Thursday, 29 November 2012

Narberth beat battling Beddau

Otters flanker Wayne Williams evades the Beddau defence to score a breakaway try

Narberth were made to work hard for their eighth win of the season as they battled to a 30-15 home win over Beddau on Wednesday night.
On the attack: Beddau scrum half Hywel Chatham spins the ball wide.
The Green and Golds, who had made the long journey West midweek, made the brighter start, but a converted try from the Otters' winger Jonny Morgan put the visitors on the backfoot.
However, Beddau hit back through a well-worked Dan Fox touchdown, only for it to be cancelled out by a breakaway Wayne Williams score for the hosts, with James Russell once again adding the extras.
Making hard yards: Otters prop Steffan Jones took some stopping by the Beddau defence
After the interval, three Russell penalties gave Narberth some breathing space but a lovely effort from David Francis, converted by Hywel Chatham, brought Beddau back into contention. The Otters, however, quickly reasserted themselves to quash any comeback as, after putting the Beddau line under increasing pressure, they were eventually rewarded with a penalty try which Rhys Roberts duly converted.
Bargoed once again reign supreme at the summit after they eased to a 31-12 win at Glamorgan Wanderers.
The Blues ran in five tries in all and had wrapped the bonus point up before the break - James Pizey, Lewis Protheroe, Grant Rogers, Andrew McLaughlin and Dafydd Carter touched down for the visitors.
The Wanderers did manage two tries of their own either side of the interval through Tom James and Owen Marshall.
Meanwhile, Tata Steel returned to winning ways in emphatic style as they wrapped up an eight try 58-0 demolition of struggling Whitland.
Fly-half Simon Evans was in fine form showing great feet to dance his way to a hat-trick, while scrum half Martin Luckwell and winger Gbemi Fisher bagged braces, with Fisher’s second being a length of the field solo score. Flanker Iwan Hopkins got Tata’s other try.
In a tight contest at Pontypool Park, it was Cardiff Met that picked up the points, with a 19-6 triumph over their hsosts.
On a bitterly cold evening, both sides took a while to thaw out with Clayton Gullis’ penalty the only score of the half as Pooler led 3-0 at the break.
With neither side dominating proceedings, Pontypool’s Josh Faletau fell foul of the referee and got ten minutes in the bin, as the Students didn't let the numerical advantage come to nothing, adding 7 points through a penalty try that Marc Cooke converted.
The visitors, now in the ascendancy, crossed twice more in quick succession through James Beale and Cameron Setter to seal the seventh win of their campaign.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Principality Premiership Friday predictions

Bedwas v Newport

Two teams in form meet at the Bridge Field with table toppers Bedwas unbeaten in five and Newport without a loss in three.

The visitors’ games at home to Aberavon last weekend was postponed because of a sodden Rodney Parade pitch so they may have lost a bit of match sharpness in the meantime.

Bedwas edged the reverse fixture in Newport 26-25 in September so they might have a slight psychological advantage as they go for a league double.

Verdict – Bedwas by three points

Cardiff v Bridgend

Both sides lost last time out but that blip came at contrasting times for these two clubs.

While Bridgend’s lacklustre defeat to Llanelli was their first after four straight wins, Cardiff’s defeat at Llandovery was a fourth in the last five.

Cardiff still hold the upper hand over their opponents in the table, one place and three points ahead of the Ravens in eighth.

Verdict – Cardiff by five points

Carmarthen Quins v Neath

Neath’s narrow victory against Swansea last Saturday was vital to the confidence levels at the club as it arrested a run of six consecutive losses.

That win was Neath’s only one on the road this season while the Quins will want to get back to winning ways after defeats to Bedwas and Llanelli.

Verdict – Quins by 10 points

Cross Keys v Swansea

After taking on title contenders Pontypridd and Llandovery in their last two games, matches they lost and won respectively, Keys have what should be a much easier task on Friday.

With just one victory this season it’s no surprise that Swansea are at the bottom of the table but if they pick up a couple of points at Pandy Park and other results go their way they will send Aberavon to last place.

Verdict – Cross Keys by 15 points

Llandovery v Pontypridd

Many will see this as a potential dress rehearsal for May’s grand final as second hosts third at Church Bank.

With only one defeat each this season these are the two toughest teams to beat in the league and with a game in hand over the Drovers and two over Bedwas, Pontypridd know a win on Friday would probably see them become slight favourites for the title.

Verdict – Llandovery by four points

Llanelli v Aberavon

Aberavon have no league win in four while Llanelli are going for four successes on the bounce and home advantage will make them favourites here.

Llanelli took the spoils 26-6 at Aberavon in September and even though the latter is struggling near the foot of the table they do have a match in hand over the teams around them.

