Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Jones topples internationals to triumph in Trubshaw Cup

Conwy’s Lee Jones was the surprise winner of the Trubshaw Cup this weekend, picking up the Carmarthenshire Open to boot ahead of a field full of Welsh internationals.

The North Walian posted a 72-hole aggregate of 292 to take home the main spoils, ahead of the Vale’s rising Welsh star Tim Harry and Pontypridd’s Luke Thomas in joint second just three shots behind him. Another Welsh star, Ben Westgate of Treviso, was a further shot behind in third.

The field competes at Ashburnham over 36 holes on day one for the Carmarthenshire Open, before moving to Tenby on day two for another 36 holes to compete for the Tenby Golden Eagle. The scores are then combined and the 72-hole gross decides who lifts the prestigious Trubshaw Cup.

Jones flew out of the blocks on day one and carded a 66 and 74 to take the Carmarthenshire Open with a gross 140, five shots ahead of Thomas, Westgate and Prestatyn’s Jason Shufflebotham in joint second and eight ahead of Harry in third.

His first round at Tenby saw a 78, but he recovered with a 74 in the afternoon to take home the main prize.

Ian Flower of Mountain Ash took home the Tenby Golden Eagle with rounds of 71 and 75 giving him a gross of 146. Harry was a stroke behind on 147 to make the record-breaking Duncan Putter winner the “nearly-man” of the weekend, with Prestatyn’s Mark Phillips third on count back.

Boulden and Harries triumph in team event at Helen Holm

Welsh international Amy Boulden put in a sterling performance in defending her Scottish Open Stroke-Play Championship crown at the weekend, eventually falling just short.

However, the Curtis Cup star from Llandudno teamed up with Haverfordwest’s Becky Harries to pick up the international team event at Troon with a total of 449 ahead of home-grown girls Eilidh Briggs and Kelsey MacDonald on 457. Irish twins Leona and Lisa Maguire were in third with a card of 463.

Boulden posted a two under par total of 223 to finish joint fourth in the race for the prestigious Helen Holm Trophy with English star Bronte Law. She was just three strokes behind new champion Olivia Winning, an up and coming teenage prodigy from Rotherham who survived a late scare in the wet weather to triumph.

Boulden fired scores of 76, 67 and 80, an overall performance which augurs well for her season and will put her in great confidence going in to the Welsh Open Stroke-Play Championship at the Vale this weekend.

She said of her performance on Twitter: "Shot [five over] in the final round today. It was tough out there in that wind and rain! Finished [tied for fourth] overall.

"Looking forward to getting home now! Me and Becky won the team event this week though!"

Haverfordwest's Harries, who will also be in the field at the Vale, was only three strokes further back in joint eighth place after rounds of 78, 75 and 73, while Samantha Birks of Woolstanton finished with a gross 235 after rounds of 77, 77 and 81.

Warburton to lead 15 Welshmen in to Lions tour

Sam Warburton has been named the youngest ever Welsh captain of the British Lions by coach Warren Gatland ahead of this summer’s 10-match (three test) tour of Hong Kong and Australia.

The 24-year-old Cardiff Blues star was replaced by Ryan Jones as the Welsh captain mid-way through their successful 2013 Six Nations campaign, but Gatland says he has been the “most successful captain” in recent years in the Northern Hemisphere and he has “huge respect” for him.

He will be the first Welsh tour captain since Phil Bennett in 1977, although Gareth Thomas did skipper the side once Brian O’Driscoll had left the 2005 tour injured, and will lead a squad consisting of 15 Welshmen, 10 Englishmen, nine Irishmen and three Scots.

The biggest talking points have been the omission of England’s Six Nations skipper Chris Robson and legendary fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, but it has been reported that when spoken to about being considered the 33-year-old said he had Toulon commitments and wasn’t sure his body would survive the tour.

There have also been questions asked of the decision to include only two fly-halves for such a gruelling campaign, with many utility backs who could have provided cover for that position left out.

Gatland said of his squad: “We've looked at the last few weeks in terms of performances. We've had a number of players who have come back from injury.

“The benchmark for a lot of the squad was the Six Nations, and then looking at some club form and assessing whether there was the same physical intensity to draw comparison, and then finally make the selection of those players.

“If you look at previous tours, there are six to eight players who always get injured. There will be a key group of players who will potentially be called up.”

The Lions have not toured Australia since a 2-1 series defeat in 2001, but fare generally well against the Wallabies, winning 15 out of 20 Tests with them.

Lions squad in full:
Backs: Leigh Halfpenny (Wales), Stuart Hogg (Scotland), Rob Kearney (Ireland), Tommy Bowe (Ireland), Alex Cuthbert (Wales), Sean Maitland (Scotland), George North (Wales), Jonathan Davies (Wales), Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland), Jamie Roberts (Wales), Manu Tuilagi (England), Owen Farrell (England), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland), Conor Murray (Ireland), Mike Phillips (Wales), Ben Youngs (England).

Forwards: Dan Cole (England), Cian Healy (Ireland), Gethin Jenkins (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales), Matt Stevens (England), Mako Vunipola (England), Dylan Hartley (England), Richard Hibbard (Wales), Tom Youngs (England), Ian Evans (Wales), Richie Gray (Scotland), Alun-Wyn Jones (Wales), Paul O’Connell (Ireland), Geoff Parling (England), Tom Croft (England), Toby Faletau (Wales), Jamie Heaslip (Ireland), Dan Lydiate (Wales), Sean O’Brien (Ireland), Justin Tipuric (Wales), Sam Warburton (Wales, captain).

Monday, 29 April 2013

Pembrokeshire Cicket Division One Round Up

After  a long dismal winter that bombarded the country with snow, rain and wind, the Pembrokeshire county league kicked off yesterday with teams no doubt hoping that the weather was going to be kinder to them.

 Unfortunately, it was not to be as the wet weather disturbed two of the five opening first round matches in Division One.
 Carew’s opening match in the defence of their title was one of those to be abandoned. The reigning Champs posted 202-5 with Brian Hall striking an unbeaten century, while Nicky Scourfield knocked 36 and Robbie Hicks posted 35n/o. Their opponents, Lawrenny, only had a short time at the crease before the rain halted play.
 Leaders after week 1 are Whitland after they claimed a 62 run win at St Ishmaels. The visitors batted first and set a total of 177, Jonathan Thomas (53) and David Dunfee (29) were their best scorers. Andrew Pawlett and Andrew Williams picked up a couple of wickets apiece for the hosts.
Dunfee was undoubtedly the star performer on the day - adding to his handy knock, he also snared 7-39 - as he almost single-handedly dispatched the opposing order.
 Meanwhile, Llanrhian were on the wrong end of a ten wicket defeat as they went down at home to Haverfordwest. The hosts were skittled for just 75, with Adam James capturing 6-28 and Nigel Morgan taking 3-7. In reply, Haverfordwest chased down the total without loss with Simon Holiday (36) and Jonathan Strawbridge (39) finishing undefeated.  
 Elsewhere, Neyland claimed 61 run home win over Cresselly, while Narberth’s match against Llangwm was abandoned.

