Sunday, 29 September 2013

Division One West Round Up

Early pace setters Glynneath maintained their winning start to their One West title challenge as they edged past Whitland 15-5.

In what was a tense affair, Glynneath’s Jack O’Riley was once again the hero of the day, with the fly half firing over five penalties to ensure his side bagged their fourth straight victory.

The Borderers' only points came from a Jack Mason touchdown.

At the double: Kidwelly's Carwyn Thomas bagged a brace for the Black and Ambers.
Carwyn Thomas was at the double for Kidwelly as the Black and Ambers dispatched Loughor 33-9 at Villa Field.

The visitors crossed three times with scrum half Thomas bagging a brace, with his first touchdown the score of the match. Loughor fly half Liam Popham grubbered the ball into Kidwelly’s half, as Thomas scrambled back to retrieve it who then, under great pressure, managed to slide and turn back onto his feet before using his skill to evade all of his pursuers and cross the whitewash. 

Loughor's Tom Mags can find no way through Kidwelly's strong defence

 The visitors' other try came from centre Andy Francis, while fly half Stuart Morris fired over four penalties and converted all three touchdowns for a personal haul of 18 points.

Kidwelly's centre Daf Latham was a constant threat in attack.

The Blues, who sit bottom with just one victory, could only manage two penalties from Peter Smiriglia and a further one from Andrew Williams.

Waunarlwydd bounced back from their defeat at Builth Wells as they recorded a comfortable 37-10 triumph over Llangennech.

Jason Hyatt’s men outscored their rivals four tries to one with touchdowns from Dan Fox, Andrew Rees-Spowatt, Guy Jones and Josh Hammett, while Lee Evans notched up 17 points with the boot.

Meanwhile, new boys Crymych turned on the style as they helped themselves to seven tries to dispatch Ammanford 49-21.

Gavin Thomas grabbed a try treble for the hosts while Guto Griffiths(2), Adam Phillips and Rhys Davies also went over.

Last season’s runners up Cwmllynfell notched up their third win of the season as they saw off new boys Builth Wells 30-19.

Cwmllynfell crossed twice through wing Ryan Bayliss and Matthew Steinman, while Luke Myat fired over six penalties and a conversion.

Elsewhere, in a tight contest Kenfig Hill did just enough to pick up a 23-20 triumph at Carmarthen Athletic.

The Mules ran in three tries through Ray Evans, Steve Gillard and Matthew Davies, while Nicky Giles added a conversion and two penalties.

Athletic had to make do with just a losing bonus point, despite leading 17-10 at the interval.

Swalec Championship Round Up

Defending Champions Ebbw Vale maintained their 100% record and moved top of the Swalec Championship, courtesy of a hard-fought 27-9 victory over 14 man Cardiff Met at Cyncoed.

The Students, who were unbeaten before today, were ahead early on through a Mark Cook penalty, before flanker Tom Hall was dismissed after 20 minutes for an alleged tip tackle on Ebbw’s Leighton Bellamore.

The Steelmen made sure the man advantage paid off, crossing four times through Wes Cunliffe, Ronny Kynes, captain Damien Hudd and a penalty try.

Pontypool moved up to third with a comfortable 32-23 victory over league strugglers Bonymaen. Pooler crossed four times through Josh Hurley, Chris Laing, Mark Thorley and Trevor James, as they notched up their third triumph of the season.

Meanwhile, North Wales region RGC 1404 returned to winning ways with a 56-10 trouncing of Blackwood at Glan Yr Afon.

The visitors helped themselves to eight tries with Kelvin Davies grabbing a hat-trick and Lewis Banks bagging a brace, while Tom Blackwell's effort was also amongst the tries.

Narberth bounced back from their drubbing at Eugene Cross Park last week to dish out a whipping of their own, as they dismissed last year’s runners up Bargoed 33-7 at the Lewis Lloyd Ground.

The Otters had a narrow 9-7 lead at the break thanks to three Ianto Griffiths penalties, but turned up the tempo in the second half to run in four unanswered tries through Adrian Killa, Morgan Griffiths, Wayne Williams and Richard Davies.

In a tight encounter at Pandy Park new boys Tondu edged past Llanharan 20-17, despite trailing at the break.

The Waterwheelers' points came courtesy of touchdowns from Mark Roberts, Joe Heatley and Matthew Morgan, while Matthew Murphy added a conversion and Gareth Powell fired over a penalty.

The Dairymen’s Codey Rees notched up 12 of his side’s points as they had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Elsewhere, Tata Steel put Beddau to the sword as the Port Talbot outfit recorded an emphatic 49-10 victory.

Simon Evans bagged 17 of the Saints’ points including a 60 yard touchdown, while captain Gareth Edwards and second row Ben Evans were also amongst the scorers.

Finally, Newbridge claimed the second win of their campaign with a 38-20 home success over Bridgend Athletic.