Verdict – Llanelli by 10 points

By David Williams

Championship Midweek Predictions

Glamorgan Wanderers v Bargoed
With Wanderers languishing fourth from bottom and their rivals Bargoed just one point off the top, it is hard to see anything other than a win for the visitors tonight. Bargoed were too strong for highfliers Newbridge last time out and they can reclaim top spot with a win here as leaders Ebbw Vale have a night off.
Verdict – Bargoed by 20 points

Narberth v Beddau
I’m sure Beddau won’t be too pleased with the WRU’s scheduling as the Green and Golds have to make a long trip West mid-week and I think they will start as underdogs at the Lloyd Lewis Ground as a result. The Otters left it late to beat the Dairymen last week but I don’t see this contest being as close.
Verdict – Narberth by 7 points

Pontypool v Cardiff Met
The students have been a surprise package this year as, after a mediocre season in One West last year, the Cyncoed outfit have performed well and I expect them to rack up their seventh win of the season. Pontypool always start well but just can’t seem to maintain their standard for 80 minutes and I don’t think they’ll come away with anything from this encounter.
Verdict – Cardiff Met by 10 points

Tata Steel v Whitland
Tata, after looking like they were going places in the league, will have been disappointed to lose to Cardiff Met at home last time out and I expect a reaction from the Port Talbot side. The Borderers have won only once this season, admittedly against Ebbw Vale, but I really don’t see them picking anything up from this match.
Verdict – Tata Steel by 15 points

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Welsh Premiership Predictions

Carmarthen Quins v Bedwas

Friday night will see the first return fixtures in the Premiership. Leaders Bedwas, determined to maintain their reign at the head of the table, will be looking to complete the double over the Quins after their opening day 22-16 win.

The hosts, meanwhile, haven't played since their 20-8 loss at Llanelli two weeks ago and will be glad to return to the comforts of Carmarthen Park, where they will undoubtedly provide a stern test for the league leaders.
The match will be a close one but I think the Quins will just clinch it as they set out with a point to prove.
Verdict - Carmarthen Quins by 3 points.

Llandovery v Cardiff
After an emphatic start, early pacemakers Llandovery have been brought back down to earth with successive draws, followed by a loss at Cross Keys last week.
However, the highfliers are unbeaten at home this season and will start as favourites to extend that record against Cardiff, who have only won once away so far.
The Blue and Blacks have appointed Mark Ring as their new backs coach and will be hoping to test the Drovers' defence, but I think this Llandovery side will have more than enough fire power to see off their visitors from the capital.
Verdict - Llandovery by 8 points

Llanelli v Bridgend
Bridgend go into the match high in confidence on the back of four consecutive victories and they will be hoping to maintain that momentum tomorrow when they travel to Parc y Scarlets, as they look to do the double over their West Walian opponents.
Llanelli haven’t had a match in two weeks and should be raring to go, especially in the knowledge that a win would take them right back into the mix at the top end of the table.
I think Llanelli will end Bridgend’s streak, but the Ravens will make it a tight contest and they should come away with a losing bonus point.
Verdict - Llanelli by 6 points

Pontypridd v Cross Keys
As we approach the half way mark of the season, Ponty look to be in a strong position as they bid to retain their Premiership crown sitting just two points off the top, but also with two games in hand.
Encounters between these teams are usually physical affairs and they both come into the match on the back of impressive wins. Ponty will be looking to do the double over the Keys after they convincingly defeated them 28-3 on the opening day of the season.
Ponty must start as favourites in front of a home Sardis Road crowd, but their rivals that sit one place lower than them in the league, will put up a fight as they look to continue the form that saw them inflict Llandovery’s first defeat of the season last week.
Verdict - Pontypridd by 7 points

Swansea v Neath
Both these sides go into the match low on form and low in confidence, with the All Whites propping up the table on a meagre seven points, while Neath sit  just three points and two places higher.
This match could prove pivotal to both sides as they try to claw themselves back up the table and turn their failing seasons around.  Swansea picked their solitary win back at the start of the season, while Neath’s ill-discipline has proved costly too many times thus far.
This will be a dogged fight - Swansea showed some promise against Bridgend last week but have ultimately forgotten how to win, and I think their wait for a second victory will go on as I feel Neath will just sneak it.
Verdict - Neath by 3 points

Newport v Aberavon- Sunday 2.30 ko
The Black and Ambers have surprised many do far this season and go into this match on the back of three wins. For Aberavon meanwhile, after a great season last year in finishing third, they have so far struggled having claimed just the one win.
The Wizards will be hoping to stop their run of five losses on the road but although they have shown glimpses this season, they have yet to put in a full 80 minute performance away from the TAG and I can’t see a change in fortune for the Wizards on the road
Verdict - Newport by 8 points

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Seddon rules the roost as Denbigh go try crazy

A STUNNING haul of 35 points from Tom Seddon, including two tries, 11 conversions and a penalty, helped Denbigh annihilate Llanidloes 105-8 in Two North with the division’s frontrunners scoring 16 tries.

Dafydd Cartwright was the only man to score a hat-trick but Dan Jones, Dwayne Speakman-Jones, Jamie Winning and Dan Mars-Jones all crossed twice.

Second-placed COBRA made hard work of their home encounter against bottom club Colwyn Bay before coming out on top 21-15 but without the extra bonus point.

Stephen Alson was Shotton’s man of the match as he scored two tries and kicked a conversion and two penalties in a 28-27 away success over Rhyl, for whom Paul Sellward went over for a hat-trick. Machynlleth and Abergele also won yesterday.

