Thursday, 31 October 2013

Head coach Edwards happy to avoid top two in 2014 World Cup draw

Wales have drawn hosts France, Australia and South Africa in Pool C for next year's Women's Rugby World Cup 2014.

Back in the previous World Cup in 2010, Wales were pitted with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in what was described as the ‘Group of Death’.

But despite giving a brave account of themselves they were unable to win a pool match and eventually finished ninth after gaining revenge over South Africa in the play-offs thanks to a wonderful performance from the side.

The hotly-anticipated draw for 2014 took place in the Hotel de Ville in Paris today, and created some mouth-watering clashes for next August.

Wales Women Head Coach Rhys Edwards was a keen spectator of the draw and was satisfied with the outcome.

"I'm happy to have avoided England and New Zealand because they are obviously the top two teams in the world at the moment,” he said.

“The draw has been a long time coming so it's nice to know now who we are playing.

“Up until this point everything has been hypothetical but now we can give France, South Africa and Australia our full attention.”

"France at home is going to be a huge challenge but we will be looking to next year's Six Nations as a springboard for the World Cup.

“We are in a healthy position at the moment as we have genuine competition for places right across the team so there are no guaranteed starts whereas that has been our downfall in the past.”

In Pool B, defending champions New Zealand will face tough clashes against USA and Ireland as well as Asian qualifiers Kazakhstan as they attempt to win a fifth successive title.

Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 will take place in Paris from August 1-17 with the pool stages taking place at FFR Marcoussis, with the semi-finals and final being played at Stade Jean Bouin.

Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 Pool Draw

Pool A - England, Canada, Spain, Samoa

Pool B - New Zealand, USA, Ireland, Kazakhastan

Pool C - Australia, France, Wales, South Africa

James hopeful of massive Wrexham support

With Wales looking to bounce back from their 32-16 defeat to Italy against the USA on Sunday, prop Jordan James is hoping that the passionate crowd up in Wrexham can spur them on to victory.

The Racecourse ground is the setting for Iestyn Harris’ side’s must-win clash against the United States, which has become even more important following the Tomahawks impressive debut win in the Rugby League World Cup beating the Cook Islands 32-20 last night.

James is familiar with the Racecourse ground after the Crusaders were based there during the 2010-1 season and with the game close to a sell-out, James has urged the bumper crowd to be on top form come Sunday afternoon.

“It’s always nice to play here in Wrexham,” he said.

“I had some good times here with the Crusaders – the fans are very loyal and passionate and they make a lot of noise, which is great from a player’s perspective.

“I’m looking forward to running out onto the Racecourse field once again and hopefully we can put on a show for them.

“Home support can play a massive part in the USA match especially as when you’re down and out and you hear people singing and cheering it really gives the players a lift.

“Nothing beats hearing thousands of people signing the Welsh national anthem and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of a passionate home crowd here in Wrexham.”

The Tomahawks travel to Wrexham in confident mood following their historic win over the Cook Islands, with a squad bolstered with the likes of NRL stars Clint Newton and Wednesday night’s man of the match Joseph Paulo.

And James, who will ply his trade with the Gloucestershire All Golds next season, is expecting a tough, physical contest against the World Cup newcomers.

He added: “The Tomahawks have got a few experienced NRL players in their squad and they will be big and strong.

“They’re a country that excels when it comes to sport so they are going to come here fired up and looking to win. We’ve got to make sure we’re well prepared and match them physically.

“We’ve got a relatively young squad but the guys know each other pretty well.

“We’ve been together as a unit for four or five years now and we have a strong bond as a team.”

Tickets for the Wales vs. USA game are available online at, in person at the Glyndwr University box-office or by calling the Rugby League World Cup ticket hotline on 0844 847 2013.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Neath Port Talbot 7-7 Coleg Llandrillo

Neath Port Talbot College and Coleg Llandrillo shared the spoils after their hard-fought 7-7 draw at Llandarcy in the WRU Wednesday Under 18 League.

Both sides were guilty of missed opportunities to snatch a result with defences holding firm in very poor conditions.

With Wales head coach Warren Gatland in attendance, Neath Port Talbot opened the scoring in the seventh minute when hooker Luke Davies was on hand at the back of a line out to rip the ball out and surge through passed a couple of would be defenders to score an impressive solo effort.

Fly-half Dylan Francis was successful with the conversion to give his side a 7-0 lead.

Coleg Llandrillo were never given the chance to attack their opponents during the remainder of the first half while Neath Port Talbot did not look like mustering any clear cut chances for themselves.

With the rain getting heavier, the ball was dropped on numerous occasions leading to a stop-start affair going in at half time.

A few minutes after the restart Neath Port Talbot thought they had extended their lead when prop Mike Williams was put in under the posts from close range only for the referee to disallow the try as Williams had dropped the ball over the line when tackled.

