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Biggar, Williams and Halfpenny in Wales team to face Ireland

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WALES have made three changes to their starting XV to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (KO 14.15) with British & Irish Lions trio Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny all returning to the side.

Biggar has recovered from a shoulder injury to make his 61st appearance for his country and will line up alongside Gareth Davies at half-back.

Halfpenny and Williams join Steff Evans in the back-three with Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams continuing their partnership in the midfield.

Wales have named an unchanged pack for the trip to Dublin.  The all-Scarlets front-row of Rob Evans, Ken Owens and Samson Lee feature for a third consecutive game.  Cory Hill partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row with Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty comprising the back-row.

“It is great to be able to bring so much experience back into the starting XV and into the backline,” said head coach Warren Gatland, who will take charge of Wales for the 100th time.

“It is the first week we have had everyone in the ‘green’ in terms of availability which is a nice luxury to have and a positive ahead of what is a very important test match against a very good Ireland side.

“We have been pleased with the depth we have developed in the back-three and pleased with how those players have gone but having the experience of Dan, Liam and Leigh coming back in is hugely important.

“We have been pleased with how the forward pack has been going and how they have worked as a unit but as always there is pressure for them to perform too.”

Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis are named as the front-row replacements with Bradley Davies and Justin Tipuric completing the forward contingent.  Aled Davies, Gareth Anscombe and George North provide the back-line cover.

Wales Team to play Ireland:

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (75 Caps)

Liam Williams (Saracens) (45 Caps)

Scott Williams (Scarlets) (53 Caps)

Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets) (3 Caps)

Steff Evans (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Dan Biggar (Ospreys) (60 Caps)

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (29 Caps)

Rob Evans (Scarlets) (22 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (54 Caps)

Samson Lee (Scarlets) (35 Caps)

Cory Hill (Dragons) (12 Caps)

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (115 Caps) CAPT

Aaron Shingler (Scarlets) (15 Caps)

Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (9 Caps)

Ross Moriarty (Gloucester) (19 Caps)

Replacements:

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (4 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (28 Caps)

Bradley Davies (Ospreys) (59 Caps)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (54 Caps)

Aled Davies (Scarlets) (7 Caps)

Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) (13 Caps)

George North (Northampton Saints) (70 Caps)

Sport

Bluebirds prepare for Pontypridd test

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HAVERFORDWEST County will be looking to progress to the next round of the JD Welsh Cup on Saturday (Dec 8), when they welcome Pontypridd Town to the Bridge Meadow.

The Bluebirds enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 win against Swansea University in the last round having previously beaten STM Sports 2-1 away from home in the first round.

They currently sit third in Welsh League Division 1 with seven wins from their ten games so far this season.

They will also be looking for another cup run having already reached the fourth round of the League Cup.

Visitors Pontypridd also enjoyed a thrilling 6-3 win in their second round game with Goytre and they also won 2-1 away from home against Llanidloes Town in the first round.

They may sit second from bottom in Division 1 of the Welsh Leagues but their cup run has shown that they should not be underestimated.

The game is a repeat of the third round tie from last year which Pontypridd won 3-1 and the Bluebirds will be looking to avenge that defeat.

This is the Bluebirds’ only home game in December so make sure you get down to the Bridge Meadow to show your support.

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Sport

Bowen wins Young Sportsman of the Year

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WELSH jockey, James Bowen, 17, has won the Carwyn James Young Sportsman of the Year Award at the Wales Sports Awards on Tuesday, December 4, at The Celtic Manor.

The Awards which are an annual amalgamation of BBC Cymru Wales and Sports Wales to make the biggest Welsh Sporting celebration of the year, it is intended to showcase the best of both elite and grassroot level of sporting achievement.

Speaking to James on his award he said: “It came as a bit of a shock to me, I didn’t realise I had done that well this year”.

Bowen, who has been racing for the past 18 months, at just 16 became the youngest rider to win the Coral Welsh Grand National in 2018 on Raz De Maree. He is no stranger when it comes to awards, recently collecting the Rising Star Award at the inaugural Welsh Horse Racing Awards at Chepstow Racecourse.

On his Rising Star Award James said: “It was exciting to win this award as it’s the first time these awards have been done at the racecourse”.

On his recent career highlights James added: “I would like to thank everybody who has worked with me over the years, and all the trainers who have helped me get here.”

