Saturday, 29 June 2013

Caton calls on experienced campaigners to lead club in to Europe

Bala Town manager Colin Caton labelled his side’s European debut this week as “phenomenal”, and has called on experienced footballers like Kenny Lunt to lead the squad in to the unknown.

The Lakesiders have been drawn to play Estonian club FC Levadia Talinn in the Europa League first qualifying round, playing the home leg at Rhyl’s Belle Vue Stadium on Tuesday and the return fixture in Talinn on July 11.

Their qualification for Europe came on the back of a stunning 13-match winning streak that culminated with a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Port Talbot Town in the Europa League Play-off final.

Caton said: “Many players will be playing in Europe for the first time, and Kenny has said playing in Europe will be a career highlight for him despite playing more than 500 games in the Football League. We will rely on him massively – his composure, his ability and his experience.

“But we do have other lads with European experience who won’t be fazed by it.”

Despite the short break since that famous win at the GenQuip Stadium in May, Caton believes his squad are in “great” shape going in to Europe, adding: “They are looking sharp, the fitness levels are great for this time of year and the lads have trained hard and are looking forward to it. To be in the Europa League is phenomenal because we’ve only been in the WPL for four years.”

While their Estonian foes may not be household names in this country, Caton says his side are well prepared to face them. He continued: “We know quite a bit about them as people are helping us out with scouting, which is great. We have DVDs arriving including individual run-downs.

“We were unsure of the smaller teams in the draw and wanted either a big name or an easy tie. If we can do well at home we might have a chance going in to the second game.

“We have to give the players a structure and shape and they have to be patient and stick to it. We don’t want to be out of it by half-time.”

They are not the only debutants. Airbus UK Broughton and Prestatyn Town will also make their first tentative steps in to mainland Europe this week.

Airbus, the surprise package of last season who edged Welsh Premier titans Bangor City in to third place, face tough opposition in Latvia’s FK Ventspils whom their management team travelled to watch this week in preparation, while Prestatyn also face a Latvian club in FK Liepajas Metalurgs – the side Ventspils were playing during the spying mission.

Airbus will play their home tie at Wrexham’s Racecourse ground on Thursday, while Prestatyn will also play at Rhyl on Thursday.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Morrell still undecided over playing future

Wrexham boss Andy Morrell says he won’t make a decision on his playing future until his club have gone through pre-season.

There has been much speculation over whether the former Coventry, Blackpool and Bury star would continue his dual player/management role after making 28 appearances and scoring four times during his club’s third promotion failure in succession, culminating in defeat to Newport County in the play-off final at Wembley.

While he will definitely lead the club from the dugout this season, he said of his playing prospects: “The staff believe I still have a part to play. I will join in the pre-season as it keeps you fit but we have to see what my body can take.

“It’s dependent on what bodies we can get in. It’s all a bit up in the air, but if my body can take it I don’t see why I can’t feature as much as I did last season if not more.”

The Dragons lost prolific marksmen Danny Wright to Forest Green Rovers at the end of last season and Morrell is keen to replace him as he believes the club did not score enough goals during their promotion push.

“It’s definitely a priority, and we’ve had a couple of disappointments this summer with players choosing Football League clubs over us, but that’s part of it all.

“We still have a couple of irons in the fire, and we’re hopeful of getting something sorted soon.”

One of those irons will not be Bury striker Andy Bishop, a personal friend of Morrell who spent part of last season on loan at the Racecourse, despite recent speculation linking him to the club.

Morrell continued: “He is contracted with Bury, and it would take quite a lot of money to get him out of that. We speak regularly because he is my mate, but I want to iterate it is not a possibility. I don’t really like talking about players contracted to other clubs anyway.”

Morrell also believes the disappointment of a third successive play-off failure is “out of the system” and his squad are “raring to go” for the new campaign. Despite losing Wright and defender Martin Riley to Mansfield the majority of the squad have stuck by the club, which the boss believes is testament to what they are building.

“Wrexham are a good club and that’s why people want to stay here,” Morrell continued. “We look after them and with one or two coming in we have a good chance of another crack at promotion.

“We want promotion this time but there are one or two big hitters in the division again so it’s going to be tough. Our team spirit is fantastic and there’s no reason why we can’t be there or there about at the end of the season.

“Everyone at the club is pulling in the right direction. We are sound financially, which we haven’t really been before, and the club is in a very good place.”

This is a sentiment echoed by secretary Geraint Parry who said: "We had money out of the FA Trophy victory, which reduced forecast losses dramatically.

"We are not badly off - we are very competitive but we don't have rich owners to back us. We have fantastic supporters making us sustainable and we are much more manageable. Our support at this level is also very good, and that will bring its own rewards."

Wrexham have also announced another stellar pre-season friendly against Stoke City at the Racecourse on August 4, to add to those already announced against Blackburn Rovers on July 6 and Wolverhampton Wanderers on July 16.

McIntosh moves to quash speculation over Ponty future

Pontypridd head coach Dale McIntosh has reiterated he will remain at the club despite this morning being unveiled as a new member of the Cardiff Blues coaching setup.

Speculation had been rife as to whether he would continue to work with the reigning Swalec Cup and Principality Premiership champions after leading them to a historic first double in the season just finished – seeing off Neath 34-13 at the Millennium Stadium to lift to Cup, and trouncing Llanelli 47-15 in the Premiership Play-off final at Sardis Road.