British & Irish Cup undergoes restructure ahead of new season

The British & Irish Cup will undergo a revision to the current structure for the 2013-14 season, moving from 32 teams to 24, playing in six pools of four.

Following the restructure, four Principality Premiership teams will now represent Wales in the competition, joining the 12 clubs of the RFU Championship as well as four from each of Ireland and Scotland. Selection of the Welsh teams will be based on regional play-offs at the start of next season, with final positions in this season’s Principality Premiership giving teams Home field advantage.

RFU Professional Rugby Director Rob Andrew commented:
“The British & Irish Cup organising committee agreed that the reduction in clubs would make for a more competitive league competition. The regional play-offs are a positive way of ensuring an appropriate regional spread combined with the best teams representing Wales in the competition, while the top four finishers in the Scottish domestic leagues will be automatically be included alongside the 12 Championship clubs.”

 WRU Head of Rugby Joe Lydon added:
“The British & Irish Cup is a fantastic competition and the restructure will give four Principality Premiership clubs every chance of being highly competitive. It will again give Premiership and select Regional players the opportunity to play in this cross-border tournament which is not only a great way to develop player talent but also an opportunity for the respective clubs to grow and test themselves.

“We firmly believe that the system of regionally based play-offs determining participation in the British & Irish Cup is the fairest way of selecting the best teams to represent Wales while reflecting the geography of Welsh semi-professional and professional rugby.

“Our clubs have more than held their own in this competition which sees them compete with full time, professional clubs and provinces, with Cross Keys reaching last season’s final, Pontypridd reaching last year’s semi-final and Llanelli reaching the quarters on three occasions.

“We are confident that this move will enhance our competitiveness in the British & Irish Cup and we look forward to some thrilling encounters in the battle for places come September.”

2013-14 British & Irish Cup structure
* 12 RFU Championship clubs
* 4 Welsh Principality Premiership clubs
* 4 Irish provinces – Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster
* 4 Scottish teams - top 4 finishers in RBS Premier Division: Ayr, Gala, Stirling County and Edinburgh Academicals.

Pool Stages
* 6 pools of 4 playing home and away
* 4 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 bonus point for a) scoring 4 or more tries and/or b) losing by 7 points or less

Quarter finals
* top side in each pool progress to knockout stage, including two best runners-up
* 8 quarter-finalists ranked with teams ranked 1-4 having home advantage

Semi-finals and final
* four winning quarter finalists progress to semi -final draw
* winning semi-finalists progress to final

Cambrian Welfare claim Division Six Central title

Undefeated Cambrian Welfare have been declared the champions of the  National League Division 6 Central.
WRU rep Humphrey Evans presents captain Julian Huntley with the  6 Central trophy.

Having sealed their title triumph with a 38-3 away win over Treharris on April 27, the team carried off the Division 6 Central title after winning each of their league fixtures during the current campaign.
And as the club celebrates its 30th year with a presentation evening next month, their win over Treharris means they have some league silverware to show off even before completing their run of matches.
Cambrian Welfare’s six tries against Treharris were scored by Julian Huntley, Steve Daniels, Mark Jones, Dane James, Zak James and Stefan Resoli. For team captain and outside half Julian Huntley, the club’s top scorer with 185 points in 15 league and cup matches this season, it was a double celebration, after greeting the birth of his daughter just five days earlier.
Julian said: “It’s a massive achievement to be undefeated so far in the league and with two games left to play it would be nice to reach the end of the season without losing. I think our success has been down to the training we’ve received from our coaching staff and the commitment from the whole team to training hard. Every single player has played well this season. Moving up out of Division 6 has been a long time coming for us and we’re definitely going to make the most of it.”
And he was able to toast the win with his brother, scrum half Jackson, and their father Mark, whose firm M&P Group is a big sponsor.  The close-knit club also boasted more fraternal celebrations with brothers Zak and Dane James - centre and flanker, and back-rows Mark and Steve Daniels.
Head Coach Ben Daniels commented: “It’s been a fantastic season but my highlight has to be winning against Glyncoch, who had been undefeated in their previous 45 matches. It’s the hard work of our players that has allowed us to be so successful this season and take the Division 6 Central title, and it’s also what allows us to look forward to Division 5 with confidence.”

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Bridgend Town Cricket Club forced to play away due to state of pitch

Bridgend Town CC are to play all their games in May away from their Newbridge Fields home after the South Wales Premier League declared their pitch unplayable.

The poor winter hampered proposed improvement works following the end of the last season, after complaints had been made to the authorities about the wicket’s state.

Work started on the first-team pitch in September to level it out, with the poor autumn and winter weather meaning that subsequent re-seeding was only successful in places.

After a visit by officials, they have ruled out Bridgend playing any home games during next month, with June in doubt if weather doesn’t improve and the re-conditioning of the pitch can’t continue.

The plight of the second and third teams is also in confusion, with decisions on their fixtures yet to be made.

Chairman Alun T Bunston said their situation served as a warning to other clubs, saying: “I must stress that the problems aren’t the fault of Bridgend Council, which has been supportive.

“In fairness to the league, they too have been very understanding and helped us re-arrange first team matches.

“I know other clubs are suffering through autumn remedial work only being completed in the spring.”

Swalec lower league round-up

There were some high-scoring wins in the Swalec lower leagues yesterday, including Rhiwbina, Bedlinog and Senghenydd breaking the 50-point barrier in Two East.

Second-placed Rhiwbina handed a 63-6 thrashing out to Abercynon, with Paul Maddock scoring three of their nine tries, and Brett Chatwin grabbing a brace.

Leaders Bedlinog also won 63-0 at Tylorstown.

James Richards also scored a hat-trick as Senghenydd put 10 tries past Garndiffaith in a 71-18 win, while Elliot Jones, Bedwyr Harries, Simon Williams, Lewis Montague and Alex James were on the mark for Llantrisant as they beat Fleur De Lys 39-24.

In Two West, Andrew Phillips, Rhys Davies, Gavin Thomas and Richard Sharpe-Williams all scored touchdowns for second-placed Crymych in their 33-13 win over Seven Sisters, with Davies also converting two and adding three penalties.

Felinfoel ran in six tries as they triumphed 46-29 at Maesteg Quins to climb above them and Seven Sisters in to third. Luke Marsh wrestled through for a brace, with Eliot Ball, Jason Frater, Dale Watts and Dan Thomas also going over the whitewash. Aled Roberts converted five of them and also kicked two penalties.