Coleg Llandrillo full back Morgan Williams, who has been in scintillating form for his side so far this season, had the chance to cut the lead soon after but his penalty attempt was well off target.

Llandrillo did get their first try of the game after a period of sustained pressure and a number of phases put in by drives from their pack.

Outside-half Tom Williams cut through two Neath Port Talbot defenders close to the line before dabbing the ball down under the sticks.

Morgan Williams second effort from the tee was a lot better and the conversion drew the sides level at 7-7.

With Llandrillo remaining on the offensive, it took a cracking defensive shift from Neath Port Talbot to prevent them from what would likely have been the match-winning second try.

After a Llandrillo replacement was issued with a yellow card in the final few minutes for killing the ball at the ruck, Francis had the opportunity to grab what had looked like an unlikely win for his team.

But with a strong wind, his penalty attempt went just wide of the posts.

Hooker Luke Davies was terrific for his side with some gut-busting runs while showing pace whilst making one cover tackle in particular that any international winger would have been proud of.

For the away side, fly-half Tom Williams looked lively with the ball in hand and open-side Max Peters was aggressive in the tackle.

Llandrillo host unbeaten Coleg-Y-Cymoedd in their next cup competition match with Neath Port Talbot away at Coleg Sir Gar.

"We can still make it through" - White

Despite Wales’ opening day defeat to Italy in the Rugby League World Cup on Saturday, stand-off Lloyd White is still optimistic about his team’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition.

The Azzurri followed on from their shock defeat of England in a warm-up game by prevailing against Wales 32-16 at the Millennium Stadium after their powerful second half performance proved to be the difference.

But with the USA and the Cook Islands still to come for Iestyn Harris’ men, White believes they have what it takes to progress.

“Obviously the Italy loss was a huge disappointment after the build-up we had had and the performances we had been giving in training,” said White.

“But they matched our intensity throughout and it probably just got a bit too far away from us during the later stages of the match.

“They were a big, strong side and there were a few bruised bodies the next morning as well as a few bruised egos as we were confident that we could come away with a win due to how well our preparation had gone.

“But we have to forget about that now as we play the USA on Sunday and realistically it is win or bust so we are going to have to go out and give it our all in order to get that result.

“But hopefully we can play to our potential and if we can I’m more than confident we can win our next two games and go through to the Quarters.”

Wales travel to Wrexham’s Glyndwr Racecourse Ground for their game against the United States before taking on the Cook Islands at the Gnoll.

With a crowd of over 45,000 at the Millennium Stadium for the double header featuring England against Australia and Wales and Italy, White has praised the spectators for making it a memorable experience.

“The crowd was fantastic during the game and the atmosphere was incredible,” said the Widnes Vikings star.

“It got the boys up for it even more and it’s just a shame we couldn’t repay the favour by getting the win.

“Even though it won’t be as busy up in Wrexham, I’m sure the atmosphere will be just as electric and this time we’ll be able to repay their support.”

The 2011 RLIF Wales Rugby League player of the year is seen by many as a key player to Wales’ hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages but White was keen to praise the squad and strength in depth they possess.

He added: “I don’t think it’s about one player as such as we have such a class squad full of Super League and NRL experience.

“The good thing about it as well is that it is only going to continue developing and getting stronger due to how much exposure this tournament is going to bring to Rugby League in Wales.”

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Gatland keeping one eye on the future

The WRU Wednesday Under 18 League clash between Neath Port Talbot College and Coleg Llandrillo tomorrow will have one onlooker who all the players will be keen to impress – Warren Gatland.

The Wales head coach will be at Llandarcy to watch the two teams fight it out in the Cup competition.

With Gatland in attendance and both sides looking to keep tabs on league leaders Coleg Y Cymoedd, there will be plenty to play for with the game streamed live via the S4C website.

"It's vital we continue to develop the best young Welsh talent at all levels of the game and the Wednesday Under 18 League competition is a vital part of that,” said Gatland.

"It gives young players the chance to play competitive mid-week rugby to a high standard alongside the Regional Age Grade Championship.

"Some of these players will then move on to play for Wales Under 18 but as a whole, the competition can only benefit all the players and coaches involved.”

Coleg Llandrillo have had an impressive start to their debut season with players like full-back Morgan Williams being particularly impressive.

"It's half term so we haven't seen much of the boys but we finished well last week with a win over Coleg Gwent,” said Llandrillo head coach Josh Leach.

"That was a big positive as they had beaten us a few weeks ago.

“It shows how far we've come as a team and we're building momentum now both in training and in games.

“There is a lot of continuity in our squad though we try not to focus too much on the game being on TV.”

Neath Port Talbot College Director of Rugby Max Howells, who is still without captain Adam Beard and No. 8 Josh Middleton, said: "Our first half performance against Cymoedd last week was dreadful but we improved and we'll take the second half as a positive.

