Monday, 29 September 2014

Swalec League Weekend Review

SWANSEA are a point off the Championship summit after a thoroughly convincing 43-10 win at Bridgend Athletic on Saturday made it four wins out of four.

They now trail table-toppers Bargoed by a point thanks to Nicky Thomas’ try double in a seven-score salvo with Aled Jenkins, Steff Jones, Jake Cole, Matthew Davies and Marc Bennett also crossing the whitewash.

Full-back Thomas also nailed four conversions to take his personal points haul to 18.

Leaders Bargoed lead the way by a solitary point after they also made it four wins out of four with a crushing 42-12 defeat of beleaguered basement boys Llanharan.

Lee Protheroe, Darren Humphreys, Dafydd Carter, Josh Prosser and a penalty try were on the scoresheet for the league leaders, with Prosser adding three conversions and two penalties.

Elsewhere, Aaron Howard bagged a brace to help guide Merthyr to a 22-7 success at home against Glynneath while there were also wins in the Championship for Cardiff Met, Pontypool, RGC 1404 and Tata Steel.

In other action, most clubs took a break from league action on Saturday as the SWALEC Plate and Bowl competitions took centre stage with clubs dreaming of reaching the Millennium Stadium in the spring.

In the Bowl, The big winners of the day were Anglesey outfit Llangefni, who smashed hapless Rhosllanerchrugog 123-0. George Horseman scoring seven of their 18 tries, 15 of which were converted by Rhys Hughes.

Try trebles for Jonathan Cronin and Dean Williams inspired Bynea to a 60-5 thumping home victory against Fall Bay.

Cronin also booted five conversions as he side ran home ten tries, with Mark Davies bagging a brace alongside efforts from Nick Morris and Joe Morgans.

Jack Holland and Owen Phillips led the way with a brace apiece as Abercrave duly dispatched  Pontyates 52-7 with Curtis Griffiths, Ryan Tippett, Cellan Edwards and Nathan Cornelius also going over.

John Paul Stevens landed four conversions while Darren Hodge added two.

James Williams scored a hat-trick to help inspire Tonna to a 39-21 victory at home against Baglan.

Garry Knight also chipped in with a brace to sit alongside a Phil Williams effort. Matthew Gourlay kicked the other points.

In the Plate, there was a heartbreaking exit for Caernarfon who were eliminated at the first hurdle on tries scored following a dramatic 25-25 clash with Bethesda that went into extra-time.

The sides were deadlocked at 20-20 at full time, with visitors Bethesda ultimately going through on try count, 4-2. Dylan Williams, Paul Thomas, Gareth Williams and Aaron Roberts got their tries, while Domic Yau and Iolo Huws replied for the home side.

Meanwhile Aron Humphreys and Ieuan Morris both filled their boots with two tries apiece as Nelson cantered to a comprehensive 60-13 victory at Fleur De Lys.

Paul Adams was on the treble trail but couldn’t prevent Cardiff Quins from crashing out – after a 35-22 home reverse against Bedlinog.

There were also a couple of league fixtures played on Saturday.

In Division Three West C, Llangadog went four points clear at the summit as they edged to a 30-26 victory at Pantyffynon in a top of the table battle.

They collected a tries bonus point as Owain Jones, Dewi Howells,Aled Jenkins and Adam Thompson all went over with Dafydd Jenkins kicking two conversions and two penalties.

In One East Central, Ynysybul won for the third game on the spin – a 39-23 win at Gilfach Goch, Sean Ireland leading the way with a brace.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Bottom two clash in Welsh Premier

The bottom two in the Welsh Premier clash this evening as Gap Connah’s Quay host Bangor City – with both sides looking to record their first league wins of the campaign.

Both sides have taken just two points from six games so far.

Bangor tossed away a 3-1 lead in their last game – a 3-3 draw at home with Prestatyn, while the Nomads lost 3-1 at home against Rhyl.

And Nomads boss Mark McGregor admits it’s a 'must-win' game for his side tonight.

"I'm under massive pressure, as simple as that," said McGregor.

"With the squad I've got, there's no way we should be bottom of the league."

City’s ex-Quay boss Nev Powell has problems of his own to address and also says the draw with Prestatyn felt like a defeat.

"We were pig sick," said Powell.

"The game was more or less over at 3-1, but then we just gave two poor goals away – which is desperately disappointing.

"We shouldn’t be losing winning leads from that position. We’re switching off and are being punished."

In the other game taking place this evening, unbeaten Aberystwyth – who are third – host Bala Town, who currently sit fourth.

Then tomorrow, second placed Airbus, who are also yet to taste defeat in the league, host Cefn Druids, with Prestatyn at Carmarthen Town and Rhyl hosting Port Talbot.

