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35-strong squad named for bumper autumn series

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WALES Women head coach Rowland Phillips has named a 35-strong squad for his side’s five matches in November – their biggest autumn series to date. Hooker Carys Phillips will continue to captain the squad which includes 14 uncapped players.

Wales begin the series with three away matches – against Spain, Ireland and Scotland before returning to Wales for the first match against a women’s Crawshay’s team coached by new WRU Council Member Liza Burgess and the first professional female coach in Wales – Rachel Taylor.

That game will take place at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale on Saturday, November 23, and Taylor will also be part of the opposition coaching team a week later for Wales Women’s first match against the Barbarians in the Principality Stadium double header.

Phillips said: “Our focus hasn’t changed. We are already qualified for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup and our key aim is to build a squad of young players with significant experience under their belts.

“This autumn series is a huge opportunity to do that. All players will gain from the experience of travelling away for three testing encounters against Spain, Ireland and Scotland – all of whom still need to qualify for the World Cup. And to be part of two historic encounters in Wales at the end of November against the Crawhshay’s and Barbarians is something we will all look forward to and enjoy.

“We finished the Six Nations on a high with a dramatic win over Scotland and then a pleasing win and performance against Ireland and we want to build on that momentum this season.

“There is excellent quality coming through – that was evident in the regional programme again this summer and some of those players are rewarded with squad places today. We have a responsibility to continue to develop those players, maximise their potential and also manage them well. We will expose them to an international environment and give them game time when ready. The likes of Lauren Smyth, Manon Johnes, Alex Callender and Gwen Crabb all earned their first caps last autumn and have gone on to become key players in the squad. The opportunity is there for others to do the same if they apply themselves.

“We are clear on where we need to develop to become consistently competitive. There’s a better understanding now from players of what is required of an international player in terms of fitness, skill levels, attitude and everything else that goes with being an international rugby player.

“We aren’t looking beyond the first game. Spain are making significant progress and will provide a tough challenge especially on their home turf. We are looking forward to locking horns with our Six Nations adversaries Ireland and Scotland who both have a point to prove and we want to engage as many home fans as possible in our journey and be part of our home matches at Ebbw Vale at Principality Stadium.”

WRU international skills coaches Geraint Lewis and Chris Horsman have joined Rowland Phillips and Gareth Wyatt in the Wales Women coaching set-up and will provide specialised input throughout the autumn campaign.

Phillips welcomed the addition of the former Wales international forwards. “Geraint and Chris are excellent coaches. With their wealth of experience working with young international players, they understand the need to adapt styles and management skills accordingly. It’s hugely encouraging for the women’s programme to become a more integrated part of the WRU performance structure. I know I’ve learned a lot from coaching female athletes and Chris and Geraint have already shown they will add value to the programme.”

Wales Women autumn series squad:

Forwards: (5 uncapped*)

Alex Callender (Scarlets), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Georgia Evans* (Cardiff Blues), Abbie Fleming* (Cardiff Blues), Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues),

Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Jordan Hopkins* (Cardiff Blues), Gwenllian Jenkins* (Scarlets), Natalia John (Ospreys), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Robyn Lock* (Ospreys), Carys Phillips (Ospreys), Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC)

Backs: (9 uncapped*)

Keira Bevan, (Ospreys), Angharad Desmet* (Scarlets), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Courtney Keight* (Ospreys), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Caitlin Lewis* (Scarlets), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Rebekah O’Loughlin* (Cardiff Blues), Kayleigh Powell* (Ospreys), Paige Randall* (Cardiff Blues), Catherine Richards* (Cardiff Blues), Lauren Smyth (Ospreys), Elinor Snowsill Ospreys), Niamh Terry* (Ospreys), Megan Webb* (Cardiff Blues), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues)

Wales Women fixtures November 2019:

Spain v Wales Women, Estadio Nacional Computense, Madrid, Sunday, November 3, 12.45pm local time

Ireland v Wales Women, The Bowl, UCD, Dublin, Sunday, November 10, 1pm

Scotland v Wales Women, Glasgow, Sunday, November 17, 3pm

Crawshay’s v Wales Women, Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale Saturday, November 23, 2.30pm

Wales Women v Barbarians Saturday, November 30, Principality Stadium 11.45am

Tickets for the Barbarians double-header on sale via wru.wales/tickets

Sport

Bluebirds soar into MG Cup quarter finals

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HAVERFORDWEST County soared into the quarter finals of the Nathaniel MG Cup on Tuesday night (Sept 21) as they beat Undy Athletic 5-0 at the Bridge Meadow.

Jazz Richards started for the home side while Danny Williams made his first start since re-joining the club.

The Bluebirds made a strong start to the game as Elliot Scotcher saw his shot deflected off Ricky Watts and on to the crossbar.

Fresh from his brace against Flint on Saturday, Alhagi Touray Sisay also went close but his shot was blocked wide for a corner.

He came close again in the twentieth minute but his effort looped just over the bar.

Their pressure finally paid off as Mason Jones-Thomas picked the ball up 30 yards out and ran on before firing into the bottom corner.

It was 2-0 soon as Jack Wilson lead a counter attack down the right before crossing into the box for Touray-Sisay to score.