Two Ian Ellis scores helped Aberystwyth to a 22-5 win over Penclawdd, while Maesteg thumped basement club Haverfordwest 62-10. They ran in 10 tries in total – Nicky Fisher (three), Owain Evans (two), Karl Hocking (two), Mark Hillier-Rees, Grant Epton and Corey Butler all on target.

In Two North, Machynlleth crossed 14 times in their 86-0 drubbing of Llandudno, something of a surprise result. Gerwyn Coleman and Kameron Simmons-Sandy both grabbed hat-tricks in that one.

In Three West, second-placed Newcastle Emlyn scored nine tries as they beat Pontyberem 59-24. Both Daniel Davies’ were on the scoresheet, as were Mike Jones, Owen Powell, Alyn Howells, Llyr Jones and Shaun Leonard (twice).

Cardigan got the better of Milford Haven 47-11, with Justin Crompton and Tom Turner top-scoring with two tries apiece. Llyr Griffiths, Colin Davies and Rhydian Jenkins were their other scorers, with Crompton also kicking six conversions.

Three South East leaders Dowlais kept chugging towards the title as they triumphed 31-8 at Brecon. Keri Morgan grabbed two tries, while Christian Owens, Bleddyn Rees and Darryl Jenkins also crossed.
Second-placed Pontyclun kept the chase up with a five-try, 31-8 triumph at Brecon.

Vardre won the battle of the bottom two with Aberavon Green Stars in Three South West. Ian Thomas grabbed two tries, with Jamie Taylor, Sean Raymond and Dai Knight also notching in a 34-31 victory.

With Newtown’s fixture with Porthmadog postponed in Three North, Wrexham took advantage with a 50-5 win at Holyhead to climb up to second, although Newtown and leaders Rhos now have a game in hand over them.

Elsewhere, Menai Bridge beat Welshpool 45-14 to keep their very, very slim title hopes alive. Adam Goodwin and captain David Williams both slid over for braces, with Ollie O’Brien and Jack Owens adding others.

The top four all won in Four South West, with second-placed Glyncorrwg picking up what must be one of the biggest ever Welsh league wins – 156-0 against basement club Birchgrove.

They ran in 24 tries, with Steffan Hnatiuk helping himself to seven of them, and Gareth Kingman, Josh Thomas, Damien Warlow, Lee Bevan and Gareth Goodridge all grabbing braces. The latter converted 18 of them for a personal tally of 46 points, and Steve Tremlett, Ioan Williams, Steffan Williams, Anthony Davies, Rhys Harris, Jonathan Howells and Nathan Down also got scores.

The result smashed the club record win of 120-0 over Porthcawl in 2006/07, with the seven tries by Hnatiuk equalling the record set by Goodridge in the same game.

Leaders Penlan beat Briton Ferry 14-57 on their own patch, James Jenkins and Dafydd Pritchard grabbing braces of touchdowns. Luke Davies, Rhys Thomas, Rob Green, Rob Dallaglio and Nathaniel Llewellyn made it nine tries for the top side.

In Four East, New Tredegar were also try-happy, putting leaders Cilfynydd to the sword 43-5. A Ricky Hawkins hat-trick and braces for winger Gavin Stockman and center Daniel Davies opened up the door for second-placed Blaenavon, who moved a point behind them with two games in hand thanks to a 36-8 triumph over Chepstow.

They ran in six scores from as many players – Matthew Davies, Steve Howard, Dan Morgan, Dan Phillips, Marc Watkins, Darren Walters all able to celebrate, with Adam Williams converting three of them.

The title may be out of their reach now in Four West, but that didn’t stop Llanybydder putting Bettws in their place with a 71-12 home win. Dyfryg Davies scored four of their 11 touchdowns, with Gethin Davies and Llyr Davies helping themselves to braces and Llyr Jones, Gary Evans and Rhydian Davies also crossing.
Champions Tycroes won 40-15 away at Laugharne.

Glyncoch continued their incredible unbeaten record, stretching back two seasons, as they secured the Five South Central title with a tight 25-21 victory over Ogmore Vale.

Rhys Jones, Gareth Way and Lawson Hancox all dived over, with Lee Goddard converting two and kicking two penalties.

There were two big wins in Five South West, courtesy of the new top two in the division.

Leaders Cwmgors won 50-39 at Baglan courtesy of hat-tricks by Richard Gregg and Steff Rees and a sole Lee Howells score.

Matthew Bagley (four), Nathan Jenkins (three), Chris Jones, Kevin Madge and Iwan Jones all crossed for Penybanc as they kept up their title chase with a 60-10 beating of Cwmtwrch, climbing above them in to third, with that result really denting Cwmtwrch’s own title hopes.

The final big victors of the day were Cambrian Welfare, who won the Six South Central crown courtesy of a 38-3 victory away at closest rivals Treharris, scoring six tries in the process.

The top two both also won in Division Seven, with leaders Cathays overcoming Aberbeeg 42-22, and Whitchurch keeping a point behind them with a 49-10 victory over West Mon. Both teams have just two fixtures to play.

Title races hot up in One East and One West, while One North season draws to a close

One West leaders Tondu missed the chance to seal the title with defeat to Kidwelly at Pandy Park, and must now look on nervously as Cwmllynfell complete their league campaign.

The Waterwheelers knew a win would seal the division crown, but they were edged out 23-22 by a dogged Kidwelly side.

The Black and Ambers crossed twice through Dave Lewis and Steff Evans. Fly-half Stuart Morris added a conversion and two penalties, while Gareth Rees also kicked a conversion and a penalty to spoil the Tondu party.

Tondu end the season on 85 points after claiming a losing bonus point thanks to a penalty try, a Matthew Vaughan touchdown, Matthew Phillips going over and six points from the boot of Gareth Powell.

They are left biting their nails, as they anxiously wait on Cwmllynfell, who currently sit 12 points behind but have three games left to play and with a string of victories could cruelly wrestle the title out of their hands.

The Swansea Valley side, unaware their fate was back in their own hands, secured a 116-25 demolition of Aberavon Quins that will give them real confidence.

The highfliers crossed 18 times in all with Trystan Lewis (four), Owen James (four), Craig Kelly (four), Aled Wilkins (three), Craig Jones, Gareth Drewson and Daniel Jones the heroes.

Carmarthen Athletic ended their campaign on a high with a 25-22 home success over Glynneath to give their supporters something positive to mull over during the summer break.

Their scrum half Scott Maynard starred for the hosts claiming 17 of his side’s points via two tries, two conversions and a penalty, while Luke Marshall also crossed and jack Maynard added another penalty.

Glynneath came away with two bonus points with touchdowns from Josh Jones, Ryan Llewellyn, Dale Newell and Rhodri Cole, the latter also kicking a conversion.

Meanwhile, relegation threatened Loughor failed to help their battle for survival as they went down 34-25 to Waunarlwydd.

