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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

Seagulls earn comeback victory

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Specsavers National League
Division 2 West
Pontyberem 10 – Fishguard & Goodwick 31
ANYONE leaving Pontyberem’s Recreation Park after 15 minutes couldn’t be blamed for thinking a Pontyberem victory would be the end result. However, rugby matches last 80 minutes.
Straight from the start, Pontyberem put the Seagulls on the back foot and played with control and flair.
Fishguard rapidly slipped to a ten-point deficit through a Sion Nicholas try and a further five points from the boot of the home team’s skipper, centre Mike Sauro.
The tide turned when Pontyberem were hit with a pair of yellow cards, which allowed the Seagulls to turn the game’s momentum around. Fishguard managed to turn the screw with their advantage, crossing for
During the opening section of the game the Bont played with control and quite a bit of flair, resulting in them hitting Fishguard with a ten-point onslaught, through a Sion Nicholas try, and a further five points from the boot of centre and skipper Mike Sauro. However, with two yellow cards being awarded against Pontyberem, the tide turned.
And Fishguard took full advantage by turning the screw, crossing for 2 tries of their own.
The first came as visitors’ skipper Chris Shousha took a quick tap penalty and steamed over for an unconverted try. Outside half Mick Jones slotted over a penalty to pull the Seagulls within two points before rounding off a sweeping movement which started inside his own half with a fine score.
Although Pontyberem were strong in scrum and effective in the lineout, they were unable to convert good first-phase possession into any meaningful threat. Their failure was largely down to excellent work by Fishguard’s back row and former Pontyberem player Nick Setaro’s kicking game.
The Whitland player, on loan to Fishguard, pinned Pontyberem back with some smart tactical kicking and showed Pontyberem how to turn field position into points by scoring a brace of drop goals.
As the game wore on, Fishguard capitalised on errors by the home team to build a dominant position.
Despite sterling work in the tight, Pontyberem continued to be undone by their own mistakes, excellent jackalling work by Fishguard’s loose forwards, and opportunism.
Skipper Shousha scored his second try after good handling released him in space down the right flank. Mick Jones obliged with the extras to give the Seagulls a comfortable cushion entering the final quarter of the game.
Pontyberem seemed to run out of ideas and Fishguard managed to get that all-important bonus-point score when a clever cross-kick by Setaro found Daf Ridgeway in space. The Seagulls’ winger made no mistake and scored the game’s final try to take Fishguard to a 31-10 lead, which stayed the final score of the match.
This Saturday (Nov 23), Pontyberem make the journey down to Milford Haven and will want to ensure they turn up for the full eighty minutes. Meanwhile, Fishguard have the chance to add further momentum to their season, welcoming basement team Loughor to the Moors.

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Sport

Welsh Athletics celebrate success

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MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.

 

photo credit: welshathletics.org

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Sport

Rain, rain, go away…

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LAST WEEK, two Manderwood Pembrokeshire Football League games dodged the rain.
After a week in which torrential rainfall was interrupted only by the occasional deluge, only one fixture was completed.
You have to feel for poor St Florence.
Through rain and tempest, they made the trip north to Solva, only to come away on the wrong side of a 9-1 shellacking by the home team.
Solva’s goals came courtesy of Joe Nash, Rhys Rivers, Tom Goodson, a hat-trick from Liam Thomas, two goals from Josh Bland, and one from James Griffin. Jake Webster scored the visitors’ only goal.
Every other game in Pembrokeshire was washed out. League organisers will be hoping that the weather breaks soon to allow the season to get back on track.
Solva’s victory was not the only game of football played in Pembrokeshire, however.
Once more Goodwick United defied the weather and completed a handy 3-1 win over Rockspur Fords in the West Wales FA Cup.
The visitors, who play in the Swansea League Division One, are a form team and must have fancied their chances at Phoenix Park. Goodwick are a tough team to beat, however, and they contested fiercely in appalling conditions for football.
Goals from Rhys Dalling and James Bryan gave Goodwick a 2-0 half-time lead.
On a blustery and soaking wet afternoon, Goodwick simply played the conditions better and there was more than enough niggle to go round in the slippery conditions.
Even conceding an early spot-kick midway through the second half didn’t deter Goodwick. With the score at 2-1 and time ticking down, a Jordan Griffiths free-kick snaked its way into the visitors’ net to clinch the tie 3-1 and leave Goodwick a step closer to a final at the Liberty Stadium next year.
Clarby Road were glad to have two pitches available for them. With the first team pitch unplayable, the second team one was judged fit for play for the second round WWFA Cup fixture against Llanelli’s Camford team.
While the conditions were foul, the pitch held up well.
As the halfway point in the first period approached, Ben John produced a screamer from outside the area to give Clarby the lead. One became two shortly afterwards when Matt Griffiths headed home a well-directed corner. Shortly before half-time, Ben John added another goal to give the homesters a 3-0 lead.
Undeterred, Camford scrapped hard in the second half and pulled a deserved goal back with a fine strike from Ben Bowler.
Clarbeston Road repelled another promising Camford attack before regaining a three-goal cushion, as Ben John completed a fine hat-trick.
With conditions closing in, Joules Ward added a fifth for the home team.
A final result of 5-1 in increasingly poor conditions was a fair reward for Clarby, even if it left an always striving Camford a little short-changed.

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