The hosts struck six times through Ryan Lee, Andrew Evans, Luke Crane, Ethan Doyle, Matthew Howells and Matthew Llewellyn.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Swansea U15s 22-19 South Powys U15s

Swansea  Under 15s edged past South Powys to claim a narrow success in their opening Group A match of the Dewar Shield, running out 22-19 winners at Morriston.

Swansea's Corey Evans booted his side to victory

A try double from Jake Tucker helped see the Swansea side home to victory in this frantic and frenzied encounter, that was full of running rugby and high in drama.
The hosts broke the deadlock early on when quick hands from the back line saw wing Tucker cross in the corner, with full back Corey Evans adding the extras with an excellent conversion.
South Powys' Gareth Price notched up 14 points 
Conceding seemed to breathe life into the South Powys side and after an extended period of pressure, fly-half Gareth Price danced his way past three defenders to score under the posts, with Price duly adding the extras.
The game was now a high octane affair with both teams looking to run the ball at every opportunity and it was Swansea that retook the lead, with Tucker going over for his second of the afternoon.
The hosts extended their lead shortly after when centre Callum Carson crashed over the line, which Evans converted for a 19-7 lead.
Just before the interval, however, South Powys closed the gap with prop Rob Powell powering his way over the line, Price once again adding the extras.
No way through: Both sides were well-organised in defence
With everything still all to play for, the second half was as intense as the opening 40 and Swansea were the first side to blink - a poor clearance from off the hosts’ line was gathered by Powys outside half Price and he once again showed some silky skill to go over.
The match hung evenly in the balance at 19-19 but a late penalty from Swansea’s Evans sealed the win, after Powys were pinged for an infringement at a ruck in their own 22.
Swansea next travel to Ceredigion while South Powys face Llanelli on October 5, with the West Walians dispatching Newport 11-5 in their opening fixture. 

Principality Premiership Weekend Predictions

Aberavon v Cardiff

Aberavon were convincingly beaten by Quins last week but are so far unbeaten at home this season. For Cardiff, this will be their third match away on the bounce after comfortably seeing off Bedwas last week, and I think they will edge this contest.
Verdict- Cardiff by 3 points
 Cross Keys v Llandovery
Llandovery are unbeaten so far but will face a tough test at Pandy Park. The Drovers really enjoyed themselves against Bridgend and I think if they get an early score tomorrow, they could go on to win convincingly. The Keys started the season with a blast to nab BIC qualification, but have failed to kick on and struggled to the win against Swansea before coming up short against Pontypridd.
Verdict- Llandovery by 5 points
Llanelli v Bridgend
Llanelli have needed strong second halves to claim the two wins they have notched up so far, and I think Anthony Buchanan will be demanding a full 80 minute performance from his troops tomorrow. Having said that, Llanelli should have too much for Bridgend, with Ben Rose’s side still without a win in three starts despite running Ponty close at Sardis Road.
Verdict- Llanelli by 10 points
Neath v Bedwas
The battle between the bottom two takes place at the Gnoll tomorrow with both sides in desperate need of a win. Neath were woeful against Swansea and failed to turn up second half against Llanelli in their opening encounter. Bedwas were unlucky to come away with Ponty with nothing on the opening day but last week, Steve Law’s men struggled to find any rhythm against visitors Cardiff and were well beaten. The two respective coaches, I am sure, will expect a reaction from their players and I think this will be a real battle to the end.
Verdict- Neath by 3 points
 Swansea v Carmarthen Quins
Swansea notched up their first victory last weekend but I don’t think they will have the firepower to trouble this Quins side, who have looked good so far this season and could potentially go top - albeit for 24 hours - before Ponty play.
Verdict- Carmarthen Quins by 12 points
 Sunday 29
Pontypridd v Newport
It will be worrying for the rest of the Premiership that Ponty haven’t gotten out of second gear as yet, but already sit top of the table. Newport were the only side to beat Dale McIntosh’s men last term but I can’t see the Rodney Parade side troubling the hosts, who, I’m sure, will be intent on providing a rugby spectacle for the S4C audience.

Verdict- Pontypridd by 13 points.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Bridgend College 21-11 Newport High School

Bridgend College got their Wednesday Under 18 League campaign off to a winning start with a 21-11 victory over Newport High School at a sun-drenched Brewery Field.

On an afternoon that showcased the best of youth rugby, naïve audacity saw both sides run the ball from all areas of the pitch which made for a compelling and free-flowing game.

It was the hosts that took a narrow 15-11 lead into the break, despite Dai Flanagan’s men being the ones to start the better from the outset.

The visitors looked sharp in attack early on, creating numerous chances in the opening ten minutes, with second row Blain Meek knocking on what should’ve been a relatively easy touchdown.

