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Wales U20 beat Junior Wallabies on opening night

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A RED wave of defence, coupled with a tireless ambition to attack, led Wales to a World Rugby U20 Championship victory on Wednesday night (May 30) against the Junior Wallabies.

In holding on to win 26-21 at the Stade de la Méditerranée, Wales banished any memories of 2017’s last-gasp defeat to Australia at the same stage of this tournament.

The Aussies drew first blood in Béziers, however: scrum-half and captain Ryan Lonergan punishing a Welsh indiscretion at the breakdown with a third-minute penalty from just inside Wales’ 10m line.

A great phase of attacking play by Wales, with inside centre Ioan Nicholas the catalyst, then offered a glimpse of their willingness to run the ball from anywhere on the park. The opposition was subsequently penalised for coming in at the side of the ruck, and fullback Cai Evans’s power from the tee saw the ball sail through the posts for the equaliser.

Nearing the end of the first quarter, Wales lost wing Rio Dyer to injury, replaced by fellow Dragon Joe Goodchild. He would soon have a telling impact on proceedings.

At the conclusion of the first quarter, Australia conceded a penalty for failing to release. Wales fell just short with the shot at goal that would have nudged them ahead. However, Evans made no mistake when presented with a similar opportunity a moment later – albeit this time further out; on the halfway line no less – wowing the crowd with his long-range effort to make it 3-6.

Just before the half-hour, Aussie fly-half Bayley Kuenzie kicked a scrum penalty to the corner. A quickly-won lineout and a pin-point crossfield kick later, and wing James Ramm was acrobatically tapping the ball down in mid-air for incoming fullback Mack Hansen to score an excellent try. Lonergan’s conversion attempt was wide: 8-6.

Gone 30 minutes, razor-sharp Wales scrum-half Dane Blacker took a quick tap deep inside the opposition 22. The young men in red had their tails up now, and once the ball was in fly-half Ben Jones’s hand, the Cardiff Blues man wasted little in time kicking through a bouncing ball that was pounced on by Nicholas for the try. Evans converted to give Wales a five-point lead: 8-13.

The Junior Wallabies hit back with another Lonergan penalty, but there was a lot more to come from Geraint Lewis’s team.

A scintillating outside break and fend by Corey Baldwin set the Scarlets centre up for a one-on-one with the last man in defence for Australia, by which point replacement Goodchild was well in support for Wales’ second try with three minutes to go in the first 40. Evans’s excellent conversion from the touchline made it 11-20.

Two minutes into the second half, and the Ospreys fullback produced another cannon of a penalty kick – this one only marginally inside the Australian half – to take Wales 12 points to the good: 11-23.

The Junior Wallabies put their sizeable scrum to good use in winning another penalty in the 48th minute, allowing Lonergan to slot a penalty inside Wales’ 22, making it 14-23.

Both sides had started to test each other aerially, but a period of ten minutes’ deadlock – memorable for a fantastically determined carry by Wales number eight Taine Basham – ended when Evans’s metronomic boot took the scores to 14-26.

Wales, up fast in defence, and led by the imposing figure of lock Max Williams and a Trojan-like back row featuring Basham, Dan Davis and captain Tommy Reffell, led the way in frustrating the Aussies in the final quarter.

New caps Will Davies-King and Rhys Davies in the front row were two of the well-judged second-half replacements made by the Welsh coaches, countering the big men Australia had also introduced.

Never ones to go gently into the night, Australia roared back into the game with a try from replacement back Tate McDermott with fewer than three minutes remaining. Inside centre Isaac Lucas converted to make it 21-26.

Showing the same sort of dogged composure that earned them victory in Donnybrook during the U20 Six Nations earlier this year, Wales ran down the clock to seal a thrilling win.

Sport

Pembrokeshire Foootball Preview

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Once again we’ve had a wet week and groundsmen and volunteers up and down the county will be working hard today to try and ensure we get some games tomorrow. There are five cup ties due to take place tomorrow, three in the Senior Cup and two in the fifth division cup.

In the first division Clarbeston Road host Hakin United in what is a mouthwatering clash, the visitors will be extra motivated after Clarby have beaten the Vikings twice already this season. Elsewhere in the first division table toppers Goodwick United travel to Neyland in what looks likely to be a routine win for the visitors if form is anything to go by. Tenby United host Fishguard Sports at the Clicketts with the hosts looking very safely placed in mid-table, while Fishguard need a drastic change of form to have any chance of survival. Pennar Robins much like Tenby seem very safely positioned in the league, Carl Vincent’s team host Kilgetty who could do with a win or two to pull clear of the bottom two.