Andrew Duggan’s try and five Rob Lloyd penalties saw Builth Wells maintain their lead in Two West with a hard-fought 20-15 win at Maesteg Quins while Nelson beat Rhiwbina 25-21 to do the same in Two East.

Seven Sisters are only two points behind Builth Wells following a 34-22 win over Maesteg. They bagged a bonus point too with tries for Dan Short, Gareth Wyn Thomas, James Pike and Dan Norton.

Tylorstown are still waiting to get off the mark this season in Two East, their latest defeat, 29-10, coming at the hands of Abercynon while Rhymney celebrated just a second win this season with a 32-18 defeat of Llantrisant, Steve Knight, Mark Titcombe and Dafydd Hellard the men to score the tries for the Brewers.

The big battle in Three South East between the top two, Pontyclun and Dowlais, went the way of the latter 10-6 while in Three East Caerphilly overcame Risca 20-15 thanks to tries from Lloyd Thomas, Oliver Griffiths and Gareth Harrison.

Croesyceiliog and Abercarn lost at Abergavenny and Pontypool Utd respectively but did manage to rescue a losing bonus point. Tom Rees and Josh Hisman were Abergavenny’s match winners as they won 17-12 and Matthew Prosser and Robert Tovey were on the mark for Pontypool as they triumphed 15-9.

In Three West, Amman Utd are the new pacesetters after a 34-10 bonus-point win at home to Llanelli Wanderers with Shane Williams’s brother-in-law Andrew Lacey among the tries. Newcastle Emlyn drew level on points with Tenby Utd thanks to a narrow 16-14 win over their rivals.

Dan Davies and Dan Colley traded tries but crucially Rhydian Harris converted Davies’s and Tom Lewis didn’t convert Colley’s. Two tries for centre James Owens put Tumble en route to a 26-10 triumph at home to Gorseinon.

Trebanos pulled 10 points clear in Three South West after beating closest rivals Ystalyfera 28-13, Mumbles thrashed Aberavon Green Stars 50-17 and Morriston edged out Brynamman 10-5.

Penlan’s push for successive promotions shows no sign of stopping, their ninth straight victory in Four South West this term was a 57-0 thrashing of Abercarn. Dafydd Pritchard (2), Steven Williams (2), Luke Davies, Nathan Llewellyn, Simon Bevan, Dean Davies and Robert Green were their try scorers.

The match of the day in Four West turned out to be a classic as leaders Tycroes got the better of third-placed Trimsaran 33-25 with Stuart Mander crossing for two of Tycroes’s four tries.

Steff Howells did the same for Hendy as Aberaeron were beaten 23-19, Jamie Herbert was also at the double for Furnace Utd in a 23-10 win against Betws and Rhydian Davies and Llyr Davies both bagged a brace for Llanybydder as Laugharne were ousted 37-19.

While Oakdale held New Tredegar to a 20-20 draw in Four East, leaders Cilfynydd opened up a six-point gap at the top as they toppled Monmouth 26-8. Nathan Pearce’s two tries helped Blaenavon to a 39-3 victory over Machen.

In Four South East, Old Illtydians bagged a bonus point to draw level with Wattstown at the top. Tom Wheeler (2), Geraint Webb, Phil Morse, Adam Staniforth, Dave Jones, John Manders and Alessandro Abet were in try-scoring form for the Illtydians as they saw off Penygraig 55-8.

Dan Morgan grabbed a hat-trick for Banwen in their 31-20 win against Llangadog in Five South West, but Nathan Jenkins went one better, scoring four times for Penybanc as they consolidated top spot with a 90-0 blitz of Cwmgwrach.

Tom Edmunds outdid brother James with three and two tries respectively for Swansea Uplands as they saw off Pontyates 52-19 in Five West. Two of Gowerton’s nine tries fell the way of Gareth John as they defeated Bynea 60-5.

A narrow 15-13 away win against Brynithel gave Five East frontrunners Nantyglo an eighth win out of nine this season while Matthew Oatey, Tom Owen, Craig Cox, Matthew Morgan and Richard Wanklyn (2) took Pontrhydyfen to a 39-5 win over Ferndale in Five South Central.

Top try-scorer of the day was Crickhowell’s Joe Powell whose five tries helped his team beat Llandrindod Wells 45-5 in Six South Central. Cambrian Welfare overcame Cefn Fforest 32-3, Tom Evans crossing twice, in the same division while in Six East, Gavin Evans was among the tries for Blaina Utd in a 29-15 win on the road at Malpas.

Finally, in Division Seven there was a first point of the season, albeit a losing one, for Old Tylerians as they went down 19-17 to Sea View, Abersychan beat Newbridge Utd 8-7 and the other games were postponed.

Carwyn's right on cue for RGC with try treble

CARWYN ap Myrddin had a field day yesterday as he raced over for a hat-trick of tries in RGC 1404’s commanding 40-5 home win over Penallta in One East.

However, Ystrad Rhondda still look good out in front as they scored 50 points or more for the fourth time this season in beating Merthyr 52-10 at the Wern.

Two of their seven tries were scored by Sean Webber while another two were penalty tries awarded by the referee. Alex Webber, David Gratton and Dan John also got on the scoresheet for the men from the Rhondda.