The Green and Blacks forced five touchdowns through Jordan Clayfield, Ben James, Dan Fox, Andrew Rees-Spowart and Lee Brookes. Loughor, playing in front of their own fans, scored three tries of their own through Jonathan Phillips (two) and Andrew Bamfield.

Elsewhere, Kenfig Hill claimed an entertaining 45-31 triumph at Ammanford in an 11-try thriller that saw both sides secure try scoring bonus points.

The Mules outscored their rivals six tries to five; Mark Fitzgerald bagging a superb hat-trick with Mathew Davies, Sean Burnell and Lewis David also going over. Nicky Giles kicked the remaining points.

Gary Stephens, Iwan Mainwaring, Jake Baker, Rhydian Morris and Jake Simms were the five to dive over for the hosts.

RGC 1404 remain eight points clear of Ystrad Rhondda at the top of One East after both sides delivered impressive wins - The North Walians hammering Gilfach Goch 57-18 and the Rhondda club triumphing 35-18 at Rhydyfelin.

To keep the gap up, RGC put nine tries past the mid-table outfit, who were simply powerless to resist. Outside centre Harry Evans and winger Richard Hopkins both grabbed themselves a brace of tries, with scrum half Afon Bagshaw, Rhodri Carlton-Jones, flanker Andrew Williams, Iolo Evans and full back Llywarch Ap Myrddin also crossing the whitewash. Carlton-Jones booted six conversions to hammer home their authority.

Ystrad weren’t as free-scoring, but still posted an impressive result. They secured a try scoring bonus point as Ryan Howells (twice), Bleddyn Davies and David Gratton dived over, with Rhys Truelove converting three of those and kicking three penalties for a personal haul of 15 points.

The hosts got three tries through Dylan Hughes, Mark Jones and Liam Watton, with Gavin Close converting one of them, but it wasn;t enough to stop their high-flying visitors taking the spoils.

At the bottom, Mountain Ash gave their survival hopes a huge boost as they just about overcame relegation rivals Merthyr 28-22, climbing out of the relegation zone above their vanquished foes with just three games remaining.

Keith Anderson, Matthew Jones, Ross Davies and Craig Evans secured their side a bonus point, as Matthew Parfitt converted one of the scores and Dean Gunter kicked two penalties for the hosts.

Merthyr do, though, have one game in hand.

The day’s other game saw third-placed Penallta score seven tries in a one-sided 47-5 demolition of Ynysybwl.

Aron Humphries crosses for his second of the afternoon

Andre Soroko scored a hat-trick, with Aron Humphries adding a brace of tries to the score, along with scrum half Andrew John. Gareth Edwards and Jonny Wright also touched down, with Bleddyn Corns kicking three conversions.

The One North season was completed yesterday, with Ruthin beating Bro Ffestiniog 24-12 to climb above Bala in to third in the final standings.

Harry Morgan, Gethin Hughes and Ben Syme scored their touchdowns, with Shay Owen converting them all and adding a penalty to round off their campaign with a victory.

Dewi and Huw James scored Bro’s tries, with Huw adding a conversion.

Ebbw Vale celebrate Championship title with another entertaining win

A high-scoring day in the Swalec Championship saw newly-crowned champions Ebbw Vale celebrate their mid-week title with an entertaining 45-28 victory at Narberth’s Lloyd Lewis Ground.

The Steelmen were welcomed to the pitch with a guard of honour for this complete try-fest, and it didn’t take them long to get going. They crossed three times either side of the break through Wes Cunliffe (twice), Dan Ajuwa, Polu Uhi, Charlie Simpson and Adam Jones to punch six more tries on to their record for the season.

The Otters played their part in an entertaining encounter and came away with a try bonus point of their own thanks to touchdowns from Ollie Reyland, Mick Jones, Wayne Williams and Rhys Lane.

At the other end of the table, Glamorgan Wanderers have lost their battle with relegation after they went down 33-17 to Beddau at the Memorial Ground.

The Wanderers needed a bonus point win to keep their slim chances alive but came up short, as they were outscored three tries to four. The writing has been on the wall for a long time, including their heavy mid-week defeat to The Steelmen as they secured their crown, but it will still hurt the supporters of the famous old club.

The Green and Golds’ tries came courtesy of Tom Benjamin, Luke Crocker, Joe Casella and Adam Williams, while the Wands crossed through Josh Hurley, Gareth Armstrong and Steff Simpson as their Championship stay came to an end after just a season.

Pontypool, meanwhile, ended their season on a high with their seventh win of their campaign as they edged out third placed Tata Steel 15-14 in something of a shock.

Full back Clayton Gullis kicked five penalties for all the home side’s points, while some heroic defence ensured the visitors came up short, and will give Pooler fans some hope ahead of next season.

Llanharan also rounded off a solid campaign with another entertaining victory on the day as they dispatched Bridgend Athletic 43-33.

Harley Thomson crossed the whitewash twice for the hosts, converted five of their six tries and kicked a penalty to make him the hero of the afternoon. Their four other touchdowns came from wingers Rhys Walker and Morgan Williams, as well as Gavin Smith and Bill Carey.

Steven Lewis starred for the away side, scoring a try and converting four of their five ventures over the line. The others came twice from No8 Sean Derrick, as well as single scores by second row Paul Jones and Matt Muir.

Elsewhere, Bargoed ran in seven tries as they dispatched basement boys Whitland 43-12.

All of the home sides’ points came via four Scott Newton penalties, but Bargoed had a whale of a time in the Whitland 22. Darren Humphries broke through for a hat-trick, with James Tizey, Simon Parry, Chris Mapps and Christian Perry also finding their way through.

Cardiff Met narrowly saw off Bonymaen 17-13 at Parc Mawr. Rodney Davies scored their sole try, with Matt O’Brien kicking three penalties and a drop goal to seal the win. The hosts out-scored their visitors two-tries-to-one through Luke Myatt and Nathan Brooks, with Richard Cunniffe also kicking a penalty.

Finally, Neil Burnett guided Newbridge to a narrow 26-24 win over Blackwood, the enigmatic outside half notching up 21 of his side’s points in a sterling performance consisting of a try, two conversions and four penalties. Wayne Dyer slid over for their other score.

The Caerphilly side replied through two Matthew McGovern touchdowns and a third by Nicky Tucker, with Paul Emanuelli kicking three penalties.

Llandovery and Llanelli earn the right to challenge Pontypridd in thrilling climax to Premiership season

The Principality Premiership set pulses racing yesterday afternoon as Llandovery and Llanelli were celebrating securing end-of-season play-off slots, while Bedwas were left to dream of what might have been.

Chris Knight scored the winning try with just six minutes left on the clock to help Llandovery clinch a breath-taking 43-41 win at Bedwas, and pip their hosts at the post, while Llanelli fought valiantly before going down 27-18 at Pontypridd and give the defending champions a thing or two to think about before the showpiece finale.

