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Wales Women take no fear approach to France challenge

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WALES women will take on a “no fear” approach for their Six Nations opener with France on Saturday evening as head coach Rowland Phillips targets challenging the tournament’s elite.

A trip to Montpellier is a tough start for Wales, but a young squad is relishing the chance to play in front of a hostile crowd on the back of a successful autumn campaign.

Phillips’ side pushed a top-class Canada outfit all the way in November and also claimed victories over South Africa and Hong Kong. It all paints a positive picture for the team ahead of facing France.

“We came out of the autumn having moved our game on a bit. Our conditioning levels improved and on the whole, everything was just better,” said Phillips. “The skillset of the players also went up and if anything we’d have liked to have continued playing in November.

“When we came back in to start preparing for the Six Nations, the key thing for us was to pick that momentum back up and continue from where we left off at the end of last year. It feels like that is exactly what has happened.”

Meanwhile, Phillips has added two players to his squad ahead of the France clash. RGC’s Teleri Davies – who can play at lock or No 8 – bolsters the options. Davies made her Wales debut last season against Scotland and replaces a key figure in Sioned Harries who suffered an ankle injury in the Six Nations warm-up clash with Ireland which required surgery.

Uncapped Cardiff Blues prop Danielle Dinapoli comes in for Brea Leung who has been ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Wales captain and hooker Carys Phillips said: “France will be a very tough game, especially away from home. We have a lot of young players in our squad, but they are hungry for that challenge.

“I feel we have made a massive step forward from this time last year and I’m also really excited to play in front of a massive crowd. It will be an excellent experience all round.

“There is absolutely no fear in our squad and that’s brilliant for us.”

Rowland Phillips added: “France beat New Zealand in the autumn and that has made everyone sit up and take notice. We know France are strong anyway, but that result certainly lifted an eyebrow.

“The tournament will be game by game, but we need to measure ourselves by results as well as performances. That’s important for us. We want to reach the World Cup in two years with a young but experienced squad of players.

“The target for us is to move up the table. There are teams in the competition we have beaten before and beaten recently, so we need to be confident of our abilities.

“The Six Nations table always tends to split into two groups. We need to be in the first of those.”

On the prospect of facing Wales, France captain Gaelle Hermet said: “Our match against Wales is our first and therefore most important. They will come with great commitment and determination.

“Wales will want to beat us in Montpellier and it will be a very complicated match but one we will be ready for.”

Wales Women take on France at GGL Stadium, Montpellier on Saturday evening. The match will be shown live on S4C (8pm GMT) and on France Télévisions (9pm local time).

Tickets for Wales Women v England (Sunday, Feb 24, 12.30pm) and Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm) are on sale now from Cardiff Blues box office online and to personal callers.

Sport

Fox’s Clarby win nine goal thriller

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Clarby came out on top of a nine goal thriller at Neyland on Saturday. The result means that Clarby remain in 3rd whilst Neyland will now be relegated to the second division.

The visitors started the better and 7 minutes in Laurie Howarth scored directly from a corner. However Neyland came back flying and started to cause problems for the away team.

There was then two goals in five minutes. The first Ben Gale nipped in between the Clarby’s centre backs to slot home and minutes later it was 2-1 as a deep cross evaded Clarby defence and Leo Power slid in to give the home side the lead.

After 32 mins Ben ‘Rocky’ John beat a defender at the left of the box and his outside of the foot effort went found its way in to make it all square again.

Some great play by Wood and Matthew Davies down the Clarby right hand side meant the latter crossed for Howarth to head home his second goal of the afternoon advantage visitors.

Haworth then completed his hat trick to make it 4-2 Clarby and it seemed the madness was over for the first half. However there was time for another goal as a wicked cross from Harry Young was deflected off the head of Rheinallt George into his own net for 4-3 at the oranges.

Seven goals in the first half, however the second half saw the game settle down well a little bit.

Laurie Haworth scored at the far post, Matthew Davies again the provider and it looked like Clarby would roll home. But Mikey Chandler scored in the 89th minute, a deft chip from all of 30 years an over Sam Edge in goal.

Despite a late push from the hosts it finished 5-4 to the visitors and it’ll be second division football for Neyland next season.

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Carew stun Robins late on

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Milford United went into this fixture with five key players missing from the squad which allowed some 2nd team players to step into Steve Parks squad to face a Carew side that has been in good form.

The weather and pitch was good and the game kicked off with both teams playing some good football. It was a mistake from the Robins which would allow Carew to score on the 17th minute. The goal came through Griffiths who picked up a short pass and carried the ball and slotted it past the robins keeper, Milford dusted themselves down and played some good penetrating football down both wings through Tyler Sheil & Cameron Lees, it was lees who equalised on the 28th minute. Milford played some nice one two football on the right and Lees finished it off with a good finish.

Milford finished the half the strongest and should of taken the lead when Scott Reid broke the offside trap and was through one on one with the Carew keeper but his shot was pared away by the keeper.

The second half started with Carew pressing looking to dominate the play. Both sides had half chances and on the 75th minute Milford’s Morgan Picton released Reid who made no mistake rounding the keeper to put the Robins 2-1 up.

Robins manager Steve Parks thought at the 83rd minute that the win in the bag but Carew had other ideas and equalised through J. Hinchcliffe to level it at 2-2, in hind site a draw would have been a fair result for both managers.

Milford switched off and allowed Carew to score a third on the 87th minute and again at 90+4 leaving Parks absolutely stunned how Milford were winning 2-1 and gave is away in a lack lustre 10 minutes.

As the season draws to an end The Robins will be happy with their first season back in Div 1 and Carew look forward to their Senior cup Semi final against Clarbeston Road on Saturday.

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Johnston Reserves win nine goal thriller

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Division 5 promotion chasers Johnston 2nds visited bottom of the table Cosheston 2nds in what should have been a routine victory for the visiting team.

On a pitch that looked like it had cattle grazing just a few hours previously, both teams started in an attacking fashion with the young Johnston forward line causing no end of trouble for the experienced Cosh defence.

In a game that could have gone either way, Cosh took an early lead through Rhys Griffiths, before a succession of chances were missed for both teams.

Johnston were playing well and their equaliser came in the 25th minute after good play by Alfie Crawford, who was using his pace to create havoc across the front line. Johnston took the lead a short time later through Crawford, after great work by the experienced Ashley Bevans and went further ahead a few moments later.

3-1 at half time in a highly entertaining game.

The second half started as the first half had finished, with both teams going for an all out attack mentality, and Cosheston got themselves back into the match in the 52nd minute and their constant attacking, combined with a little uncertainty in the Johnston defence, saw them equalise in the 53rd minute.

At this stage, the scoreline was 3-3 but could easily have been 6-6 and that was added to even further just a minute later, when Johnston retook the lead through Pete Donnelly!

Some game at The Playing Fields!!

Johnston made a tactical change with a view of firming up their defence with Squashie coming on for Liam Brown, and he made a positive impact ensuring the defence was communicating more, making it more difficult for the Cosheston strikers.

The visiting team scored two late goals to finish as 6-3 winners, but the game was exceptionally entertaining and on another day Cosheston would easily have come out on top.

Cosheston have had a tough season in many ways, but it was lovely to see the club stick together, and with some players coming back from injury hopefully they can build on this year and have a better season next.

Johnston continue to be a threat to all teams and now hope to push on and gain promotion.

Huge credit to both clubs for playing in a respectful manner throughout and referee Marty Jones praised both clubs in his post match Facebook post.

A credit to Pembs Div 5, good luck to Johnston in their promotion push.

Cosheston 3-6 Johnston.

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