keys 12-6 with all of the points coming through kicks at goal. Jonny Lewis nailed four for the hosts and Dorian Jones and Dean Gunter landed one each for the visitors who had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Cardiff are one of the in-form teams at the moment and they recorded a fourth successive win with a 23-15 triumph over old adversaries Swansea at the Arms Park.

Joe Griffin scored a try and kicked a conversion and two penalties to aid Cardiff’s cause with Thomas Young and Richard Smith also crossing the whitewash. Richard Williams had given Swansea an early lead with a try but Sam Lewis’s score was too little, too late.

Bridgend now prop up the Premiership following a 28-18 loss at home to Carmarthen Quins. Jason Harries (2), Darren Daniel and James Dixon were the Quins’ try scorers with Arthur Ellis and Luke Morgan replying for the Ravens.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Emerging talent given chance to shine on big stage

PLANS to broadcast the WRU Colleges League throughout season 2012/13 have been announced in a partnership between the Welsh Rugby Union and S4C.

Sixteen games will be broadcast to achieve the most extensive TV coverage of non-international junior rugby in the history of the game in Wales. It will feature the eight WRU Colleges League teams involving Under 18 players in further education.

All the teams involved are Welsh sixth form colleges except for the independent school Llandovery College. More colleges or school teams could potentially join the league in future seasons.

Senior international players such as George North, Leigh Halfpenny and Alun Wyn Jones have all played rugby at this level while developing their careers through the WRU academy and age grade international rugby structure.

Under the broadcast plan cameras will cover one game live each week during the progress of the league. The selected match will be webcast live during the afternoon on the S4C website and then screened in its entirety on the Welsh language television channel the same night from 10.30pm.

Highlights from other Colleges League games will also be screened on S4C during the evening programmes.

The first game to be screened is Coleg Morgannwg v Coleg Gwent on Wednesday 3 October (2.30pm) with newcomers Llandovery College hosting the next live webcast on October 10 when they welcome Neath Port Talbot College to their ground.

Six games will be shown during October and November with a further ten scheduled for output later early in 2013 during February and March.

WRU Performance Manager Gethin Watts said: “This is an important breakthrough for us and signals our intention to reflect the true value of this level of the game to the WRU.

“It is a great boost for the players to know their matches are being broadcast and it is bound to give an added edge to the competition for success in the league. This in turn will help us improve the quality of the league and ultimately produce more players capable of competing for regional and ultimately national recognition.

“Throughout the season our cameras will get around all the teams so the public will be able to follow the progress of the competition closely and really get to know the teams.

“Age Grade rugby and especially the 16 to 18 yrs group is a valuable element of our pathway structure and this initiative proves that we are working hard to develop depth in our performance pathway as well as encouraging the development of rugby for all young players who are willing to work hard to fulfil their potential.”

The coverage plans include proposals to screen the second and third place play-off match and then the final which will reveal the league champions.

WRU Head of Communications John Williams added: “This initiative is clear evidence of how the WRU is determined to raise the profile of schools and college rugby in Wales.

“We are extremely grateful to S4C for committing a significant space in their output schedule for this exciting project. By webcasting sixteen games live and then showing those matches later and in full on the S4C broadcast channel they are proving their commitment to rugby.

“Age Grade rugby has proved a great broadcast success in other nations and it is vital that Wales places the same level of focus on our young players.”

Geraint Rowlands, S4C’s Head of Broadcasting and Sports and Events Commissioner said: “We are looking forward to working closely with the Welsh Rugby Union to give rugby at this level the platform it deserves. We have had a great response to our broadcasts in the spring. The coverage reached a new, young audience on-line while also delighting our traditional rugby audience in Wales and the UK.”

Each of the live games will be filmed in a three-camera outside broadcast delivered by Sports Media Services of Bridgend who are the contracted WRU video and broadcast providers.