The second division has been full of interesting results of late and this weekend in form St Ishmaels host Monkton Swifts Reserves, the visitors have been faultless of late but the Mice are a tricky opponent. Promotion chasing Herbie also have a tricky game ahead as they travel to Johnston on the back of the Tigers win in the Senior Cup. Carew Reserves host St Clears in what really is a relegation six pointer and one neither team can afford to lose. Finally Broad Haven host Camrose in a mid table clash, the hosts would like a few more wins to be sure they won’t be sucked into any sort of relegation battle.

The Senior Cup has the potential for an upset this weekend with each of the three games having a strong favourite. In Cosheston there is likely to be plenty of passion and desire as they host local rivals Monkton Swifts and would love to knock their neighbours out of the cup. Solva who are having a good season in the third division host Merlins Bridge who on paper would be expected to win comfortably however the conditions in Solva are going to be more challenging than the perfect 4g surface they are used to at home. Finally in the cup, Haverfordwest Cricket Club host Carew in again will be a very different test for the visitors, Cricket Club have plenty of experience and quality in their ranks and the Rooks will have to be prepared to avoid any slip up here. 

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Sport

Saints revolution the real deal

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St Davids rugby club have always had a good junior set up, a good club house and a brilliant team spirit and culture off the pitch. However for the past decade the teams performances on the field were lacking, languishing at the bottom of division three west, hoping for a win or two a season. How times have changed!

This season they are in excellent form and sit fifth place in the league, above clubs who’ve sat above them in this league and leagues above very recently. Last Saturday saw the Saints host Pembroke, who last season were playing the likes of Llanelli Wanderers and Llangennech. However Saints are no longer a team clubs look forward to playing and they proved this once again Saturday coming out 31-24 winners.

Players such as Jack Jones, George Raymond, Ben Joyce and Morgan Griffiths are just a selection of the quality players at the Saints disposal this year. Under the guidance of club legend Jack Dudley the Saints are absolutely flying in comparison to what they’ve become accustomed to over the past decade.

Off the field the clubhouse is always welcoming and there’s always a good atmosphere in there post game win or lose. The junior section is strong and all in all the future for our county’s only city rugby club looks very bright. It’s a credit to all involved with the club as we well know it takes so much work to keep a small club alive. I’m sure there have been numerous challenges over the years including covid and struggling for players. It’s times like that when the club’s characters really come to the fore and I’m sure everyone involved with the club is prouder than ever of their teams on field performance.

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Sport

Goodwick win again as Mice hammer Cosh

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Most games fell foul to the weather last weekend with pitches saturated after all the rain we’ve had. Five games however did go ahead, including two senior cup ties. As Goodwick booked their place in the next round after another impressive win.

Senior Cup

Goodwick United 5-0 Herbrandston

Will Haworths excellent hat-rick put the tie to bed for the hosts before half time. Despite having a good season in division two Herbie were unable to pose any real threat to Goodwick senior cup run. Jones and Delaney added two more for O’Sullivans men in the second half. The excellent form continues and we await to see who they’ll face in the next round.

Camrose 2-3 Johnston

A five thriller goal thriller between two mid table division two teams, ended with the Tigers progressing to the next round. The visitors came back after finding themselves 2-0 down after a Chalmers brace for the hosts. Joey George started the late comeback with a goal after 79 minutes, Richards soon added the equaliser, before Kieran Blundell got the vital goal to send his team into the next round.

Elsewhere in league action St Ishmaels hammered Cosheston who’s recent form has been good. Brennan Devonald was the man of the match with a hat-rick for the Mice. Tish’ league form in 2024 is now three wins out of three and they climb to sixth with a fair amount of games in hand over the teams above them.

In the third division Morgan Elliott’s hat-rick kept Solva’s promotion charge on track. The hosts beat St Florence 3-1, and Solva now sit second just two points off table toppers Lawrenny. In the fourth division Angle came out on top of an eight goal thriller when they hosted St Ishmaels reverses. A brace a piece for Niall Brunton and James Potter ensured the points for the hosts, which leaves them in fourth place and with an outside shot of promotion as it stands.

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