However, Newport’s first points soon arrived from the boot of Josh Malson who fired over a penalty, and moments later the Gwent side capitalised on a turnover to counter-attack well that saw centre Barney Nightingale cross.

Conceding the try seemed to wake Gareth Nicholas’ team up and they hit back through flanker Reuben Tooze who powered over, with fly-half Rhodri Davies adding the simple extras.

The kickers exchanged penalties, before Bridgend seized the lead with a scintillating score from Edd Howley just before the break.

The second half began in a frenzied affair with both teams once again attacking at every opportunity. 

However, then came an extended period of pressure from Newport, who were camped inside their opponents’ 22, though critically failed to make the pressure and territory count as the hosts’ defence repelled all the Gwent side threw at them.

After neutralising the Newport assault, Bridgend were able to clear their lines, and some savvy work from their pack saw Davies extend their lead with two well-taken penalties.

New boys Newport continued to prod and probe, but once again, the end result was missing.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Word Cup Second Round Preview

The second round of the Word Cup takes place tonight with a few old friends ready to be reunited.

The Aberdare v Port Talbot Town fixture will see former Cardiff City defensive partners Lee Phillips and Scott Young pitting their managerial wits against each other.

Scott Young and Lee Phillips spent four years together as central defenders at Cardiff City before going their separate ways.

Phillips captained Llanelli to victory in the old League Cup in 2007/08

Both ex-players are now managers and this Tuesday night’s Word Cup second round match brings both men together again as Phillips’ Aberdare Town host Port Talbot.

“Lee’s been on the phone already and it’s been nice to catch up – and while I’m really looking forward to a bit of banter during the game it’s a great chance for us to prove how good we are,” said Young, who is forever adorned by Bluebirds fans for that famous winning goal in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup against Leeds United back in 2002.

“We were together for at least four years and will have some great banter on the touchline on Tuesday night.”

“We haven’t started as well as we’d have liked in the League so the Word Cup gives us a chance to grow stronger and show what we can do.

Their players will have a point to prove against a Welsh Premier side but I know one thing for certain – it’s Lee’s round when we get to the bar after the game whatever the result.”

The remaining fixture in the Southern section of the draw has Cambrian & Clydach taking on Afan Lido.

The Northern section has Conwy Borough host Bala Town with Gap Connah’s Quay travelling to Rhyl.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Welsh League Football Round Up

Airbus UK comfortably saw off Port Talbot’s best efforts as they ran out 3-0 winners to remain top of the Corbett Sports Welsh Premier League.

The Wingmakers continued their fine start to the season with goals from Mike Pearson, Chris Simm and Sam Hart to keep their undefeated record so far intact.

The New Saints currently occupy second place after a battling 2-0 win over Bangor City.

Only a string of saves from Lee Idzi, on his 200th appearance kept TNS in check.

Michael Wilde put Saints in front with a close-range header before Aeron Edwards’ half-volley doubled the score 90 seconds later.

Carmarthen Town were held to a 1-1 draw away at Prestatyn.

Late goals from Lee Hunt and Kyle Bassett cancelled each other out as both teams had to settle for a point.

Rhyl beat Bala Town on Friday night thanks to a 15th minute strike from Mark Cadwallader.

Elsewhere Aberystwyth drew 3-3 in a thriller with Connah’s Quay and Newtown and Afan Lido produced the same result at Latham Park.

Goytre are still top of the Nathaniel Cars Welsh League after an impressive 2-0 victory away at Ton Pentre.

Despite being unbeaten so far this season, Haverfordwest County remain second after a superb 5-1 drubbing of Tata Steel.

In Division Two, Croesyciliog were the big winners after they trounced Caerau 14-1 while Briton Ferry Llansawel remain top after a comprehensive 4-0 victory away at Cardiff Corinthians.

Risca United are top of Division Three but were made to work hard on Saturday after coming through a hard fought battle at Pontypridd Town.

Cefn Druids surrendered their 100 percent Huws Gray Alliance record as they were held 0-0 at home by Guilsfield rivals Caernarfon Town to close the gap as they were convincing in their 5-2 win over visitors Flint Town United.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Division One West Round Up

Glynneath retained their position at the top of Division One West with a 6-0 victory over Crymych in a tight encounter.

Jack O’Riley struck penalties either side of the break to see Glynneath home to victory.

Right on their tails are Carmarthen Athletic, who like Glynneath remain unbeaten so far who were made to work hard at home by Loughor in their 29-21 win.

A penalty try as well as fifteen points from Mike Sauro and nine from sub Scott Maynard did the job for Athletic who were trailing at half time.

Last season’s runners up Cwmllynfell were victorious over Kidwelly 19-16.

In another tense match, Peter Thomas remained calm throughout to register 14 points as well as a solitary try for Dylan Crisp to keep Kidwelly at the foot of the table.

They are now level on points with Builth Wells who had a brilliant win away at previously unbeaten Waunarlwydd.