Bedwas-Llandovery was a scintillating and nerve-jangling encounter that left both sets of supporters physically and emotionally drained, and neutrals dancing in the aisles as Welsh rugby showcased its qualities with aplomb. The away side were eventually left to travel home in euphoria after seizing the chance to challenge Pontypridd and Llanelli for the title.

Ethan Davies crossed for the hosts in just the first minute and converted it, but nobody could have envisaged the drama about to unfold as the lead went on to change hands three times.

Jack Roberts, James Garland and Lee Rees tries, the latter two converted by Garland, had Llandovery ahead by the 25 minute mark, but Bedwas weren’t ready to give up, and Deri Mattravers scored for Bedwas on 33 minutes, with Lewis Robling converting and adding a penalty to leave the score at 17-19 at the break.

After a brief respite to try and catch our breath play resumed, and whatever Bedwas head coach Steve Law said at half-time obviously worked as they were back in front by 51 minutes through Lewis Hudd and Robling touchdowns, both converted by the latter.

And after the lead had changed hands for a remarkable second time, The Drovers came back to within two points at 31-29 with a converted Mathew Jacobs try on 55 minutes and a Garland penalty after 57.

Just two minutes later, Mattravers crossed again, converted by Robling, to make it 38-29 and the Bedwas fans may have dared to start believing. But the visitors had other ideas, and crossed again on 65 through Jake Randall with Garland adding the extras.

Robling stretched Bedwas’ lead to 41-36 with another penalty three minutes later; before Knight’s late heroics won it for the away side, the lead changing hands for its third and final time.

Bedwas did have further chances. Robling missed a sensational penalty attempt from inside his own half, while the ball was dropped short of the Llandovery try-line on two occasions in an unbelievable end to an incredible match.

But victory was Llandovery’s, and they know the hard work starts here as they enter the play-off campaign.

Meanwhile at Sardis Road, Llanelli gave Pontypridd a scare before the hosts turned the game around and rescued their unbeaten home record this season.

An early Simon Humberstone penalty was cancelled out when Dale Ford went over for the visitors after just 10 minutes, which Jordan Williams converted. Humberstone then single-handedly put Ponty back in front by converting his own try four minutes later.

Williams kicked a penalty, and then converted a Dan Thomas try on the half hour as Llanelli went 10-15 ahead. But Ponty were back in front six minutes later when Humberstone converted an Ed Siggary touchdown, and that left us at 17-15 at the break.

An early Williams penalty but Sosban Fach back in front in the second half, but that was where their scoring ended and Ponty went on to secure the win.

Humberstone converted his second try on 53 minutes, and then kicked an injury time penalty for a personal tally of 22 points.

Elsewhere, Cross Keys ended the season on a high with a 28-3 win over Carmarthen Quins. Their own play-off challenge faltered at the death, but one final victory means they finish just a point behind both Llanelli and Bedwas.

Kristian Baller helped himself to a brace of tries, with Nathan Trowbridge and Scott Matthews adding further scores for a bonus point. Angus O’Brien kicked the rest, with a Dan Newton penalty all the Quins could reply with as they ended the season with something of a whimper with three defeats in their final four games.

Aberavon also secured a bonus point with a 33-22 win over Bridgend in another entertaining encounter at their Talbot Athletic Ground home.

The two Richards starred for the hosts. Mr Carter grabbed a brace of tries, while Mr Thomas chipped in with another. Stefan Andrews grabbed the fourth, with Jamie Davies kicking the other 13 points.

Lloyd Evans, Chris Williams and Ben Thomas scores for Bridgend, two in the final six minutes, weren’t enough for the visitors. Jamie Murphy converted one and kicked a penalty, with Lewis Williams converting another.

The day’s other game saw a Jason Tovey penalty earn a point for Cardiff in an 18-18 draw at Neath to end a season neither will be particularly enthused with.

Gareth King, Marc Jones and Dai Langdon tries, plus a penalty by the latter, looked to have won it for the hosts with 10 minutes remaining. Jack Phillips and Jamie Davies had scored for the Arms Park club, with the boot of Tovey doing the rest of the damage as they came back from a 13-8 half-time deficit to level through his kick with seven minutes left.

All Wales Sport is now on Facebook!

All Wales Sport has added to its social media capabilities by joining Facebook.

Already boasting a good Twitter following, we have now created a new way for fans to follow all things Welsh sport – and, importantly, it’s another way to follow your favourite clubs at no extra cost.

We want to do all we can to give both professional and grass roots sport throughout the country the coverage it deserves, and value the feedback given to us.

The Facebook page will hopefully help our readership grow even further, as well as give our readers even easier ways to interact with us and discuss the big sporting stories of the week.

As well as access to all our articles, opinion pieces, news stories and match reports, there will also be polls and multimedia content available, as well as the chance to have your say and hail your heroes.

The first poll is up and running now, so head over, ‘Like’ the page and help us to give Welsh sport at all levels as big a voice as we possibly can. So search for 'All Wales Sport' on Facebook, or click here!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Abertillery win Division Three East title

Abertillery BG hoisted the  Division Three East title aloft after a 42-5 victory over near neighbours Pontypool United on Saturday.

The squad have only lost once during the campaign – with that defeat coming during the first game of the season against the same opponents.

Top points scorer Chris Stevens, who only took over kicking duties in October, added to his existing tally of 177 points during the title-winning match, and winger Aled Penn, the club’s top try scorer, also added to his tally with a hat-trick to take him to 23 with three games still remaining.

The club has seen a remarkable rise since reforming in 2004 following the collapse of Abertillery RFC. Starting afresh in the league’s bottom division for the 2004/05 campaign, Abertillery Blaenau Gwent have since worked their way up to Division 3 East with a squad boasting its club’s youth and junior products.

Abertillery captain Luke Pegler on the attack against Pontypool United

Team manager Gareth Pitman said: “Throughout this season it’s come down to a collective performance. We’re extremely lucky to have a local group of talented youngsters at our disposal and a good youth set-up coming through.

"We’ve added a sprinkling of senior players like (former Ospreys and Dragons fly half) Shaun Connor, who has had a major influence on the squad this season.”

Captain and scrum half Luke Pegler added: “Winning Division 3 East is a massive achievement for everyone involved. Our success has come down to good coaching, good work ethic and commitment in training and a great camaraderie amongst the squad.

"Abertillery RFC were playing top flight rugby not so long ago, and we’re slowly creeping our way back. The whole town has got behind the team throughout the season and it’s great to be able to reward them with the division title."

Undefeated Gowerton enjoy first promotion in a decade

Gowerton celebrated their crowning as Division 5 West champions with a trophy presentation at home after thrashing Pembroke on Saturday.