On Sunday, reigning champions The New Saints host fifth place side Newtown as they look to make it six wins from seven.


With another exiting round of Principality Premiership action in store this weekend, the team here at All Wales Sport have been gazing into their crystal balls to predict the outcomes.

Sports writer Carl Field, a recent new addition to the All Wales Sport team, gives his thoughts and predictions below on each game with Laura Murton, Lisa Stenstrom and Chris Smart also offering up their own predictions.

It’s all for a bit of fun…what do you think? Do you think they are on the money or well wide of the mark? Let us know below. You can also follow the team on Twitter: @allwalessportre @mrcarlfield @figgyevo.

Bedwas v Aberavon

Bedwas will have felt aggrieved to let victory from their grasp in their opening home game against Llanelli, although bounced back in some style to record an excellent win at last season’s beaten play-off finalists Cross Keys last weekend.

Aberavon picked a losing bonus point in their narrow defeat from an encouraging display with Drovers head coach Lyndon Lewis even conceding his side were a tad fortunate to come away with the spoils.

But I’m backing Bedwas to come out on top in a closely-contested battle at Bridge Field tomorrow afternoon.

Carl’s verdict: Bedwas by 7 points
Laura’s verdict: Aberavon by 3 points
Lisa verdict: Bedwas by 15 points
Chris’ verdict: Bedwas by 6 points

Cardiff v Cross Keys

Cardiff have certainly raised expectation levels with two bonus points meaning they top the Premiership table after two games as well as topping the try scoring stakes with 12.

Although they will have to make do without George Watkins – scorer of five of those tries – as the winger has been named in the Blues side to face Leinster this evening.

Cross Keys, who were surprisingly beaten at home by Bedwas last time out, should offer a stiffer challenge to the Blue and Blacks – particularly if they don’t give tries away, as Llanelli were guilty of against Cardiff last weekend.

Although I’m going for another Cardiff win at the Arms Park tomorrow.

Carl’s verdict: Cardiff by 5 points
Laura’s verdict: Cross Keys by 5 points
Lisa’s verdict: Cardiff by 7 points
Chris’ verdict: Cardiff by 7 points

Carmarthen Quins v Llanelli

If Llanelli can improve on their set plays and lineouts – and cut out the basic errors that gifted Cardiff victory last weekend, then Anthony Buchanan’s side could spring a surprise at Carmarthen Park tomorrow.

However I don’t see it happening and expect Quins to enjoy another comfortable home win having already crushed Newport on the opening weekend and backing that up with victory at Bridgend last time out.

Carl’s verdict: Carmarthen Quins by 25 points
Laura’s verdict: Carmarthen Quins by 10 points
Lisa’s verdict: Carmarthen Quins by 15 points
Chris’ verdict: Carmarthen Quins by 7 points

Ebbw Vale v Newport

The newly-promoted side’s win over Llandovery on the opening weekend certainly surprised a few – but they backed that up with an equally-impressive win over Neath at the Gnoll last time out.

Newport will be looking to kick-start their campaign after defeats against Carmarthen and Pontypridd respectively in their opening two clashes – but I think they will still be searching for that first win come Saturday tea time.

Carl’s verdict: Ebbw Vale by 7 points.
Laura’s verdict: Ebbw Vale by 15 points
Lisa’s verdict: Ebbw Vale by 18 points
Chris’ verdict: Ebbw Vale by 16 points

Neath v Llandovery

Neath were probably given a free pass by drawing out Pontypridd away on the opening weekend, but they will have been disappointed to not to register the first win of Rowland Phillips’ second spell in charge at home against Ebbw Vale last weekend.

I predict a close one at the Gnoll tomorrow. The Drovers bounced back with a narrow home win over Aberavon last time out, but I have the Welsh All Blacks down to nick it – just.

Carl’s verdict: Neath by 3 points
Laura’s verdict: Llandovery by 3 points
Lisa’s verdict: Llandovery by 6 points
Chris’ verdict: Llandovery by 5 points

Pontypridd v Bridgend

This is, on paper, probably the easiest of this weekend’s Premiership matches to predict.

Bonus point wins over Neath and Newport show the reigning champions are in no mood to move aside this season and, no disrespect to the Ravens, but I can’t see past a thoroughly convincing win for Ponty at Sardis Road tomorrow – and expect plenty of tries.