Whitland bounced back from last week’s defeat to rivals Carmarthen Athletic by getting the better of Kenfig Hill by the slender margin of a point in their 19-18 result.

Ammanford’s Huw Mainwaring helped himself to a hat-trick as his side lost at home by 25-19 to Llangennech.

Meanwhile, in Division One North Ruthin suffered their first loss of the new campaign after losing away at Bro Ffestinog.

This now leaves Bethesda as the only side undefeated in the league after they earned a hard-fought 23-10 victory over Dolgellau away from home.

There were also wins for Bala and Denbigh as well as Caernarfon who got the better of Nant Conwy away from home.

Division One East Round Up

Heol-Y-Cyw put an end to Penallta’s two year home record as they squeezed past the Pitmen 23-22.

Harley Thompson was the hero for the visitors as he nailed a last-gasp drop goal to clinch the famous win.

Mike Huckridge was prolific in landing five penalties for his side whilst for Penallta, they were awarded a penalty try as well as 17 points from the boot of full-back Gary Wilkes.

Merthyr’s dramatic improvement continued as they went top after disposing of Ynysybwl 36-5.

The bonus point was achieved after a double from Owen Morgan, Josh Sly, Chris Davies, Iwan Williams and a penalty try.

The Ironmen travel to Bedlinog next weekend hoping to continue this rich vein of form.

Bedlinog themselves were beaten 15-6 away at Gilfach Goch thanks to a penalty try, a Michael Hughes effort and a penalty and conversion from Bradley Morgan.

In a real nail-biter at Riverside Park, Glamorgan Wanderers earned their first victory in the Championship after just seeing off local rivals Rumney 35-32.

Owen Marshall (2) Ray Bishop and Joe Griffin scored for the visitors whilst fly-half Sean Cochlin added the extras with the boot.

Rumney’s tries came from a Dafydd Evans double, Matthew Way and Dominic Perk’s second in consecutive games.

Nelson also eanred their first win of the season as they won 26-13 against Treorchy with tries coming from Ross Bevan, Ben Cullen and Kurt Clabby.

Ystrad Rhondda fell to their second defeat in as many games as they went down 29-17 to Rhydyfelin.

Swalec Championship Round Up

Ebbw Vale racked up six tries as they eased to a 41-3 victory over Narberth at Eugene Cross Park yesterday afternoon.

The Steelmen rarely got out of second gear as the game was wrapped up by half time with them leading 29-3.

The influential Ronny Kynes, who was a nuisance all afternoon to the Otters, scored the first try of the match after he stormed in from 20 metres.

Gareth Rusby-Davies scored on his first start for Jason Strange’s men as did Gareth Williams and winger Sion Jones bagged a brace.

This was Narberth’s second defeat in succession and they will look to bounce back next weekend when they host Bargoed.

 Ebbw Vale will also be expecting a sterner test when they travel to Cyncoed to take on Cardiff Met.

The students notched their third consecutive bonus-point win in an impressive 26-12 result in Colwyn Bay against RGC 1404.

With a crowd of well over 1100 at Parc Eirias, many would have been expecting an exciting encounter.

But Chris Davey’s troops were always in control and scored four tries through James Beale, Gavin Smith, Mark Cooke and Will Baird.

RGC were in charge up front and earned a penalty try for their efforts as well as a Hywel Grundy effort.

Tondu managed their first ever win in the Championship after they held off Bridgend Athletic 20-15.

Darren Thomas and Ashton Evans scored for the Waterwheelers as they got themselves off the foot of the table.

Bargoed ground out a 19-11 victory over Tata Steel at Bargoed Park after losing to Ebbw Vale last weekend.

Jordan Purcell scored the home sides only try while Josh Prosser added 12 points from the tee.

Josh Austin responded with the Saints only try of the game and Simon Evans got the extras with two penalties.

Beddau gained an impressive 19-8 win over Newbridge in a tight game that could have gone either way.

Steve Robinson kept his nerve to kick 12 points for the Green and Golds as well as a James Davies try to give them their second win in a row.

Elsewhere Bonymaen are still in search of their first win this season after being soundly beaten at home by Blackwood.

Rhodri Usher, Justin Jones, Henry Palmer and two Matthew McGovern efforts helped the Glan-Yr-Afon Park outfit to a 34-13 success.

Finally, Pontypool also tasted defeat for the first time after going down 21-6 away at Llanharan.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Swalec Championship Weekend Predictions

After a superb week in which Ebbw Vale were awarded an “A” license from the WRU, the bonus point win over Bargoed was the icing on the cake in their quest for promotion to the Premiership.

Jason Strange’s men go west this week as they take on Narberth at the Lewis Lloyd ground whilst Bargoed will look to get back to winning ways when they host Tata Steel.

Elsewhere in the league unbeaten Pontypool travel to a Llanharan outfit coming off the back of an impressive result over Blackwood and Tondu go in search of their first win of the season away at Bridgend Athletic.