But McIntosh declared the move as “no big deal” when it came to his work with the Valley Commandos. He said in a statement: It’s very simple really. The Blues have asked me to come in to do some collision work with them. Two hours a week - and that's it. It won't cross over into anything I do with Pontypridd. Two hours a week - during the daytime - no big deal for Pontypridd.”

The club also reiterated that message in a bid to calm the fears of supporters, with the Blues also announcing a similar situation would be struck with Cardiff RFC coach Mark Ring. They had already announced Andi Kyriaco would be joining their coaching team.

The Blues statement this morning read: “Last season saw us blood a number of young players and 20 matches were won or lost by less than one score.

“With that in mind, one of the main areas we wanted to develop was the technical skills in attack and defence as well as the set piece, especially the scrum.

“We aim to bolster the coaching team with the appointment of Dale McIntosh, Andi Kyriaco and, Mark Ring, who will be involved on specific times throughout the week with player skill development.”

Cardiff Blues confirm players joining and leaving the squad for 2013/14

Cardiff Blues will welcome a mix of experienced and promising youngsters to their 2013/14 squad.

Having recently won the Heineken Cup with Toulon, Gethin Jenkins will rejoin the region following the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia this summer. A hugely experienced player Jenkins has played 98 times for Wales, 5 Lions caps and 125 for the Blues.

Jenkins will be joined in the front row by his 2009 Lions front row partner Matthew Rees with both experienced players bolstering the Blues’ front row options for the new season. Rees has played 58 tests for Wales and also three tests for the Lions.

Richard Smith has been offered a full time contract at the Blues. The strong running centre made his match winning Blues debut against Munster in January 2013 partnering Jamie Roberts in the centre. A regular for Wales Sevens, Smith got his first taste of Sevens during the summer of 2011, where he played for Wales in three of the four legs of the FIRA series - in Bucharest, Barcelona and Moscow. He has previously played for Neath RFC in 2009/10 before spending a season in Australia playing for Brisbane Bulldogs and then joining Cardiff RFC.

There are six players who have graduated from the Blues Academy to the senior Cardiff Blues squad.

Ellis Jenkins, this seasons Blues Academy Player of the Year and Wales Under 20s Captain moves up to the seniors. The openside is joined by fellow Wales Under 20 squad member Thomas Pascoe. The Pontypridd and Blues Academy centre will compete in the IRB Junior World Championship this summer.

Cardiff RFC backrow forward Ben Roach and Pontypridd and Wales Under 18 Centre/Fullback Aled Summerhill also join the senior squad along with Fullback/Flyhalf Will Thomas.

Cardiff Blues have strengthened their relationship with Cardiff Met by signing young second row prospect Miles Normandale. A product of Marlwood School in Bristol, Miles Normandale then attended Colston School for sixth form before moving to Cardiff Met to study.

Speaking of the players Cardiff Blues Director of Rugby Phil Davies said,

“I’m hugely excited be the new arrivals from the experienced Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees to the youngsters we have coming through.

“Players like Ellis Jenkins, Tom Pascoe, Ben Roach, Aled Summerhill, Will Thomas and Richard Smith who have all come through our pathway.

“They are exciting youngsters who I look forward to working with them as we continue to develop.”

Players Arriving

Gethin Jenkins – Toulon
Matthew Rees – Scarlets
Richard Smith – Cardiff RFC / Wales sevens
Miles Normandale – Blues Academy
Aled Summerhill – Blues Academy
Ben Roach – Blues Academy
Ellis Jenkins – Blues Academy
Tom Pascoe – Blues Academy
Will Thomas – Blues Academy

The Blues will also been saying farewell to a number of great servants over the summer months and speaking of the departures

Phil Davies added,

“All the players leaving have given fantastic service to the Blues during their period of time with us.

“We wish them well for the future and with their rugby careers.”

Players Departing 

Jamie Roberts - Racing Metro
Ceri Sweeney - Exeter Chiefs
Tom James - Exeter Chiefs
Michael Paterson - Sale Sharks
Jason Tovey – Newport Gwent Dragons
Campese Ma’afu – Nottingham
Ryan Harford – Cardiff RFC
Nathan Trevett – London Welsh
Matthew Screech – Newport Gwent Dragons
Darren Harries - Scarlets
Jake Cooper Wooley – London Wasps
Cory Hill – Cornish Pirates
Petru Tamba - Unattached
Andi Kyriacou – Retired

The Blues have also strengthened their coaching set up.

“Last season saw us blood a number of young players and twenty matches were won or lost by less than one score.

“With that in mind one of the main areas we wanted to develop was the technical skills in attack and defence as well as the set piece, especially the scrum.

“We aim to bolster the coaching team with the appointment of Dale McIntosh, Andi Kyriacou, Mark Ring who will be involved on specific times throughout the week with player skill development.”