The team has enjoyed an undefeated season, scoring a record breaking 1,000+ points, and it is the team's first promotion in more than 10 years. Club captain James Hedley said that this is down to their strong youth players, who are now playing for the senior team.

The 33-year-old home-grown lad said: "We've performed so well this season and have really benefited from having the strong youth side join us. Most of the senior team have come from our youth side, proving that building on their skills at a young age can really help them become the best players possible when they join the seniors.

"It's been a tough couple of years, but the secret to our success certainly comes down to the enthusiasm and determination of not only our younger players, but everyone else involved in the club too. We're looking forward to Division 4, and hope to replicate this year's success next season."

Friday, 26 April 2013

Principality Premiership Final Weekend Predictions

Aberavon v Bridgend

Neither of these Ospreylian rivals have had seasons to write home about and ultimately, only pride is at stake with Aberavon and Bridgend sitting third and second from bottom respectively.
The Ravens came out on top 14-9 in the reverse of this fixture and I expect another close match tomorrow. But with the conditions looking good, hopefully it will be a good spectacle for the supporter with plenty of tries.
The Wizards were well beaten mid week at Llandovery but I expect a much stronger display from them as they look to go out on a high in front of their home fans. Bridgend have delayed naming their team till this evening after having a number of players involved in Welsh Varsity, Coach Ben Rose may be mindful a few may have had a couple of celebratory beverages.
Verdict - Aberavon by 6 points
 Bedwas v Llandovery
This could be a winner takes all showdown with regards to bagging a play-off place, but it is also feasible that come 4.10 tomorrow that both sides would have clinched a top three place. Looking at all the different permutations is one headache I'd rather not have, so I’m just going to stick to making match predictions.
Bedwas have been the surprise package this year having exceeded all expectations - and the romanticist in me would like them to clinch a play-off spot as a result - but the Bridge Field outfit have stuttered in the closing weeks. If they do miss out on a play-off spot I think they will look back on their late loss at the Brewery Field against Bridgend as where it went wrong for them.
 There was nothing to separate the sides when they met in the reverse of this fixture at Church Bank, but when they clashed in the Cup at the Bridge Field, the hosts were the victors.
 The Gwent side will again have home advantage tomorrow but will face a Drovers side full of confidence after putting Aberavon to the sword in mid-week.
If we look back to the beginning of the season, Llandovery had a scintillating start and seem to shine in the sun and they too would be good value for a play-off spot. Their late surge has been exceptional and have come from nowhere in the past few weeks to be in the driving seat to claim a top three spot.
Ultimately, it will be a Cup final for both these sides tomorrow and it will come down to who deals with the pressure better. I think it will be close, and even though Bedwas have home advantage, Llandovery seem to come alive in the haze of the sun and I think the conditions will just suit them the better tomorrow.
Verdict - Llandovery by 3 points
 Cross Keys v Carmarthen Quins
Cross Keys fans may well be thinking what may have been tomorrow. The Gwent side have had a solid campaign but all too often, indiscipline has cost them a play-off place.
There is only really pride at stake for these two sides tomorrow but I think the supporters should be in for an entertaining clash with both teams determined to end the season on a high, and with good running rugby conditions it will hopefully be a try-fest.
Verdict - Cross Keys by 5 points
 Neath v Cardiff
Neath went through the doldrums this season and have emerged the other side, bagging a Cup final appearance as well as having seen a significant uptake on their league form.
If Patrick Horgan’s men claim the win tomorrow, they could leapfrog their visitors Cardiff in the league and give themselves a shot of confidence before their Millennium showdown next week.
Cardiff will also be looking to end the season on a high and could leapfrog Newport into seventh with a victory.
However, with home advantage and a vocal crowd behind them, I think Neath will come through on the right side of the scoreline.
Verdict - Neath by 7 points
 Pontypridd v Llanelli
Ponty clinched top spot a while ago, while Llanelli need to inflict Ponty’s first home defeat of the season if they are too make sure of a play-off spot.
The hosts have named a fairly strong side for the occasion with a few players given an opportunity to perhaps put their hand up for a Cup final starting berth. I think Dale McIntosh’s men will claim the win tomorrow and Llanelli will have to sweat on the result at Bedwas to see if they are to claim a top three spot.
Verdict - Pontypridd by 7 points

Familiar names pepper Welsh squad for Junior World Championships

Rhys Patchell and Tom Davies have been named in the Wales Under-20 squad for the IRB Junior World Championships in France having missed the Under-20 Six Nations through injury.

Head coach Danny Wilson has named an experienced 28-man squad for the competition, running from June 5–23, with eight of those who helped Wales to third place last year, and a first ever win over New Zealand at this level, again included.

Blues outside half Patchell, one of the most experienced Regional players in the squad with 21 appearances for the Blues, is the only uncapped player in the squad. Prop Davies represented Wales last season.

The rest of the squad played a part in almost taking Wales to a Grand Slam, but they fell at the final hurdle to England.

There is also plenty of Principality Premeirship experience in the squad too, with Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelli fans in particular having plenty to look out for. Bedwas, Llandovery and Bridgend also provide a few names.

Wilson said: “A number of our players involved with their Regions came back into our squad during the Six Nations and played their part in the tournament, training and playing with the rest of the group, so we feel we are a more solid group this season.

“The players that are coming into the squad, Rhys Patchell and Thomas Davies, will add significant strength with Rhys having been a first choice player with the Blues this season.

“It’s an experienced group in terms of Under-20 rugby, and some players have had a significant amount of Regional rugby too, so on paper it’s a good squad. It’s going to need to be, because we have a tough group with Samoa, Scotland and Argentina.

“Argentina won all their pool games last year, beating France, Australia and Scotland and losing to eventual winners South Africa in the semis, and have just beaten South Africa 2-1 in a Test series.

“Samoa and Scotland will be very difficult matches too, so we will have to hit form to compete with and beat all those sides in order to qualify for the semis.

“That will be our aim – to reach the semis again, and anything can happen from that point.”

He believes the Junior World Championships provides a fantastic opportunity for players to step up to the next level.

“As we saw last season – when players perform well individually and contribute towards good collective performances at the Junior World Championship, it puts them in a good position to stake a claim for regular Regional rugby,” he added.

Wales’ Junior World Championships squad in full:
Forwards: Ellis Jenkins (captain, Blues/Cardiff), Nicky Smith (Ospreys/Swansea), Gareth Thomas (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Tom Davies (Blues/Cardiff), Dan Suter (Ospreys/Bridgend), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys/Swansea), Ethan Lewis (Blues/Cardiff), Elliot Dee (Dragons/Bedwas), Carwyn Jones (Scarlets/Carmarthen), Jack Jones (Ospreys/Rovigo), Rhodri Hughes (Ospreys/Swansea), Ieuan Jones (Dragons/Newport), Daniel Thomas (Scarlets/Llanelli), Sion Bennett (Scarlets/Carmarthen), James Benjamin (Dragons/Bedwas).

