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Joyce named in sevens squad for Commonwealths

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ST Davids’ Jasmine Joyce has been named in the women’s sevens squad that will represent Team Wales in next month’s Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Five of the 12-player squad are currently involved in Wales’ Women’s Six Nations campaign: Alisha Butchers, Sioned Harries, Hannah Jones, Jaz Joyce (all Scarlets), and Elinor Snowsill (Dragons). The ‘One Programme’ approach taken by Wales Women has allowed certain players to spend time in both sevens and 15s camps this season.

Head coach Nick Wakley has the benefit of a number of leaders in his squad: the experienced Philippa Tuttiett, captain of Cardiff Blues; two members of the Armed Forces in Army Rugby Union captain Gemma Rowland and the RAF’s Sian Williams (both Dragons); and Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys), who won the most recent of her 46 caps in last year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup,

Powell-Hughes is one of a quartet of players with over 40 caps to their name, along with Butchers, Harries and Snowsill, for what is women’s sevens’ first appearance in the Games in its 88-year existence.

Other sevens specialists selected include Sinead Breeze and Laurie Harries, with Kayleigh Powell (Ospreys) the youngest in the side at 18 years of age.

The sevens will be held at the 27,500-capacity Robina Stadium from 13th-15th April. Team Wales have been drawn in a competitive Pool B with Australia, Fiji and England.

The Wales Women squad acquainted themselves with the conditions on the Gold Coast by participating in Brisbane’s Super 7s competition in early February. Before that, they were in action in Dubai’s invitational competition in December.

Nick Wakley, Women’s Sevens head coach, said: “We’re very excited and honoured to be representing Team Wales next month. In regards to the ‘One Programme’ approach through the Women’s Six Nations campaign, Commonwealth Games and World Series Qualifier prep, we have had our players exposed to international rugby week in, week out.

“We have been building up to these tournaments for two years and we have developed a real mental toughness which will be tested in the two weeks post-Six Nations to get us back up to speed. It is a real credit to all of the players’ commitment and dedication that they find themselves in these huge global tournaments which could go a long way towards sculpting the environment for the next generation of Welsh women rugby players.”

Helen Phillips, Chair of the Commonwealth Games Wales Board, said: “Congratulations to all the players who have made it to the final squad for Gold Coast. It’s excellent to have such a strong Team Wales squad heading to Australia for what will be the first time ever women’s rugby sevens tournament in the history of the Commonwealth Games.”

She added: “Women’s rugby in Wales has seen a huge growth over the past few years, and we congratulate the WRU for all the development work that’s been done to put the Welsh squad in such a strong position to qualify for Gold Coast 2018.”

Prior to travelling to the Gold Coast, the same squad will compete in the Hong Kong Sevens (6th-8th April) as Wales Women seek to qualify for next year’s World Rugby Sevens Series.

Team Wales Women’s Sevens: Alisha Butchers; Elinor Snowsill; Gemma Rowland; Hannah Jones; Jasmine Joyce; Kayleigh Powell; Laurie Harries; Philippa Tuttiett (c); Shona Powell-Hughes; Sian Williams; Sinead Breeze; Sioned Harries.

Sport

Pembroke replace Cardiff in Bowl Final

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PEMBROKE will take part in the final of the WRU Bowl after all after semi-final opponents Cardiff University were found to have breached the competition’s eligibility rules.

The National Bowl Final will take place on Sunday, April 29, at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Pembroke were beaten by Cardiff in the semi-final but lodged an appeal following the game.

Pembroke, whose Youth team will compete in today’s National Youth Plate Final v Tondu (Principality Stadium, 1.15pm) will now face Porthcawl in next week’s National Bowl Final in the first of the National Finals Day encounters (1pm), Nant Conwy play Brynmawr in the National Plate Final (3.15pm) and Merthyr play Newport in the National Cup Final (5.35pm).

All three finals will be broadcast by S4C and tickets for National Finals Day are available on www.wru.wales/tickets

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Sport

Carew earn deserved win

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CAREW earned a deserved 3-1 victory on Friday night (Apr 20) as they beat Neyland thanks to goals from Jordan Richards, Sam Christopher and Alex Bayley.

It also means that the Rooks are still very much in with a chance of finishing third in the league as they, Merlins Bridge and Clarbeston Road are all locked on 39 points.

Jordan Richards gave the hosts the lead in the first half and it could have been much more for the home side if they had taken some of their chances.

