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35-strong squad named for bumper autumn series

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WALES Women head coach Rowland Phillips has named a 35-strong squad for his side’s five matches in November – their biggest autumn series to date. Hooker Carys Phillips will continue to captain the squad which includes 14 uncapped players.

Wales begin the series with three away matches – against Spain, Ireland and Scotland before returning to Wales for the first match against a women’s Crawshay’s team coached by new WRU Council Member Liza Burgess and the first professional female coach in Wales – Rachel Taylor.

That game will take place at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale on Saturday, November 23, and Taylor will also be part of the opposition coaching team a week later for Wales Women’s first match against the Barbarians in the Principality Stadium double header.

Phillips said: “Our focus hasn’t changed. We are already qualified for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup and our key aim is to build a squad of young players with significant experience under their belts.

“This autumn series is a huge opportunity to do that. All players will gain from the experience of travelling away for three testing encounters against Spain, Ireland and Scotland – all of whom still need to qualify for the World Cup. And to be part of two historic encounters in Wales at the end of November against the Crawhshay’s and Barbarians is something we will all look forward to and enjoy.

“We finished the Six Nations on a high with a dramatic win over Scotland and then a pleasing win and performance against Ireland and we want to build on that momentum this season.

“There is excellent quality coming through – that was evident in the regional programme again this summer and some of those players are rewarded with squad places today. We have a responsibility to continue to develop those players, maximise their potential and also manage them well. We will expose them to an international environment and give them game time when ready. The likes of Lauren Smyth, Manon Johnes, Alex Callender and Gwen Crabb all earned their first caps last autumn and have gone on to become key players in the squad. The opportunity is there for others to do the same if they apply themselves.

“We are clear on where we need to develop to become consistently competitive. There’s a better understanding now from players of what is required of an international player in terms of fitness, skill levels, attitude and everything else that goes with being an international rugby player.

“We aren’t looking beyond the first game. Spain are making significant progress and will provide a tough challenge especially on their home turf. We are looking forward to locking horns with our Six Nations adversaries Ireland and Scotland who both have a point to prove and we want to engage as many home fans as possible in our journey and be part of our home matches at Ebbw Vale at Principality Stadium.”

WRU international skills coaches Geraint Lewis and Chris Horsman have joined Rowland Phillips and Gareth Wyatt in the Wales Women coaching set-up and will provide specialised input throughout the autumn campaign.

Phillips welcomed the addition of the former Wales international forwards. “Geraint and Chris are excellent coaches. With their wealth of experience working with young international players, they understand the need to adapt styles and management skills accordingly. It’s hugely encouraging for the women’s programme to become a more integrated part of the WRU performance structure. I know I’ve learned a lot from coaching female athletes and Chris and Geraint have already shown they will add value to the programme.”

Wales Women autumn series squad:

Forwards: (5 uncapped*)

Alex Callender (Scarlets), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Georgia Evans* (Cardiff Blues), Abbie Fleming* (Cardiff Blues), Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues),

Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Jordan Hopkins* (Cardiff Blues), Gwenllian Jenkins* (Scarlets), Natalia John (Ospreys), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Robyn Lock* (Ospreys), Carys Phillips (Ospreys), Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC)

Backs: (9 uncapped*)

Keira Bevan, (Ospreys), Angharad Desmet* (Scarlets), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Courtney Keight* (Ospreys), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Caitlin Lewis* (Scarlets), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Rebekah O’Loughlin* (Cardiff Blues), Kayleigh Powell* (Ospreys), Paige Randall* (Cardiff Blues), Catherine Richards* (Cardiff Blues), Lauren Smyth (Ospreys), Elinor Snowsill Ospreys), Niamh Terry* (Ospreys), Megan Webb* (Cardiff Blues), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues)

Wales Women fixtures November 2019:

Spain v Wales Women, Estadio Nacional Computense, Madrid, Sunday, November 3, 12.45pm local time

Ireland v Wales Women, The Bowl, UCD, Dublin, Sunday, November 10, 1pm

Scotland v Wales Women, Glasgow, Sunday, November 17, 3pm

Crawshay’s v Wales Women, Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale Saturday, November 23, 2.30pm

Wales Women v Barbarians Saturday, November 30, Principality Stadium 11.45am

Tickets for the Barbarians double-header on sale via wru.wales/tickets

Sport

Impressive win for Mikey

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FISHGUARD boxer Mikey O’Sullivan secured an impressive victory over a top English opponent in the England v Wales international at Cannock at the weekend.

The Ysgol Bro Gwaun pupil, who boxes for Cardigan ABC, overcame Mike Smith (Pinewood Star ABC) on a split decision to help Wales to an 8-7 victory.

The result more than made up for the disappointment of O’Sullivan’s controversial points defeat against Luke Rodder in the previous Wales v England international.

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Wales survive Fiji scare to book quarter final place

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WALES booked their place in the quarter finals of the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday as they survived a scare from Fiji.

The Fijians led 10-0 early on and 17-14 in the second half but a try hat trick from Josh Adams helped them eventually seal the victory.

Fiji made a bright start but a loose pass gave Wales possession. However, James Davies was then guilty of being offside and Fiji opted for a scrum near the try line.

They worked it to the right for Josua Tuisova who forced his way over despite the attentions of three Wales players. Ben Volavola missed the conversion from wide on the right but Fiji led 5-0 after the opening five minutes.

Wales thought they had scored a minute later when Josh Navidi went over but the ball had been knocked on earlier in the move.