"Llandrillo have done very well this season and you can't under estimate anyone in this league. We certainly won't do that on Wednesday.”

In the other games to take place this week, leaders Coleg Y Cymoedd host Bridgend College while Coleg Sir Gar will hope to bounce back from consecutive defeats when they host Coleg Gwent.

There are two fixtures in the Trophy competition with Cowbridge Comprehensive hosting Newport High School and Llandovery College travelling to Tenby to meet Pembrokeshire Schools.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Swalec Bowl Round Two Review - 26th October

Llandaff North ensured they did not bring their woeful league form into the Bowl yesterday afternoon as they progressed through to the third round.

The North beat Cardiff Saracens 45-3 in their first victory of the season thus far after losing all 6 of their Division Four South East fixtures.

Captain Dominic Scobie set his side on their way with two tries as did Gareth Hanson while Dai Thomas and Richard Ham also went over.

Cefn Fforest were not troubled too much as they also went through beating Cwmcarn 38-3 scoring five tries in the process.

Kris Meredith, Robert Landruggan, Luke Vye-Parminter, Craig Gallent and Shaun Roach all touched down for the Fforest.

Fishguard got their campaign off to a flying start by comfortably dispatching Pembroke Dock 40-7.

The Seagulls, who lost to Wattstown at the Millennium Stadium in last season’s Bowl final, ran in five tries with Gareth Adamson, Matthew George, Owain Morgans, Mark George and Simon James all touching down.

Clwb Rygbi Cymru Caerdydd won the battle between the top two sides in Division Four South East, knocking out leaders St. Josephs 15-5.

The Joes had won the league clash between the pair earlier this season but Clwb gained their revenge in a hard-fought encounter scoring twice through second row Scott Conway and winger Amlyn Griffiths with fly-half Oliver Jenkins kicking the rest.

Cwmavon recorded a big win against Crynant triumphing by 48 points to 7 scoring eight tries in the process.

Daryl Thomas, Ashley Davies, Luke Gronert, John-Michael Petty, James Simpkins, Nathan Dare, Jay Baker and Adam Summerfield all crossed for the Reds.

Meanwhile there were huge wins for Colwyn Bay who trounced Bangor 70-12 and Treharris who thrashed Tref-Y-Clawdd 72-0.

The full list of results can be found on the All Wales Sport website.

Swalec Plate Round One Review - 26th October

Kidwelly recorded the result of the day in the opening round of the Swalec Plate by putting Pontyberem to the sword and winning 84-0.

The Black and Ambers scored 12-tries in an easy afternoon with full back Dafydd Lewis grabbing a hat-trick, Jason Smith and Richard Rees getting a double and Liam Thomas Andrew Kirkbride, Andy Francis and Stuart Morris all crossing for their side.

Morris also recorded a 100% record with the boot by landing 12 out of 12 conversions.

Undefeated Division Three South East leaders Ystalyfera progressed through to the next round at the expense of Resolven winning 47-13.

The Fera’s forwards were too big and powerful for their opponents to handle and scored 7 tries thank to Ashley Clatter, Owain Morgan, Emyr Myers, Arwel Williams, Peter Abraham and Damien James who bagged a brace.

Wattstown produced the biggest shock of the day by knocking out Gilfach Goch who are two divisions higher.

The Ducks of Division Three South East scored a Nathan Bruford try deep, deep into injury-time to send their Division One East opponents packing.

Cardiff Quins and Rhiwbina both saw off higher league opposition with the Quins knocking out Llanishen and the Squirrels beating Ynysybwl.

Current holders and Division One East leaders were not to be on the end of a cup upset as they easily saw off Tylorstown 27-3 thanks to tries from Chris Howe, second rows Jordan Hawkins and Craig Bessant and winger Paul Songhurst.

The full list of results can be found on the All Wales Sport website.

Swalec Championship Review - 26th October

RGC 1404 secured an impressive 22-6 victory away at Tata Steel in a fiery encounter that saw the home side’s back-row star Bill Carey sent off for violent conduct 15 minutes before the final whistle.

The North Wales region were expected to use their heavy forwards to try and match up to the bruising Saints pack and handled the job well.

Fly-half Lewis Barker stole the show for the Parc Eirias outfit scoring 17-points for his team including two tries, two conversions and a penalty whilst Tom Blackwell also went over.

Tata Steel rarely looked like threatening and could only manage two penalties from Gareth Walters.

Beddau bounced back to winning ways after last week’s defeat to local rivals Llanharan by beating basement boys Bonymaen 22-10.

The Green and Gold’s managed three tries through David Francis, Tom Payne and Glenn Slater in reply to a single try for Bonymaen’s Nathan Brooks.