Rhydyfelin, the only side to beat Ystrad Rhondda this term, look comfortable in third following a titanic tussle against Heol y Cyw, who have only won twice so far.

Stuart Williams and Keiron Phillips crossed for Rhyd who won 12-11 with Michael Huckridge getting all of Cyw’s points.

It was a great afternoon for Treorchy centre Trystan Lazarus who bagged a hat-trick in a 48-10 win for the Zebras away to bottom-of-the-table Tredegar.

Wing Chris Jenkins chipped in with two and there were also scores for No 8 Craig Everett, flanker Gavin Daniel and captain Jamie Summer. Celyn Ashton slotted four conversions.

Two tries for Lewis Ryan and 11 points from the boot of Greg Rees couldn’t prevent Ynysybwl slipping to a 24-21 defeat at home to Rumney and Mountain Ash got a losing bonus point from a 13-7 loss to Gilfach Goch. Vic Morgan and Bradley Davies touched down for Gilfach with Luke Davies replying for Mount.

It had to happen sometime and yesterday saw One West leaders Tondu lose for the first time this season, going down 16-5 at closest challengers Cwmllynfell.

All Tondu could manage was a Hywel Davies try while Anthony Rees crossed for Cwm and Peter Thomas converted and added three penalties.

The division’s top scorers were Llangennech as they thrashed lowly Aberavon Quins 64-7, scoring nine tries in the process. Ellis Phillips was top dog with three while Gareth Combly got two and Johnny Griffiths, Rhys Lane, Rhys Davies and Stewart Miller also touched down.

Rhodri Cole scored two tries, kicked four conversions and two penalties in Glynneath’s 39-7 victory against Ammanford, Matthew Davies and Chris Tossell were on the scoresheet for Kenfig Hill as they saw off Kidwelly 40-25 and Carmarthen Athletic beat Skewen 19-11, Adam Davies, Scott Maynard and Chris Francis crossing.

In One North, bottom club Llangefni picked up two crucial points in their bid to avoid relegation after drawing 12-12 at Dolgellau. All the points came through kicks with Carwyn Milburn on target for the visitors and Tom Roberts and Dion Jones with two each for Dolgellau.

Leaders Nant Conwy won again, this time 20-7 at home to Bro Ffestiniog with Robert Parry celebrating his 21st birthday with one of their two tries, Robin Glyn got the other.

The prolific Deio Brunelli scored again for second-placed Pwllheli as Caernarfon were beaten 11-3 while Mold beat Ruthin 22-12 and Bethesda defeated Bala 28-12.

Ebbw and Bargoed maintain title charge

MATCHES involving the Championship’s top two aside, yesterday saw some real nail-biting encounters with losing margins in the five remaining games totalling just 17 points.

Right at the bottom, Whitland were on the wrong end of a 9-6 defeat at Bonymaen as Richard Cuniffe outkicked Nico Setaro three penalties to two.

However, the closest finish of the day came in West Wales where hosts Narberth overcame Llanharan 15-14 – the visitors could easily have won it had they not missed a couple of kicks at goal.

Narberth led through a James Reynolds penalty before Adrian Killa crossed on 10 minutes. Bill Carey replied in kind and Lewis Williams added the extras to make it 8-7 at the break.

A try each in the second-half, Prop John Lloyd for Narberth and wing Morgan Williams for Llanharan, both converted, ensured the hosts clung on to their slender lead.

Pontypool led Glamorgan Wanderers 10-7 after 40 minutes of their clash but fly-half Ianto Griffiths proved the difference between the sides as he converted his own try and landed a penalty to win it for Wanderers.

Full-back Ed Doe scored their first while flanker Adam Brake did the same for Pooler with Clayton Gullis putting over a conversion and two penalties.

Tata Steel outscored Cardiff Met by two tries to one but it was the students who came out on top 16-13 with Mark O’Brien contributing 11 points. Brynley Thomas got the Met’s try with Gbemi Fisher and Ben Davies crossing for Tata.

Mark McGovern, Chris James and Shaun Emery went over for Blackwood in their 20-24 success at home to Beddau. Lewis Hudd kicked a penalty and one conversion too. The visitors picked up a losing bonus point thanks to Tom Benjamin’s penalty treble and Luke Crocker’s touchdown.

While all that was going on, leaders Ebbw Vale and second-placed Bargoed were both cruising to comfortable wins at home to Bridgend Athletic and away at Newbridge respectively.

Eight different players scored tries for Ebbw, who were also awarded a penalty try, with Charlie Simpson, Wes Cunliffe, Josh Lewis, Adam Jones, Dan Haymond, Cameron Reagan, Chris Thomas and Polu Uhi crossing.

Fly-half Haymond not only scored but found the target with all nine conversions in the 63-3 rout.

Bargoed, however, were given a big helping hand during their 43-18 defeat of Newbridge as home prop Mark Cox was sent-off for fisticuffs on the stroke of half-time with his side trailing 19-11.

The Blues piled on the pressure after that and their seven scores came courtesy of Andrew MacLaughlan (2), Lewis Protheroe, James Pizey, Jordan Purcell, Adam Coupe and Alex Herbert.

Ceri Young and Neil Burnett replied for Newbridge who stay third in the table, nine points behind Bargoed.