Carl’s verdict: Pontypridd by 35 points
Laura’s verdict: Pontypridd by 12 points
Lisa’s verdict: Pontypridd by 20 points
Chris’ verdict: Pontypridd by 23 points

Swalec Championship Weekend Predictions

Bargoed v Llanharan
Top host bottom in this clash - pacemakers Bargoed have started the season with three bonus point wins and I find it hard to see winless Llanharan getting anything from this match. The Blues have not only ground out wins but have also looked clinical behind, and this should be their fourth bonus point victory of the campaign.
Verdict- Bargoed by 28 points

Bridgend Athletic v Swansea
Swansea have made it three wins out of three in their bid to make a swift return to the Welsh Premiership. So far, they have conceded just one try but have notched up 18 of their own. Athletic have got one victory to their name but I don’t see the Newbridge Field side doubling that tally tomorrow.
Verdict -Swansea by 20 points

Merthyr v Glynneath
This is an intriguing fixture that sees the promoted new boys facing off - the Ironmen have taken the step up in their stride and should comfortably finish mid table, while I think there are still some question marks, however, over Glynneath. The Neath Valley side did pick up a confidence boost with their first win of the season but it was against a Newbridge team that are yet to find their feet this season. The visitors will also be hoping to avenge their Swalec Plate thrashing at the end of last season, and although I don’t see Merthyr running away with this tie I think Lee Jarvis’ side will ultimately come out on top.
Verdict-Merthyr by 7 points

Newbridge v Cardiff Met
Newbridge have looked anything but assured so far and have the second leakiest defence in the league at present. Meanwhile, the Students saw a big slice of their squad - which took them to the runners-up spot in the league last season - graduate, but they have been there or thereabouts in each game and I expect them to make it two wins on the bounce tomorrow. Unfortunately for Newbridge, I think they could be one of the teams struggling at the foot of the table this year.
Verdict-Cardiff Met by 15 points

Pontypool v Narberth
Potentially the fixture of the day, Pooler will be boosted by the news that they, along with Swansea and RGC 1404, have gained the WRU ‘A’ Licence, meaning if they did clinch the Championship title they would be promoted. Bargoed destroyed Pontypool on the opening day but the Gwent side have bounced back well and will be a stern test for the Otters, who are so far undefeated. This is the toughest game to call but I think home advantage should see Pooler to victory.
Verdict-Pontypool by 5 points

RGC 1404 v Tondu
The Waterwheelers started their campaign with an emphatic win over Newbridge but have since then stalled somewhat. The North Walians on the other hand haven’t set the league alight and they will be disappointed to have lost against Bargoed at Fortress Eirias. Having said that, I can only see one winner tomorrow.
Verdict-RGC 1404 by 22 points

Tata Steel v Blackwood
 Blackwood have been on the wrong end of the scoreline in every match so far this season and I don’t think that will change tomorrow in Port Talbot. Tata were well beaten by Swansea last weekend, but their pack fronted up well against the All Whites and they should pick up their third win tomorrow.
Verdict- Tata Steel by 12 points.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Aizlewood Draws Balls to Determine Home Advantage in Semi Finals

Bala will host Prestatyn and The New Saints will welcome Port Talbot to Park Hall in the Word Cup Semi Finals.

Former Wales international and current Carmarthen Town Manager Mark Aizlewood drew the balls out of the hat to determine which teams secured home advantage in the last four of the competition.

In the Northern Draw, Bala Town will welcome Prestatyn Town and in the Southern Draw The New Saints will entertain Port Talbot.

Both matches will be played on Tuesday November 18th.

Mark Aizlewood has led Carmarthen to two consecutive Word Cup wins and believes that TNS should win this season’s competition:

‘In all honesty TNS will win the League and possibly the Welsh Cup as well – so with respect I hope that one of the other three teams will win the Word Cup. We’ve been fortunate enough to have won if for the past two seasons and it’s a great competition to be a part of – and even better to win it of course’.

Wales name their squad for the European Championships

New Wales coach John Kear has named a 22-man squad for the 2014 Rugby League European Championships this October and November.

The line-up is picked from 14 clubs across four professional leagues, with players from the table-topping sides of both Super League and the Championship being represented.

Matty Fozard from St Helens, who finished top of Super League, is one of 10 potential debutants, while Jacob Emmitt from Championship minor premiers Leigh Centurions retains his Wales squad place after playing in last year’s World Cup.

Five of the newcomers are from South Wales Scorpions - captain Phil Carleton, player-assistant coach Paul Emanuelli, Pontypool-born Kyle Scrivens and impressive youngsters Connor Farrer and Jordan Sheridan. They join Scorpions regular Ashley Bateman who is selected for Wales for the first time in four years.

Also in line to make their full debuts are former Scorpions Joe Burke and Dalton Grant who both played this season with Barrow Raiders after only just missing out on World Cup selection last year. Haverfordwest-born Yannic Parker, who played for Oxford, Brecon-born Izaak Duffy, who is with Gloucestershire All Golds, are the other new arrivals.

North Wales Crusaders are represented by Rob Massam and Christiaan Roets, both of whom starred and scored tries for Wales in last year’s World Cup. North Wales born Rhys Williams from Mynydd Isa, who will be at London Broncos in 2015, returns from a season in Australia to play for his country, as does Bridgend-born Ollie Olds.

