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Otters beaten by Vale in Cup

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Ebbw Vale 39-17 Narberth

THE Otters made 10 changes to the starting line up following their successful win the previous week.

In the pre-match warm up it was noticeable how more muscular the Premiership players were compared to the Otters squad.

Ianto Griffiths kicked off and immediately the Steelmen showed their intent to cross the gain line but were penalised at the breakdown. Ebbw Vale scored 10 points in 8 minutes, the Steelmen scored their first try when full back Dan Haymond scored near the corner having stretched the Otters defence after play moved quickly across from left to right. Haymond failed to convert his try.

Two minutes later they scored again this time via wing Paul King. It seemed as though the Otters were giving Ebbw Vale too much respect. Again Haymond failed with the conversion. From the restart we saw Otters wing Yannick Parker sprint forward. The Otters were defending bravely but offended at a breakdown infront of the posts which gave Haymond an easy penalty kick bringing the score to 13-0 after 10 minutes.

Otters debut winger Josh Davies received the ball and raced diagonally to cross the try line taking a defender with him. Nick Gale stepped up to convert which brought the score to 13-7 on 13 minutes.

This gave the Otters heart and they began to turn the pressure onto Ebbw Vale.

For 16 minutes Ebbw Vale were pinned down on several occasions with both Ianto Griffiths and Nick Gale landing some strategic kicks whenever the Steelmen attempted to apply pressure back on the Otters.

Eventually the phased play saw the Otters win a penalty which Nick Gale converted with the score now 13-10 which rewarded the Otters determination to pressure Ebbw Vale.

Then the Otters were penalised twice for breakdown infringements at the ruck. The second occasion on 33 minutes resulted in captain Alex Jenkins being yellow carded. This was a blow since he was leading the Otters well, especially in their defensive cover and urging the pack forward.

Now the Otters began to be stretched in their defensive system as Ebbw Vale turned on the pressure.

This saw some frantic defensive work but the Otters were eventually undone, when from a ruck scrum half Sam Ireland moved right and across passing on then running around to receive the final pass to score an unconverted try on 39 minutes.

Play went on into injury time and on 43 minutes flanker David Rubusniak scored when Ebbw Vale set up a rolling maul from a lineout. The conversion was kicked again by Dan Haymond. The score at half time was 25-10.

The second half restarted with Alex Jenkins still in the sin bin. Taking advantage Ebbw Vale scored again within 5 minutes. It came from a lineout on the Otters 22. The Steelmen safely controlled possession. They then set up a rolling maul, releasing the ball, they moved to the far corner where second row Lance Randall charged over the line for a try which Dan Haymond converted.

Alex Jenkins returned and no sooner was he on the field than Jake Baker was sent to the sin bin, yellow carded for a an adjudged deliberate knock on. This seemed a harsh decision since he intercepted a pass whose forceful travel caused the ball to bounce forward as it hit the second row’s hands.

Once again Ebbw Vale stepped up the pressure to take advantage of the situation. but the Otters refused to fold under the pressure.

The Otters supporters spirits were lifted when new wing Josh Davies almost broke through the Ebbw Vale defence. Ebbw Vale kicked to touch 10 metres from the line. Winning the lineout they set up another rolling maul. The maul collapsed but second row Dan Hill picked up the ball and using all his strength forced himself over the line for a try converted by Dan Haymond, at 67 minutes which took the score to 39-10.

On 75 minutes, Ebbw Vale suffered a yellow card with their inside centre having to take his place in the sin bin.

Ebbw Vale defended strongly after sustained pressure and were now scrabbling to clear the ball as the tables turned. The sustained Otters pressure told when on 78 minutes Tom Powell went over for a try which Nick Gale converted. A few minutes later the referee blew for full time with the score 39-17.

Looking back the yellow cards amounted to over 20 minutes play with 14 men who could not control the increased pressure exerted by a strong Ebbw Vale side. This had a telling effect on the result.