Leaders Ebbw Vale are still undefeated in the Swalec Championship after their comprehensive 39-10 win away at Newbridge.

The Steelmen scored five tries thanks to a double from Jack Flower, David James and Ashley Sweet and a penalty try to keep them 11-points clear of second placed Narberth.

Narberth themselves secured a bonus-point 35-29 victory over Tondu in an entertaining fixture at Pandy Park.

The Otters and the Waterwheelers both scored four tries with Jonathan Humphries, Matthew Murphy, and Ashton Evans going over twice for Tondu while Narberth’s scorers were Steph Phillips, Dylan Richards, Rhys Lane and Morgan Griffith.

Elsewhere Bargoed beat struggling Blackwood 22-11 and Llanharan saw off a spirited Bridgend Athletic side 32-21.

Pontypool’s fixture with Cardiff Met was postponed Friday afternoon due to a waterlogged pitch.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Swalec Championship Weekend Predictions

Bridgend Athletic recorded only their second win of the season last weekend when they were the surprise 29-27 winners away at Bargoed.

They host Llanharan at The Newbridge Fields this weekend with the Dairymen looking to close the 11-point gap on leaders Ebbw Vale.

The Steelmen are away at local rivals Newbridge as their hunt for promotion looks almost unstoppable.

With the weather taking a turn for the worst this week, we have our first casualty as Pontypool’s fixture with Cardiff Met has been called off.

Beddau v Bonymaen

Bonymaen were ever so close to pulling themselves from the foot of the table last week but a narrow 19-17 loss to Tata Steel ensures they remain at the bottom for at least another seven days. Beddau lost away at local rivals Llanharan 17-8 but in truth the score line could have been much greater if it was not for some simple mistakes and poor decision making on Llanharan’s behalf. Bonymaen will be desperate to gain their second win of the campaign to avoid the dreaded drop but I don’t think it will come tomorrow against a Green and Gold’s outfit who have blown hot and cold so far this season.

Verdict – Beddau by 7 points.

Blackwood v Bargoed

Surprisingly, Blackwood are only two points ahead of basement boys Bonymaen in the Swalec Championship and are really struggling. Despite heavy defeats to Ebbw Vale and RGC 1404, the Glan-Yr-Afon Park outfit have been competitive in all of their games even with a large injury list so should eventually have enough to pull themselves out of a relegation dogfight. Bargoed are also suffering with a full treatment room and results are showing as much.  Many thought they would be the side to push favourites Ebbw Vale all the way but thus far we are yet to see why. They will need a good run of results to climb up the table and will hope for a start when they travel to Blackwood.

Verdict – Bargoed by 10 points.

Bridgend Athletic v Llanharan

After last Saturday’s heroics, Bridgend Athletic will be brimming with confidence heading into this fixture. They will be hoping that the much needed and well deserved victory at Bargoed can kick start their poor early form. But they come up against an in-form outfit in Llanharan who boast a tenacious forward pack as well as the league’s top point’s scorer in fly-half Codey Rees. They only won 17-8 at home to Beddau last weekend but the players, coaches and supporters will wonder how considering the opportunities they squandered to make the score line much greater. The Dairymen currently sit second in the table and will likely win comfortably against their opponents.

Verdict – Llanharan by 11 points.

Newbridge v Ebbw Vale

The Steelmen once again picked up another bonus-point victory in their comprehensive 39-6 win over Tondu while once again resting some key personnel. Jason Strange’s men are 11-points clear at the top of the Swalec Championship and I personally believe that the gap is only going to get bigger. Newbridge have had an inconsistent season so far and became the first team to lose to RGC 1404 at their Parc Eirias ground last weekend. Even with the extra motivation they will have with the league leaders coming to The Welfare Ground, I cannot see anything other than an Ebbw Vale result.

Verdict – Ebbw Vale by 18 points.

Tata Steel v RGC 1404

This could be a bruising 80 minutes as both teams will feel their heavy pack can dominate their opponents. RGC 1404 kicked their losing habit at home in their previous game against Newbridge so will feel relieved to have finally won in North Wales. They will hope their great away form can continue whilst turning Parc Eirias into a fortress. Tata Steel only just scraped by with a win against Bonymaen last weekend so will hope for an all-round better performance against their North Walian visitors. This could be a highlight of this weekend’s fixtures and I am going to go with a very narrow RGC win.

Verdict – RGC 1404 by 2 points.

Tondu v Narberth

The Waterwheelers put up a determined show against Ebbw Vale last Saturday and the 39-6 score line does not do justice to the commitment and effort shown by the players throughout the 80 minutes. Narberth were impressive and claimed a superb win over Pontypool to extend their unbeaten run to four games. I think as the season goes on Tondu may struggle with life in their debut season in the Championship but that is not for the lack of trying. They will need to start winning their home games if they are to survive and will be confident when the Otters visit tomorrow. I think it will be close but Narberth will have too much.