Kear said: “We’re naming an exciting squad for this tournament with many home grown Welsh players. This in itself indicates true progress for the game in Wales.

“I see the tournament very much as a marker for the development of Welsh players in the international scene. We have a few players missing for various reasons but this gives young players a chance to put their hand up to mix it in future years.

“I want the team to perform to the maximum of their abilities and for unknowns to push themselves to forefront. Youngsters like Connor Farrer, Jordan Sheridan and Matty Fozard spring to mind and this is their chance to make a name for themselves at the highest level.”

World Cup squad members Peter Lupton from Workington Town and Bradford Bulls’ Cardiff-born full-back Elliot Kear will provide experience while Gateshead’s Matty Barron, who last played for Wales in 2009 and Batley’s Byron Smith, in 2007, make welcome returns.

Castleford Tigers’ Dan Fleming will be keen to add to his caps tally after missing out on last year’s World Cup and spending much of the season on the sidelines through injury.

But coming back to the Wales fold after 14 years out is Fleming’s 2014 club team-mate Garreth Carvell who last played for Wales in the 2000 World Cup. Following this, injury kept him out of the side for a few years before he got a chance with Great Britain in the 2006 Tri-Nations, then for England in the 2010 Four Nations.

Kear adds: “Garreth enjoyed playing for the Welsh team all those years ago and when I spoke to him about it, I was pleased with his response and how keen he was to come back.

“I’m expecting him to be a stalwart in the side. At 33, he is our oldest player, while Connor Farrer, at only just 19, is our youngest. It’s good that we have old hands helping through the up and coming lads and it bodes well for this tournament and the future of Wales Rugby League as we continue to build towards Rugby League World Cup 2017.”

Tickets for Wales v Ireland will be on sale soon at More information will be posted when these are available.

WALES SQUAD: Joe Burke, Dalton Grant (both Barrow Raiders), Byron Smith (Batley Bulldogs), Elliot Kear (Bradford Bulls), Garreth Carvell, Daniel Fleming (Castleford Tigers), Rhys Williams (Central Queensland Capras), Matty Barron (Gateshead Thunder), Izaak Duffy (Gloucestershire All Golds), Ollie Olds (Ipswich Jets, Australia), Jacob Emmitt (Leigh Centurions), Rob Massam, Christiaan Roets (both North Wales Crusaders), Yannic Parker (Oxford), Ashley Bateman, Phil Carleton, Paul Emanuelli, Connor Farrer, Kyle Scrivens, Jordan Sheridan (all South Wales Scorpions), Matty Fozard (St Helens), Peter Lupton (Workington Town).


Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
17 Oct - Scotland v Wales, 8pm.
Derwent Park Workington
25 Oct - Ireland v Scotland, 2pm.
Tallaght Stadium, Dublin
31 Oct - Scotland v France, 7.30pm.
Netherdale, Galashiels
18 Oct - Ireland v France, 2pm.
Tallaght Stadium, Dublin
25 Oct - France v Wales, 3pm.
Albi Stadium, Albi
2 Nov - Wales v Ireland, 2.30
Racecourse Ground, Wrexham

Watkins wings in as Dacey hits milestone

Hooker Kristian Dacey will make his 50th appearance for Cardiff Blues and wing George Watkins his debut as the region face reigning champions Leinster Rugby at the RDS in the Guinness PRO12 on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

Milestone man Dacey is one of seven changes made by Director of Rugby Mark Hammett as Blues look for a return to winning ways in Dublin.

Prop Gethin Jenkins will make his first league appearance of the season alongside Dacey in the front row.

Two further call-ups in the pack see lock Chris Dicomidis set for his first start of the campaign and flanker Sam Warburton return in the back row. Josh Navidi moves to Number Eight and will captain the team.

Centres Cory Allen and Dafydd Hewitt are both named in the starting line-up and winger Watkins is rewarded for his stunning recent form for Cardiff RFC, where he has scored five tries in two games, with a start out wide.

A powerful bench includes scrum half Tavis Knoyle who could make his league debut for Blues.

"Leinster are the champions with an extremely strong side and have a very powerful squad,” said Hammett. "We are certainly looking forward to the challenge that we will face over in Dublin. The atmosphere will be big over there and we have to be ready for that.

"Last week we had a short turnaround between games and maybe ran out of steam towards the end against Ulster. We gave it at an honest and tough second 40 minutes but probably fell away a little bit on that hard track. Now we need to be refreshed and ready to go.

"We are working exceptionally hard every week in training to improve and I felt our attack was much better last week. But we are not finishing out chances when they are there and we created some good opportunities and drew penalties. We need to get across the line.”

