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Wales ready for Six Nations

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE 2018 Six Nations Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday (Feb 3) when Wales, captained by Alun Wyn Jones, welcome Scotland to the Principality Stadium in a match to be refereed by Frenchman, Romain Poite.

Coach Warren Gatland’s squad has been hampered with many high profile injuries, the latest being former Scarlets full back Liam Williams alongside scrum half Rhys Webb and his half back partner Dan Biggar.

The Welsh nation’s attention will be focused over the next seven weeks on the rugby and local interest has been heightened due to the Scarlets progressing to the European Cup quarter finals where they play La Rochelle on Friday (Mar 31).

The opening game against a Scottish side who have revelled in attacking flair under coach Gregor Townsend in the Autumn Series will offer a test which Gatland’s charges will have to meet front on to secure a victory. Winning will set down a marker by which the side will be judged.

They travel to Twickenham a week later to take on England before crossing the Irish Sea to take on the Emerald Isle in Dublin at the end of the month.

Both England and Ireland are at the top of their game at present, where any positive result will see euphoria amongst rugby followers. Gatland has changed his blueprint of direct rugby through hard running centre partnerships now opting for a more creative player at 12 which follows the way the Scarlets have developed this season.

Rhys Patchell could well have the nod to partner Gareth Davies at half back and the back division would feature fellow Scarlets, winger Steff Evans and Leigh Halfpenny, although neither have played a lot of ruby in recent weeks.

The centre partnership may be pivotal, with Osprey bound Scott Williams linking with adopted Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes after both impressed in the Autumn Series.

Prop Rob Evans should pack down on the coal face alongside Scarlets captain Ken Owens and fellow prop Samson le has returned to full fitness and may become the third player in the front row.

Back row dynamos Aaron Shingler and newbie James ‘Cubby’ Davies, brother of injured centre Jonathan, are also probable starters for Gatland meaning the Pivac influence of ‘expect the unexpected’, albeit abstractly, could well influence how well Wales perform.

Following the two testing trips on the road, Wales return to the Principality Stadium to take on Italy on Sunday (Mar 11) when the fixture follows the Women’s international between the two countries, before the finale of the season when France take on the ‘Men of Harlech’ a week later.

Predicating any result in sport is precarious at the best of times and the Six Nations championship often depends on which country has the key fixtures at home. Wales would be looking to secure three home victories, where the toughest encounter will be the opener against our Gaelic cousins.

Travelling to Twickenham and Dublin are daunting for any side where realistically a positive result will be an outside chance at best.

England, with colourful Aussie hooker Eddie Jones in charge are hardworking and Wales may have to live off limited possession, although the Scarlets faced such a scenario when they travelled to the ‘Rec’ and comprehensively dismissed Bath in front of Jones watching eyes.

Where there is a will there is a way as veteran second row Alun Wyn Jones leads the side knowing it could present a title showdown against Ireland, possibly the toughest of opponents in their own back yard.

With some optimism the prediction is for four victories, the three home fixtures and an exhilarating performance to light up the return journey down the M4 for those die hard supporters making the trip to HQ.

England will also return with four victories, beating Scotland in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield and France in Paris as recompense for their humbling at Wales hands.

Ireland, with a win over Wales may find the final game at Twickenham one step too far as the ‘Rose’ will find it unbearable to lose two home games meaning they also end on four victories.

Italy will pick up the wooden spoon without securing a win, ahead of France with Scotland in fourth position.

Representing Wales on the referee’s circuit will by Nigel Owens, who has a long association with Pontyberem RFC in the Gwendraeth Valley, taking centre stage when Ireland take on France.

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Ultra-runner demonstrates to never give up on your dreams

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Rhys O’Mara (Left), Sanna (Centre) and Hollie Thomas (Right)

INSPIRATIONAL speaker Sanna Duthie recently inspired Military and Protective Services learners at the College with her story of running the 186 mile Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in a record breaking 51.5 hours without any sleep, to help raise money for the Welsh Air Ambulance.

Former College learner Sanna Duthie, an office manager by day and active runner by night, shared her experience of running the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path in record breaking time. Sanna had participated in a few marathons over the years such as Tenby Long Course Weekend, the Gower 50 and the London Marathon.

However, the real adrenaline rush to complete the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path was when Sanna competed in a 100 mile race of the coastal path in 2017.

“I realised I wasn’t too bad at that distance and then that’s when I got it in my head about doing the whole thing.”

Running a coastal path isn’t the easiest challenge and Sanna had to be prepared with an extensive training programme running over 300 miles a month equivalent to 10 miles a day. Sanna also had strength and conditioning training at a local gym to ensure her successful recovery.

“Coast running is hard on your muscles and joints and you need to strengthen those in order to not get injured,” said Sanna.

Originally Sanna started to run the entire coastal path in August 2020 but after 63 miles had to abandon the race due to dangerous weather conditions. This only made Sanna more determined and she completed her ultra-run on 8 th May 2021.

Sanna explained the highs and lows of the run, “There were times when I just wanted to quit, and I even started to hallucinate but I used a tactic where rather than focus on the whole run I broke it down into sections – this made things less overwhelming. Close friends and family would join alongside me on different stages of my run, and this motivated me to get to the finish line.”

Protective services learner Rhys O’Mara was thoroughly inspired by Sanna’s story, “I feel like, from the talk, I’m more inspired to go out and push myself to take on bigger and better physical challenges, the talk really showed that you can achieve anything when you dedicate yourself to a task. After College I’m looking to join the RAF as a drone pilot and have a full career in the forces.”

Sanna was the first female to run the entire coastal path and breaking the previous record of 64 hours and 32 minutes and raised an impressive £5,768.14 for charity.

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Veteran Vikings beaten by Swansea

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HAKIN United Over 40s travelled to the Llandarcy Academy of Sport last Sunday (Nov 28) to play Swansea University.

Hakin took the lead inside 10 minutes as Matthew Price raced clear of the Uni defence before side footing the ball into the bottom corner.

A great start for the Veteran Vikings, but on the half hour mark, two quick goals for the Swansea men turned the game on its head.

A third goal just before half time put Swansea firmly in the drivers seat, but, the Hakin players felt that the goal was offside and that there was a handball in the build-up.

However, despite all of the protests, the goal stood.

Hakin looked far more purposeful in the second half, but they failed to find a goal that was going to get them back in the game.

Hakin are next in action on Sunday, December 12, when Church Village visit the Obs.

Hakin 40s: Jim Payne, Nick Jones, Adam Collins, Ali Davies, Paul Hannon, Marc Devonald, Simon Atyeo, Mark Riley, Paul Jones, Matthew Price, Phil Richards.

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Pembrokeshire Junior Netball League results

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IN the Pembrokeshire Junior Netball leagues on Saturday (Nov 27), there were wins for Sapphires White Under 12s and Pembroke Under 14s.

There was also a win for Fishguard Under 16s as they beat Pembroke 28-24.

Results for Saturday, November 27:

Under 12’s:

Sapphires White 7-4 Chaos Thunder

Players player:

Sapphires: Orla Maulio Martina

Chaos: Annabel Richards

Under 14’s:

Pembroke 23-17 Sapphires White

Players player:

Pembroke: Carys Kenniford

Sapphires: Florence Barker

Under 16’s:

Fishguard 28 v 24 Pembroke

Players player:

Fishguard: Evie Rands

Pembroke: Megan Bowen

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