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Rugby season arrives

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PEMBROKESHIRE rugby teams will get their seasons underway on Saturday, September 1, with all hoping to have a successful season.

Championship side Narberth had an excellent 2017/18 campaign, finishing second in the table behind runaway leaders Pontypool.

They had 14 wins from their 22 games and they will be looking to go one better this time around. Narberth have played two friendlies prior to the season beating Felinfoel 29-0 and Principality Premiership side Llanelli 17-12.

The Otters begin their season away to Beddau and have already named their team with Nick Gale, Jack Price, Jonathan Rogers and Tom Powell all starting.

In League 1 West, last season’s escape artists Crymych will be looking to achieve a finish similar if not higher than the sixth place they achieved in May.

Crymych were bottom of the table at the end of 2017 with just one win but a remarkable second half of the season saw them pick up ten wins to secure their place in the Division.

They also welcome back Tristan Lewis from Whitland and on Saturday, they get their campaign underway against Tenby United in an exciting Pembrokeshire derby.

Return: Lloyd Thomas

Tenby have had a busy pre-season, making a number of new signings including Lloyd Thomas, a former youth product, who returns at Outside Half. Lloyd transferred to Mahurangi Rugby Club in New Zealand in 2013, representing their premier team 84 times in the North Harbour league and became a firm favourite.

19 year old Second Row Tom Barrass, in his first year out of youth has followed Ossie Boswell from Pembroke Dock to Tenby United having impressed during his 1st XV appearances last season.

Jack Broadhurst, last season’s Narberth Youth Captain and Player of the Year, has also signed having previously represented the Swifts section before heading to Narberth.

Whitland, promoted from League 2 West last season, will be looking to get their season off to a flying start when they take on Gorseinon at home on Saturday.

Gorseinon finished fifth last season and will provide a good test for the Borderers on their return to league 1.

Marc Jones will captain the side for tomorrow’s opener, with Nico Setaro, Scott Buird, Jack Mason and Josh Thomas all in the starting XV.

Fishguard finished last season in ninth place in League 2 West and they will be aiming to achieve a higher finish this time around.

The Seagulls won 18-14 in the Pembrokeshire Cup against Haverfordwest on Tuesday, providing a good test before the start of the season.

Pembroke won the League 3 West A title with just one defeat to their name and they will be eager to get underway in League 2 on Saturday.

Pembroke have welcomed back James Skeels, Daffy Lewis and Mark Williams to their squad and they will be aiming to replicate the achievements of Saturday’s opponents St Clears in their first season at this level.

St Clears enjoyed a successful first season in League 2 last time around and they will be aiming to improve on their eighth place finish.

The Saints parted ways with Head Coach Mike Jones in the summer but have welcomed Tim Poole as their new first team coach with Lee Glanville joining as Defence coach and Rhodri Jones as attack coach.

League 3 West A will once again be a tightly contested league this season with Milford Haven, Laugharne and Haverfordwest again in contention for promotion.

Milford finished second last season and with Pembroke now a league above, they will aiming to get off to a good start against Pembroke Dock Quins at Bierspool.

Nathan Williams has returned to lead Milford while Jamie Lewis will captain the side on the pitch and they will be hoping to have a successful season.

Likewise will be the Quins who had six wins to their name last season but they will be looking to improve on their eighth place finish.

Haverfordwest will also be aiming for a return to League 2 and will be led by captain Matthew Clark.

He is joined by fellow new signings Adam Clark, Craig Barnett, Ashley George, Jamie Barnett, Jack Clancy, Kern Cunningham and Jamie Plumb. All will be hoping they can help the Blues to improve on their fifth place finish from last season.

They begin against a Llangwm side who will be determined to get off the mark early in the season.

The Wasps played Neyland in the Pembrokeshire Cup on Tuesday and pushed them all the way before succumbing to a 29-10 defeat.

Neyland will also be looking to get the season off to a good start on Saturday but they face a long trip to Ceredigion to take on Tregaron.

They had an excellent 2017/18 season with ten wins from their twenty games to achieve a sixth place finish but level on points with Haverfordwest and they will be aiming to improve on that.

St Davids are without a game this weekend but they get their season underway next week (Sept 8) when they travel to Llangwm.

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Wales unveil Six Nations squad for forthcoming 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign

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WALES have named a 36-man squad for the forthcoming 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign.

The squad features one uncapped player, Scarlets back-row Josh Macleod, who was named in the autumn squad last year but didn’t feature after picking up an injury before the campaign began.

Josh was a former pupil at Ysgol Bro Gwaun and played rugby for Crymych before his move to the Scarlets.