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 George Watkins, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones; 1 Gethin Jenkins, 2 Kristian Dacey, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Chris Dicomidis, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Josh Navidi (c)

Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Taufa'ao Filise, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21Tavis Knoyle, 22 Adam Thomas, 23 Dan Fish


The time was right for a Penarth golfer when he scored a hole-in-one during a recent club competition to be rewarded with a limited-edition BOSS watch as recognition for the achievement.

Anthony Crimp, 59, scored his ace on the 153-yard, par-three seventh at Glamorganshire GC, and the 14-handicapper was rewarded with membership of the exclusive BOSS Watches H1 Club and a specially-commissioned, commemorative timepiece.

The luxury German brand has once again pledged to reward club golfers with an exclusive watch for every hole-in-one recorded during a club competition in 2014 after giving away £600,000-worth of limited-edition mementos in 2013 - and Crimp is among the latest to achieve the feat this year.

The scheme is open to any golfer whose club uses HowDidiDo - a free-to-use, web-based social network for golfers - and anybody playing in official club competitions is eligible. Currently, more than 1,800 clubs use the website.

Stephen Brydon, commercial director for MGS Distribution, the official licenced UK distributor for BOSS Watches, said: "Congratulations to Anthony on achieving golf's Holy Grail of a hole-in-one.

"To the majority of amateur golfers, recording a hole-in-one will be the most memorable thing they achieve in golf - a once-in-a-lifetime experience probably - and we want to ensure they have much better memories than merely a dent in their bank balance after buying drinks in the clubhouse.

"The exclusive BOSS watch is available only to golfers who record a hole-in-one. It will provide a constant reminder of the achievement and also help to ensure they're never late for a tee-time again.

"We also hope it might add a frisson of extra excitement to club competitions for golfers who may not be in with a chance of winning the event, for they know that every time they stand on the tee on a par-three, they are just one shot away from winning a stunning timepiece."

In addition to the limited-edition watch, Crimp is also awarded membership of the exclusive BOSS Watches H1 Club which offers its members access to exclusive benefits and merchandise.

No extra registration is required to participate in the BOSS Watches promotion as all official club competitions are recorded on the HowDidiDo system, so holes-in-one are noted and automatically ratified by the golfer's club.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Quins are geared up for success - Tonkin

Carmarthen Quins head coach Louie Tonkin feels his side are well equipped to back up last season’s second place finish in the Principality Premiership, WRITES CARL FIELD.

Quins finished second last season to secure a home play-off but were defeated 31-20 by eventual losing finalists Cross Keys.

And, having successfully negotiated their British & Irish Cup qualifier against Llandovery, they started the new Premiership season with a 44-10 bonus-point home win over Newport at the weekend.

“We’re very confident that we can do better than we did last year,” said Tonkin.

“Our objective last year was to finish in the top three and we achieved that with a very young group.

“But we’re much stronger and mature this year just being a year older and wiser – particularly the academy boys.

“We want to achieve some success – whether that’s in the form of a cup or a play-off final – and we believe we’re strong enough to do that.

“The key for us was to strengthen in some key areas and add some depth to the squad, which maybe wasn’t there at times last year.

“We’ve managed to do that and I think we’ll be that much more efficient this year.”

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scorpions hand first team contracts to five youth players

South Wales Scorpions have given five of this year’s under 19s squad first team contracts for 2015.

Pictured left to right are Ben Jones, Zak Williams, Paul Emanuelli (assistant coach), Curtis Davies, Connor Davies and Paul Edwards

Paul Edwards, who has already made his full Scorpions debut while on trial, is joined by Zak Williams, Ben Jones and Connor and Curtis Davies.

All five were part of the Wales team who won bronze in this year’s Commonwealth Championships held in Glasgow where Rugby League Nines was an exhibition sport before the main games.

The Ystalyfera-born Davies twins have been great ambassadors for Rugby League in Wales over the last six years having started out in the Champion Schools competition in 2008 with Welsh speaking school Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera.

In 2012 the 17-year olds featured in the first ever Rugby League match to be entirely contested by Welsh speakers when they beat Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni in the Welsh Year 10 Final, a game that doubled up as the UK semi-final from that age group that year. Both have given a number of interviews for Welsh TV channel S4C over the years about Rugby League and the progression of the sport in Wales.

Loose forward Connor scored five tries the season for the under 19s with stand-off Curtis notching two.

Coaching them most of the way has been their school teacher Ioan Bebb, a former Wales Student Rugby League international and a professional with the old South Wales Rugby League club back in 1996.

He said: “If ever two people deserved success, purely on the basis of their desire, determination and sheer willpower, it's the Davies twins.  They've learned the game, made themselves better players and been great ambassadors for their school and locality. This is great news and, surely, only the first rung on a long ladder to future success.”

