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Wales Women take no fear approach to France challenge

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WALES women will take on a “no fear” approach for their Six Nations opener with France on Saturday evening as head coach Rowland Phillips targets challenging the tournament’s elite.

A trip to Montpellier is a tough start for Wales, but a young squad is relishing the chance to play in front of a hostile crowd on the back of a successful autumn campaign.

Phillips’ side pushed a top-class Canada outfit all the way in November and also claimed victories over South Africa and Hong Kong. It all paints a positive picture for the team ahead of facing France.

“We came out of the autumn having moved our game on a bit. Our conditioning levels improved and on the whole, everything was just better,” said Phillips. “The skillset of the players also went up and if anything we’d have liked to have continued playing in November.

“When we came back in to start preparing for the Six Nations, the key thing for us was to pick that momentum back up and continue from where we left off at the end of last year. It feels like that is exactly what has happened.”

Meanwhile, Phillips has added two players to his squad ahead of the France clash. RGC’s Teleri Davies – who can play at lock or No 8 – bolsters the options. Davies made her Wales debut last season against Scotland and replaces a key figure in Sioned Harries who suffered an ankle injury in the Six Nations warm-up clash with Ireland which required surgery.

Uncapped Cardiff Blues prop Danielle Dinapoli comes in for Brea Leung who has been ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Wales captain and hooker Carys Phillips said: “France will be a very tough game, especially away from home. We have a lot of young players in our squad, but they are hungry for that challenge.

“I feel we have made a massive step forward from this time last year and I’m also really excited to play in front of a massive crowd. It will be an excellent experience all round.

“There is absolutely no fear in our squad and that’s brilliant for us.”

Rowland Phillips added: “France beat New Zealand in the autumn and that has made everyone sit up and take notice. We know France are strong anyway, but that result certainly lifted an eyebrow.

“The tournament will be game by game, but we need to measure ourselves by results as well as performances. That’s important for us. We want to reach the World Cup in two years with a young but experienced squad of players.

“The target for us is to move up the table. There are teams in the competition we have beaten before and beaten recently, so we need to be confident of our abilities.

“The Six Nations table always tends to split into two groups. We need to be in the first of those.”

On the prospect of facing Wales, France captain Gaelle Hermet said: “Our match against Wales is our first and therefore most important. They will come with great commitment and determination.

“Wales will want to beat us in Montpellier and it will be a very complicated match but one we will be ready for.”

Wales Women take on France at GGL Stadium, Montpellier on Saturday evening. The match will be shown live on S4C (8pm GMT) and on France Télévisions (9pm local time).

Tickets for Wales Women v England (Sunday, Feb 24, 12.30pm) and Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm) are on sale now from Cardiff Blues box office online and to personal callers.

Sport

Bush qualifies for Paralympic games

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PEMBROKESHIRE’s Para-taekwondo star Matt Bush has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic games this summer.

At the European Paralympic Qualification tournament, Bush, who is the current world champion, beat Hungary’s Zoltan Kiss 29-1 in the +75kg final.

Para-taekwondo will make its debut at this summer’s Paralympics with the competition set to take place from September 2-4.

Bush, from St Clears, became Britain’s first ever world champion in the sport in 2019 began his latest tournament in fine style, seeing off Roman Ivaniuk of Ukraine 38-2 in the semi-final.

Matt told BBC Sport that it felt ‘so good’ to have secured his spot in the team.

The heavyweight athlete has made quite the mark on the mats. He has medalled at the Korean Open, Oceania Para Taekwondo Championships and the Pan America Para Taekwondo Open.

The GB team for Tokyo will be officially announced later this summer.

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Lawrenny through in Village Cup

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LAWRENNY are through to the next round of the Village Cup after they beat Llandysul on Sunday (May 9).

Both teams were rained off the previous day but some good work meant that the game was able to go ahead.

Llandysul batted first but were bowled out for 82 in 26.3 overs as Jamie Lewis took five wickets for the visitors.

He went on to finish with figures of 5-22 from his seven overs while the home side’s top scorer was captain Llew Hughes who made a score of 20.

Lawrenny did not have it all their own way in their reply as Rhys Jones bowled well to finish with figures of 3-10.

However, an excellent knock of 52 from Harry Thomas steered Lawrenny to their target inside the 24th over.

Elsewhere, Carew’s game away at Drefach was called off while Cresselly had already received a bye to the next round.

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Lawrenny earn big win over Whitland

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LAWRENNY got their 2021 season off to the perfect start on Saturday (May 1) as they beat Whitland by 189 runs.

Whitland won the toss and elected to field but they could only watch as the home side piled on the runs before being bowled out for 264.

Kyle Marsh top scored with a score of 81 while Kurtis Mars also scored 45.

Tom Cole added 32 and James Phillips chipped in with a score of 29 as they batted well.

Wayne Howells and Jonathan Thomas finished with identical figures of 2-27 as Whitland’s bowling did at least keep the score below 300.

Whitland knew they would need to bat well to knock off the runs needed but came up against Ryan Morton who took four wickets for the loss of 17 runs.

Kurtis Marsh also claimed two wickets without conceding any runs as the visitors chances got smaller and smaller.

Geraint Jones did score 30 for Whitland but that was as good as it got as they were bowled out for just 75.

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