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Sport

A celebration of sport

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INSPIRATIONAL achievements in sport by were celebrated in the prestigious Sport Pembrokeshire Awards 2018 on Friday evening.

Fourteen award-winners were announced in a variety of categories, together with the winners of two special awards – the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Special Achievement Award.

Now in its 12th year, the gala ceremony at Folly Farm was hosted by sports journalist Bill Carne and Cllr Huw George and organised by Sport Pembrokeshire, the sport development team at Pembrokeshire County Council.

The event was sponsored by Valero, Sport Pembrokeshire, Western Telegraph, Radio Pembrokeshire and Folly Farm.

The Lifetime Achievement award was presented to Peter and Karen Bowen described by Geoff Williams, Head of Sport at BBC Wales, as a couple ‘at the forefront of British horse racing’.

Presenting them with their award, he said: “Peter and Karen Bowen have transformed a bungalow and a few fields into one of the best yards in the United Kingdom. Their complex at Letterston now boasts over seventy boxes and state-of-the-art all weather facilities.

“But team Bowen is very much a family outfit. Karen was no stranger to the show ring, and is a former champion point-to-pointer. Eldest son Mickey has built a reputation as a successful point-to-point trainer; and Sean and James are both professional jockeys. James became the youngest ever winner of the Welsh Grand National this year, aged just 16.

“They achieved a clean sweep at the recent inaugural Welsh Racing Awards – when Peter won the Welsh Trainer of the Year award; Sean picked up the Welsh Jockey of the Year award and James was honoured as the Rising Star of the Year.

“Incredibly, the stable is now on the verge of achieving a thousand winners.”

The Special Achievement Award, presented by the Chairman of Pembrokeshire County Council, was presented to 27-year-old footballer Kristian Speake from Crundale.

“The Award is given to a sportsman or woman who has overcome great adversity – and tonight’s winner is certainly no exception,” said Cllr Aden Brinn, Chairman.

“Kristian played for Haverfordwest AFC until last February when he was grievously injured in an incident in the town which resulted in a serious injury to his skull.

“He was in a coma for 24 days in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff before being placed on a neurological ward for several weeks.

“Kristian then spent a further six weeks in a special unit in Port Talbot where he underwent extensive physical and cognitive rehabilitation. During this time, he had three eye operations as well as brain surgery in which surgeons fitted a titanium plate in the right side of his head.

“However, there is a happy ending. Though his determination and the support of his family and friends, Kristian has made a miraculous recovery and completed the Cardiff half marathon in October, raising money for the Cardiff and Vale Health Charity as a thank you to all the medical staff involved in his treatment.”

Ben Field, manager of Sport Pembrokeshire, congratulated all the winners, finalists and nominees, and said he was very grateful to the sponsors for their support.

“We received more nominations than ever before this year – 192 – which is a brilliant reflection on how sport is growing and thriving across the county,” he said.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, added his congratulations and said: “The Sports Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognise the amazing achievements of sportspeople across Pembrokeshire, and the very hard work that takes place behind the scenes.

Sport Pembrokeshire Awards 2018 – Winners

Coach of the Year

Simon Roach (Weightlifting)

Female Sporting Achievement

Caryl Jones (Athletics)

Male Sporting Achievement

Seth Morris (Surfing)

Boys (U16) Sporting Achievement

Alex O’Sullivan (Boxing)

Girls (U16) Sporting Achievement

Ella Wintle (Athletics)

Disability Sport Award

Ryan Foot (Rugby)

Junior (U16) Disability Sport Award

Lily Rice (WCMX – Wheelchair Motocross)

Unsung Hero

William McGarvie (Neyland Judo Club)

Club Organiser of the Year

Kathy Hicks (Narberth Netball Club)

Team Achievement of the Year

Neyland Cricket Club 1st XI 2017/2018

Junior (U16) Team Achievement of the Year

Sir Thomas Picton Inclusive Zone Basketball Team 2018

Contribution to School Sport award

Alfie Wheeler (Haverfordwest High VC School)

Student Contribution to School Sport award

Nichola Hayton (Platinum Young Ambassador)

Club of the Year

Strength Academy Wales

Lifetime Achievement Award

Peter and Karen Bowen (Horse racing)

Chairman’s Special Achievement Award

Kristian Speake (Football)

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