Instead it remained 1-0 at half time and Neyland were still in with a chance of getting something out of the game.

Alex Bayley came close to scoring for the Rooks after he beat a tackle to run into the box before cutting side but his effort was saved by the Neyland keeper.

Neyland then brought themselves level as Jake Booth slid the ball across the box and Geraint Rees was on hand to tap the ball in.

Jordan Richards then did well to keep hold of the ball on the by-line before passing to Sam Christopher who fired past the keeper.

Bayley was causing problems for the Neyland defenders and he brushed past one of them before firing low into the bottom corner of the net to make it 3-1.

Neyland looked to get back into the game late on but Carew held on for the three points.

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Clarbeston Road v Hakin United: Senior Cup Final Preview

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THIS Saturday (Apr 21), sees Hakin United and Clarbeston Road battle it out for the biggest prize in Pembrokeshire Football as they take to the field for the Senior Cup Final.

The game will be played at the Bridge Meadow Stadium in Haverfordwest and another big crowd is expected.

Clarbeston Road were beaten in last year’s final by Merlins Bridge but having beaten them in the semi-final, the Road will be eager to pick up the trophy on Saturday.

For Hakin, it is a first final since 2016 when they were beaten by Goodwick United and they will also be keen to regain the trophy they last won in 2012.

The two side met in the league back in October, 2017, and on that occasion it was Hakin United who came out on top with a 2-1 victory at the Obs.

The Vikings come into this game top of Division 1 following a 5-2 win over Pennar Robins on Saturday (Apr 14) which saw danger man Nicky Woodrow scoring a hat trick.

Clarbeston Road eased to victory as they beat Angle 13-1 with league top scorer Jason Griffiths scoring seven of their goals.

Those seven goals put Jason way out in front with 34 goals in the league so far this season and he will be keen to get on the score sheet once again.

Path to the final

Clarbeston Road began their route to the final with a 6-1 win at home to St Clears back in September with Griffiths scoring four of the goals in that game.

That was followed by victory over Fishguard Sports in the second round thanks to goals from Mathew Davies and Josh Wood.

In the third round, Clarbeston Road overcame a determined Hundleton side with Griffiths scoring a hat trick, the third of which came in injury time.

That put them in to the semi-finals where they played Merlins Bridge in a repeat of the 2017 final.

The Bridge won that game 2-1 but on this occasion it was Clarby who went through by the same scoreline with goals coming from Tom Ruebens and Ieuan Cooke.

Hakin United began their Senior Cup campaign with a 4-1 win away to Camrose which saw Nicky Woodrow score a hat trick.

In the second round, the Vikings made it through with a 5-1 over Narberth as Justin Harding scored twice.

The quarter final saw them take on Neyland and after a tense battle, they came out on top with a 2-0 win.

That set up a semi-final with Carew but an excellent first half saw them lead 3-0 courtesy of goals from Justin Harding and Nicky Woodrow.

Carew hit back but Woodrow scored a second to send Hakin through to the final with a 4-2 win.

What the teams say?

Hakin United manager Kristian Bennet told the Herald: “The boys trained on Monday and they are ready for the game and excited for it.

“For a few of the boys it is their first Senior Cup Final and we also have a few boys that have done it before.

“We will give Clarbeston Road all the respect, they reached the final last year and we only beat them by one goal in the league in October so we are expecting another tough game.

“We will be approaching the game like a normal game as we’ll meet at the club as usual on the day before heading up to the Bridge Meadow.”

Clarbeston Road’s Matthew Ellis said: “All at the club are looking forward to the game Saturday and are hoping that we can go one step further this season and lift the cup.

“We have no injury concerns and should all be fresh after a free midweek schedule.

“Our plans for the day are the same as last year, breakfast in the Cross and a bus to the ground.

“The bus is then collecting supporters from around Clarbeston Road, the support last year was outstanding. Hopefully the weather will be as good as it was last season.

“We will approach the game as we always do and give 100%”.

Club captain Jason Griffiths added: “I think as a team we should all be proud of reaching the last two finals. Last season we were huge underdogs being in the second division and only having two players with senior cup final experience but this season we are very much equals and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“We are aware of how good a side Hakin are but having already played them in the league we can see where we can beat them.

“Everyone in the squad is very much looking forward to it and will all have huge roles to play on the day and hopefully get a memorable victory!”

Good luck to both sides and may the best team win!

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