Verdict – Narberth by 8 points.

Principality Premiership Weekend Predictions

The Principality Premiership has been rocked this week by the very sad news of the sudden and tragic passing of Pontypridd prop Stuart Williams last Monday. The club’s match with Neath that was scheduled for this weekend has been postponed until further notice. Everyone at All Wales Sport would like to express our condolences to Stuart’s family, friends and colleagues, and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

Bedwas v Carmarthen Quins
Neither of these sides have been in action since the beginning of the month but this should be a great battle. Bedwas saw off Llanelli at home last time out and are always a tough nut to crack at the Bridge Field. Steve Law’s side, however, can only field 5 of the players that saw off Llanelli three weeks ago.
Early pace setters Carmarthen Quins will also be hoping that the break will not mean a loss of momentum on the park. Quins, who are the only team left in the division with a 100% record, will be without hooker Rhodri Clancy (ankle) and powerhouse flanker Sion Bennett, who has starred for them this season, after he dislocated his shoulder representing Llanelli in the B and I Cup last week.
I think the clash will be a closely fought affair but I think Quins will do just enough and extend their advantage at the summit.
Verdict-Carmarthen Quins by 5 points
 Cross Keys v Bridgend
Cross Keys have been busy in B and I Cup action claiming two wins on the bounce, and will be hoping to keep the momentum going when they switch to league action tomorrow. The Keys have made a whole host of changes to the side that won at Ealing, but the valleys side, who completed the double over their Ospreylian visitors last season, have still named a strong squad for tomorrow’s clash.
Unlike their hosts, Bridgend have had a three week lay-off and Ben Rose’s troops should be raring to go; however, I feel they will face an upward battle on Saturday. If the Ravens don’t maintain parity up front, it could be a long afternoon for the visitors.
Verdict-Cross Keys by 8 points
 Llandovery v Newport
Both sides have had a two week break going into this round of fixtures, with Llandovery looking to build on their position of fourth while Newport really need to kick their season into gear after recording just one win out of five so far.
The Drovers, who are unbeaten at home since Boxing Day last year, have once again made an impressive start to their league campaign and they should have seen off last season’s champions Pontypridd at Church Bank a few weeks ago.
Newport have really struggled to get going so far and despite running away to victory against Swansea at the start of the month, they really failed to put in a performance last time out at Cardiff.
With Newport missing a few key personnel, I think the hosts will take the points from this one.
Verdict-Llandovery by 9 points
 Llanelli v Aberavon (6.45pm kick-off - live on S4C)
The postponement of the Pontypridd v Neath match has seen this clash switch to the later time of 6.45. Although Llanelli have impressed in the B and I Cup and currently sit on top of their group (despite going down at Bedford), their last league performance wasn’t one to write home about as they slipped to their second defeat of the season at Bedwas.
Anthony Buchanan will be hoping his side can get their league program back on track when they welcome Aberavon, who currently occupy bottom position in the table.
The Wizards will be hoping to dig themselves out of a hole when they travel west tomorrow; although they have looked good in the cross border competition, their league form will definitely be a worry for the club’s supporters.
I expect a much better performance from both sides since their last league offerings but I can’t see past a home win here.
Verdict-Llanelli by 7 points
 Sunday 27 October
Cardiff v Swansea
This fixture was originally scheduled for Saturday, before the Rugby League World Cup put paid to that. The hosts then switched it to Friday night, but I’m not sure they informed their visitors who consequently appealed to the WRU, who in turn decided it should be played on Sunday.
Cardiff currently sit third in the table and really do look an impressive unit, both up front and behind. Their only loss this season came on the opening day at Llandovery in horrendous conditions and even that match they should have won.
Swansea, who finished bottom of the pile last term, will need to continue to improve this season if they are not to become embroiled in a relegation battle with the rest of their Ospreylian rivals. I’m sure the All Whites will be determined to better their last league outing where they were trounced at Rodney Parade, but even if they do, in my opinion, I can only see one team taking the points.
Verdict-Cardiff by 12 points

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Swansea University 10-46 Hartpury College

Swansea suffered their fourth straight BUCS Premier South A defeat when they were comfortably dispatched by Hartpury at Sketty Lane.

Going into the match, Hartpury had won their previous two league games while their hosts had lost three times on the road.

The West Country side’s pack was the dominant force of the day as they pushed and shoved their Swansea counterparts all around the park.

The Green and Whites’ misery could have been made worse if the visitors’ backs had executed in more ruthless fashion.

Swansea had started the brighter side with a strong wind behind them, but two breakaway tries in quick succession from the visitors saw the Gloucester outfit notch up a 12-0 lead, with Swansea’s defence more than suspect.

