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Pembrokeshire’s Evans to start for Wales

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 Rob Evans: Set to earn his fourth cap

Rob Evans: Set to earn his fourth cap

WALES coach Warren Gatland has given former Haverfordwest rugby starlet Rob Evans a starting place in the front-row for Sunday’s opening Six Nations clash against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, whilst former Narberth player Jonathan Davies also makes a return to the starting line-up after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Evans starts at loose head and will earn his fourth cap in his third match against Ireland.

Rob became the 1,118th player to be capped by Wales when he came on for his debut in the second half of the home fixture against Ireland in last year’s competition and made his first start the following week against Italy in Rome.

He began his rugby journey with Haverfordwest RFC and went on to represent Pembrokeshire U12s, which saw him packing down against his fellow Wales prop Samson Lee, who at the time was playing for Llanelli.

Propping is in his blood as his younger brother Oli has propped for Narberth, whilst his father Graham was a front-rower for many years with Haverfordwest.

At 6ft 1ins and 18st 4lbs he is a formidable opponent who thrives in the loose, and Wales coach Gatland has hailed him as one for the future, saying: “Rob (Evans) gets a start at loose-head, he’s played well for us before and deserves a chance looking ahead to the next few years.”

As well as a start for Evans, Gatland sprung a surprise at his selection by also selecting Justin Tipiric and Blues winger Tom James in his starting 15.

Tipuric starts the game at the Aviva Stadium at openside flanker with captain Sam Warburton at blindside and Taulupe Faletau at number eight, completing an all-British and Irish Lions back-row.

In the back-line James, who last played for Wales in the autumn of 2010, and made his debut back in 2007, will win his 10th cap on the wing. James will form a new look back three alongside Gareth Anscombe and George North.  Anscombe, who made his international debut against Ireland last August, will make his first RBS 6 Nations start as he lines up at fullback.

Jonathan Davies returns to the side from injury for the first time since last year’s Six Nations and he is named alongside Jamie Roberts in midfield to reform Wales’ most capped centre pairing.

Dan Biggar and Gareth Davies are the halfbacks and they line-up together for the fifth consecutive match.

In the pack Evans is joined in the front-row by Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin and Scarlets prop Samson Lee.

Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones continue their partnership in the second row.

“We are excited by the make-up of the squad, it’s very experienced along with one eye looking to the future,” said Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland.

“We have been impressed with Tom James’ form for Cardiff Blues and we are excited by the mix of the back-row which has played well together before.  It’s great to see Jonathan

(Davies) back and alongside Jamie, which makes a pretty experienced midfield.  Gareth (Anscombe) at fullback also gives us the option of having two first receivers.

“We have a very experienced bench, with a lot of caps there and hopefully they will come on and make an impact.”

“It’s going to be a physical game. Two years ago they strangled us out of the match and played well and we have to rise to that challenge on Sunday.”

On the bench Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins and Tomas Francis provide the front-row cover with Bradley Davies and Dan Lydiate rounding off the forward contingent.  Davies will win his 50th cap if he takes to the field in Dublin. Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland and Alex Cuthbert provide the backline cover.

Wales team to play Ireland:

Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (ASM Clermont), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Tom James (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, CAPT), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues).

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Scarlets great Jonathan Davies awarded testimonial year

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IT has been confirmed that Scarlets, Wales and British & Irish Lions centre Jonathan Davies has been awarded a testimonial year.

‘Foxy’, as he is popularly known, has played 209 games in a Scarlets jersey over 16 seasons, making his debut for the club against Northampton Saints as an eighteen-year-old back in 2006.

From Bancyfelin in Carmarthenshire, Jonathan played his junior club rugby for St Clears and Whitland before coming through the ranks of the Scarlets Academy and going on to become one of the leading centres in world rugby.

He twice toured with the Lions – to Australia (2013) and New Zealand (2017), where he was named player of the series in the epic Test battle against the All Blacks. He has also played 96 Tests for Wales, featuring in two Grand Slam-winning sides, a further two championship wins, and two Rugby World Cups in New Zealand (2011) and Japan (2019). During his time playing for Wales, Jonathan also had the honour of captaining the national side on four occasions.

After a couple of years in France with Clermont Auvergne, he returned to his home club ahead of the 2016-17 campaign and was an integral member of the Scarlets side that lifted the Guinness PRO12 title in exhilarating fashion in Dublin that season.

He continues to be an influential figure and role model in the Scarlets squad at the age of 36.

“Never could I have imagined when I was a kid running out onto the field at Stradey Park after the final whistle, trying to get as many player autographs as I could, that I would be lucky enough to become a player myself and play for the Scarlets, let alone more than 200 times,” he said.

