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Wales U20 beat Junior Wallabies on opening night

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A RED wave of defence, coupled with a tireless ambition to attack, led Wales to a World Rugby U20 Championship victory on Wednesday night (May 30) against the Junior Wallabies.

In holding on to win 26-21 at the Stade de la Méditerranée, Wales banished any memories of 2017’s last-gasp defeat to Australia at the same stage of this tournament.

The Aussies drew first blood in Béziers, however: scrum-half and captain Ryan Lonergan punishing a Welsh indiscretion at the breakdown with a third-minute penalty from just inside Wales’ 10m line.

A great phase of attacking play by Wales, with inside centre Ioan Nicholas the catalyst, then offered a glimpse of their willingness to run the ball from anywhere on the park. The opposition was subsequently penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck, and fullback Cai Evans’s power from the tee saw the ball sail through the posts for the equaliser.

Nearing the end of the first quarter, Wales lost wing Rio Dyer to injury, replaced by fellow Dragon Joe Goodchild. He would soon have a telling impact on proceedings.

At the conclusion of the first quarter, Australia conceded a penalty for failing to release. Wales fell just short with the shot at goal that would have nudged them ahead. However, Evans made no mistake when presented with a similar opportunity a moment later – albeit this time further out; on the halfway line no less – wowing the crowd with his long-range effort to make it 3-6.

Just before the half-hour, Aussie fly-half Bayley Kuenzie kicked a scrum penalty to the corner. A quickly-won lineout and a pin-point crossfield kick later, and wing James Ramm was acrobatically tapping the ball down in mid-air for incoming fullback Mack Hansen to score an excellent try. Lonergan’s conversion attempt was wide: 8-6.

Gone 30 minutes, razor-sharp Wales scrum-half Dane Blacker took a quick tap deep inside the opposition 22. The young men in red had their tails up now, and once the ball was in fly-half Ben Jones’s hand, the Cardiff Blues man wasted little in time kicking through a bouncing ball that was pounced on by Nicholas for the try. Evans converted to give Wales a five-point lead: 8-13.

The Junior Wallabies hit back with another Lonergan penalty, but there was a lot more to come from Geraint Lewis’s team.

A scintillating outside break and fend by Corey Baldwin set the Scarlets centre up for a one-on-one with the last man in defence for Australia, by which point replacement Goodchild was well in support for Wales’ second try with three minutes to go in the first 40. Evans’s excellent conversion from the touchline made it 11-20.

Two minutes into the second half, and the Ospreys fullback produced another cannon of a penalty kick – this one only marginally inside the Australian half – to take Wales 12 points to the good: 11-23.

The Junior Wallabies put their sizeable scrum to good use in winning another penalty in the 48th minute, allowing Lonergan to slot a penalty inside Wales’ 22, making it 14-23.

Both sides had started to test each other aerially, but a period of ten minutes’ deadlock – memorable for a fantastically determined carry by Wales number eight Taine Basham – ended when Evans’s metronomic boot took the scores to 14-26.

Wales, up fast in defence, and led by the imposing figure of lock Max Williams and a Trojan-like back row featuring Basham, Dan Davis and captain Tommy Reffell, led the way in frustrating the Aussies in the final quarter.

New caps Will Davies-King and Rhys Davies in the front row were two of the well-judged second-half replacements made by the Welsh coaches, countering the big men Australia had also introduced.

Never ones to go gently into the night, Australia roared back into the game with a try from replacement back Tate McDermott with fewer than three minutes remaining. Inside centre Isaac Lucas converted to make it 21-26.

Showing the same sort of dogged composure that earned them victory in Donnybrook during the U20 Six Nations earlier this year, Wales ran down the clock to seal a thrilling win.

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Otters beat Llanelli in friendly

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NARBERTH warmed up for the new Championship season with a 17-12 victory over Principality Premiership side Llanelli on Saturday (Aug 18).

Despite the wet weather a good crowd gathered to watch the game and it wasn’t long before the visitors took the lead.

They won a line out and from that Elgan Lewis bundled his way over for the opening try of the game. The conversion was missed and the score stayed at 5-0 to the visitors.

Narberth looked to respond but Gethin Gibby dropped a pass when it looked like they could have scored.

With sixteen minutes gone the Otters managed to get themselves on the scoreboard as they came close to scoring near the posts before working the ball out right for Steff Phillips who slid over. The conversion was missed.

Moments later a good move that started on the right saw the ball played out to Nick Gale who kicked ahead for Gibby to run onto and touch the ball down. Gale then kicked the conversion in tough conditions to make it 12-5.

Llanelli looked to hit back and after Narberth were penalised for a high tackle, they kicked to touch looking to set up another try.

However, Narberth defended their line well and were able to keep Llanelli out, eventually winning the ball back following a Llanelli infringement.

It remained 12-5 at half time but Llanelli continued to look for further scores as the second half got underway.

They had a number of chances but they were unable to take their chances and they were soon made to pay.

With ten minutes to go Narberth turned the ball over and Lewys Gibby ran away with the ball to touch down to make it 17-5. The conversion was missed but it mattered little as the home side had all but secured victory.

Llanelli did pull a try back in the closing minutes as Liam Smith touched down but it was just a consolation for the visitors. Leon Randell added the conversion.