Ben Jones, a goal-kicking full-back, has played Rugby League for almost as long, having started off at his local side Bridgend Blue Bulls when he was 13.

He progressed to Celtic Crusaders under 14s after being spotted by Dan Clements before playing in the Scorpions junior sides for the last four years. He scored two tries and kicked 15 goals in six games for the under 19s in 2014.

The 18-year old has also played rugby union at junior level for Tondu, Bridgend Athletic and in the Ospreys academies.

A Wales under 16 and 18 international in Rugby League in addition to his Commonwealth Championships appearance, Jones, who went to Ysgol Gyfun Llangynwyd, is dedicating his success to his dad who died in 2012 following an illness.

Jones said: “When I played a year early for Wales under 16, he died a week before my first game and he took me to every session before that. He would have been proud to see my sign for the Scorpions and I’ll always dedicate what I do to him.”

Zac Williams, who turns 18 on Wednesday, is a relative newcomer to Rugby League having started off playing for Monmouth Comprehensive in the Champion Schools competition.

After being spotted by Lee Cullen, he signed for the South Wales under 16s academy eventually progressing to the under 19s as well as being one of the founding members of the WRL AASE Academy programme having to move from Monmouth to Bridgend in order to attend training in Maesteg.

Also established with the boot, he kicked 11 goals in addition to scoring three tries in his five games for the under 19s this season. A Wales under 16 and 18 international in Rugby League, he is a former Newport Gwent Dragons academy player.

Williams is pleased that his personal commitment to the sport is starting to pay off.

“Signing for the Scorpions means a lot to me,” he said. “I have left home and lived with other families which has been very hard, but I now feel that has been worth it.

“I feel valued and recognised for my ability in Rugby League and when I walk onto the pitch for the first time to play for the Scorpions as a professional knowing that my name is on my shirt will be a dream.”

Aberdare-born centre Paul Edwards is the newest to the game despite being the only one of the quintet to have played for the Scorpions first team already.

Joining the Scorpions in May this year, the 18-year old played four games for the under 19s, scoring four tries, before being given a first team opportunity. He scored his first senior try against Oxford in the second of his three first team matches this season.

Before that, he had only played rugby union, which makes his selection now and for Wales in the Commonwealth Championships even more impressive. The 18-year old came though Rhigos’ youth teams and made appearances in the first team for Glynneath in the Welsh League Division Three last season as well as playing a full season for Neath Port Talbot College in the WRU College league.

Scorpions coach Mike Grady said: “I'm Delighted that Ben, Connor, Curtis, Paul and Zak have all agreed a deal and will be joining up with the first team squad in 2015. All are very talented individuals with bright futures ahead of them.

“All have trained with the first team in the latter stages of this season and I was very impressed with all of Paul’s appearances in Championship 1.

“As promised throughout 2014 by Paul Emanuelli and I, it's about bringing the local Welsh lads through, creating a pathway for all Rugby League players in South Wales to aspire to. This is the first batch of many that will be taking that route and coming through the system.

“They have all graduated from the successful South Wales Academy who have had a superb season and credit goes to their coach Jon Ellis on getting these lads ready for their next challenge in their respective careers.

“It's exciting times for them and the club and I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress with the first team environment.”