Four players who made their international debuts in that campaign, Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams and Louis Rees-Zammit are all included.

Rhys Carre, Wyn Jones and Rhodri Jones (last appearance for Wales v South Africa in 2018) are named as the looseheads in the squad with Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias and Ken Owens (who missed the autumn campaign through injury) the hookers. Leon Brown, Tomas Francis and Dillon Lewis are the three named tight-heads.

Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Will Rowlands and Cory Hill are included as the second-rows.

Dan Lydiate returns to the international set-up (last appearance v Australia in 2018) and is named alongside Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright, Taulupe Faletau, Macleod and Justin Tipuric.

Hardy who made his debut back in November is named as one of three scrum-halves along with Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams, who has returned from injury. Dan Biggar, Jarrod Evans and Sheedy are the three fly-halves.

Johnny Williams, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins and Owen Watkin are named as the centres with George North, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Rees-Zammit, Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams named as Wales’ back-three options.

“We are hugely looking forward to meeting up as a squad on Monday and to the forthcoming campaign,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“The Guinness Six Nations is an important tournament and we have selected a squad accordingly.

“As we consistently spoke about, the autumn for us was about opportunity and development, looking ahead to RWC 2023 and it served that purpose for us.

“This campaign is different, it is tournament rugby and we are excited to get going and to play our part.

“We have picked a squad for this tournament based on form and we are excited to meet up on Monday and to get our preparation underway.”

WALES 2021 GUINNESS SIX NATIONS SQUAD

Forwards:

Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues) (12 Caps)

Wyn Jones (Scarlets) (30 Caps)

Rhodri Jones (Ospreys) (17 Caps)

Elliot Dee (Dragons) (33 Caps)

Ryan Elias (Scarlets) (17 Caps)

Ken Owens (Scarlets) (77 Caps)

Leon Brown (Dragons) (12 Caps)

Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs) (52 Caps)

Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues) (28 Caps)

Jake Ball (Scarlets) (49 Caps)

Adam Beard (Ospreys) (21 Caps)

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (143 Caps)

Will Rowlands (Wasps) (5 Caps)

Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues) (29 Caps)

Dan Lydiate (Ospreys) (62 Caps)

Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues) (24 Caps)

Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) (27 Caps)

Taulupe Faletau (Bath) (81 Caps)

Josh MacLeod (Scarlets) (*Uncapped)

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) (80 Caps)

Backs:

Gareth Davies (Scarlets) (57 Caps)

Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues) (20 Caps)

Kieran Hardy (Scarlets) (2 Caps)

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints) (87 Caps)

Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears) (4 Caps)

Jarrod Evans (Cardiff Blues) (6 Caps)

Johnny Williams (Scarlets) (2 Caps)

Jonathan Davies (Scarlets) (85 Caps)

Nick Tompkins (Dragons) (8 Caps)

Owen Watkin (Ospreys) (25 Caps)

George North (Ospreys) (98 Caps)

Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues) (29 Caps)

Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues) (22 Caps)

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester) (4 Caps)

Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets) (93 Caps)

Liam Williams (Scarlets) (67 Caps)

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Scarlets’ late surge sees off Ospreys

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Pro-14 Conference B

Ospreys 14 – Scarlets 16

 
A LATE try from Angus O’Brien secured the derby day spoils in a nail-biting Guinness PRO14 Boxing Day clash against the Ospreys.
The Ospreys, playing as the official ‘home’ team at Parc y Scarlets, had led for the majority of a tense contest.
But with 71 minutes on the clock, a superb off-load from replacement Blade Thomson paved the way for full-back O’Brien to slice through and dive over for the crucial score.
Man of the match Dan Jones added the conversion to put the Scarlets in front for the first time and the West Walians were able to finish the match on the front foot to claim the annual festive bragging rights and a crucial win to keep them in the hunt in the Conference B standings.
O’Brien hadn’t been named in the original match-day 23, but was brought in at the 11th hour as a replacement for Johnny McNicholl.
In blustery conditions, Scarlets enjoyed the early pressure, but despite hammering away at the Ospreys line were unable to come away with any points.
Instead, it was the Ospreys who were first on the board after 14 minutes through the boot of fly-half Stephen Myler.
The opening quarter was proving a cagey affair with both sides unable to get any momentum going.
A moment of individual brilliance from scrum-half Reuben Morgan-Williams, who dummied and sprinted clear from 40 metres, extended the Ospreys’ lead on 22 minutes, but the Scarlets’ response was swift with Jones landing a penalty straight from the kick-off.
Jones hit the upright with another attempt, then a pin-point cross-field kick from Steff Hughes just evaded the grasp of wing Steff Evans with the line at his mercy.
A powerful scrum on the stroke of half-time led to a long-range penalty chance, but O’Brien’s strike drifted wide with the Ospreys going in ahead 8-3 at the break.
Myler extended his side’s lead early in the second half, but Jones kept Scarlets in it with his kicking out of hand and off the floor.
Two more penalties from the Carmarthen fly-half to one from Myler made it 14-9 going into the final 10 minutes.
Then the Scarlets struck.
With Thomson having a big impact off the bench, the back-rower plucked a ball out of the sky as the Scarlets surged forward. He was involved again soon after, producing a sublime pass to O’Brien who cut a great angle to the posts.
With only two points in it, the Scarlets showed their composure to make their way downfield and set up camp in ‘home’ territory for the final minutes, denying the Ospreys any chance to snatch the win.