Coaching arrivals

Andi Kyriacou
Dale McIntosh
Mark Ring

Coaching departure

Xavier Rush leaves the coaching set up

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bartley claims Bronze at home World Rowing Cup Event

Welsh Rower Chris Bartley has won a bronze medal at the home World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney.
It was one of four golds, five silvers and two bronzes won by the GB Rowing Team on the third and final day of the regatta.
Wrexham-born Bartley, who won silver at the London 2012 Olympics, stroked the lightweight men’s four at the second World Cup regatta of the year in a new line-up which also included Adam Freeman-Pask, William Fletcher and Jonathan Clegg.
They got off to a good start in their final at Dorney Lake, joining Denmark and New Zealand at the front of the field going through 500m.
The more experienced crews then started to pull away, with New Zealand inching ahead of Denmark, leaving Great Britain behind to take the bronze medal.
In response to New Zealand’s growing advantage, the Danes started to come back into the race over the last few strokes, but the Kiwis grabbed the gold on the line.
Reflecting on the result, Bartley was optimistic about the crew’s future prospects.
“We train for hard close races. We were a bit at the back today but there’s a lot more to come from this crew,” he said.
Adam Freeman-Pask, meanwhile, was pleased to come away with a medal said: “I’m really chuffed with the bronze today with our new crew like this. It’s a good starting point. I’m obviously a little bit disappointed but you always are when you don’t win in this sport.”
William Fletcher added: “It is very hard but coming in rowing alongside Bartley and Adam. It’s an awesome thing to do.
“And of course Jono but I’ve raced with him for the past four years so that’s getting a bit boring (laughs). It’s really good coming into row with some top guys.”
In the women’s single scull, Wrexham’s Victoria Thornley settled well into the pace of her final before slipping back to fourth after 500m.
New Zealand’s Emma Twigg pulled clear of the pack with a pace no one else could match, but Thornley proved tenacious in keeping in the hunt for a medal.
In the final 500m she could not quite squeeze enough speed to make the podium but should be pleased with her form here, showing she is a real contender in this event – one in which GB had no representative at the 2012 Games.
“Everyone is talking about the conditions out there and yes it is rough but I’ve trained in this weather and I was confident I could cope with it,” Thornley said.
“To be honest, I’ve exceeded my expectations at this regatta.
“I’m rowing against athletes who have rowed in this event for six years or more and I’ve only been doing it for six months. Next up for me is Henley and I’m now looking forward to Lucerne.”
Olympic champion Helen Glover, with new partner Polly Swann, brought the house down with the first home gold in the women’s pair, following on from their debut win together at the Sydney World Cup in March.
In another repeat performance from the Games, GB won the women’s double scull, the event dominated for so long by Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins.
This time a new partnership of Beijing silver medallist, Frances Houghton and “rookie”Victoria Meyer-Laker were cheered onto the podium.
In a fitting finale to the UK Sport Gold Series Event, the GB men’s eight completed the racing with a nail biting finish against Poland. With double Olympic champions Peter Reed and Andy Triggs-Hodge part of the heartbeat of the crew they snatched the win in the final few metres.
The eight’s gold bookended a medal tally which was opened with a GB one-two in the lightweight men’s pair, one of the non-Olympic classes.
In between GB rowers also added four further silvers - from the lightweight men’s and women’s doubles, the lightweight men’s pair, the men’s single sculler Alan Campbell and the men’s four – and two bronzes from the lightweight men’s four and the men’s double scull of Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas. The final tally stood at four golds, five silvers and two bronzes.
GB Rowing Team Performance Director Sir David Tanner was clearly delighted with the performances, particularly from some of the young, new rowers.
“I am pleased with our rowers today. Several of our boats stepped up from the heats and the semis, backed by the now traditional Dorney Roar from the crowd.
“But we need to keep our feet on the ground. After Henley we have the World Cup at Lucerne which will be tougher than this with more nations.
“This event has given us a good base to go there and it has shown the spirit that is in our team as well as its ambition. So it has been a good day in the office”.
The results on the final day of competition came after two para-rowing golds were secured by Tom Aggar in the arms-shoulders single scull and the mixed coxed four.
After the disappointment of missing out on a medal at the Paralympic Games last year, Aggar said the result was “a step in the right direction”.
“Maybe last year I underperformed compared to what I’ve done previously.

“I think I’ve improved on last year. It’s really special to win at Eton Dorney with the home crowd and this result makes up for last year in a small way”.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

WPL set for explosive return

The Welsh Premier League is set for an action-packed return over the August Bank Holiday weekend with clubs set to play two gruelling rounds of matches in just three days.

The league kicks off a week later than usual with first-time European qualifiers Prestatyn and Bala Town squaring up on August 23, and the rest of the teams in action on Saturday, including defending champions TNS welcoming Scott Young’s Port Talbot Town to Park Hall in front of the live S4C cameras on August 24.

Completing the August bank holiday weekend, all 12 teams are in action again on the August 26.

Rhyl are back in the top flight after a three year absence, gaining promotion by remaining unbeaten throughout the last league campaign, winning 24 games and scoring more than 100 goals to become the first team to achieve that feat. They kick off their season with a home fixture against Aberystwyth, who finished 10th last season.

Another team with a home fixture as their first game is last year’s surprise package Airbus UK, who finished in second place ahead of WPL stalwarts Bangor City last time out, gaining a place in this year’s UEFA Europa League first qualifying round. They start their season against Carmarthen, who earned qualification to the UEFA Europa League play-offs last time out by finishing sixth.

Afan Lido finished last season bottom of the league by nine points, but due to Llanelli’s liquidation, they stayed in the WPL as the Reds were demoted. They will look to get some early points on the board with an away clash against Gap Connah’s Quay.

The other opening day fixture is contested between Newtown and Bangor City, which will take place at Newtown’s Latham Park.

The last games of the season before the league splits promise to be a great spectacle as last season’s top two go head to head at TNS. Other key matches include Bangor making the trip to Aberstwyth, while Rhyl face Port Talbot in a home fixture.

Other key dates include TNS travelling to Rhyl on October 12, Airbus taking on Bangor in a home tie on the November 15 and Prestatyn taking on Port Talbot at their home ground Bastion Road on October 19.