WRU Colleges League 2012/13
3 October 2012

Coleg Morgannwg v Coleg Gwent (live match - Taffs Well RFC, 2.30pm)
Coleg Sir Gar v Bridgend College
Neath/Port Talbot College v Gower College
Coleg Sir Benfro v Llandovery College

Maestro Manley holds on to take Welsh PGA crown

STUART Manley followed up his victory in the South Wales Festival by winning the Welsh PGA Championship for the first time yesterday.

The Machynys Peninsula pro won the title by three shots from Parc’s Golf Academy’s former champion Richard Dinsdale and North Walian Andrew Barnett at Cardiff Golf Club.

Manley could even afford to card a second-round one-over-par 71, including a single birdie and one double bogey, having blown the field away on day one with a six-under 64 to lead by five strokes.

Victory for Manley gives him automatic qualification to next year’s Wales Open and the PGAs of Europe International Team Championship to be played at Palmares, Portugal, from November 20-23.

While Manley picked up a cheque for £1,500, Dinsdale, the 1999 winner, fired a magnificent 66 to claim a share of second place alongside Barnett, who carded successive 69s on the Cyncoed course, on two-under.

There was also a tie for fourth as Matthew Dearden (Vale) and three-time former champ Simon Edwards (Windermere) finished a shot further back after rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.

Another Vale-based pro, Sion Bebb, was sixth while 1998 champion, St Pierre’s Liam Bond, who takes part in European Tour qualifying at Frilford Heath next week, ended a disappointing seventh, six shots off the lead.

Former British Amateur champion Paul Mayo, winner in 1990 and 1991, tied for 15th with three other men following a round of 73.

Leading scores; 135 S Manley, 138 R Dinsdale, A Barnett, 139 M Dearden, S Edwards, 140 S Bebb, 141 L Bond, 142 L Jones, 144 A Constable, 146 L Rooke, G Jones

Welsh Premiership Squads for Saturday 29

ABERAVON v BEDWAS (at the Talbot Athletic Ground, 2.30pm).

Aberavon – J Phillips; Richard Thomas, B John, M Jenkins, W Price; C Evans, J Heatley; R Jenkins, E Yardley, A Edwards, I Moore, S Williams (capt), D Thomas, R Morris, C Davies, Reps – S Andrews, Ricky Thomas, N Brown, I Davies, B Thomas, G Ronan, A Clatworthy, N White.

Bedwas – H Amos; R Budina, J Dixon, S Williams, M John; R Powell, T Rowlands; I George, R Hutchinson, K Gay, J Thomas, K Maiden, P Sargent (capt), S Feehan, S Grainger. Reps – D Preece, B Roberts, M Petit, P Rees, J Benjamin, D Mattravers, S Thomas, E Davies.

Referee – Neil Perkins (Pontypridd).

BRIDGEND v CARMARTHEN QUINS (at the Brewery Field, 2.30pm).

Bridgend – J Murphy; G Lewis, Rhys Thomas, G Howells, L Morgan; B Thomas, K Barrett; M Thomas, M Dwyer, D Suter, O Lloyd, L Davies, J Vaughan (capt), S Hicks, A Ellis. Reps – O Williams, J Thomas, A James. L Peers, A Waite, Ashley Evans, S Campbell, C Williams.

Carmarthen Quins – D Newton; D Daniel, A Pickersgill, A Banfield, R Thomas; J Dixon, R Wells; G Thomas, G Robinson, I Jones (capt), Carwyn Jones, H Pugh, A Laxton, L Jospeh, E Lloyd. Reps – T Davies, R Wilkes, A Beaujean, J Davies, A Thomas, H Rees, C Banfield, J Harries.
Referee: Neil Hennessy

CARDIFF v SWANSEA (at the Arms Park, 2.30pm).
Cardiff - S Hopkins; R Smith, M Woodward, C Allen, S Powell (capt); J Griffin, A Walker; T Davies, K Dacey, W Griff John, M Screech, M Cook, E Jenkins, T Young, L Hamilton. Reps - A Fowler, S Gardner, L Smout, J Murphy, B Roach, G Lucas, S Cullen, M Smith

Swansea – Nicky Thomas; L Harrhy, C Shelmerdine, N Harwood, R Williams; C Clement, W Batcup; N Smith, S Otten, J Rees, J Barley, S Kiley (capt), J Bika, D Baker, S Lewis. Reps – A Littlehales, N Thomas (prop), M Norman, S Williams, A Lewis, B Roberts, J Cole, R Dudley-Jones.