In my opinion, the game of the week comes from North Wales as Cardiff Met will look to continue their superb early form against RGC 1404 who will be brimming with confidence after their debut victory in the Championship last weekend.

Bargoed v Tata Steel

Bargoed may feel a little aggrieved after last weekend’s performance against Ebbw Vale. After going in at half time ahead against the current champions, they were blown away in the second half and perhaps should have shown a little more concentration and discipline. Nevertheless they still put up a good show despite still being without a few first team regulars. Tata Steel came up short as they went down by three points away at Newbridge. This will be another stern test for Leigh Ratti’s men and will look to their physical pack to try and assert some dominance if they are to get anything out of the game. I think Bargoed may be smarting after their previous fixture and Tata Steel could maybe be in for a long afternoon.

Verdict – Bargoed by 15 points.

Beddau v Newbridge

The current Mid-District Cup winners Beddau have had an indifferent start to the season. After an opening day hammering at the hands of Pontypool, they were much improved last week as they won 17-13. Their defensive errors that cost them so dearly against Pooler were eradicated and the side had a more balanced look to it in the win over Tondu. Their opponents on Saturday, Newbridge, also bounced back from an opening day defeat by seeing off Tata Steel 23-20. Consistency will be the key for the Welfare Ground outfit if they are to make a mark in the Championship this year. With former Bridgend No.8 Matthew Llewellyn skippering the side, I think they will have too much for a new look Green and Golds side.

Verdict – Newbridge by 11 points.

Bonymaen v Blackwood

Blackwood were comprehensively beaten by Llanharan at Glan-Yr-Afon Park in their previous Championship game and are yet to win this season after losing to Bridgend Athletic in a thriller on the opening day. They were well beaten in every aspect of the Llanharan game, particularly the scrum where their pack were destroyed. Bonymaen themselves have suffered two defeats from two games and heavy ones at that. After conceding 78 points in the matches against Narberth and Cardiff Met respectively, ‘Bony’ could be in for a long old season unless fortunes change dramatically on the pitch. Blackwood Director of Rugby Matthew Back and Head Coach Matthew Veater will also be anxious to get that all important first win to try and get the ball rolling and I feel they will get it this Saturday.

Verdict – Blackwood by 16 points.

Bridgend Athletic v Tondu

Bridgend Athletic welcome Tondu to The Newbridge Fields this weekend gunning for their second victory in three games. After a dramatic win against Blackwood, Athletic let slip a comfortable lead against Pontypool as they went down 31-24. Tondu were vastly improved against Beddau after their own loss to Pontypool and some felt they could have even got a result against the Green and Golds. Like Blackwood and Bonymaen, Tondu need that first ‘W’ on the board to settle any early season nerves. Tondu will likely be buoyed from last week’s performance but I think Bridgend will run out comfortable winners.

Verdict – Bridgend Athletic by 11 points.

Ebbw Vale v Narberth

The Steelmen have one objective now for the season – promotion. After their good news from the WRU last week, Ebbw Vale will be spurred on knowing that after years of trying, they have a route to the Premiership. But the Eugene Cross Park outfit will be the first ones to admit how hard it is going to be. They head to Pembrokeshire on Saturday to take on a Narberth side who themselves may have an eye on the top half of the table around May time. The Otters suffered a setback last week when they were soundly beaten at the Lewis Lloyd Ground by RGC 1404 and had a torrid time of it at the scrum as they were forced to go passive during the second half. With the strength in depth Ebbw Jason Strange has at his disposal I think his troops will dominate their opponents throughout the 80 minutes.

Verdict – Ebbw Vale by 21 points.

Llanharan v Pontypool

Pontypool are flying after picking up maximum points from their first two games. They showed great heart in coming back from 21-3 at one point to Bridgend Athletic last Saturday to eventually win 31-24. With the likes of Sam Mills, Tom Organ and former club captain Jamie Jeune, on permit from Newport, coming off the bench they also have an exciting squad developing. Llanharan will also be on a high after a commanding performance against Blackwood that was led by their forwards who were on top throughout. Pooler will be without Captain Luke Dychkoff who has a dead leg and centre Ashley Norton who is away as part of the Wales sevens set up. But prop Jeune starts and there is the chance that former star Steve Taylor could come off the bench for a second debut. With the feeling around Pontypool at the moment I think they will make it three out of three.

Verdict – Pontypool by 7 points.

RGC 1404 v Cardiff Met

I think we could be in store for a cracker at Colwyn Bay tomorrow afternoon. If the conditions are right, there will be two young teams on show who love to throw the ball around and that could lead to some scintillating stuff. Cardiff Met have been tremendous so far this season in disposing of Llanharan and Bonymean scoring 11 tries in the process. The Eirias Park outfit will no doubt be lifted after their terrific performance in the win over Narberth last week. Home advantage will always count for something, even more in North Wales but I think the students will thrive in an environment such as this and will continue their awesome form.