S4C will cover several fixtures throughout the season, the first five being:

24/08/2013: TNS v Port Talbot (15:45)
26/08/2013: Bangor v Rhyl (14:45)
31/08/2013: Afan Lido v Airbus UK (15:45)
07/09/2013: Prestatyn v Gap Connah’s Quay (15:45)
14/09/2013: Bala v Newtown (15:45)

Opening fixtures:
Prestatyn v Bala

Airbus UK v Carmarthen
Gap Connah’s Quay v Afan Lido
Newtown v Bangor
Rhyl v Aberystwyth
TNS v Port Talbot

Aberystwyth v Afan Lido
Bala v Airbus UK
Bangor v Rhyl
Newtown v Carmarthen
Port Talbot v Gap Connah’s Quay
Prestatyn v TNS

Aberystwyth v TNS
Bangor v Prestatyn
Carmarthen v Port Talbot
Gap Connah’s Quay v Bala
Rhyl v Newtown

Afan Lido v Airbus UK

What does the future hold for Ashley Williams?

Ashley Williams has been a true revelation in South Wales, as the Swansea skipper has lead the club to a top half finish in the Premier League, cup glory in the Capital One Cup and Europa League football next season.
The Swansea captain has since been heavily linked with a move away from the Liberty Stadium, with Arsenal rumoured to be his club of choice.
Just a few weeks ago, Williams was reportedly very close to finalising a deal to join the Gunners though the transfer has seemingly stumbled in recent weeks.
Despite this, the speculation surrounding Ashley Williams’ future has been on-going with several newspapers publishing articles claiming that the Swansea and Wales captain is ready to quit the club in search of a new challenge.
Although the main club that look to be chasing Williams’ signature is Arsenal, both Merseyside clubs - Liverpool and Everton - have also been linked with moves for the man who completed 86% of his passes last season in the Premier League.
Liverpool, and manager Brendan Rodgers in particular, are reportedly keen to link up with Rodgers' former defensive star, Ashley Williams, as a replacement for Martin Skrtel, who has been heavily rumoured with a move away from Anfield.
Everton have also emerged as a destination for Williams since the appointment of former Swans’ boss Roberto Martinez as the club’s new manager. Martinez was the manager to first notice Williams’ talent as he spent around £400,000 on the former Stockport centre-half.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Ashley Williams as a replacement for an outgoing centre-half that is currently on the Arsenal books.
The two players who may be heading for the exit door at the Emirates are Thomas Vermaelen - who is said to be keen to push a move through after falling out of favour with manager Arsene Wenger towards the end of the season - and Laurent Koscielny, to whom Barcelona and Bayern Munich are said to be interested.
Williams would undoubtedly be a good fit for Arsenal should he decide to move to the North London club. He has won more aerial duels than Per Mertersacker, made over 100 more accurate passes than Vermaelen, and has also won more ground 50-50s than Laurent Koscielny.
With Swansea’s style of play being similar to the style of play that Arsenal are famous for, Williams looks a perfect replacement for either Laurent Koscielny or Thomas Vermaelen.
However, Swansea will not let one of their prized assets go for anything less than £10 million, while Chairman Huw Jenkins has reiterated the fact that the club are in no rush to sell their best players. This reluctance to sell seems to have put off Arsenal from purchasing the man who has 41 international caps, and is most likely the reason why the deal has stalled recently.
The Swans are of course used to seeing players come and go, with former stars such as Joe Allen, Gylfi Sigurdson and Scott Sinclair all top performers who have recently left the club.
If Williams did leave the Liberty Stadium outfit, the on field captaincy would more than likely go to club stalwart and midfield maestro Leon Britton, with Gary Monk remaining as Club captain.
The current Champions, Manchester United, are heading to the Liberty on the opening weekend of the season and it is not yet clear whether Williams will still be playing for Wales’ top footballing side. If he did go, who does Laudrup see as his successor at the back?
Sevilla defender Alberto Botia looks the likely candidate to fill Williams’ boots with Michael Laudrup confirming interest in the player, and Botia himself claims that Swansea did make a bid for him in the January transfer window.
Espanyol defender Jordi Amat has also been rumoured with a £2 million switch to the Principality as Laudrup once again looks to the good value Spanish market to replenish his squad. 

Monday, 24 June 2013

Kingsley Jones joins Dragons set up

Ex Sale Sharks boss and current coach of Russia Kingsley Jones has joined the coaching staff at Newport Gwent Dragons.

Former Wales captain and flanker originally comes from Nantyglo in Blaenau Gwent and played his club rugby in Wales for Cross Keys, Pontypridd and Ebbw Vale, before moving to Gloucester, Worcester and Doncaster.

On the appointment Kingsley Jones said, “I am pleased to be part of the team here at the Dragons and assisting Lyn Jones with the coaching. I want to help to develop the youngsters in the team to and push the Dragons up the table.

“It’s an exciting challenge for me to be able to coach in Wales and I am looking forward to taking it on.”

Director of Rugby, Lyn Jones said, “"I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Kingsley last season at London Welsh, he delivered what was asked and more, becoming very popular with the squad. Kingsley will assist with all skill and technique development with squad, then specialise on forward play, as we build a happy and positive environment where players learn, improve and enjoy each other on and off the field."

Team Manager Robert Beale said, “We are very grateful to the Russian Union for allowing Kingsley to assist with the coaching at Newport Gwent Dragons.”

Welsh quartet face tough Euro draws

Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints face a tough draw in the second round of qualifying for the Champions League, as they take on Poland’s Legia Warsaw.