Later Director of Rugby Sean Gale stated: “As a game of rugby it was excellent for the neutral observer. We scored some fantastic tries but the intensity between the Premiership and the Championship League is a bit different.

“When we were on the ball, we played some really good rugby but lost a little bit of concentration. We went down 10 points in about 10 minutes. So, the way we bounced back was really very good. Then when we had the yellow cards through which we gave them 26 points. We have got to be a little bit tighter and the concentration levels and intensity just lacked a little bit but the way my boys played today, I was really proud of their attempt to play.

“When we had our defensive patterns in place, we really shook Ebbw Vale up and really frightened them. In the set piece lineout, we lost too many lineouts but our scrum was as good as theirs and that was a big plus. We had a lot of youngsters out there today, we made 10 changes from the Tata Steel game, and the way in which some of those boys put their hands up was absolutely fantastic. It bodes well for the future of Narberth Rugby Club.

“It is difficult these days with the pressure of league rugby to give these lads an opportunity but they had a go today, up against a very strong Ebbw Vale side and did themselves proud, especially Alex Codd who did a good job and I thought Josh Davies in his first competitive game for the club was excellent. Harry Phillips was on one of his first starts and he was very positive. Then in the last 20 minutes we brought senior players on. Overall, the result was not good but the performance and grit within the team was excellent.”

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Bluebirds bag last-gasp draw

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JD Cymru Premier League • Haverfordwest County 1 – Caernarfon Town 1

A LAST minute Danny Williams equaliser secured a deserved point for the Bluebirds after a dominant performance at the Bridge Meadow.

The tone for the game was set in the first minute, as only a last-ditch tackle denied Cameron Keetch a shot at goal after he latched on to a lofted pass. The opening 15 minutes were relatively quiet, Tibbets comfortably saved a Sean Pemberton header and Matt Turner stopped Mike Hayes in his track as he had the ball in the box.

The Bluebirds enjoyed a lot of possession in these opening minutes, playing some good football on the pristine surface. The first real chance came as an Elliot Scotcher corner ricocheted around the box before it was cleared off the line. Just 5 minutes later, Scotcher himself hit the post from an excellently struck free-kick from just outside the penalty area. The next chance fell to Marcus Griffiths who couldn’t quite get on the end of a low cross across the face of goal.

Some bad news for the Bluebirds, Cameron Keetch departed the pitch on the 29th minute after suffering an injury, he was replaced by super-sub Jack Wilson. He was straight into the action as he was played through by Ben Fawcett, but he curled his effort just wide of the post. Matt Turner then saved a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the Bluebirds penalty area. Jack Wilson had the final chance of the half as his curling effort from the right skimmed over the bar. A stalemate at halftime, but the Bluebirds on top.

The second half began as the first ended, this time is was Gruffydd John with a last-ditch tackle to deny Danny Williams. After Sean Pemberton headed wide, Danny Williams played a lofted ball through to Jack Wilson, who headed over Tibbets but Joe Williams cleared the ball off the line. Then, 4 minutes later, Wilson repaid the favour as he sent a lofted ball for Williams to chase, but Tibbets saved his lob attempt.

The Bluebirds continued to create chance after chance. Jack Wilson had a strike cleared off the line, again and Marcus Griffiths saw his header saved by Tibbets.

Against the run of play, Caernarfon took the lead on 74 minutes. Mendes picked up a cross at the back post and squared for Mike Hayes who couldn’t miss.

The setback didn’t deter the Bluebirds who continued to press.

In the space of a minute, Jack Wilson, Dan Summerfield and Jack Wilson all had shots blocked in the penalty area. Jack Wilson then turned provider as his long throw met the head of Sean Pemberton but his effort was over the bar.

With 94 minutes on the clock, Jack Wilson went racing down the right, squared for Danny Williams, and he did the rest from a few yards out with the final kick of the game.

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Wales gear up for Paris

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Wales face Les Bleus in Paris in what will be their first match since March.

It is one kicking and skills coach Jenkins is looking forward to.