The first score was an opportunistic touchdown, with winger Cameron Roberts racing away to cross in the corner after a promising Swansea attack broke down.

The second was a well-worked try from the opposite wing, Mark Harrison, after great interplay from full back Jacob Perry and centre Ben Roberts that set-up Harrison to finish off and go under the posts.

Despite this, Swansea were gifted the opportunity to bag their first points shortly after with a shot at the posts thanks to an error at the restart, and fly-half Jack Shields duly obliged.

Hartpury’s 12 point lead was shortly restored with a penalty of their own from Gareth Thompson.
Using the strong wind, however, Swansea began to assert themselves and work their way into the match.

After a long spell of pressure, the hosts worked the ball out-wide and Shields cut an exquisite line to dance over, leaving the visiting defence clutching at thin air. The fly-half then dusted himself off and added the extras.

The hosts should’ve gone in at least on par with their visitors as they were camped on the opposition try line but couldn’t fulfil their attacking enterprise.

Number 8, Adam Scanlon, had the best chance but opted for a ‘Hollywood’ offload instead of taking the contact mere feet from the whitewash.

With the wind at their backs this time, Hartpury got off to a flying start after the break.

After gaining good field position, the pack drove towards the whitewash and with the maul gathering pace, Swansea were forced to illegally halt it metres from the line. The resultant penalty was taken quickly with scrum-half Mitchell Spencer burrowing over.

It was all Hartpury now and the visitors extended their lead through a penalty try which had been on the cards all afternoon. A Hartpury scrum moving at a rate of knots close to the Swansea line saw the Green and Whites disintegrate under the pressure, and the referee had no choice but to go beneath the posts.

With the result a foregone conclusion, the final twenty minutes descended into a scrappy affair, although the West Country side did manage to help themselves to another three touchdowns.

Centre Roberts got his rewards for an industrious afternoon with a well-taken solo effort, while tight head prop Jimmy Lichfield crashed over and, late on, Harrison bagged his second after gathering a cute chip from Perry.

When the final whistle blew, Swansea looked out on their feet with their resolve seemingly broken by their submissive performance at the scrums. Richard Lancaster will know his troops will need to put together a better performance when they welcome Varsity rivals Cardiff to Sketty Lane in a fortnight’s time if they are to claim their first win.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Checkmate for Rooke in Welsh National Championship

Lee Rooke who got off his sick bed to compete in the Welsh National PGA Championship at his home club Royal St Davids, Harlech survived a sudden-death play-off last night to lift the prestigious title.
Having been struck down with a bug last weekend Rooke did not think he would be able to make the start on Thursday morning but battled to join the fray- and was glad he did so.
He led after round one with a scintillating five under par 64 but found it a little bit more difficult yesterday and had to be content with a 71.
Rhos-on-Sea based Jon Bevan had started respectably with a 68 and the moved up a gear to card 67 which included two birdies in the last three holes.
This meant both Rooke and Bevan ended on 135 so they embarked on the play-off hole the short 18th again – and it did not take long for Rooke to squeeze home and collect the £1500 first prize.
Former Welsh amateur international Gary Houston finished third on 137.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Swalec Championship Weekend Predictions

We move into the seventh week of the Swalec Championship this weekend with only one side still with a 100% record intact, defending champions Ebbw Vale who will be hoping to make it 7/7 when they host new boys Tondu.