The Welsh Champions did have a shot at securing a glamour tie against Scottish giants Celtic after they were drawn in the same group, but will instead head to the Polish capital.
TNS will play their home tie on the weekend of July 16/17 and the away leg a week later.
Meanwhile, the Welsh Premier League’s European debutants Airbus Broughton UK, Bala and Prestatyn Town will all be heading east in the opening round of qualification for the Europa League competition.
Airbus and Prestatyn were both drawn against Latvian opposition, facing FK Ventspils and SK Metalurgs respectively.
Ventspils has a winning track record against Welsh clubs having beaten TNS and Llanelli in recent years. The Saints lost on the away goals rule in 2007/8, while Llanelli lost 4-1 on aggregate the following season. The Latvians reached the Champions League group stages in 2009/10.

The Lakesiders will be heading to Estonia and will face Levadia Talinn in the city that was voted European Capital of Culture for 2011.
Both Bala and Prestatyn will be using Rhyl’s Belle Vue for their home legs, with the Lakesiders in action on Tuesday, and Prestatyn facing SK Metalurgs there two days later.

Tovey to re-join the Dragons

Cardiff Blues can confirm that outside half Jason Tovey will be leaving the region to re-join Newport Gwent Dragons.

Tovey joined the Cardiff Blues in 2012 and made 17 appearances for the region including the Boxing Day match against the Dragons.

Jason Tovey has signed a three year contract with the Dragons and will return to Rodney Parade during pre-season training.
Talking about Jason Tovey’s departure Cardiff Blues Chief Executive, Richard Holland said,

“I would like to thank Jason for his commitment to Cardiff Blues over the last year and I would like to wish him all the best in the future.”

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Welsh cricket round-up

North Wales cricket

Llandudno were knocked off their perch atop the North Wales Cricket Premier Division after they fell to defeat at the hands of Mochdre.

Chasing their sixth title in seven seasons, they were put in to bat and despite a brilliant 75 by Jordan Kane and David Midgeley’s 37 they were unceremoniously dismissed for 178. Puni Hira was the star bowler, claiming half their wickets for just 34 runs off his 12 overs.

Mochdre reached 184 for the loss of just three wickets thanks in large to Adam Campion’s unbeaten 70 and Alex Davies’ 45 to seal the win.

Pontblyddyn were the beneficiaries as they climbed above Llandudno thanks to a six-wicket triumph at home to Hawarden Park.

The visitors were put in but were all out for just 76 in the 27th over. Ian Dixon top scored with 25 as James birch (3-13) and Glenn Chambers (3-10) tore through their order.

Pont reached their target with just four wickets dropped with Chambers again doing well with an unbeaten 33 and Ryan Stanbury contributing 28.

Elsewhere, struggling Connah’s Quay surprised Mold to triumph by 159 runs. The Quay made 271-5 off their 50 overs with Dave Fox hitting a remarkable 110, Darren Jones adding 59 and Martin Burger passing his half century with 56.

Mold were then out for the unlucky score of 111 in 30 overs with Adam Hodges skittling five wickets for 40 runs.

In the First Division, leaders Llay Welfare compounded a miserable weekend for Llandudno by hammering their second string by six wickets.

Llandudno were put in to bat and reached 199-7 with Matthew Lambe knocking 71, but the Welfare surpassed that while losing just four wickets with a phenomenal unbeaten 109 from Damian Brian helping them to victory.

South Wales Premier League

Sully Centurions were also dethroned as Premier League leaders after they were defeated on the Duckworth-Lewis method by closest challengers Mumbles, who replaced them at the top.

Sully put Mumbles in first, but they reached an impressive 251-8 in their 50 overs with ex-Glamorgan player Aneurin Norman reaching a fantastic 123, posting a first wicket stand of 104 with Rhodri Evans (32). Ieuan Rosser added 40 to the total, with Alex Griffiths contributing an unbeaten 38.

The rain meant Sully had to chase 214 off 39 overs on the Duckworth-Lewis method, but fell on 196 despite Gareth Davies knocking a commendable 59.

Elsewhere, Pontarddulais condemned Newport to an eight-wicket defeat. Putting Newport in, the Gwent side reached 112 off 38 overs thanks to dogged bowling by Bont, Garry Arrowsmith taking 4-12, Jon Denning 3-20 and Owen Morgan two for just 13 runs.

Dion Holden (47) and Arwel Thomas (28) then saw Pontarddulais to a winning 116-2 off just 31 overs to bring the match to a close.

West Wales Conference

UWA Commoners are sitting pretty atop the division thanks to a six-wicket thrashing of Aberaeron yesterday.

They put their victims in to bat and had them out for 79, after a bottom of the order collapse from 71-6. David Grinzpan did his best with 33, but the Commoners’ bowling attack was in fine fettle and spinner Kevin Williams posted 4-23 in just eight overs, Ian Lawton returned 2-16 and Paul Abraham 1-12.

They then passed their target with four wickets gone, Neil Stent top scoring with 22. Grinzpan claimed two wickets for 34 runs and Paul Hughes saw five maidens in nine overs which didn’t see him take a wicket but he only conceded six runs. But it wasn’t enough to stop UWA soaring to victory.

Pembrokeshire Saturday cricket round-up

A sensational sixth wicket stand by Patrick Hammon and Andrew Miller saw leaders Neyland to a 19-run victory over Lawrenny in an entertaining encounter in the Nicholas Insurance Pembroke County Cricket League.