Referee: Sean Brickell

LLANDOVERY v NEWPORT (at Church Bank, 2.30pm).

Llandovery – L Rees; J Randall, M Jacobs, J Roberts, Aaron Warren; C Rees, R Williams; O Evans, A Yelland, D Howells, S Jones, L Jones, P Day, R Brooks, L Phillips (capt). Reps – A Jones, W Jones, B Griffiths, L Kendall, T Ball, R Walters, J Garland, C Knight.

Newport – A Awcock; E Frewen, G O’Driscoll, I Smerdon, W Hodnett; S Sneddon, J Leadbeater; D Pattison, R Prosser, A Jeffries, D Rosser, A. Frampton, I Jones, H Stoddart, C Attwell (capt). Reps – A Brown, J Lavender, S Waldron, C Everett, T Hancock, R Downes, A Quick.

Referee: Jason Bessant

LLANELLI v CROSS KEYS (at Parc y Scarlets, 2.30pm).

Llanelli – A Jenkins; B Davies, N Reynolds, C Keenan, J James; J Lewis, A Davies; R Thomas, K Myhill, A Hopkins, A Powell (capt), E Price, D Eager, C Price, D Thomas. Reps – T Sloane, T Wilson, J Ball, N White, S Leach, K Evans, S Evans, S McDonnell-Roberts. 

Cross Keys – G David; L Williams, L Ford, A James, N Trowbridge; D Jones, R Dyer (capt); T Ryan, J Solis, A Lott, S Andrews, O Hodge, R Peebles, A Powell, S Matthews. Reps – TBA

Referee: Jon Mason

 NEATH v PONTYPRIDD (at the Gnoll, 2.30pm).

Neath - A Bramwell; K James, R Evans, G McCarthy, G King; D Langdon, B Jones; N Downs, R Clancy, T Price, E Evans, J Griffiths, G Gravell (capt), L Evans, E Williams. Reps – (from) O Ford, A Williams, J Reeves, L Williams, R Jones, L Ward, T Morgan, J Howells, C Morgans.

Pontypridd – A Thomas; Lewis I Williams, G Dacey, D Lockyer, M Nuthall; D Flanagan, L Jones; S Williams, H Dowden, K Jenkins, C Hill, C Dicomidis (capt), J Thomas, D Godfrey, W O’Connor. Reps – G James, Lewis K Williams, G Wyatt, T Hetherington, C Locke, S Roberts, C Phillips.

 Referee: Ian Davies

Championship Predictions Week 5

Cardiff Met v Bargoed

The students will be high in confidence after their last minute win at Beddau last week but Bargoed will prove a much tougher test for the Cyncoed outfit. The visitors, who currently sit atop the Championship on maximum points, will relish a chance to keep up their impressive start to the season. With both sides keen to play expansive rugby, it should be an enthralling clash for spectators but I think the Blues will be too strong up front for the students and will win comfortably.
Verdict - Bargoed by 10 points
Ebbw Vale v Newbridge
Undoubtedly the clash of the day sees two undefeated sides line up against each other at Eugene Cross Park. Both teams have continued their fine form from last season, with the Steelmen looking to claim back to back titles after winning last year's Division One East crown. Newbridge bagged the double over Ebbw Vale last year - both in low scoring matches - but my money is on the hosts tomorrow. Incidentally, Wales’ top official Nigel Owens will be refereeing the game, with the WRU perhaps recognising what a crucial match it might be come the end of the season.
Verdict – Ebbw Vale by 3 points
Ebbw Vale:Charlie Simpson, Wes Cunliffe, Josh Lewis, Polu Uhi, Tom Ashmead; Dan Haymond, Chris Thomas; Ross Jones, Mathew Williams (c), Robert Sevenoaks; Rhys Clarke, Ashley Sweet; Cameron Reagan, Ronny Kynes, Spencer Gibson. Reps: Josh Powell, Jonny Bowen, Joe Bartlett, Josh Davies, Will Owen.
Newbridge :Ceri Young, Gareth Jones, Matthew Edwards, Steffan Morgan, Jonny Morris; Neil Burnett, Mark Addis; Geoff Lewin, Rhys Price (c), Geraint Weaver; Sam Wahdan, Geraint Thomas; Josh Skinner, Craig Hill, Luke Probert. Reps: Dan Evans, Darren Hughes, Andrew Coupe, Tom Edwards, Bevan Howells.