Glenn Delaney reflected on the absence of fans from the stadium.
“You go back 12 months and there were 15,000 people here and I don’t think I have experienced anything like it. This place was electric.
“I say it every week, we are very fortunate to be in the position we are and we are only here by virtue of the supporters of this great club. We want the fans back here as soon as possible.
“Hopefully, they found a chance to shout at the TV screens, get involved and share the experience. The derby season is passionate, the only thing we are missing is the people. We must get the people back into the game, they would have loved the occasion.”
On the performance, while Glenn Delaney was ‘delighted’ with the win, he added: “There is plenty for us to work on. We stayed in the game and that’s what you have to do in a derby.
“There were a lot of things we weren’t happy about in terms of our skillsets and penalty count, we were very ill-disciplined and we need to correct that. We were putting pressure on ourselves. We were trying to play and we were quite close on a couple of occasions, a couple of pass-kicks almost went to hand.
“Probably not having a game for a week or so showed, our timing was a bit off; we have had a couple of disjointed weeks, we looked a bit rusty. I thought the Ospreys were excellent, put us under pressure and took their points well.”
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Scarlets slay Dragons

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Pro-14 Conference B
Scarlets 20 – Dragons 3
SCARLETS started 2021 as they ended 2020 with a Welsh derby victory at Parc y Scarlets.
Tries from man-of-the-match Sione Kalamafoni and replacement Sam Costelow, combined with the boot of Dan Jones ensured Glenn Delaney’s side made it a festive double to move them up to second in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 standings.
The Scarlets weren’t at their free-flowing best and will be frustrated by the amount of handling errors and ill-discipline in their performance, but the winning run continues ahead of next week’s clash with Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital.
Despite a rare dry night in Llanelli, the opening 40 minutes was littered with errors from both sides and it meant the game had little flow.
The Scarlets enjoyed plenty of possession and territory, but too often passes failed to go to hand.
It was the Dragons who were first on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty from the boot of ex-Scarlet Josh Lewis.
Wales lock Jake Ball limped off moments later with a knee injury to be replaced by Tevita Ratuva, while Wyn Jones, on his 100th appearance, also left the field for a head assessment.
The outstanding Kalamafoni made a powerful surge up the middle of the field to put the Scarlets on the offensive, but again a promising move broke down.
Dan Jones levelled matters on 29 minutes, then added another penalty on the stroke of half-time after a quick tap from Kieran Hardy.
The Scarlets continued to enjoy the better of play in the second period, but had to wait until 57 minutes for the game’s first try.
More pressure led to Gareth Davies being taken out off the ball and Dragons lock Matthew Screech being shown yellow by referee Nigel Owens.
Scarlets went for the corner instead of the shot at goal and a well-worked training move saw Kalamafoni charge across the whitewash for his first try in Scarlets colours, a score converted by Jones.
With former Scarlet Rhodri Williams adding a spark, Dragons looked for an immediate response, but a brilliant turnover from Ratuva snuffed out the threat.
Then in the final play, replacement Sam Costelow picked up a loose ball, sped through the gap and around the final defender for a superb solo score, with the Wales U20s fly-half adding the conversion for good measure.
After the hard-fought win, Scarlets coach Glenn Delaney said: “I suppose it was a compelling contest of a different nature. You saw a lot of kicking battles going on, neither team wanted to give the other counter-attacking opportunities.
“I thought defensively we were very resolute, I never felt we were in danger on our goal-line, it was a bit stop-start with a couple of drop balls, but I am delighted to get the win and we did create a bit more in the second half.
“With these derby games, I am learning every time we play one, they all seem to be pretty much like this and perhaps bring out the best and worst in us because of the individual competition and contest.
“We would have liked to have done a bit more with the ball and the attacking breakdown with us was poor, the Dragons turned over a bit of ball there so we need to be better in that area and make sure when we make the breaks we are able to capitalise.”

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