Neyland were troubled on 54-5 when Hammon stepped to the fore and knocked 61 and Miller an unbeaten 45 to give them 172-6 off their 45 overs. Robert Williams (3-27) and Stephen Lewis (2-42) had earlier troubled them in Lawrenny’s bowling attack.

In reply, Lawrenny fell for 153 in the final over, with Brad McCleod-Jenkins smashing an impressive 84. Nathan Banner was the tormentor in chief for Neyland, taking half the visitors’ wickets for just 37 runs. Anton John also chipped in to take 2-23, including the all-important final wicket.

There was a nail-biting climax at Cresselly that saw the hosts surpass Narberth’s target with eight balls to spare in a high-scoring thriller.

The visitors were put in to bat and Mark Hughes’ magnificent unbeaten 135, including 10 fours and seven sixes, coupled with Ben Quartermaine’s 60 not out seemed to have done enough when Narberth reached 223-4 off their 45 overs.

Yet Matthew Morgan had other ideas. His unbeaten 112 was the highlight as Cresselly made 226-4 in the 44th over to triumph by six wickets. It looked at one stage like they wouldn’t make it due to the extremely economical bowling of Ian Hughes. Though he didn’t take a wicket, the first six of his 12 overs ended in maidens, with just 20 runs conceded in the remaining six.

Elsewhere, Haverfordwest climbed above Whitland and St Ishmaels in to second with a four-wicket victory at the first of those clubs. The hosts were put in but could only manage 163, with Haverfordwest passing their total in the 41st over as they made 167-6.

St Ishmaels dropped to third after basement club Llanrhian shocked them to triumph by six wickets, thanks in large to Geraint Morris’ unbeaten 41. With St Ishmaels all out for 118, Morris helped them surpass their target in the 35th over for the loss of just four wickets.

Defending champions Carew earned a winning draw at home to Llangwm, with Brian Hall knocking an unbeaten 50 for the hosts.

Division 2 leaders Saundersfoot continued their title challenge in an attempt to get back into the top flight at the first time of asking with a 159-run thrashing of Whitland II.

Paul Mansbridge was the hero as he smashed 93 in an opening partnership of 151 with Dai Davies, who knocked 43 as Saundersfoot made 229-9 off their 45 overs.

Whitland were skittled out for 70 in reply, Davies taking 3-20, Danny Caine 4-26 and Nick Cope dismissing two batsmen for just two runs in two overs to finish them off.

Elsewhere, Haverfordwest II thrashed hapless Carew II, skittling them all out for 45. James Morris took six wickets for just 16 runs, with Avron Roulstone taking 4-28. They then made 47-1 with Adam Raymond top scoring with an unbeaten 19.

The top two in Division 3 also posted impressive wins. Hook (61-2) annihilated Crymych (59) by eight wickets, while Camrose & Spittal (109) made Llechryd (111-5) work slightly harder for their five-wicket victory.

In Division 5, there was another nervous finish as Herbrandston II won at Pembroke II by a single run. Ashley Britton helped them to triumph, hitting 20 as they made 92, before taking 3-22 as Pembroke II fell for 91 in the closest of finales.

Finally in Division 6, Llechryd II thrashed Lamphey II by 257 runs. Mark Newell earned a few drinks in the pavilion afterwards with a phenomenal unbeaten 200 as his side declared for 331-5. He then picked up the ball and took 3-9 as Lamphey II were skittled out for 74.

Neath continue title assault in Thomas Carroll South Wales Association cricket

Neath hammered struggling Maesteg Celtic by 115 runs to continue their dominant start to the season in SWCA Division One.

In a fixture affected by the inclement weather, the league leaders were put into bat and reached 255-5 with Adrian Shaw amassing 99 and Keiron Thomas hitting 96 before being run out. Lee Hicks was the best bowler with figures of 2-50.

Celtic were dismissed for 140 in the 40th over despite Tom Morgan knocking 60 off just 64 balls. Kieron Bull took 5-46 off 15 overs and Matthew Pearce 3-27.

Carmarthen Wanderers continued their impressive return to the top flight to keep the heat on Neath with a more than comfortable six-wicket beating of basement club Llangennech.

The weather struck there too, with the match reduced to 37 overs. Llangennech reached 130-9 in their allotted overs with Gethin Long’s 38 and Atif Hameed’s 37 the best totals. Andrew Edwards bowled well for 3-18 off eight overs, with Owain Binding taking 3-21.

The Wanderers reached their total for the loss of just four wickets to collect 25 points. A 50-run stand for the first wicket by Daniel Jones (34) and Giles Thomas (23) set them on their way before Owain Davies added 23 and Gareth Grant an unbeaten 23 to see them win for the sixth time in eight matches.

Ynystawe overtook Tata Steel when they overcame them by two wickets. Batting first, Tata were bowled out for a mediocre 108 with Owen Davies reaching 31 and Nathan Ferrell adding 16. Andrew Beasley took 5-25 in 10.3 overs.

The Swansea Valley side lost eight wickets on their way to victory, Tom Blake scoring 23 and Rowan Evans 18.

Elsewhere, Gowerton soared to their second win of the season when they overcame Cowbridge by 95 runs.

Electing to bat, they scored 200-5 in their 50 overs with Paul Rees hitting a brilliant 101 and Rhys Thomas knocking a solid 27. Only Tom Merilaht did any real damage with the ball for the Vale of Glamorgan side as he took 2-49.