Verdict – Cardiff Met by 9 points.

Principality Premiership Weekend Predictions

The second week of the Principality Premiership offers up some intriguing encounters, with arguably the match of the day being defending Champions Pontypridd’s game against Cross Keys at Pandy Park, while Neath host Swansea in front of the S4C cameras on Sunday. For some sides this will be their third match in seven days, and squad rotation will be pivotal.

Bedwas v Cardiff
Both of these teams will be looking to claim their first win of the season. The Gwent side ran Ponty close last weekend but ultimately came up short, while Cardiff fell to Llandovery in dire conditions. This contest is a tough one to call: Bedwas will need to show the same intensity they showed against Ponty last Saturday; Cardiff, meanwhile, will need to step up a notch from their match - although the conditions did not help matters, Cardiff didn't control the match very well, even when they had a man advantage in the closing stages.
Verdict- Bedwas by 5 points
Carmarthen Quins v Aberavon
There is no doubt Quins will be full of confidence following their back to back wins so far this season. In the same fixture last year, these two sides had a humdinger of a match with the hosts just edging it. Quins have some big ball carriers and they have used them in good effect to punch up the middle in their opening two matches, and have the cutting edge behind to hurt any team. The Wizards on the other hand did what was required to dispatch Newport and although they haven’t set the world alight so far, they have won all three competitive matches they have played this season.
Verdict- Carmarthen Quins by 7 points
Cross Keys v Pontypridd.
I really thought Cross Keys were going to put Swansea to the sword last weekend - they had looked impressive in BIC qualifying and Swansea really struggled last term. However, despite all of the Keys' dominance, they failed to make their rivals pay and, once again, discipline or lack thereof nearly cost them the match when Darren Hughes' and Scott Andrews' sin bins left them with 13 men in the closing moments. I truly think the Pandy Park side have the squad to see off anyone on their day and if I was a Keys supporter, I would be more than a little frustrated.
Moving to Ponty, they may be looking for their third win on the bounce but they have used a few ‘Get out of Jail Free’ cards already this season. Undoubtedly, the team they put out mid-week against the Ravens wasn’t the strongest but after such a stellar year last season, there is the worry that maybe they have taken their foot off the gas slightly. Whatever has happened, I’m sure the players will have Dale McIntosh’s voice ringing in their ears should they require another Houdini act tomorrow.
I have no qualms in saying I think this will be a fiery encounter and I honestly think that if Keys keep their discipline, they can win. Having said that, no matter how badly Ponty perform, they seem to keep finding a way to win.
Verdict- Pontypridd by 5 points
Llandovery v Bridgend
Llandovery edged past Cardiff last Sunday and even though Bridgend were the better side mid-week against Ponty, I still think the hosts must start as favourites. However, I think this, too, will be a close but entertaining fixture, though with home advantage Llandovery will come out on top.
Verdict- Llandovery by 6 points
Newport v Llanelli
Newport were pretty poor in their loss at Aberavon, and the Keys did a number on the Black and Ambers in the BIC qualifiers, but the Gwent side will be happy to be back in the familiar surroundings of Rodney Parade. Llanelli haven’t clicked into high gear so far this season - they produced a great second half show to see off Neath last Saturday, while in mid-week, they were squeezed out of it by Carmarthen. Llanelli undoubtedly have a very talented back line with full back Steffan Evans already proving to be a prodigious talent. They will need to start finishing the chances they manufacture, though, if they are to challenge Ponty at the summit this season.
Verdict- Llanelli by 7 points
Sunday 22 September
Neath v Swansea
This match was originally due to be played at St Helens, but the organisers forgot that the Swansea Bay 10K race takes place this Sunday so the venues have been swapped. Both of these teams struggled last season and although Neath made it to the Swalec Cup final, I really feel like the Gnoll outfit were papering over the cracks a bit. Swansea know if they have a repeat performance of the season they had last year they are in very real danger of starting next season in the Championship. Neath really took the game to Llanelli for the opening half last week, while Swansea didn’t exactly roll over to let their bellies be tickled by Keys either. I think this match already takes on huge importance at the foot of the table and I expect Neath to edge this Ospreylian derby... just.

Verdict- Neath by 3 points

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Welsh League Driving Onwards With New Sponsors

Nathaniel Cars were today announced as the new sponsors of the Welsh Football League in a three-year deal.

The Bridgend based car dealership is also the current sponsors of the Welsh League Cup but have added to that by replacing MacWhirter as the league’s main sponsor.

The linkup between both parties will be full of incentives to members of the league.

This includes the club throughout all divisions with the best disciplinary record at the end of the season, as judged by the FAW Fair Play awards, being awarded a 16-seater Minibus for a whole season.