Monday, 15 September 2014

Swalec League Weekend Round Up

Swansea have maintained their perfect start to life in the Swalec Championship as they thumped Blackwood 73-0 at St Helen’s.
Wing Marc Bennett stole the show on his debut for the All Whites as the speedster bagged a try treble, Simon Evans was at the double, while Nicky Thomas notched up 23 points through a touchdown and nine conversions.
Runners up last season Cardiff Met are yet to record a victory as they slipped to the slenderest of defeats, going down 10-9 at Tata Steel.
First half tries for Tata’s Brett Thomas and Steve Lewis was ultimately enough to ensure the points for the Port Talbot outfit.
Meanwhile, Bargoed kept up their 100% record with a hard-fought 34-30 win over North Wales region RGC 1404 at Parc Eirias.
The visitors crossed four times through Darren Humphries (2), James Ivy and Phil Price, while the prolific Josh Prosser added the extras to all four and two penalties.
Chris Horsman’s troops did manage to pick up two bonus points as they also crossed for four touchdowns through Alex Schwartz, Huw Grundy, Tom Blackwell and Kelvin Davies.
Elsewhere, Pontypool picked up their maiden win as they dispatched Llanharan 32-13 at Pontypool Park.
 Mark Thorley (2), Matthew Thomas and Nathan Brookes all crossed the whitewash for Pooler, while Tom Hancock was on target with two penalties and three conversions.
In the day’s other fixtures, Bridgend Athletic were bonus point 27-17 home winners over Glynneath, Narberth were held to a 23-23 draw at Newbridge, and newcomers Merthyr made it two wins from two with a 32-11 home victory over Tondu.
There was some great running rugby on offer across the leagues as teams ran riot in the September sunshine.
Ynysybwl are the early pace makers in One East Central as they thrashed Llantrisant 52-17. 'Bwl helped themselves to eight tries- Sean Ireland and Dale Stuckey were both at the double while Ricky Thomas, Oliver Rees, Jonathan Gough and a penalty try completed their scoring.
Meanwhile, Ystrad Rhondda picked up their first win as they saw off Llantwit Fardre 28-19. Fly-half Rhys Truelove fired over 13 points, while Jay Harris, Adam Lewis and Matthew Jeczalik all crossed the whitewash for Ystrad.
In One West Central, Ystalyfera took home the bragging rights in the Swansea Valley derby against rivals Cwmllynfell with a narrow 21-17 triumph.
Josh Jarrett and Gareth Williams both touched down, with the former firing over two penalties, while Gareth James was on target with one penalty and Damien James added a conversion.
Brothers Kyle and Connor Salter stole the show for Bonymaen as they were both at the double for Bony, as the Swansea outfit saw off Kenfig Hill 39-32 in a nine try thriller.
Glamorgan Wanderers were in seventh heaven in One East as they put Garndiffaith to the sword in a 55-23 showing at the Memorial Ground.
Owen Marshall and Michael Lynch both crossed twice for the Wanderers while Haval Ibrahim, Jonathan Lewis and Josh Sheehan also went over.
In One West, Newcastle Emlyn hit visitors Felinfoel for six as they ran out 42-19 home winners.
Owen Powell was at the double for Emlyn, while Brynmor Jones, Dan Davies, Llyr Jones and Sion Leonard also went over. Rhydian Harries added 12 points from the tee.
Nant Conwy are the early pacesetters in One North as they bagged their second successive try bonus triumph, dismissing Caernarfon 25-17. Carwyn Ellis was the star of the show for Nant as he picked up a try-treble. 
Newcomers Gowerton picked up their first victory in Two West as they cruised to a 59-15 home win over Haverfordwest.
Gareth King put in a regal performance as the centre bagged a brace while Richard Thomas (2), Ryan Thomas, James Hedley, Liam Hedges and Owen James also got on the scoresheet.
For the second week in the row, former Welsh club rugby powerhouse Tredegar were unable to field a side in Two East.
Last season’s Swalec Bowl runners up Llantwit Major notched up their first victory in Three East Central A as they easily saw off Canton 56-7.
Waisea Suka Vakacegu clinched three of his side's eight tries, while Marcus Pearce (2), Gareth Watts, Chris Fowler and Dan Farrell also dotted down.
Birchgrove helped themselves to seven tries as they dismissed Baglan 50-17 in Three West Central B.
Full back Scott Evans grabbed a brace while Ricky Rosser, Ritchie Beynon, Steve George, Dai Griffiths and Chris Grimes also crossed the whitewash.
In Three East C, Hartridge hit visitors Deri for six as they clinched a 41-7 home win. Ashley Sims was at the double for the hosts while Mike Wrench, Ross Palmer, Kurt Lewis and Gareth Hopkins also went over.
Finally, St Julians claimed the biggest win of the day as they put Abersychan to the sword in Three East D, running out 87-5 winners. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

All Blacks ace Hoeata set for debut

New Zealand international lock Jarrad Hoeata is set for his Cardiff Blues debut when the region face Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday (kick-off 4pm).

Second row enforcer Hoeata, a summer recruit from the Highlanders in Super Rugby, is one of three changes made by Director of Rugby Mark Hammett.

Former Wales Sevens captain Adam Thomas, who previously represented Blues in 2011 in the LV=Cup, makes his first start of the season at full back, with Dan Fish moving to the wing.

Scrum half Lewis Jones comes into the starting line-up to join Rhys Patchell, who shone with 21 points in the victory over Zebre last weekend, to form a new-look half back partnership.

Powerhouse prop Taufa'ao Filise makes a return among the replacements alongside Richard Smith.

Scott Andrews is also named on the bench and if he features will make his 100th appearance for Cardiff Blues.

Director of Rugby Mark Hammett said: "All the players and backroom team are excited about launching our home campaign as we look to build on an encouraging victory over Zebre in Italy last Sunday.

"It's important we make our home a tough place for the opposition to visit this season. Turning your home into a real fortress is always your goal.

"As an entire squad we have got to buy into that ethos and ambition. We go out and leave everything on the pitch and nothing to chance.

"Glasgow were exceptional on the first weekend and I felt should have won by a bigger margin at home to Leinster. It's a big challenge for us, but it is one we are relishing as we look to build on last weekend's game in Italy.”