Historic day for Bedwas after Powell sees red

THERE may well be a few sore heads in Bedwas today but those associated with the rugby club won’t mind one bit as their team proudly sits at the top of the Principality Premiership for the first time in its history.

Richard Powell’s first-half red card aside, it was a memorable day for the Caerphilly borough side, which battled to a 29-20 victory over Cardiff at the Bridge Field to take top spot in the table.

That’s because previously unbeaten Llandovery lost for the first time this season at Cross Keys who leapfrogged Carmarthen Quins and Llanelli into fourth place behind Pontypridd, also winners yesterday.

It was not looking like Bedwas’s day though as after 10 minutes they were already 14-0 down as Cardiff fly-half Joe Griffin converted a try of his own and one for No 8 Reuben Tucker.

That sprung Bedwas into life and Powell kicked a penalty to get the hosts on the scoreboard before he converted a penalty try on the half hour mark. Will Thomas took over as Cardiff’s kicker and extended the lead to 17-10 before a moment of madness from Powell.

The prolific fly-half had only just committed a late tackle when he head-butted an opponent and was sent for an early bath.

But, crucially, Ethan Davies landed a penalty seconds before the half-time whistle and Bedwas started the second period only four points in arrears at 17-13.

Despite having a man advantage, Cardiff couldn’t find a way through and it was Bedwas who surged into the lead with three further penalties from the boot of Davies. Thomas pulled one back but in injury-time replacement Matthew Pewtner crossed the whitewash and Davies converted to seal a dramatic win.

As for Llandovery, they came unstuck at Cross Keys but at the least earned a losing bonus point in a 22-15 reverse.

Tom Lampard’s try for Keys was bookended by two for Llandovery’s Sam Soul with Steffan Jones slotting five penalties for the hosts to see them home.

Pontypridd returned to winning ways with a 30-13 triumph at Aberavon as they got their title push going again after a shock defeat to Newport.

Despite going behind to a Craig Evans penalty inside the first minute, the Sardis Road side hit back with a try from Dafydd Lockyer and went on to seal the win with further scores by Rhys Shellard and Owen Williams.

Fly-half Dai Flanagan was also clinical in front of goal, converting all three tries and landing a hat-trick of penalties to take the game away from the hosts, who crossed for one try through Matthew Jenkins late on.

Luckless Swansea remain at the foot of the table following a 20-13 defeat by Bridgend at St Helen’s.

Jamie Murphy converted Luke Morgan’s try for the Ravens 13 minutes in and although the hosts closed the gap with penalties kicked by Nicky Thomas and Cameron Clement, the visitors went further ahead when Nathan Edwards crossed just after the break.

Murphy nailed a penalty and although Swansea got to within two points thanks to an Aled Jenkins score, converted by Clement, Ashley James got what proved to be the clinching try with 15 minutes left.

Neath continue to struggle and they lost 19-9 to an improving Newport outfit at the Gnoll after leading at half-time.

Three Dai Langdon penalties gave them the lead after Scott Sneddon had added the extras to Michael Poole’s early try but Sneddon and then Geraint O’Driscoll kicked Newport to victory.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Championship weekend predictions

Blackwood v Beddau

The Green and Golds surprised many last time out when they saw off highfliers Newbridge and will be looking to build on this performance tomorrow, but will face a tough test in Glan yr Afon. The hosts have had an extended break thanks to the international fixture and a postponement, but they, too, will be hoping to carry on where they left off after convincingly beating Bonymaen at the end of October. I think this will be a close match: Beddau sit just one place higher than their opponents in the table but based on their continued improvement, I think they will start as favourites.
Verdict - Beddau by 5 points.

Bonymaen v Whitland
Bonymaen showed a dogged determination to defeat Pontypool a fortnight ago and, desperate to distance themselves from the relegation fight, they will see this as the perfect opportunity to do so. The Borderers have only won once all season and that was against leaders Ebbw Vale - the question is why aren’t they producing that type of performance every week? As we quickly approach the half way mark of the season, these matches between the bottom clubs will take on ever increasing significance and this, I feel, will be another close encounter.
Verdict - Bonymaen by 3 points.

Ebbw Vale v Bridgend Athletic
The Steelmen have recovered from their mini crisis (losing to basement boys Whitland and supremo Neil Edwards) all the better, having knocked main title rivals Bargoed off their perch last time out to once again head the table. Athletic know they need to start picking up points if they are to avoid being sucked in to the relegation dog fight, but I think this is one battle they won’t be taking anything away from.
Verdict - Ebbw Vale by 20 points.

Narberth v Llanharan
Neither of these teams have played a league match since the end of October so should be raring to go. The Otters are currently the highest placed ‘West’ side in the league and will want to continue their progress, while having had good success against the Dairymen at home, not losing to them there since 2003. The Dairymen meanwhile, who have made a solid start to the new league, face a couple of tough fixtures before the New Year travelling to both Ebbw Vale and Newbridge. The visitors will be hoping a sixth win of the season will be on the cards tomorrow to instill some confidence before the challenges ahead.
Verdict - Narberth by 7 points.