Cowbridge were never close to their target, dismissed for just 105 in the 40th over. Sam Wood top-scored with 31 for them, as hot Gowerton prospect Will Jenkins, just 15, did most of the damage by taking 6-23 in 10 overs, two of which were maidens.

Clydach secured a winning draw with Dafen in a match between two teams in the lower half of the table.

The second division saw the Aberdare-Llandysul fixture abandoned with the visitors on 102-4 after it had been reduced to 30 overs each, while Pontardawe-Gorseinon never got going.

The three fixtures that did play were draws, with Skewen (193-9) extending their lead over Aberdare at the top with a winning draw at lowly Swansea Civil Service (97-6).

Division Three also saw two games fall foul of the conditions. Yet the weather was unable to halt Porthcawl, as the early season pacesetters made it seven wins from eight with a three-wicket victory at Margam.

The hosts were put in to bat and made a respectable 148-9 off their 50 overs, with Luke O’Connor’s 46 a big contribution and Elwyn Pugh and John Wellington both contributing 24. Nick Lyddon took 2-32 for the league leaders, with Tom Davies collecting 3-33.

It took Porthcawl until the 49th over to surpass Margam’s total with 149-7, as Lyddon matched O’Connor with a 46 of his own and Steve Doherty added 34. Margam’s Pugh had done his best to dent the batting order, taking 4-59, but it was not enough.

Three of the four Division Four fixtures were played, including leaders Pwll hammering Felinfoel by eight wickets.

Tom Jones knocked 59 as visitors Felinfoel were put in and reached 143-9, with Rhodri Lewis taking 3-31 and Craig Howells 2-24 off seven overs.

Pwll hit their target with the loss of just two wickets. Howells again starred with a 67, including 11 fours, with Dean Thomas adding 38.

The Llantwit Major Cavaliers climbed above Baglan in to second to keep up the heat on Pwll with a four wicket victory over their victims.

They elected to bowl after winning the toss and it proved the correct decision as Baglan were skittled for 95. Their bowling attack was in imperious form. James Snelson took 4-36 in eight overs, with Adrian Ashton taking 2-19 in 11 and Gareth Hughes 2-3 from five. Ben Jenkins finished Baglan off by felling 2-17 in his eight overs.

In reply they passed the total in the 34th over, with little of note in the batting figures other than a 15 for Sam Pickford.

Friday, 21 June 2013

County snap up Worley

Newport County have made former Chelsea defender Harry Worley their third summer signing.

Worley, 24, began his career at Stockport County before Chelsea paid £150,000 to take him to Stamford Bridge.

He failed to make a first team appearance under Jose Mourinho, despite being an unused substitute in the 2007 Community Shield loss to Manchester United, but had loan spells at Doncaster Rovers, Carlisle United and Leicester City, where he moved permanently.

But again a lack of first team action at the King Power Stadium saw him loaned out to Luton Town and Crewe Alexandra before he joined Oxford United in 2010, making more than 50 appearances and scoring twice.

He was released by the Us at the end of last season, where he was a team-mate of fellow new signing Adam Chapman who joined earlier this month. The 6ft 4inches defender has been given a one-year deal at Rodney Parade.

As with Chapman and new striker Chris Zebroski, Newport boss Justin Edinburgh said he had got the man he wanted, adding: “Things are starting to take shape as we head into a busy pre-season schedule next month.

“There are a couple more targets I would like to add, but as in the past I will not name them until it’s done and dusted and the ink is dry.”

Newport’s ‘silence until signed’ policy seems to have worked for them so far as they continue preparations for their first Football League campaign in 25 years. They managed to beat off other suitors to Worley’s signature, with a utility full-back also said to be close to signing.

Edinburgh is then set to run the rule over a number of trialists when the playing staff return for pre-season, with a goalkeeper to provide competition for No1 Lenny Pidgeley a priority.

Williams to lead Welsh Sevens defence

Lee Williams will lead the Welsh charge at the Rugby World Sevens in Moscow where they defend the shock title they picked up four years ago in Dubai.

The Carmarthen Quin, 30, starred during that triumph and brings a wealth of experience to the squad having appeared in 30 tournament on the HSBC Sevens World Series.

Pontypridd's Adam Thomas will lead the side which finished seventh in the IRB World Series last season, while James Davies, younger brother of Wales and Lions star Jonathan, is also in the squad.

Alex Webber's rapid rise continues with his selection, and at 21 he is the youngest member of the squad.

Cardiff duo Gareth Davies and Alex Walker have both returned to Sevens duty having spent time with the Blues last season, while Rhys Jones is selected having recovered from an injury which kept him out of the last two legs of the world series.

Llandovery speedster Chris Knight and team-mate Adam Warren are in the squad, Warren having been part of the Welsh tour to Japan, along with Llanelli's Craig Price and the Quins' Jason Harries.

Paul John’s side are in Pool E for the tournament, which runs from June 28-30, alongside Fiji, Tonga and Uruguay. They face the South Americans first on the 28, before taking on Fiji and Tonga a day later, hoping to do enough to qualify for the knock-out stages.

Wales Sevens squad: Adam Thomas (Pontypridd), Alex Webber (Ystrad Rhondda), Lee Williams (Carmarthen Quins), Gareth Davies (Cardiff), Chris Knight (Llandovery), Rhys Shellard (Pontypridd), James Davies (Carmarthen Quins), Alex Walker (Cardiff), Adam Warren (Llandovery), Craig Price (Llanelli), Jason Harries (Carmarthen Quins), Rhys Jones (Llandovery).