Cardiff Blues:

15 Adam Thomas, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 3 Adam Jones, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 5 Filo Paulo, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Manoa Vosawai


16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Taufa'ao Filise, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Richard Smith

Big occasion at the RDS will spur on Scarlets

Scarlets take on reigning champions Leinster at the RDS tomorrow in the second round of the Guinness PRO12.
The Welsh region will be looking to build on the positives, which included four tries, against Ulster at Parc y Scarlets.
Scarlets fullback Liam Williams is named in the starting XV having been cleared of any playing suspension following his red card (after two yellows) in the opening clash against Ulster last weekend.
Scott Williams is joined in the centre by Gareth Owen, who replaces the injured Regan King, whilst Jordan Williams comes in on the wing to replace the injured Michael Tagicakibau.
The only change to the pack sees Aaron Shingler replace Rob McCusker who moves to the replacements bench.
Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac said: "Saturday's game against Leinster should be a good opportunity for us to test ourselves against a very good team away from home.
"For us, it's about concentrating on what we're doing and getting that right, It's still very early. There are lots of improvements to come in this team and we have plenty to build on. Really for us, this time of the year there's a lot of work to do on your own game especially coming in as a new coach.
"All rugby players love playing in front of a big crowd. Bigger the crowd, bigger the occasion and bigger the performance and hopefully we'll be no different. No matter where you play, it's great to play in front of a bumper crowd.”
Scarlets' only loss in their last six PRO12 encounters was to Cardiff Blues on Judgement Day in April whilst Leinster faced a narrow defeat against Glasgow in the opening round of the 2014-15 campaign last weekend.
Scarlets team to take on Leinster at the RDS, Saturday 13th September kick-off 2.40pm:
15 Liam Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Gareth Owen, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Jordan Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhodri Williams, 1 Phil John, 2 Ken Owens ©, Rhodri Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Johan Snyman, 6 Aaron Shingler, 7 John Barclay, 8 Rory Pitman

Emyr Phillips, Rob Evans, Peter Edwards, Richard Kelly, Rob McCusker, Aled Davies, Steven Shingler, Adam Warren

Thursday, 11 September 2014

New boys Ebbw Vale 'ready for the challenge'

Jason Strange says Principality Premiership new boys Ebbw Vale have nothing to fear as they prepare to make their top flight return after a five-year absence.

The Championship champions begin life back in the Premiership with a home clash against Llandovery on Saturday.

And, despite the fact they will start as firm underdogs, head coach Strange is determined to make sure his side won’t just be making up the numbers.

He said: “We understand the standard is going to be higher in the Premiership, but we’re ready for that challenge.

“It’s great to have a home game to kick things off. We lost to Llandovery narrowly in the cup last year – so that will be in the back of our mind – and I’m sure the supporters will be looking forward to it.

“We are pleased with the way players have come back after the break and their fitness testing was the best in the five years I’ve been here.

“Our approach this season is to concentrate on being the best we can and improving within ourselves.”

Champions Pontypridd host Neath as Premiership returns

A mouth-watering clash between reigning champions Pontypridd and former heavy hitters Neath at Sardis Road is the pick of the games as the Principality Premiership returns on Saturday.

Ponty are gunning for their fourth straight title success while the Welsh All Blacks – who narrowly avoided the drop last season – have been boosted by the return of Rowland Phillips to the club as director of rugby.

Having swept all comers aside in recent seasons – winning the Premiership and SWALEC Cup double back-to-back – Pontypridd are odds on favourites to clean up domestically once again.

But head coach Paul John says they won’t be taking anything for granted.

“The Principality Premiership is now a very good standard and it’s getting harder to win every year – we can’t rest on our laurels,” said John.

“With the success we’ve had over the last couple of seasons, teams will again raise their game every week to try to beat us, but that’s a great challenge.

“It doesn’t get much better than Neath at home to kick off the league season. 

"They have recruited well – both on and off the field – and will want to put last year’s uncharacteristic blip behind them.”

Hoping to help turn five-time champions Neath around after a poor season is Phillips – the man who won four of those titles during his previous six-year stint as head coach before leaving in 2009.

And the former Wales international is confident he can bring the good times back to the club.

He said: “When I was approached to come back to Neath and was outlined the vision for the club over the forthcoming seasons, I jumped at the opportunity to become part of what will no doubt be an exciting time. 

“As everybody in Neath knows – the club, the town, the history, the supporters and the people of Neath have been a huge part of my life and are very close to my heart. 

 “There’s no doubt there’s a lot of rebuilding to be done, but I’m confident that I can work with the coaches and players to bring success back.

“I'm delighted to be part of what I know is going to be another successful chapter in Neath’s great history.”