Newbridge v Bargoed
Newbridge and Bargoed both come into this game on the back of defeats and both will undoubtedly be desperate to win to ensure Ebbw Vale don’t extend their lead at the summit. Bargoed were unfortunate not to come away with a draw against the Steelmen and will be out to right wrongs tomorrow, while Newbridge had flattered to deceive in matches before they lost to Beddau last time out and perhaps the loss might inject the impetus that seemed to be missing.
Verdict - Bargoed by 8 points.

Pontypool v Glamorgan Wanderers
Wanderers captain Alex Luff has issued a stern warning to his troops: “Vital points at stake at the wrong end of the Division. It’s a must win!” With Pontypool safe from relegation this season, the Wanderers currently sit in the drop zone along with Whitland, but they know a win here tomorrow would propel them up the table. It is very much a rebuilding season for Pontypool - who, despite everything, have competed well so far - but may have lacked the killer instinct in some matches which is surely something they will look to work on as they try to add to their solitary victory. However, knowing that they are safe from relegation, you have to question when it comes down to the crunch situation at the wrong end of the table will they want it as much as their rivals?
Verdict - Glamorgan Wanderers by 7 points.

Tata Steel v Cardiff Met
I was lucky enough to witness this fixture in One West at the tail end of last season where it was Tata’s pack that made the difference on that day and I suspect that it will be the same case tomorrow. The Margam based side have got stronger as the season has progressed but they know they will face a tough challenge from the well drilled and exciting Students. However, I think with home advantage and a dominant pack, the hosts should run out winners.
Verdict - Tata Steel by 6 points.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Horgan welcomes fitness boost for struggling Neath

NEATH coach Patrick Horgan has revealed that fitness has been his squad’s “biggest weakness” this season with the club lingering near the foot of the Principality Premiership.

The enforced lay-off due to the start of the autumn internationals, however, has given Horgan the chance to work on the players’ conditioning as they prepare for Saturday’s clash against Newport.

“The week off has really helped us,” said Horgan. “We’ve done a lot of conditioning. Our fitness levels have been our biggest weakness this season so we’ve been concentrating on strength and conditioning and will do so for the next few weeks to get our fitness levels to where they should be.

“Unfortunately we won’t see many, if any, returnees from injury this week. Gravs (Gareth Gravell) is still injured as is Gareth King. The only changes from the Cardiff game a fortnight ago will be the two new signings we’ve picked up – prop Marc Jones and centre John Leyshon.

“We’ve just been concentrating on getting the fitness levels of our fully fit players up. Hopefully we’ll have some players back in the next three or four weeks and we’ll be stronger again. The way things are working out, we’ll probably pick up another couple of injuries but that’s where we need strength in our squad.”

Neath are on a five-match losing streak in the league, going down 25-12 to Cardiff in their last outing, leaving them just two places and four points off the foot of the table.

On Saturday they face a side enjoying an upturn in form with wins over Swansea and reigning champions Pontypridd in their two most recent league matches.

“Newport are a decent side,” added Horgan. “It’ll be difficult. Last year Newport went through what we’re going through now. Having good players but not performing very well. They’ve had some good wins but every game is tough for us right now.

“Confidence is a bit low and everyone still wants to beat us as we’re Neath and we’ve been up there since the inception of professionalism.

“We’ve improved recently, we just need to keep it up. We had a good win over Bedwas (in the British & Irish Cup) and scored a lot of points, we should have beaten Bridgend but our set pieces were poor and we could have won at Cardiff too.

“We didn’t take our chances and that’s also where we need to improve. If we can take our opportunities against Newport, a bit of confidence will return which is what we need.”

Welsh Premiership weekend predictions

Aberavon v Pontypridd

After the elation of a fantastic draw against Llandovery, Aberavon were brought back down to earth last time out at Bridgend although they did pick up a losing bonus point away from home.

Pontypridd’s last outing was at the end of October when they surprisingly lost to Newport at Rodney Parade and with an extended break they are playing catch-up on all the other teams in terms of games played.

You’d have to go for a home win in this one but not by as many points as some may expect given the positions of the clubs in the table.

Verdict – Pontypridd by eight points

Bedwas v Cardiff

There were positive results for both these clubs in their last matches with Bedwas earning a hard-fought draw at leaders Llandovery and Cardiff beating a struggling Neath side.

Bedwas will start as favourites, more so as they are at home, but Cardiff, if they can keep the penalty count down and not give the likes of Richard Powell the chance of easy points in front of goal, could well get something out of it.

Verdict – Bedwas by nine points

Cross Keys v Llandovery

Successive draws constitutes something of a crisis for Llandovery this season given that until then they had won every game with a bonus point!

The break has given them time to regroup but it will be a tough test going to Pandy Park, traditionally one of the hardest places for visiting teams to win in the Premiership.

Verdict – Llandovery by seven points

Neath v Newport

With Neath really in the doldrums Newport have to see this as an opportunity to pile more woe onto the All Blacks, who have won just twice all season.

Newport are going for a third win in a row after seeing off Pontypridd and then Swansea so will start as favourites anyway.

Verdict – Newport by eight points

Swansea v Bridgend

If Swansea want to turn their season around then the next week or so will be crucial as they host Bridgend and Neath.