“It is nice to be back. It has been tough since March, but to be involved now and have the boys back is great,” said the former fly-half.

“It’s doing things a little bit differently to what we are normally used to, but the boys have had a head start and been very good helping us.

“We understand what is going on, both at home and in France, and we respect that 100 per cent.

“We are there to do a job, we are there to represent our country, and I would like to think we are going to do that as best as we possibly can both on and off the pitch.

“We will adhere to everything that is required of us, hopefully play a very good game on Saturday, and do our utmost to win the Test match and try and pick the nation up.

“It’s brutal for everyone whether you are a sportsperson or a non-sportsperson. It is not an easy situation at this moment in time. I hope we can put some smiles on faces.

“We want to win, plain and simple. We have lost our last few games. We are here to play well and we are here to win Test matches.”

France got the better of Wales in the Six Nations at the start of the year before Covid-19 struck.

“It seems an incredibly long time ago. People might disagree, but for me it was a Test match I believe we should have won. We had opportunities,” Jenkins said.

“We gave probably 14 points away if I am brutally honest. We left a number of opportunities out there.”

Both sides will use the game to warm-up for their remaining Six Nations clashes and then their Autumn Nations Cup campaigns.

On questions regarding Josh Navidi’s involvement, Jenkins added: “He is going through his protocols and we will see how he goes this week and for the weeks coming up.”

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New Welsh rugby kit launched

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THE NEW Macron Wales kit, to be worn for the first time against France in Paris on October 24, has been unveiled simultaneously in the private changing rooms of the national team headquarters in Hensol and the Wales Women squad’s current base in Swansea University.

Jonathan Davies and Ross Moriarty were joined ‘virtually’ by Wales Women captain Siwan Lillicrap and Gwen Crabb to reveal the kit against a backdrop of jerseys from the community game in Wales which have also been produced by the WRU’s new official technical partner.

The launch of the new kit has taken on a post-Covid feel with both squads currently training in respective ‘bubbles’ and so the community aspect of the partnership – £1m of free kit to be supplied yearly to Welsh rugby clubs over six years – has been reflected by a display of existing Macron community rugby shirts.

A set of unique features sees the red dragon of the Welsh flag embossed across lower back of the shirt, an embossed pattern covering the sleeves – cleverly transforming the hexagonal shape of the WRU three-feathers logo into ‘dragon scales’ – and the Welsh word ANRHYDEDD (honour), also embossed, on the back of the collar.

The ‘away‘ version is a black jersey with a white v-neck collar, this time tipped with red trim that is also found on the sleeves and cuffs.

Both sleeves again feature an all over embossed pattern, but this time a geometric graphic brings a new age look to the garment.

The Welsh dragon is once again embossed on the lower back and another Welsh word, ANGERDD (passion) is embossed on the back of the collar.

“The new kit is striking representation of Welsh rugby tradition and we are delighted to be able to launch our new seven-year partnership with Macron in such a spectacular way,” said WRU CEO Steve Phillips.

“We are delighted with the bespoke kit, training and leisurewear Macron has provided so far, where Italian design meets Welsh passion with impressive results.

“And we are sure that the Welsh rugby watching public will be equally impressed when they get their hands on their favourite pieces in the expansive product range available.”

Wales Women will wear the kit in action for the first time against Scotland in their own postponed Six Nations clash on November 1 and, from next season, Macron’s affinity with Welsh rugby will increase even further when the first instalment of £6m worth of kit over six years, is supplied to the clubs in the community game throughout Wales.

“The Welsh Rugby Union represents one of the pillar stones of world rugby and for Macron to stand side by side with this sporting giant, means that we as a brand, have reached yet another great milestone,” said Macron‘s CEO Gianluca Pavanello.

“Our goal is for the new kits to be instantly recognisable and something that clearly express the Welsh identity and spirit. We hope that our hard work has paid off and that the new collection will be loved by players and fans alike and that the kits evoke the emotion that such a great nation deserves.”

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