It will be taxed and insured as well as having the club’s name printed on the side of the vehicle.

There will be Manager of the Month awards handed out throughout the leagues as well as a Manager of the Year award given at the end of the season.

The recipient of the Manager of the Year award will get a prize of any Mitsubishi car from Nathaniel, taxed and insured, for a fortnight during the close season.

Every player and committee member registered to the league will also be given a free MOT.

And finally, every car purchased by members will receive six months free road tax, one full tank of petrol and their next service will be free of charge.

Wayne Griffiths, Managing Director of Nathaniel Cars was delighted with the ‘unique’ partnership.

“With the economic climate the way it is today, I think it is a great benefit in helping clubs survive,” said Mr Griffiths.

“It is unique for Welsh Football and gives an incentive to each club in each league that they can reap the benefits at the end of the season.

“For example, the club showing the best conduct by having the best disciplinary record will earn the Minibus.

“This could help a club from the kid’s teams to the senior sides and will give all involved a tremendous boost.

“We have a great enthusiasm for this partnership and hope it benefits Welsh League football.”

League Secretary Ken Tucker was also optimistic.

“We have agreed a three-year deal with the option of a further three years,” said Mr Tucker. 

“We hope it has more of a positive impact locally within the league which will lead to potentially greater things for all involved in the future.”

The Nathaniel Cars Welsh Football League, as it will now be known, continues tonight with Division One’s Taffs Well hosting West End at the Rhiw Dda’r stadium and Division Three’s Cardiff Grange Quins hosting Tredegar Town tomorrow evening.

Llanelli 19-20 Carmarthen Quins

Carmarthen Quins tasted victory for the first time at Parc Y Scarlets last night as they edged past Llanelli by the slenderest of margins in this West Walian derby.

Quins reversed the defeat at the hands of Llanelli in the first round of qualifying for the British and Irish Cup just two weeks ago.
On that occasion Carmarthen let their opportunities slip past, but it was Llanelli that will be thinking what could have been after missing two golden try scoring chances before the break, while winger Gareth Walters failed to convert either of Llanelli’s two penalties late on.
Both sides fielded much changed line-ups from their respective opening day Premiership wins over Neath and Bridgend, but right from the get go, the young guns were intent on playing expansive, running rugby, despite perhaps being guilty of overplaying at times.
Llanelli had the better of the opening 15 minutes and butchered two golden chances, with the best falling to flanker Dan Thomas.  
Centre Johnny Lewis started the move with a break inside his own half before feeding Wales 7s star Craig Price, who in turn set Dan Thomas free.
With a two on one with Howard Thomas, the Quins full back, the Llanelli flanker threw a dummy and looked set to go over, only for the full back to scrag him at the last moment. Some good work at the breakdown from the Quins' scramble defence then saw referee Neil Hennessey award them a penalty and a chance to clear their lines.
Quins began to grown into the match, with scrum-half Rhodri Wells making a number of breaks around the fringes while the forwards pummelled the Llanelli defence, and it was the visitors that opened the scoring.
Fly-half Craig Evans produced a beautifully weighted cross field kick that winger Tomos Rees gathered and offloaded in almost the same motion to send young flanker Will Boyde clear. Evans added the extras and ten minutes later extended the Quins' lead to 10-0 with a penalty.
However, Llanelli hit back immediately with ironic cheers greeting Hennessey’s awarding of a penalty to the hosts, after Anthony Buchanan’s men had been pinged nine times in the first half to Quins’ two. Fly half Josh Lewis fired home the penalty and it was not long till they were on level terms.
The hosts' full back Steffan Evans posed a threat for the Quins defence all evening, and it was the 19-year old that proved to be the catalyst for Llanelli’s only try of the night.
Evans gathered the ball in his own half before slipping a number of tackles to drive Llanelli into Quins territory, and a few phases later, Evans was once again on hand to make a half break before the ball was recycled for flanker Duane Eager to go over. Lewis drew the sides level with a well-taken conversion.
After the interval, it was the visitors that started the better and despite full back Howard Thomas butchering a two on one metres from the line, the Quins managed to retain possession, eventually working it out-wide for centre Dylan Morgans to cross with Evans on target with the extras from the left hand touch line.
In a complete reversal of the opening 40 minutes, referee Hennessey now had major issues with the visitors at the breakdown and Josh Lewis slotted two more penalties to draw Llanelli within one point.
Hennessey’s whistle was now playing a fine tune and it saw Llanelli’s Johnny Lewis and Quins' Carwyn Jones both sent to the sin bin, while Evans added another three pointer for the Quins, before winger Gareth Walters once again drew the hosts to within a point with a penalty of his own after Josh Lewis left the field following a knock.
The frantic, final ten minutes once again saw Llanelli on top though unable to land the killer blow from the tee or in open play, but it was nonetheless an exhilarating end to a highly entertaining match.
Star Man: Craig Evans (Carmarthen Quins)
Referee : Neil Hennessey (Cardiff).