Just six points from nine games represents one of the worst starts in the club’s history and if they aren’t careful they could still be rooted to the bottom of the table in five months’ time.

Verdict – Bridgend by 10 points

By David Williams

John Leyshon rejoins Neath

Centre John Leyshon has re-joined Neath from Bridgend and is expected to take to the field this Saturday when Neath face Newport at The Gnoll (kick-off 2.30pm).

As with prop Marc Jones who returned last week, it is something of a homecoming for the strong-running midfield man who played for Neath under 21s and was a member of the senior Neath squad in 2003/04 – the first post-regional season.

A product of Crynant, John will give Neath added power in midfield where two other local lads Ryan Evans and Kyle Davies have been combining effectively since Gareth McCarthy’s premature retirement.

Coach Patrick Horgan said: “John Leyshon is a most welcome addition to our squad and he will get plenty of rugby with us as we expect Ryan to be close to the Wales Under-20’s side this year.

“Our resources behind the scrum have been badly depleted by injuries this season. We still have Gareth King, Jason Howells and Tom James out injured long-term and we are still aiming to recruit.”

Fellow coach Neil Edwards added: “With no game last week, new conditioning coach Will Rees has worked the boys hard in training and we will see the benefits in weeks to come.

“There is no quick fix but we are putting in the firm foundations for the future for Neath to challenge once more.

”If there are other players out there with the ambition and the burning desire to put Neath back at the top we want to hear from them. Signing Marc and John is an indication of how we want to move the Club forward and we will leave no stone unturned.”

Neath legend Dai Morris will be at the Newport game on Saturday 17th November to sign copies of his new book, “Shadow”. He will be in the clubhouse before the match.

Adult tickets for Neath v Newport on Saturday 17th November cost just £12 for the main stand or £10 for anywhere else in the ground. Children aged 16 and under are free of charge. The club are also selling hospitality at just £25 a head or just £15 for season ticket holders. Check out for more details and follow the club on or

Welsh trio set for final tour qualifier

THREE Welshmen will go in search of a European Tour card at Catalunya in Spain later this month after Liam Bond was the only golfer from Wales to get through the second stage of qualifying.

The 42-year-old St Pierre pro is joined at final qualifying, which runs from November 24-29, by Cardiff’s Stephen Dodd, the former British Amateur champion and three-time winner on the European Tour and Bradley Dredge, twice a winner on the tour.

Dodd, 46, and Dredge, 39, who won the World Cup for Wales in 2005, were exempt from the first two stages of qualifying while Bond not only safely negotiated his way through at Lumine Golf & Beach Club but won the event by three shots having also triumphed at Frilford Heath in phase one.

While Bond was celebrating his second qualifying victory in a matter of weeks, the six other Welshmen in Spain weren’t so fortunate.

Also at Lumine, former Welsh Amateur champion Garry Houston, 41, could only finish in a tie for 62nd place a full 12 strokes off the last qualifying position. The North Walian carded a 72-hole total of 290 with the back-nine often proving to be his Achilles heel.

Mark Laskey and Matt Dearden were well off the pace at El Valle in Murcia with the former even withdrawing before the start of the final round.

Up to then, rounds of 79, 75 and 70 had taken him to +11 and despite opening his third day with a front-nine of 31, the Welwyn Garden City-born pro decided to give up the ghost.

His compatriot Dearden began with a round of 76 before signing for three successive 71s to come in 55th on five-over-par, eight off qualification.

But for a poor third round in Valencia, Stuart Manley could well have been joining Bond and Dodd at the PGA Catalunya Resort. A 78 on the penultimate day, including a double bogey and two bogeys on three of the last five holes, did for him.

A four-under 68 on day four couldn’t repair the damage and he missed out by four strokes, finishing on four-over-par 292 as Scotland’s Jamie McLeary won by threat El Saler.

Two of Wales’s emerging talents, Rhys Enoch and James Frazer, both fell short of the mark at Las Colinas in Alicante but they know time is on their side and there’ll be plenty more chances in the years to come.

Like Manley, it was one round that caused most of the problems for Enoch as a 76 on day two, which featured a horrible run of two double bogeys and two bogeys from 14 to 17, set him back. Rounds of 68 and 66 followed to leave Cornwall-based Enoch tied for 30th on two-under.

Pennard’s Frazer was one stroke back and although he was more consistent with his scoring he couldn’t produce one standout round to soar up the leaderboard. Scores of 70, 71, 73 and 69, however, gave him something to build on in the future.

Six rounds of golf now stand between Bond, Dodd and Dredge from a place among Europe’s elite next year. But, as Bond knows all too well, it won’t be easy, especially so given the standard of player the pair will be up against.

The likes of former Ryder Cup players Oliver Wilson, Paul Broadhurst and Jarmo Sandelin are also involved as is Phillip Archer, Markus Brier, Nick Dougherty, Steve Webster and Gary Orr.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Scorpions sign former Brisbane Broncos rugby union junior

South Wales Scorpions Rugby League Club have signed former Brisbane Broncos academy player Kayle Connor for the 2013 season.