Backs: Rhodri Williams (Scarlets/Llandovery), Joshua Davies (Dragons/Bedwas), Rhys Patchell (Blues/Cardiff), Sam Davies (Ospreys/Swansea), Cory Allen (Blues/Cardiff), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets/Llanelli), Jack Dixon (Dragons/Bedwas), Thomas Pascoe (Blues/Pontypridd), Harry Robinson (Blues/Cardiff), Aaron Warren (Llandovery), Ashley Evans (Ospreys/Bridgend), Jordan Williams (Scarlets/Llanelli), Hallam Amos (Dragons/Bedwas).

Wales’ JWC fixtures:
Wednesday June 5: Wales v Samoa (Nantes, 6pm).
Sunday June 9: Wales v Scotland (Nantes, 5pm).
Thursday June 13: Wales v Argentina (La Roche sur Yon, 4.45pm).
Play-off rounds: Tuesday 18 June, Sunday 23 June.

Europa League play-off chase enters final round in the Welsh Premier League this weekend

The final round of games in the Welsh Premier League second phase take place this weekend, with clubs looking to enter the end-of-season play-offs with a bit of momentum.

Aberystwyth and Llanelli may have finished their seasons due to the game being moved forward to before Llanelli’s early week court date, in which The Reds were sadly wound up, but the remaining 10 teams are all in action.

The play-off picture is still all to play for of course. Welsh Cup finalists Bangor City and Prestatyn Town are both in the play-off places, meaning the winner of that match will automatically take a qualification slot for Europe.

The loser will then be thrust in to the winner-takes-all, no-holds-barred play-offs, to be joined by the team finishing eighth, or second in the Conference.

Gap Connah’s Quay and Newtown are currently fighting it out for that honour, meaning there is sure to be plenty of thrills and heartache in the final round of games.

Bangor City v The New Saints

Fans of both sides, neutrals and TV broadcasters were probably looking at this fixture as a mouth-watering encounter which could decide the title. As it happened, TNS had the league wrapped up long ago, and Bangor have been pipped to second place by Airbus UK Broughton.

Yes, The Citizens can technically still catch them, but it will take a win for them, a loss for The Wingmakers and a 20-goal swing in their favour.

The hosts will be looking to avenge their 6-0 drubbing the last time these teams met in the league, as well as showing the visitors their last-gasp Welsh Cup semi-final win over them wasn’t a fluke.

TNS, on the other hand, will want to end their season on a high. Bangor ended their chances of a league and Cup double, and the champions will want revenge.

Free-scoring Michael Wilde has been in hot form recently, while veteran Matty Williams notched a hat-trick in their 7-1 thrashing of Prestatyn last weekend, so they certainly pack enough punch to hurt their hosts.

This writer usually predicts lots of goals for such encounters, but that hasn’t gone very well the last few times, so…

Prediction: Bangor City 1-2 TNS

Port Talbot Town v Airbus UK Broughton
Both sides have done well to find themselves where they are this term, with Airbus in particular surprising many by securing second place and an automatic Europa League qualifying slot by the final game of the season.

The hosts have seen a sudden upsurge in results, with Scott Young’s men etching out a goal-less draw with play-off rivals Carmarthen Town last time out, beating Prestatyn 4-1 before that, and being just moments from beating Bangor the game previously.

They will be hoping to continue that pre-play-off momentum, and will want to test themselves against one of the league’s top sides.

Airbus will already be looking forward to competing in Europe next season for the first time, but won’t want to end a memorable season with defeat.

Andy Preece’s men will be all too aware that they could be playing for the futures at the club and will want to show their gaffer they deserve a shot at Europe. They have won six and lost four of their last 10, so Port Talbot know their defence can be breached.

This one looks touch to call, with a lot depending on what players Scott Young chooses to risk ahead of their play-off campaign. The away side could have too much for them here.

Prediction: Port Talbot Town 1-2 Airbus UK Broughton

Prestatyn Town v Carmarthen Town
These two sides face each other knowing the winner will take fifth place in the league, which will decide who has home advantage in the play-off semi-finals.

Welsh Cup finalists Prestatyn know that if they lift the old trophy for the first time they can forget about the play-offs all together. But you can’t pin your hopes on one game only, with chairman Phil Merrick declaring their next three fixtures as “Cup finals” (two of them are, of course, including their North Wales Coast FA Challenge Cup appearance).

They have only won two of their last 10 matches – and both of those were in the Cup. For their last league win, you have to go back to New Year’s Day when they tonked Bangor 4-1 at Bastion Road – a run of 12 without a win.

The Old Gold haven’t been too much better of late, with only two wins in their last 10 games in all competitions, one of those against their hosts at Richmond Park last month.

Goalscoring has been their recent problem, as they failed to find the net in seven of those games. Manager Mark Aizlewood will be desperate to get his men firing again before the play-offs begin, and will also want that home advantage.

Other than top scorer Liam Thomas, with 21 goals in all comps, no player has more than five throughout the season. If that doesn’t change now, then Carmarthen’s season is in real danger of fizzling out.

Prediction: Prestatyn Town 1-1 Carmarthen Town

Bala Town v Gap Connah’s Quay
Bala Town are one of the form sides in Europe, having won their last nine games since the mid-season split and that fateful 6-3 defeat to Connah’s Quay that put them in the Conference for the second half of the season.

They have been scoring for fun, netting an incredible 28 times in that run. Their defence has only leaked five in reply, and manager Allan Bickerstaff will be confident of making it a perfect 10 on Saturday in front of the TV cameras.

Their play-off spot is already secure, but with club records falling over recent weeks they will want to take this astonishing run forward and really shock their Championship opponents come the end-of-season lottery.

Following that epic 6-3 victory at Maes Tegid, Connah’s Quay had a point deducted for fielding an ineligible player, and after withdrawing their appeal, took their place among the Conference for the second half of the season, with Carmarthen Town profiting.

How fitting, then, that their last-gasp shot at the final Europa League play-off place should come at the same stadium – and they only need a draw to do it.

The Nomads lost at home to Newtown last time out to keep the visitors’ own play-off hopes alive, and that brought an end to a three-match unbeaten run for player/manager Mark McGregor’s men. You can’t see past Bala adding another defeat to that list.

Prediction: Bala Town 3-1 Gap Connah’s Quay

Newtown v Afan Lido
Newtown require a win against the basement side, need Connah’s Quay to lose at in-form Bala Town and get a seven-goal swing in their favour (Connah's Quay have scored more goals) if they are to sneak above the Nomads and take the final Europa League play-off spot.

That means that attack may be the name of the game from both sides here. Even if the Robins can’t nick the final spot, then they will still want to end the season on a high and avenge their 2-1 reverse at the Marston Stadium last time out.