“I have made memories that I will never forget whilst wearing the famous Scarlets shirt. From beating London Irish at the Madjeski in Europe, where travelling support was immense, to my favourite moment, winning the league in 2016-17 alongside team-mates who were also friends.

“I am extremely grateful to the Scarlets for all their support over the years and for awarding me this testimonial year.”

The testimonial year runs from June 2024 to May 2025 and has events planned for Llanelli, Cardiff, London and Dubai. It will also be supporting Jonathan’s chosen charity LATCH, who provide support for children and their families who are being treated by the Oncology Unit at the Children’s Hospital of Wales.

Tim Griffiths, the chair of Jonathan’s testimonial committee, said: “I am proud and honoured to be chair of Jon’s testimonial committee. Jon has been a champion of our national game; one of the modern-day greats of Welsh rugby, who has achieved so much in the jersey of the Scarlets, Wales and the Lions.

“We are looking forward to celebrating all his achievements during an exciting testimonial calendar, while also raising money for the fantastic work of his chosen charity LATCH.”

Scarlets Executive Chairman Simon Muderack said: “We wish Jon all the best for his testimonial year. He is a player who has given much to the game, a proud West Walian who became one of the finest centres in world rugby.”

Welsh Rugby Union CEO Abi Tierney added: “Jonathan Davies has been one of Welsh rugby’s greatest servants. At the peak of his powers he was one of the best centres in the world game over a sustained period of time and he is still delighting fans at Parc y Scarlets on a regular basis.

“Certainly, during that successful Lions tour of Australia in 2013, everyone knew he was one of the first names on the team sheet for the Lions coaches and Warren Gatland has regularly, since, named him as one of the best players he has ever coached.

“Jonathan is a credit to his origins, to his family and to the schools and coaches of his youth, always paying them tribute and often back at the clubs and institutions who supported him as a youngster.

“He is a hugely impressive individual, humble about his achievements as one of the finest professional rugby players Wales has produced and he deserves all the accolades and credit that will follow him in his testimonial year with his beloved Scarlets.”

The JD13 first event, a dinner in the Quinnell Lounge at Parc y Scarlets, will also support the Phil Bennett Foundation and take place in June. Full information on that event will follow.

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Dominant Goodwick crowned Champions

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Another convincing win for Goodwick United this season, this time over Milford United saw them confirmed as first division champions.

The outstanding Goodwick have dominated the first division all season and the league has been over as a contest since around Christmas time. Having not lost a league game and only failed to win two nobody’s come close to challenging them.

We asked the question earlier in the season is this one of the best teams if not the best Pembrokeshire has seen? The West Wales Cup and the treble may have settled this debate however they were unlucky to lose in the semi finals of that competition. The senior cup is still to play for and Goodwick will be strong favourites for this.

Undoubtedly an outstanding team and congratulations to everyone involved from the management to the ground staff and everyone in between.

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Title-Chasing Goodwick Reserves Secure Victory Against Haverfordwest Cricket Club

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In a highly anticipated clash at Phoenix Park, title contenders Goodwick seconds squared off against Haverfordwest Cricket Club in a thrilling encounter.

Fresh from celebrating the triumph of their first team in Division One the previous night, Goodwick seconds, led by captain Kyle Smith, entered the match with high spirits. Despite recent poor weather, Phoenix Park looked great, setting the stage for an exhilarating showdown.

The early exchanges saw both teams displaying resilience, with Haverfordwest Cricket Club showcasing solid defensive prowess. However, Goodwick’s midfield maestro Niall Kinsella orchestrated the play adeptly, supported by the dynamic Ethan Priestley’s commendable efforts.

The deadlock was broken when a contentious challenge in the box led to referee Marty Jones awarding a penalty to Goodwick. Dan Bryce clinically dispatched the spot-kick, giving the hosts a vital lead.

Shortly after, Goodwick doubled their advantage with a clinical finish from Josh Wellan, courtesy of a pinpoint assist from Kinsella. The halftime whistle blew with Goodwick enjoying a 2-0 lead, leaving Haverfordwest Cricket Club with an uphill task.

The second half witnessed Goodwick’s dominance, as Priestley’s energetic display resulted in two more goals, further cementing the home team’s superiority.

Despite the scoreline, both teams exhibited commendable sportsmanship and respect throughout the game, earning praise from the referee for their conduct.

With another successful outing at Phoenix Park, Goodwick seconds have bolstered their aspirations for promotion. The victory serves as a testament to their quality and determination, while Haverfordwest Cricket Club showcased glimpses of promise despite the defeat.

Final Score: Goodwick Reserves 4-0 Haverfordwest Cricket Club.

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