Glamorgan Wanderers v Whitland
The Wanderers were unlucky to lose at Bonymaen last week and won last time out at the Memorial Ground against Blackwood, and have also looked to steadily improve since the first day of the season. Whitland on the other hand are still struggling to establish themselves and along with Pontypool, are the only team not to pick up a win; the Borderers are creating plenty of chances but seem to lack the clinical edge sides need to thrive in this league. This will be a close contest but I think Whitland may just sneak their first win of the season here.
Verdict – Whitland by 3 points
Glamorgan Wanderers: Mike Stephens, Owen Marshall, Charlie Johnson, Lloyd Chalke,Ed Doe, Owen Thomas, Luke O’Brien ,Rhys Jenkins,Peter Lloyd, Tom Crosse, Alex Luff (c), Josh Jacas,Garrick Armstrong ,Andrew Bradbury, Dan Crimmins. Reps: Haval Ibrahim, Gruff Roberts, Stuart Worrell, Ianto Griffiths, Joe O’Sullivan.
Llanharan v Beddau
The Dairymen have had a good start to the season winning their last three matches, and now welcome neighbours Beddau to the Dairyfield tomorrow with the hosts determined to maintain their solid start to the season. Beddau have also impressed so far and despite their last minute heart break against Cardiff Met last week, the visitors will be confident they can get a result. However, I think Llanharan will be too strong for their guests tomorrow, although Beddau may bag a losing bonus point.
Verdict - Llanharan by 6 points
Llanharan: Sion Summers, Richard Read, Ryan Evans, Harley Thomson, Morgan Williams,Codey Rees, Tom Marley, James Greenfield, Nathan Huish (C) , Tom Piper, Bill Carey, Justin Benfield, Huw Thomas, Callum Thomas, Lewis Young. Reps: Rhys Cleverly, Gavin Hole, Aandrew Rosen, Scott Malone, Ross Pritchard.

Beddau: Tom Benjamin, Ben Cullen, Tom Pascoe, Adam Williams, Chris Roberts, Ben White, Dan Fox, Owen Cottam, Matt Hunt, Callum Lewis, Graham Hart, James Cashin, Robert Jones, Luke Crocker, Robert Downes (c). Reps: Jon Elley, Bradley Thyre, Tommy Guy, Dan Salter, Joe Casella.

Narberth v Bonymaen
The Otters haven’t had the start to the season they were probably hoping for, suffering a heavy loss to Ebbw Vale and a second half capitulation against Newbridge, but I don’t predict any slip ups tomorrow. Bonymaen, who currently sit just one point off their hosts, haven’t really set the league alight so far and I think Narberth will be too strong at home.
Verdict - Narberth by ten points
Pontypool v Bridgend Athletic
Pooler were crushed last week against Ebbw Vale but they will take heart in the fact that they started well, and they certainly won’t be the last side to concede 50 points to the Steelmen. The ex Premiership outfit will be desperate to bag their opening win at home and I think they stand a very good chance when they host Bridgend Athletic tomorrow. Athletic have won just one of their opening four matches and they also come into the match on the back of a crushing defeat: the question is which side will be able to impose themselves best?
Verdict - Pontypool by three points
Tata Steel v Blackwood
The reigning One West champions currently languish in tenth with six points and just one victory under their belts. The Margam outfit will be disappointed to have lost out to three of their big rivals already this season and will be desperate to start putting a run of results together. Blackwood have been unlucky to lose their last two matches and arguably should have won both, and they will certainly present a stern test tomorrow. However, I feel Tata Steel will return to winning ways.
Verdict - Tata Steel by eight points

Welsh Premiership weekend predictions

Aberavon v Bedwas

Before the start of the season most people would have had this down as a home banker but it’s quite the opposite after contrasting openings to the campaign for both clubs.