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Llanelli School Boys U15 5-7 Swansea School Boys U15

Swansea No8 Corey Williams attacks from the base of the scrum

Swansea School Boys Under 15s kicked their season off with a win as they overcame local rivals Llanelli by the slenderest of margins 7-5, on a wet and wild night at Cae Ffair, Trimsaran.
Despite the tricky conditions, both sides' intent to play running rugby was evident from the outset, with the two teams looking to attack at every opportunity.
Llanelli flanker Oliver Davies breaks from the line-out
With the conditions taking their toll and defences well on top, the match looked to be heading towards a stalemate but with seven minutes remaining, Swansea’s Sam Knight sparked the match into life.
Knight gathered a loose ball in his own 22 and set off on a weaving run that saw him evade several Llanelli defenders and touchdown beneath the posts. Corey Evans slotted the simplest of conversions for a 7-0 lead.
No way through: Both teams were well organised in defence

However, Llanelli immediately hit back, gaining possession from the restart as good driving work by the Llanelli pack set up a promising position. The ball was recycled and spun wide with centre Glen Williams going over out-wide, but the difficult conversion was missed and Swansea held on for victory.

Let’s use Liberty to our advantage…

After starting the new RaboDirect PRO12 season with games on the road against Treviso and Leinster, Ryan Jones says the Ospreys are looking forward to returning home to the Liberty Stadium for their Round 3 fixture against Edinburgh this Saturday (KO 6.30pm).
Jones skippered the team on the opening weekend in Italy but was forced to sit out the trip to Dublin having taken a bang to the shoulder the previous weekend, and he says he's hoping to recover in time to run out against the Scots this weekend.

"I was disappointed not to be involved at the weekend” admitted Jones.

"The RDS is a fantastic place to play and we've enjoyed a good record there in recent seasons. It's one of the PRO12's great rivalries I think, and it seems that it was another classic encounter between the two teams.

"We're all looking forward to being back at home this weekend. It's week three and it's our first game at home. There's a huge appetite for it and the players, just as much as the fans I think, are looking forward to getting some game time at the Liberty.

"Fingers crossed I'll get the nod from the medical team and, if selected, it'll be great to get back out there in front of our home crowd at the Liberty Stadium. It's a fantastic venue and our supporters have shown there time after time that they can create a wonderful atmosphere. We need to use that to our advantage, to feed off the fans and them feed off us. It'd be great to see a big crowd there to help us build some real momentum.”

The Ospreys sit in fourth place in the formative league table, with six points earned from a win and a draw in their two games to date. Jones acknowledged that it was a vast improvement on last season's start, but challenged the squad to continue improving.

"We were bitterly disappointed with the way we started last year” he said.

"Losing the first three games put pressure on us later in the year and in the end we were chasing results to try and make up for that.

"We've had a far better start this year and that, hopefully, will stand us in good stead for the weeks and months ahead. The down side of not making the play-offs was that it meant we've had a long pre-season, and conversely, the up side of not making the play-offs is that we've had a long pre-season!

"It's meant that we've had plenty of time to put in the ground work for the battles ahead. We've seen a few boys coming back in from injury, we've been bolstered by new faces coming in and players stepping up from age-grade and we're in a good place at the moment I think. The challenge that we face as a squad now is to continue striving to improve. We aren't the finished article based on two games and if we think we are, that's where we'll fall flat. We have to keep working hard.”

Jones stepped into the second row in Treviso, a position he has filled in at several times in recent seasons, and although more widely considered as a back-rower, he revealed that he will play anywhere if it means getting to pull on the Ospreys jersey on matchday.

"Listen, it is hugely competitive here but I've always been a case of 'have boots will travel'. I'll play anywhere if it means I'm doing my bit for the team. I'll do what's required. We've got huge strength in depth in the back five and it's an achievement just to get a game for the Ospreys.

"Look at who's been involved over the first few weeks, old heads like Bearman have been excellent, it's been great to have Tom Smith back after a year out with injury. He's been like a new signing. And, of course, we've got youngsters like James King and Sam Lewis who've been nothing short of exceptional. It's incredibly satisfying as someone who has been here a long time and cares passionately about this region to see players like that coming through, even if it makes life difficult for me.

"We've also got some pretty good players who've enjoyed a summer in Australia and have come back in good spirits, and that also gives everybody a lift. Some of our Lions boys have already made an impact off the bench, others are there or thereabouts and are looking to get involved on Saturday, and that's great. It means there's real competition for places and that can only drive us forward and help us get better individually and as a team in the coming weeks.

"I'm still as competitive as I've ever been. I've still got huge aspirations for this region to go on and be successful, and be a team that no one likes to play against, domestically and in Europe. We are striving to be the best that we can as a group.”