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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.

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Llangwm seal dramatic Harrison Allen win

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LLANGWM booked their place in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl as they beat Llechryd in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night (May 12).

In a low scoring game, Llechryd reached 104-9 in their 22 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Llangwm were steady in their reply but they needed five runs off the final two balls. The first of those saw Llangwm take three and they were able to run two on the last to win the game.

Llechryd started well with John Curran hitting a four and a six in a score of 19 before he was bowled by Chris Inward.

Johnny Lewis reached a score of 13 but that proved to be unlucky as he was caught by Phil Llewellyn off the bowling of Joe Phillips.

Phillips also had the wickets of David Dunfee and Adam Betts while Inward bowled both Graham Keen and John Lumb as all four batsmen returned with ducks to their name.

Joe Mansfield spared Llechryd’s blushes as he hit four boundaries in a knock of 38 as they set Llangwm 105 to win the game.

Llangwm were in trouble early on in their reply as David Dunfee bowled Phil Llewellyn for a second ball duck and Joe Kiff on a score of 4 to leave them reeling on 10-2.

However, a third-wicket stand of 84 between Steven Mills and Noah Davies set Llangwm on their way to victory.

Llechryd hit back though as Andrew Fletcher denied Mills his half century as he was caught by Jonny Lewis on a score of 49.

Fletcher then trapped Luke Brock leg before wicket with the next ball to reduce Llangwm to 94-4.

Davies had made a good score of 30 but he was bowled by Graham Keen as the visitors were left needing five runs to win with time running out.

On the penultimate ball Chris Inward ran three and on the last, Matthew Kiff ran the two runs needed to win Llangwm the game in a thrilling finish.

The result also represented another mini shock as Division 1 side Llechryd exited the competition at the hands of their Division 2 opponents.

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Johnston send Tish packing in Harrison Allen

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DIVISION 3 side Johnston produced one of the early shocks of this year’s Harrison Allen Bowl as they knocked out Division 1 side St Ishmaels.

Johnston won the toss and chose to field and they did well to restrict Tish to a score of 99-7 from their 22 overs.

They were in trouble early on as Peter Bradshaw was caught by Chris Goodridge off the bowling of Mark Hicks.

Keegan Codd then took over as he had Harry Nicholas stumped by Liam Boswell, also on a score of 8, before getting the wickets of Brennan Devonald and Ieuan Hawkins.

Tish were reduced to 27-4 and that soon became five as Codd claimed figures of 4-16 from his six overs.

Andrew Williams and Lewis Rhead then steadied the innings for the visitors as they shared over 60 runs for the sixth wicket.

Williams made 25 before he fell to Lewis Boswell and Rhead made 36 before being bowled by Gary James.

There was little time for Tish to add any further runs and it meant that Johnston would need 100 to win.

Johnston lost opener Goodridge early but a stand of 41 from Leigh Walters and Geno Cleal set them on their way to victory.

Walters made 26 before being bowled by Lewis Rhead and soon after, Brennan Devonald had Josh Hicks caught on a score of 2.

Devonald then picked up the wicket of Cleal, who made a score of 23, as Tish began to hit back.

Lewis Boswell made a score of 10 as Johnston edged closer but it was a score of 11 not out from Liam Boswell to see their side over the line.

The winning Johnston team

Johnston captain Josh Hicks said: “An amazing team performance, Tish may have been missing a couple but so were we.

“Two years ago we couldn’t field a team in this cup. We’ve come along way, tonight is a real positive and just the start!”

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Bush qualifies for Paralympic games

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PEMBROKESHIRE’s Para-taekwondo star Matt Bush has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic games this summer.

At the European Paralympic Qualification tournament, Bush, who is the current world champion, beat Hungary’s Zoltan Kiss 29-1 in the +75kg final.

Para-taekwondo will make its debut at this summer’s Paralympics with the competition set to take place from September 2-4.

Bush, from St Clears, became Britain’s first ever world champion in the sport in 2019 began his latest tournament in fine style, seeing off Roman Ivaniuk of Ukraine 38-2 in the semi-final.

Matt told BBC Sport that it felt ‘so good’ to have secured his spot in the team.

The heavyweight athlete has made quite the mark on the mats. He has medalled at the Korean Open, Oceania Para Taekwondo Championships and the Pan America Para Taekwondo Open.

The GB team for Tokyo will be officially announced later this summer.

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