Meanwhile, there are some tasty encounters with third placed Llanharan entertaining local rivals Beddau in what is always a tasty affair.
Elsewhere, RGC 1404 will be hoping to pick up their maiden home win of the season when they host Newbridge while Pontypool’s visit to Narberth should be a cracking match up.
Bargoed v Bridgend Athletic
Even at this early stage of the season, Bargoed currently sit 11 points behind title favourites Ebbw Vale and if last season’s runners up are to challenge at the summit they must pick up bonus point wins in home matches such as these.
Bargoed left it late to see off Cardiff Met last weekend but have been steadily improving and after all, they have only lost two games - against Ebbw Vale and away at Narberth - but if they are to realise their title ambitions they will have to continue to improve.
The visitors to Bargoed Park on Saturday are Bridgend Athletic who currently sit second from bottom and have only claimed one win in their six starts. I think this could be another tough afternoon for the Newbridge Field outfit.
Verdict- Bargoed by 15 points
 Bonymaen v Tata Steel
Basement boys Bonymaen were well beaten last weekend at Newbridge but if they are to move off the bottom they need to start picking up points at home. However, Tata Steel will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at home to Llanharan last weekend and I expect a strong performance from the Saints.
Verdict- Tata Steel by 10 points
 Cardiff Met v Blackwood
The Students haven’t recorded a win since September 21 and the Cyncoed outfit will still be annoyed at conceding late to lose out against Bargoed last week, but I think they will return to winning ways tomorrow.
Blackwood have struggled so far this season with their only win coming at fellow strugglers Bonymaen. They ran Narberth close last weekend but I think the Students will have too much for their visitors tomorrow.
Verdict- Cardiff Met by 15 points
Ebbw Vale v Tondu
Jason Strange’s troops have already notched up a commanding advantage of eight points at the top of the league and the scary thing is the Steelmen really haven’t hit top gear yet. Their win at Pontypool was a nail-biting affair, but the defending Champions came out on top against their nearest rivals in the table without playing all that well.
Tondu are the next on the Gwent side’s hit list and with this being the Waterwheelers' first trip to Eugene Cross Park, I’m sure they will be in for a warm welcome - I feel it may be just a case of damage limitation for the Bridgend side.
Verdict- Ebbw Vale by 20 points
 Llanharan v Beddau
This local derby produced a few entertaining fixtures last year - and a number of cards as well! - and I would expect another high octane encounter tomorrow.
The Dairymen’s Codey Rees is the league’s top points scorer and if the fly-half is firing on all cylinders tomorrow, I expect the hosts to notch up their fifth victory.
The Green and Golds have had a mixed start to the season, winning three but also losing three, and did show character to hold off Bridgend Athletic last weekend. I think they may well get a losing bonus point out of tomorrow’s match up.
Verdict- Llanharan by 7 points
 Narberth v Pontypool
The Otters always pose a formidable challenge at home and I think this is the match of the day. Ianto Griffiths has been a good acquisition for the West Walians and his kicking from the tee could prove pivotal tomorrow in what will be difficult, wet and windy conditions.
Pooler look a totally different outfit today than from a year ago where they were leaking tries left, right and centre. The Gwent side were unlucky not to get more out of their clash with Ebbw Vale but I think they might just come up short tomorrow.
Verdict- Narberth by 3 points
RGC 104 v Newbridge
The North Wales side continue to adjust to life in the Championship and they will be desperate to record their first win at Parc Eirias tomorrow. They are a young side and probably the best supported team in the division and have been a great addition to the league.
Newbridge clinically dispatched Bonymaen last week but a face a long journey up North, and although they will undoubtedly give their hosts a tough game, I think it will be the home side to come away with the points tomorrow.
Verdict- RGC 1404 by 6 points

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Siggery expecting bruising affair with countrymen

Ed Siggery has little doubt what he and his Ealing Trailfinders teammates can expect when Cross Keys come to Vallis Way for the British and Irish Cup match having played them numerous times in the past.

The flanker played against Cross Keys for Llandovery and Pontypridd during his time in the Welsh Premiership and he is expecting a bruising affair on Saturday.

"I played about three seasons against them in the Welsh Prem, I played them every year for Pontypridd and when I first started Llandovery," he said.

"They have a reputation for being quite physical upfront and they try to bully teams with their forwards. They are not a bad team and are usually in the top four of the Welsh Premiership, so they should be a good outfit."

The Carmarthen-born Siggery moved to W13 over the close season having previously been on the books at London Irish and London Welsh and his physicality on the blindside flank has meant that he has quickly become an important member of the first team squad.

He made history by scoring the first Greene King IPA Championship try at Vallis Way against Cornish Pirates and having only started on the bench for the previous match against Leinster 'A' in Dublin, he is ready to return to the starting side against his fellow Welsh.

"Obviously I have the hunger," Siggery said. "I understand it is the British and Irish Cup so we're still trying out our players, but I want to be starting week in week out and play all the big games and be impressing.

"It is always great to score a try; it was only a metre, but a brilliant moment to score that try. I tried to get the power and get that extra half a yard and get over the line."

The trip to Dublin was another tough affair for Trailfinders, though captain for the day TJ Anderson gave the travelling support something to cheer when he capped off a fine move with a try near the end.

While results haven't yet gone Ealing's way the 22-year-old Siggery is still enjoying his time in west London and feels that with the backing of the team's vocal and loyal fans that they will soon have something to cheer.

"It is a good set up and a great bunch of boys and the coaching is good," he said. "It is one of the best set ups I've been in.

"We are still getting used to the league, it is a big step up, but we'll keep building and the victories will come and hopefully will start at the weekend."

Burnell relishing Pontypridd clash

Justin Burnell is expecting a warm welcome when he takes London Welsh back to his former club Pontypridd on Saturday in the B&I Cup. Well, at least off the pitch.

