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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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Robins breeze past Lawrenny

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PENNAR Robins proved too strong for Lawrenny on Saturday (Oct 13) as they scored ten times to book their place in the third round of the Senior Cup.

Despite the weather conditions the Bush Camp pitch was in excellent condition and the home side dominated for large parts of the game.

Jason Donohoe had an early chance for the Robins but he sent his free kick over the bar.

Josh Clark went on a good run and burst through the challenge of a Lawrenny attacker and although the ball found the back of the net, the ball was deemed to have gone out of play before Clark put his cross in.

With nine minutes gone Donohoe found Sam Southcott but his effort was saved.

Lawrenny won a free kick and Ryan Morton sent the ball into the box which Patrick Elliot headed towards goal but Stuart James was able to make the save.

Connor Roberts then came close to scoring in spectacular fashion but his curling effort was tipped over by Lawrenny keeper Danny Harries.

Nick Willis then saw a shot saved at the front post and he then also saw an acrobatic effort saved as the Robins continued to look for the opening goal.

Harries had to be alert as Donohoe’s cross looked to be going in with the wind but on 22 minutes the Robins finally made the breakthrough.

Southcott played the ball through for Ben Adams on the left and he shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

Three minutes later it was 2-0 as Mikey Powell crossed into the box and Southcott was in the right place at the back post to tap the ball home.

Roberts and Willis combined with a neat one-two but the former sent his effort wide of the post.

The Robins added a third on the half hour mark and they continued to show their dominance with a further seven goals.

Adams and Southcott both completed their hat tricks while Tom Grimwood, Connor Roberts, Scott Trayhern and Luke Phillips all got on the scoresheet.

It was an excellent win for Pennar who must wait and see who they will play in the third round after other games were called off.

On Saturday (Oct 20), Lawrenny are again in cup action as they take on Hundleton in the first round of the Second Division Cup.

Pennar will return to league action as they take on local rivals Lamphey.

Pennar: Stuart James, Josh Clark, Luke Phillips, Ross Lascelles, Mikey Powell, Tom Grimwood, Connor Roberts, Ben Adams, Sam Southcott, Jason Donohoe, Nick Willis. Subs: Jack Phillips, Rhys Lucas, Scott Trayhern.

Lawrenny: Danny Harries, Edward Merriman, James Durbridge, Adam Jenkins, Ryan Morton, Tom Lewis, Patrick Elliot, Matt Lewis, Harry Thomas, Owen James, Tom Cole. Subs: Kieron Johnson, Phil Cole, Sam Davies.

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Swifts upset the odds

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MONKTON Swifts pulled off a shock result on Saturday (Oct 13) as they beat former Senior Cup winners Goodwick United 3-2 to progress to the third round of the tournament.

Storm Callum had done its best to disrupt the football programme but the pitch in Monkton was in excellent condition.

Chris Richards scored to put the Swifts ahead and Ben Steele then slotted in a penalty to put the home side in control.

Thomas Powell scored to give Monkton a 3-0 lead and Goodwick knew they would need to play well in the second half to stand a chance of going through.

Jordan Griffiths had a chance to bring his side back into the game when he was brought down in the box and a penalty was given. However, he was unable to put the spot kick away.

Goodwick pulled a goal back early in the second half as Steven Dockerty’s shot was deflected into the net by a Monkton player.

Monkton could have scored a fourth when Steele’s cross across the face of goal just evaded everyone. Steele then also saw a shot saved by the Goodwick keeper.

Goodwick did pull a second goal back though when Lee Hudgell sent a fine long range effort into the bottom right hand corner to make it 3-2.

Griffiths came close late on with a free kick but he sent his effort wide of the post and they were unable to find a goal which would have sent the game to extra time.

It was an excellent win for the Swifts and they will now look forward to their third round tie.

Before that they will return to league action on Saturday (Oct 20) as they travel to Clarbeston Road. Goodwick will look to bounce back when they take on Milford United at Marble Hall.

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Tasker announces retirement

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OLYMPIC Bobsledder Bruce Tasker has announced his retirement from the sport after eight ‘rollercoaster years’.

The former Ysgol Greenhill pupil took to his Instagram account to share the news and he thanked those who have been involved with him throughout his career.

He said: “I have been meaning to post this for a while, but I guess I’ve been putting it off, but I have to announce that after 8 rollercoaster years in the sport of bobsleigh, I am retiring as an athlete.

“It has been a ridiculously fun few years where I’ve met and worked with some incredible people, made life-long friends, travelled to some amazing places and if I may try to be profound, grown as a person.

“There are too many people to thank in one post so I will try to keep the dust off my Instagram account and work my way through them in the next few weeks.

“But now though I must thank my Girlfriend for always supporting me and being the backbone of my career.

“Much like people to thank there are so many photos that I could post, but I will use one from where it all started, Lake Placid World Champs. We only finished 10th but it was the most important result of my career, for it was the one that allowed me to stay in the sport for 7 more years! The other handsome devils are Stu Benson, Joel Fearon, John Jackson.

“To all the selected athletes going away in a few weeks, have an amazing season, and enjoy every minute of it.”

Tasker and his team finished fifth in the Bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014 but two Russian athletes were disqualified meaning he and his teammates have been elevated to the Bronze medal position.

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