Bedwas are a top three side at the moment and rightly so after brushing aside Llanelli at home last weekend while Aberavon put in an improved performance at Cardiff but still lost 16-6.

You feel that a win for Aberavon is inevitable but Bedwas won’t want to be the ones to suffer.

Verdict – Bedwas by six points

Bridgend v Carmarthen Quins

Both of these sides have just the one win from five games this term yet Quins have four points more than Bridgend with three of their losses coming by seven or less.

The teams suffered narrow defeats last time with Quins beaten late on by Newport while the Ravens led Pontypridd until the champions pulled clear in the closing stages of a high-scoring game at Sardis Road.

Verdict – Bridgend by seven points

Cardiff v Swansea

Swansea pushed unbeaten leaders Llandovery close last Saturday but eventually lost by five points at Church Bank and going to the Arms Park should act as an extra incentive to win against their old rivals.

As for Cardiff, they were given a tough test by Aberavon but showed they can win ugly after a couple of landslide victories against Bridgend and Newport.

Verdict – Cardiff by 10 points

Llandovery v Newport

If Newport hadn’t won at Carmarthen they’d have been going to Church Bank with little or no hope of winning.

Llandovery should still win to extend their unbeaten start to six but it might be a bit closer than most think.

Verdict – Llandovery by 10 points

Llanelli v Cross Keys

This will be the first big test away from Pandy Park for Cross Keys but they go into it above Llanelli with only one defeat so far this season.

Llanelli got nothing from Bedwas so will want to put that right and this looks like being a very close encounter at Parc y Scarlets.

Verdict – Llanelli by three points

Neath v Pontypridd

Dale McIntosh makes 10 changes to the Pontypridd side that lined up against Bridgend while his Neath counterpart, Patrick Horgan, welcomes back four players from injury.

That said, Neath were thrashed by Cross Keys last Saturday and although they took some time to see off Bridgend, Pontypridd are in free-scoring form right now so it would be a big surprise if the result tomorrow was anything other than an away win.

Verdict – Pontypridd by 10 points

By David Williams

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Neath squad boosted ahead of Ponty clash

Neath are boosted by the return of four players after injury for Saturday’s big home game against champions Pontypridd at The Gnoll (kick off 2.30pm).

The Blacks are looking to bounce back after last week’s defeat at Cross Keys where they had 12 players sidelined.

Behind the scrum, powerhouse winger Kevin James is expected to resume in the No.14 jersey while up front there are returns for lock Jonny Griffiths, No.8 Lee Evans and flanker Emyr Williams.

Further good news is that speedster Chris Morgans and big lock Lee Williams are also in the frame and may emerge from the replacements’ bench at some stage.

Neath Coach Patrick Horgan said: “We have been using this week to make sure our more experienced players get fit and are ready to go. It will be a very tough game against Ponty.

“What we had last Saturday against Cross Keys was who we had available and most of them are not experienced at this level.

“Until players come back from injury and regain form, you just have to have a bit of faith in the young players.

“We know we have players who can compete well in the Premiership but we don’t know if they can challenge at the top. This will be their big test.

“But the return of at least four quality players will make a big difference, and the special atmosphere produced by the large crowd that attends Neath-Ponty games will be a boost to everyone.

Neath v Pontypridd (Home) Probable
A.Bramwell; K.James, R.Evans, G.McCarthy, G.King; D.Langdon, B.Jones; N.Downs, R.Clancy, T.Price; E.Evans, J.Griffiths; G.Gravell (captain), L.Evans, E.Williams   Replacements – To be confirmed