The 21-year old utility back has recently been playing in the Queensland Cup competition in Australia, first for Norths Devils whom he helped to the 2011 Grand Final, and last season for Souths Logan Magpies.

Connor, who holds a British passport so won't count on the club's quota of foreign players, is an accomplished goal kicker.

He was also a prominent rugby union player as a junior, turning out for Queensland schoolboys.

Scorpions' coach Dave Clark said: "We're really pleased that Kayle will be coming to Wales to play for us in 2013. He can play in many positions in the back-line and will be a massive asset to us in the challenges that we will face next year." 

Connor said: "I'm looking forward to a new challenge and I see the move to South Wales Scorpions as a good opportunity to further my Rugby League career. Dave has told me a lot about the club and I'm looking forward to playing in Wales. My goal is to eventually play in the Super League."

More signings for South Wales only professional Rugby League club who play out of The Gnoll in Neath, will be announced soon. 

Memberships / Season Tickets for 2013 are now available to buy by going to or by clicking here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Home advantage for Saints in Welsh Cup opener

THE New Saints will begin their defence of the Welsh Cup with a third-round tie at home against Huws Gray Alliance outfit Conwy Borough while there are three all-Welsh Premier League games.

Conwy make the trip to the Park Hall astroturf next month after beating Buckley Town in a penalty shoot-out in round two on Saturday.

Welsh Premier leaders Prestatyn Town make the long trip south to the Marston Stadium to take on league rivals Afan Lido, Andy Preece’s Airbus entertain Port Talbot Town and Llanelli, looking for a new manager after Andy Legg’s departure, go to Gap Connah’s Quay.

Former winners Bangor City welcome Welsh League side Aberdare Town to Nantporth and Huws Gray Alliance pacesetters Rhyl will fancy their chances of causing an upset when they visit Aberystwyth Town.

The same could be said of last season’s runners-up Cefn Druids as they travel to Newtown of the Welsh Premier and there will be a tough test for Mark Aizlewood’s Carmarthen Town when they go to Holyhead Hotspurs.

Bala Town, beaten semi-finalists last time around, have a tricky looking clash away to Monmouth Town.

Elsewhere, Gwalchmai host Chepstow Town, Ely Rangers make the short journey to Barry Town, Flint Town Utd entertain Llanidloes Town and Llanrug Utd play West End.

There are still four second round ties to be played this Saturday after postponements at the first time of asking last weekend.

The winner of the Pontardawe-Ton Pentre game will have home advantage in the last 32 against either Caerau or Goytre, Holywell Town meet Goytre Utd or Caerau Ely and Cambrian & Clydach or Haverfordwest County will have a long trip to Llandudno Junction.

All third round ties are to be played on the weekend of December 8-9.

Round three draw;

Afan Lido v Prestatyn Town

Newtown v Cefn Druids

Bangor City v Aberdare Town

Holyhead Hotspurs v Aberdare Town

Gwalchmai v Chepstow Town

The New Saints v Conwy Borough

Barry Town v Ely Rangers

Gap Connah’s Quay v Llanelli

Airbus UK Broughton v Port Talbot Town

Aberystwyth Town v Rhyl

Flint Town Utd v Llanidloes Town

Holywell Town v Goytre Utd or Caerau Ely

Pontardawe Town or Ton Pentre v Caerau or Goytre

Monmouth Town v Bala Town

Llanrug Utd v West End

Llandudno Junction v Cambrian & Clydach or Haverfordwest County

Monday, 12 November 2012

Students demolish Castle

Cardiff Met Ladies were the big winners of the day in the Women’s Welsh Premier when they handed out an 18-0 drubbing of league strugglers Caerphilly Castle on Sunday at Cyncoed.
The reigning champions wasted no time in stamping their authority over proceedings when striker Emily Brown pounced inside the opening minute to fire the students ahead.
Caerphilly were unable to get to grips with the dynamic striker as Brown netted eight in total, while Adele Hooper also had a fine afternoon finding the target five times. Jas Thomas, Steff Turner, Emily Allen, Dani Hinton and Hannah Billingham also found the net in the one sided affair.
It has been a steep learning curve for Castle so far this season with the Caerphilly side rooted to the bottom of the table having conceded 51 times in only four matches.
Cardiff City, meanwhile, leapt up the table to second after they saw off Swansea 3-0, with Catherine Walsh netting a brace. Walsh put the visitors ahead in the 21st minute but the Bluebirds were largely restrained by the Swans as they looked to work themselves back into the match. However, two late goals broke the hosts' hearts with Walsh and Amy Wathan finding the target for the highfliers.
Port Talbot Town had to come from behind before they comfortably dispatched Northop Hall 7-1.
An Andrea Reece spot kick put Northop in front after only three minutes, but their lead was short-lived as Town hit back through Jessica Wadey (2), Laura Williams (2), Jesci Hare, Coryn Sexton and Gaby Pughsley.
Wrexham also notched up a big win as they outclassed Newcastle Emlyn 6-1. Lowri Edwards and Lyndsey Rodger were the stand out performers for the North Walians, both grabbing braces.
Elsewhere, Llandudno Junction picked up their second win when they thumped Aberystwyth 4-0.
The day’s other scheduled fixture between Caernarfon Town and Llanidloes was postponed.