With manager Bernie McNally already stating he wants to add to his squad and improve it for next term, the players know here, too, that they could be playing for their Newtown futures.

Depending on how many teams with domestic licenses finish their seasons in a promotion place to the WPL, this could, or could not, be Lido’s final game at this level.

They have only won seven of their last 30 matches in all competitions, and are currently on a three-game winless run without scoring a single goal.

They will be looking to the likes of Luke Borrelli for inspiration, but with Newtown having so much at stake in this fixture it could be another win-less match to end their sorry season.

Prediction: Newtown 2-0 Afan Lido

Who Beat the All Blacks? Shortlisted for Rugby Book of the Year Award

Y Lolfa publishers announced this week that Who Beat the All Blacks? by Alun Gibbard has been shortlisted for the coveted 2013 British Sports Book Awards-one of the key events in the publishing and sporting calendar.
Published in October to celebrate 40 years since Llanelli beat the All Blacks, Who Beat the All Blacks?is now in its third edition and will compete against a ‘who’s who’ from sport and literature at the Awards, which are a celebration of the very best in sports writing.
 The 11th annual British Sports Book Awards will be staged at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 21 May, and the awards will be split into nine categories representing the most high profile sports in the UK. Who Beat the All Blacks? will be competing against Geordan Murphy’s autobiography for the Rugby Book of the Year award, and books by Sir Bradley Wiggins and Lord Sebastian Coey are amongst other shortlisted titles.
 “I’m over the moon!” says Welsh author Alun Gibbard. “Sports books are so popular these days, and the market is a competitive one – I’m so glad that the book is getting such recognition. I wouldn’t have imagined this happening as a 12 year old watching the game in Stradey Park!
 “It’s great to know that the book was chosen by other authors and journalists,” adds the author. “I’m so glad on behalf of Y Lolfa, because this goes to prove that they can publish books that compete against well-known British publishers who have considerably larger budgets! I’m also glad on behalf of the Llanelli rugby team – it’s great that their success, as a rugby team from a town in west Wales, gets wider acknowledgement by the sporting world.
 “I was determined not to write a rugby book when I started writing it,” Gibbard explains further. “I didn’t want to just publish a report on the game. Instead, I wanted to show how important that game was to Welsh rugby and the country’s culture. Rugby is much more than an 80-minute game and I wanted to convey that in the book.”
 After the individual category winners have been announced on 21 May, an online public vote will determine the Overall British Sports Book of the Year. The public vote will held on the official website -www.britishsportsbookawards.co.uk.

Clark issues rallying cry over Scorpions’ poor home form

South Wales Scorpions coach Dave Clark has called on his side to repeat their impressive away form in front of their own supporters, starting this Sunday as they host the Rochdale Hornets.

They have won three out of three on the road so far in 2013, but have so far failed to chalk up a single win at The Gnoll.

And with this match being the last home tie before the doors shut until June 16 (due to annual treatment of the Neath pitch), Clark wants to leave their home fans purring ahead of four road trips in succession.

“It’s going to be a good test for us,” he said ahead of the match. “Rochdale are a very competitive side and we know them from last year after we beat them at home before they won well at their place.”

“Our fans find it difficult to travel to away matches in big numbers so they haven’t seen us perform well this year. Home games are really important as they help us build our support. If we start doing well at home, I’m sure our gates will increase and that will benefit us as a club.”

He will have a strong side to select from on Sunday. Haydn Peacock returns from a two-month injury lay-off, some of their Wigan Warriors dual registration players are available, and new loan signing, Den Davies from Widnes Vikings, is in contention.

Rochdale are likely to travel without Dave Sutton, who injured his shoulder while scoring against Bradford Bulls last week.

Coach Ian Talbot said: “I was very pleased with our effort and enthusiasm against the Bulls. We were always on a hiding to nothing, but we stuck to our principles and kept trying to play.”

He added of their weekend’s apponents: “They’re definitely a dangerous team. Their two half-backs have been playing well and are very influential.

“We’re looking after ourselves by travelling down on Saturday, so hopefully the journey won’t make too much of an impact.

“The club that manages the travelling and the performances afterwards will be the one that does well this year, because there is a lot of travelling in [the division].”

The Scorpions Under-20s also take on Rochdale Hornets this weekend, but away from home. The two sides meet on Saturday at Rochdale Mayfield RLFC (kick-off 5pm).

They are yet to win this season, but came close last Saturday, losing 38-36 to Halifax after being 10 points up with 10 minutes remaining.

Pontyclun & District Friday Night Darts League opening round results

Pontyclun & District Friday Night Darts League

Results: April 19

Pontyclun Athletic 4-3 Ogmore Meerkats
Ogmore A 5-2 Ely Valley Miners A
O’Hara’s 4-3 Llanharan Con Club
Coedely Club 5-2 Llanharan RFC
Thomastown Beerkats 3-4 Beddau RFC
Pencoed Social v BYE

Coedely Club
Ogmore A
Beddau RFC
Pontyclun Athletic
Llanharan Con Club
Ogmore Meerkats
Thomastown Beerkats
Ely Valley Miners A
Llanharan RFC
Pencoed Social

Upcoming fixtures (April 26):
Llanharan RFC v Ogmore A
Llanharan Con Club v Pontyclun Athletic
Ely Valley Miners A v Thomastown Beerkats
Ogmore Meerkats v Pencoed Social
Beddau RFC v O’Hara’s
Coedely Club v BYE

Red Cow 3-4 Whitehills Aces
Britannic Club B 1-6 Pencoed RFC
Ely Valley Miners B 6-1 Britannic Club A
Gilfach Legion 3-4 Carpenters Arms
Tonyrefail RFC 3-4 Bryn Cae Monkeys
Gilfach Social v BYE

Ely Valley Miners B
Pencoed RFC
Bryn Cae Monkeys
Carpenters Arms
Whitehills Aces
Gilfach Legion
Red Cow
Tonyrefail RFC
Britannic Club A
Britannic Club B
Gilfach Social

Upcoming fixtures (April 26):
Carpenters Arms v Britannic Club B
Britannic Club A v Red Cow
Pencoed RFC v Tonyrefail RFC
Whitehills Aces v Gilfach Social
Bryn Cae Monkeys v Ely Valley Miners B
Gilfach Legion v BYE

Player stats:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Most 180’s: 2 - John Coburn, Thomastown Beerkats
Highest out: 114 - Gary Musgrove, Beddau RFC

Pontyclun and District Darts League summer 2013 player statistics:

2 - John Coburn, Beerkats
1 - Viv Williams, Beerkats
1 - Cavan Phillips, Beddau RFC
1 - Lyndon Taylor, Pencoed RFC

Highest outs:
114 – Gary Musgrove, Beddau RFC
101 – Paul Thompson, E.V.M.B