The game finished 17-12 to the Otters with both teams using their full complement of players as they get ready for the new season.

Narberth begin their season on Saturday, September 1, away to Beddau in the first game of the Championship season.

Llanelli also begin their Premiership season on the same date with a home game against Ebbw Vale.

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Koomen sets up Final date with Ammanford

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NEYLAND’s Nick Koomen starred with bat and ball as he helped his side to victory over Ynysygerwn in the semi-final of the Welsh Cup on Sunday (Aug 19).

They will now play Ammanford in the final on Sunday, September 2, at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff.

Neyland’s South Wales Premier League opponents were invited to bat first after the home side won the toss.

With conditions favouring the bowlers Neyland were able to restrict Ynysygerwn to 106 all out inside 37 overs.

Sean Hannon made the breakthrough early on as he caught and bowled Aaron Ace on a duck and Nathan Banner then had Gareth Davies caught by Patrick Bellerby on a score of 3.

Hannon returned and had Adam Bray caught by Andrew Miller on a score of 4 as they reduced Ynysygerwn to 16-3.

Yuvraj Odedra and Alex McCormack offered some resistance with a stand of 34 but that came to an end whey Odedra was run out by Ashley Sutton on a score of 25 that included two fours and a six.

McCormack hit three fours in his knock of 18 but he was then stumped by Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Miller was not done there as he then had Adam Davies caught by Geraint Rees and Nathan Davies caught by Bellerby, bout out without scoring.

That saw them slip to 68-7 but Joshua Griffiths and Gavin John shared another 38 runs to take their side over a century of runs.

Griffiths hit five fours in a knock of 23 but he was then run out by Ashley Sutton and Nick Koomen then bowled John on a score of 17.

Koomen then had Patrick O’Brien stumped by Hannon as Ynysygerwen’s innings came to a close with them all out on 106.

Neyland lost opener Gregg Miller early in their reply when he was caught and bowled by Yuvraj Odedra but a stand of 71 between Koomen and Andrew Miller set the home side on their way to victory.

Miller played his way to a patient score of 19 before he was caught by Nathan Davies off the bowling of Craig Evans.

Koomen reached his half century having hit six fours and two sixes but he was then caught by Gareth Davies off the bowling of Evans as Neyland were reduced to 81-3.

Patrick O’Brien then had Ashley Sutton caught by Gavin John on a score of 6 but despite their best efforts, they were unable to take any further wickets.

Nathan Banner finished not out on 8 while Patrick Bellerby hit a six to win the game for Neyland and send them into the final.

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Dock and Herbie battling for Division 3 promotion

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IN Division 3 of the Pembroke County Cricket League, Carew Seconds are already promoted but there is a close battle between Pembroke Dock and Herbrandston for second place.

Carew Seconds will go up as champions should they win their game away to Haverfordwest Thirds, who themselves are fighting to avoid the drop into Division 4.

Pembroke Dock go into Saturday’s (Aug 18) games with a ten point leader over third place Herbrandston and a win, coupled with defeat for Herbrandston could see them promoted.

However, a win for both teams will send the battle to the final game of the season which will see Herbie travelling to Neyland Seconds and Pembroke Dock at home to Lamphey.

On Saturday, Pembroke Dock are away to mid-table side Narberth Seconds while Herbrandston travel to Llechryd Seconds.

At the other end, Neyland Seconds go to Llanrhian in a bid to secure their Division 3 safety as they sit just four points above second from bottom Haverfordwest Thirds.

Lawrenny Seconds, themselves only fifteen points above the bottom two, face another crucial game away to Lamphey.

All to play for in Division 4

With the exception of Laugharne who have already been crowned Division 4 Champions, it is still all to play for in Division 4.

Just three points separates second and third placed teams Llangwm Seconds and Llanrhian Seconds with the two teams set to fight it out at Pill Parks this weekend.

A win for Llangwm will see them earn promotion but a Llanrhian win will keep things alive going into the final game of the season.

Division 4 Champions Laugharne are away as they take on bottom side Hundleton who are still in with a chance of getting out of the bottom two.

They sit just sixteen points below third from bottom Saundersfoot and a win could see them move of the bottom.

Second from bottom Burton Seconds are without a game after Johnston’s second team withdrew from the league earlier in the season meaning a win for Saundersfoot Seconds could relegate both Burton and Hundleton.

Saundersfoot Seconds take on Hook Seconds while St Ishmaels Seconds face Crymych.

Division 5 up for grabs

It could not be closer in Division 5 with just 18 points separating the top five sides. Pembroke Seconds currently occupy top spot with a nine point advantage over Carew Thirds.

Pembroke travel to Neyland Thirds on Saturday in their last game of the season knowing a win will set them on course for the Division 5 title. They must then wait to find out if they will be crowned Champions of Division 5.

Carew Thirds play Stackpole Seconds waiting in the wings should Pembroke slip up in their game.

Third placed Kilgetty Seconds are away as they take on Pembroke Dock Seconds while Cresselly Thirds are without a game.

Fifth placed Haverfordwest Fourths are away to Whitland Thirds with the visitors still in with a chance of promotion should other results go their way.

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