Fiji then broke through again and Frank Lomani touched the ball down, but after checking with the TMO the pass to him was judged forwards.

The referee stayed with the TMO to check for foul play and it was Ken Owens who was yellow carded for a tip tackle.

Fiji didn’t let the disallowed try get to them and they again worked it to the right for Kini Murimurivalu who rolled over before touching down. Volavola’s conversion from out wide again was just wide.

Tevita Cavubati was then yellow carded for a shoulder charge to the back temporarily making it 14 vs 14.

After 18 minutes Dan Biggar kicked across field to the left for Josh Adams who took the ball well before touching down. Biggar then added the conversion from out wide to make it 10-7 to Fiji.

With 26 minutes gone the ball was played to Adams again who dived over but the TMO adjudged that Adams’ foot had just gone into touch.

Fiji were defending well and had forced Wales back but Semi Kunatani was guilty of being offside and was given a yellow card after a series of Fiji indiscretions.

With half an hour gone Wales, after looking to bulldoze their way over, passed out left to Adams again who this time went over for the try. Biggar was successful with the conversion again to give Wales a 14-10 lead.

Shortly before half time Fiji thought they had scored a third try but Volavola’s pass to Viliame Mata was forward.

Half time came with Wales winning 14-10 but the game was still very much in the balance.

Fiji started the second half well and came close to the line but James Davies turned the ball over after seven minutes to ease the pressure.

Davies was then penalised for stopping a drive and after an accumulation of penalties, he was shown a yellow card.

Fiji kicked to touch and set up a maul but after it was brought down near the line, referee Jerome Garces marched under the posts to award a penalty try.

That put the Fijians 17-14 ahead and Wales then lost Dan Biggar to a head injury. He and Liam Williams both went for a high ball with Biggar coming off worse. Biggar picked himself up but was replaced by Rhys Patchell.

Patchell was straight into the action as he scored a long-range penalty to bring the scores level.

Jonathan Davies then made a great break for the line and made a superb offload to Adams who dived over to touch the ball down. The try was checked by the TMO but Adams’ hat trick was soon confirmed. Patchell’s conversion came back off the post and the score stayed at 22-17.

Davies then limped off and he was replaced by Owen Watkin.

Fiji were keen to show that they were not out of the game and came forward again but gave away possession.

With ten minutes to go, Gareth Davies offloaded to Liam Williams who dived down near the posts to secure a bonus point for Wales. Patchell added the extras to put the men in red 29-17 ahead.

That try all but sealed the win for Wales and when the clock ticked past 80 minutes, they kicked into touch to bring the game to a close.

Wales take on Uruguay in their final pool game on Sunday (Oct 13), kick off at 9:15am.

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West Wales Cup: First round preview

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THIS Saturday the West Wales Cup gets underway once more with teams hopeful of a successful run to the Liberty Stadium for the final.

Merlins Bridge are the holders after they beat Carew in the final earlier this year and both have been given byes into the second round this season.

Last year marked the first time that two Pembrokeshire sides reached the final but will that happen again or will another team look to bring the county’s recent dominance to an end.

Goodwick United, Hakin United, Kidwelly Town and Tumble United are some of the other sides to receive byes to the second round.

Pembrokeshire League Champions Monkton Swifts begin their campaign away to Carmarthenshire Premier Division side Loughor Rovers.

The Swifts have made an unbeaten start to their league campaign while the Rovers have four wins from their opening seven games.

Carmarthenshire Premier League champions Trallwm host Swansea Division 1 side Penclawdd.

Both sides have had mixed starts to their season and will be keen to get their cup run going.

Neath League Division 1 side Cilfrew Rovers are the visitors to Fishguard on Saturday with both sides enjoying a good start to their respective seasons.

Clarbeston Road host Swansea League Division 2 side Cwmfelin Press and Neath Division 1 side Resolven are the visitors to Haverfordwest Cricket Club.

Pembrokeshire Division 2 side Herbrandston host Carmarthenshire Premier side Pengelli United.

Herbie have just one league win to their name so far this season while Pengelli have four wins from their opening seven games.

Swansea Division 1 outfit Morriston Town will visit Division 2 Hundleton in what will be a good test for the Pembrokeshire side.

Neyland host Neath Division 2 side Clydach Sports having sealed their first win of the season last weekend.

In two Pembrokeshire versus Carmarthenshire league ties, Letterston are at home to Evans and Williams while Pennar Robins host Dafen.

Dafen are second in Division 1 while the Robins are without a win so far this season.

Elsewhere, Kilgetty travel to Celtic Neath while Lawrenny travel to Bryn.

Division 2 Carmarthenshire side Abergwili host Division 1 FC Carmarthen while Carmarthen Town United host Wern.

Bancffosfelen were heavily beaten at the weekend and they will look to put that result behind them when they travel to Bonymaen Colts.

Premier Division Burry Port host Swansea League Division 3 side Cwm Albion Colts.

Photo by Darren Harries

Bwlch have only had one win in the league this season and they host Neath Premier Division side FC Clydach who themselves only have two wins to their name so far.

Carmarthen Stars host Pontardawe while Pembrey host Cambrian.

Felinfoel earned a win in their last game in Division 1 and they go up against Carmarthen Premier side Pontarddulais.

Trostre are also at home as they take on Jersey Marine while Seaside travel to Sandfields.

St Ishmaels are away as they take on Gorseinon Athletic, Milford United travel to Murton Rovers and Narberth host Ynystawe.

Good luck to all sides involved.

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