Not only did the Exiles head coach play for Pontypridd, he helped build the club's very successful academy and enjoyed spells as head coach of their Under 21s and first-team. 
If that wasn't enough of a connection, his father played for the club in the 60s and 70s, while his young son Ben is currently keeping the Burnell-Pontypridd family tradition going. It's fair to say he's looking forward to Saturday's return trip to Sardis Road.
"It's a fantastic club steeped in history, and they're the current league and cup champions. I'm really looking forward to it,” said Burnell.
"My biggest memory would have to be playing a major part in setting up one of the best rugby academies in Britain at the time. So many players came out of that system that went on to play for Wales. It was the envy of a lot of people.
"It's a very passionate club; in the past they've beaten the likes of Leicester and Bath and they still believe they should be a regional team. They've an amazing following and they'll be over 2,000 in there on Saturday baying for blood, but as sure as that final whistle goes they'll be the nicest people you could meet.
"Some of our players will have never experienced what they could be experiencing on Saturday.”
Growing up in Llantwit Fardre, Burnell initially took the A470 south to Cardiff, but given his connections to Ponty it was no surprise that he ended up joining the club in 1991, scoring seven tries in 16 appearances.
"I'd played all of my schoolboy rugby for Pontypridd schools and then a season for Pontypridd,” he said.
"Pontypridd is a massive part of the community. The connection between Llantwit Fardre, Church Village and Pontypridd is enormous. When Sonny [Parker] came over he lived in Church Village, I'm Church Village, Neil Jenkins and Paul John [Pontypridd coach] are Church Village.
"I was then very fortunate when I started off my coaching career that I was invited by Clive Jones to help set up the Pontypridd Academy, which produced quite a lot of their first-team now.”
Saturday also offers the chance for Burnell to lock horns with close friend and Pontypridd head coach Dale McIntosh, who last season guided the club to Principality Premiership and cup success.
"He epitomises what Pontypridd is all about. He's been Ponty through and through since he arrived from New Zealand and I'm really looking to going to see my old mate - he'll be buying the beers afterwards,” said Burnell.
While Pontypridd will be looking to back up their 53-13 win over Edinburgh Academicals, Welsh go into the game knowing that victory is a must if they are to keep their B&I Cup hopes alive, after last weekend's round 1 defeat to London Scottish.
With the Exiles then set to face Cornish Pirates, Leeds Carnegie and Bristol in consecutive weeks in the Championship, it's imperative for Burnell that Welsh put in a performance at Sardis Road.
"Saturday is all about producing a performance, regardless of what players take the field,” he said.
"Although the game [v Scottish] was there to be won on Saturday, we didn't play to even 20 per cent of how we have been playing. That was the disappointing thing for me. We didn't play to our structure.
"But we are a good side; we're sitting on top of the Championship table and that's where we want to stay. So in order to maintain our status and to build going into the Pirates game we need a solid performance.
"We need a solid performance to put us in good stead going in to the next run of the league campaign.”

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Coleg-Y-Cymoedd 36-23 Coleg Sir Gar

Coleg-Y-Cymoedd have sent a warning to the rest of the teams competing in the WRU Wednesday League by disposing of Coleg Sir Gar 36-23.

The fixture, played at the Cardiff Arms Park, was the first game in the Cup Competition of the league for the top two teams who qualified from the group stages.

After two big bonus point wins in their Group 3 matches, Coleg-Y-Cymoedd continued where they left off as they were far superior to their Carmarthenshire rivals scoring six tries in the process.

Such simple skills like knowing when to draw your opponent and give the correct pass were all executed perfectly for the home side and worked to a tremendous effect as Coleg Sir Gar had no answer to it.

Flanker Owen Jones opened the scoring for Coleg-Y-Cymoedd in the eighth minute of the match after a strong solo run.

To make matters worse for the visitors, second row Ryan Morgan and hooker Kieran Cullen were both sent to the sin bin for separate offences but Y-Cymoedd failed to capitalise on the two man advantage.

Instead it was Sir Gar who thought they would go in at the break ahead after a pair of penalties for fly-half Dan Jones put them 6-5 up before Lewis Morgan was put in at the corner.

With the game nicely poised at half time, the ‘Valleys College’ blitzed their opponents with three tries in six minutes to effectively secure the win.

Centres Harri Millard and Terri Gee both crossed along with Morgan grabbing his second to put their side in front by 31-6.

All tries were of a similar quality with some lovely handling and decision making on show from all involved.

Kurtis Williams scored his side’s sixth and final try with Sir Gar No. 8 Josh Middleton, winger Rhys Davies and replacement full back Aaron Foley all crossing in the second half to make the scoreline a bit more respectable.

The Coleg-Y-Cymoedd front row of Rob Lewis, Kieran Assaratti and captain Liam Belcher, who has been involved with Pontypridd this season, worked their socks off for their side and did not stop from the opening whistle.

Fly-half Jared Evans also looked dangerous whenever he had the ball in hand.

Coleg-Y-Cymoedd travel to Neath Port Talbot College next Wednesday, who they beat 47-5 in the group stages, while Sir Gar will look to bounce back when they travel to Bridgend College.