Hanno to miss start of new season

The Ospreys medical team confirmed today that Hanno Dirksen will miss that start of the new season after suffering a setback as he recovers from surgery to repair a cartilage problem.

The wing went under the knife last November and it had been anticipated that he would take part in pre-season but Head Physio, Chris Towers, says that will not now be the case.

Towers confirmed:

“Hanno is behind where we originally predicted he would be at this stage after suffering complications that were beyond our control and which now appear to be remedied.

“Due to those setbacks he is only just starting on the rehab process during the pre-season period. He is coping well but it will be a while yet until we will see him on the field training with the rest of the squad and we will update on expected return time when appropriate.”

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ffion follows up European win with strong showing in Asia

Welsh golfing prodigy Ffion Tynan has continued her magnificent summer with a record smashing performance at the World Junior Asian Championships in Jakarta.

The 10-year-old from Tonyrefail became the first non-Asian player to finish in the top five in any age category with a third-place in the Girls – D Division, coming off the back of her US Kids Golf European Championship victory at Gullane last month.

Ffion in action in Jakarta.

Her proud father Andrew described her Asian feat as a “great achievement”, saying: “She coped with the 18-hour flight and the practicing well.”

He also described how she suffered with a skin allergy throughout the event which inflamed her face and led to a few difficulties on the course.

“She had a few scares and worries but the medical team were fantastic,” he added. “It shows she has good character and although she had the choice of not playing on the final day that was never an option. She enjoys playing golf too much.”

A first round 97 looked a tough ask to claw back when Thailand’s Unyamanee Wongaroon carded a 78. But by the end of day two a second round 90 had her well placed, and going on to the 18th tee in round three she sat in second. But a double bogey on the par four final hole saw her drop to third alongside home-grown Valencia Andov.

She finished with a gross 279, two strokes behind Marelda Pyrena Ayal, also of Indonesia, and 35 strokes behind the victorious Wongaroon.

It had been even better in Scotland where she held off Czech youngster Elisabeth Krenovska to lift the Under-10 Girls’ title at the US Kids European Championship by six strokes.

Ffion with her US Kids European Championship trophy in Scotland.

After a fourth-place finish last year, she led by a shot on day one before extending that to three by the end of day two. She then played against her closest challengers – Krenovska and India’s Vasundhara Thiara – but produced what Andrew described as “one of her best performances” to triumph by six strokes.

“It was a very good achievement,” he beamed. “There was a lot of pressure on day three but she showed her strength and pulled out all the stops to win.”

Next up, Ffion heads to the States to take part in the ‘American Swing’, encompassing the San Diego Junior Masters, the Callaway World Junior Championships, The World Junior Masters in Las Vegas and the US Kids World Championships at the famous Pinehurst Resort; the world finals of the European title she won in Scotland.

Andrew added of her chances: “She’s practicing hard to re-tune her game. It’s a different type of game in Asia but the US is similar to here, so we are trying to adapt again.

“We want to be in with a shout so it’s a case of taking it a day at a time and seeing where it takes us.”

It would seem that the only destination is upwards for the young golfing hopeful.

Final round of Scorpions Primary Schools tournament this Sunday before Oxford match

South Wales Scorpions hold the final round of the group stages of their Primary Schools Rugby League Cup competition this Sunday from 1.20pm.

The matches take place before South Wales Scorpions’ Championship 1 match against Oxford which kicks off at 3pm.

The competition, which has been sponsored by South Wales Evening Post, has been a great success so far and has been competed with great enthusiasm all season between the six sides.

Commitments for Father’s Day meant that just three sides played matches at The Gnoll last week but all six are expected to take to the field this week to see not only who takes the four semi-final spots but who qualifies for the national rounds that have been organised by Wales Rugby League.

Last week’s scores were MN Crimson Crusaders 1 Cardiff Demons 0, Waunceirch Warriors 1 Cardiff Demons 0 and Waunceirch Warriors 1 MN Crimson Crusaders 0.

The fixtures for this week are…

1.20pm - 1
Gnoll Tigers v Crynallt Crusaders  - longer game
1.20pm - 2
MN Crimson Crusaders v Team Tonnau   - longer game
1.40pm - 1
Cardiff Demons v Waunceirch Warriors  
1.40pm - 2
MN Crimson Crusaders v Crynallt Crusaders  
1.50pm - 1
Cardiff Demons v Gnoll Tigers
1.50pm - 2
Crynallt Crusaders  v Team Tonnau
3.40pm - 1
Gnoll Tigers v MN Crimson Crusaders 
3.40pm - 2
Team Tonnau v Waunceirch Warriors 

The first two games are double length as neither side has faced each other so far this season. After the last two games at 3.40pm, half-time of the Scorpions v Oxford game, all sides will have faced each other twice.

Sunday at The Gnoll kicks off at midday with Neath and District Scorpions taking on Cardiff Spartans at under 13 level. The Scorpions and the Spartans are joint top of the three team mini-league after each recording victories over Cardiff Demons. Last week, the Scorpions won 42-4 in, despite the high scoreline, was a competitive match.

Tickets for the whole day cost just £12 for adults, £7 concessions, £3 for juniors aged 12-16 and free for children aged 11 and under.

The current table for the South Wales Evening Post Primary Schools Cup, ranked on tries rather than wins, is as follows…

Waunceirch Warriors
Crynallt Crusaders
Gnoll Tigers
Team Tonnau
MN Crimson Crusaders
Cardiff Demons