Wilson was at it again moments later as he showed good footwork before crossing for Danny Williams but his header went just wide.

Scotcher saw a free kick pushed just wide on the stroke of half time as the Bluebirds looked to add to their two-goal lead.

It wasn’t long before they did have their third though as Touray-Sisay scored in the opening minutes of the second half to all but put the game to bed.

Williams thought he had scored Haverfordwest’s fourth after 54 minutes but his header was ruled out for offside.

However, they did get their fourth just after the hour mark as Wilson’s ball across goal was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Undy captain Gyles Thompson.

Danny Williams then did get his goal and County’s fifth as the Bluebirds began to think about the next round.

There were more chances for the home side but it remained 5-0 and the Bluebirds will have been pleased to progress to the next round.

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Sport

Milford Ladies darts presentation night

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AT the Milford Haven Ladies Darts league presentation, a number of trophies were given out to league winners and runners up and tournament winners.

The British Legion were league winners, Gallon winners, threes winners, singles winner, house champions winner, captains runner up. They also got to the semi-final of the fives while Naomi had the highest score and Moira Hawkins had the highest out.

Pictured left to right: Judith, Linda (Capt), Naomi, Helen, Tracey and Jean.

Victoria B were League and Gallon runners up, fives, pairs, and house champions runners up. They also got to the semi-finals of the fours, threes and singles.

Pictured are Georgia (Captain), Katy, Bethan, Paige, Debbie, Jackie, Noelle, Sharon, Rachel, Helen.

Victoria B

Debbie and Sonia (pictured) were 4-a-side winners, captains winner, threes and pairs semi-finalists for the Three Crowns.

The Haven Hotel were fours, threes and singles runners up, Pairs and captains semi-finalists. Pictured are Jackie (captain), Adele, Sue, Sandra and Louise.

The Singles winner was Tracey from the British Legion and Runner up was Jackie from the Haven Hotel.

The Audrey Hawkins House Champion was Tracey Hawkins from the British Legion and Runner up was Georgia John from Victoria B.

The new league seaon will start on October 14 and any new teams are asked to contact Linda as soon as possible.

Haven Hotel
Three Crowns
Singles winner Tracey and runner up Jackie
Audrey Hawkins House Champion Tracey and Runner up Georgia John

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Sport

Coach Gale blown away as Narberth beat Trebanos

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SOMEONE who has been looking forward to the new rugby season more than most during the post pandemic period at Narberth RFC is Sean Gale, who is Director of Rugby and head coach of the Otters.

He is charged with the responsibility of keeping them in the championship section of the WRU setup which this year has had a Championship Cup Competition introduced into the fixture list by the WRU prior to the normal Championship League delayed start on November 13.

Sean has a wealth of experience as a player with Llanelli and Bridgend, one season at Tenby United and then three years back at Parc-y-Scarlets when the Welsh regions were formulated and he became a professional player with the Scarlets.

“I was made very welcome by the players and especially the supporters at the Lewis Lloyd Ground way back in 2005 and I am still here. It is one of the reasons why I have stayed so long; plus the fact that we have managed to keep doing well, despite some of the so-called bigger clubs having a much bigger budget”.

That Sean should be so involved in rugby was perhaps only natural because his father Norman was a Llanelli player of some repute who played hooker for Wales on 25 occasions, two of them as captain. Then the Gale family had a pub near Stradey Park and Sean made his first team debut for the Scarlets when he was only 18 as he played against Pontardulais in the Welsh Cup.

On Saturday, September 18, he was blown away with the performance his Otters team produced at Trebanos.

Up to that date The OTTERS had remained unbeaten and the week before they had played at The Lewis Lloyd ground in the centre of Narberth Town and beaten Trebanos. So he was expecting a backlash at the rematch on the Trebanos home ground at Pontardawe in the Swansea valley.

At first it looked as though Trebanos were going to rule the day. Within 3 minutes ,on the grey Saturday afternoon with little wind and no sun glare, a quick break on the wing Trebanos scored a try by their outside half which was quickly converted by him. The Otters supporters were stunned. Score Trebanos 7-0.

Not to be outdone at the restart Otters gained possession and Guto Davies crossed the line under the posts leaving the ever reliable Nick Gale, Son of Sean, to convert. Score 7-7.

In the Trebanos 22 metre zone, New blood scrum half, a mere 18 years old George Macdonald, son of former stalwart Chris, was soon to make a rapid break and passed to Jonathan Rogers who claimed a try but unfortunately it was disallowed by the referee.

Moments later another opportunity presented itself when Nick Gale took an advantage  penalty and successfully crossed the bar. Score 7-10.

The otters were now in the ascendency but Trebanos kept up the pressure and were awarded a penalty outside the 22 metre line but the kick drifted to the right of the posts. Another Trebanos penalty kick 4 or 5 metres inside the OTTERS half also drifted to the right.

Twenty minutes into the first half drizzle affected the handling for both sides and unfortunately in the slippery conditions one of the Trebanos props sustained an injury. Trebanos did not have a front row replacement so the game continued with uncontested scrums. After the injury stoppage George Macdonald pounced on the ball passing to Steff Phillips to score, converted by Nick Gale. Score 7-17.

Narberth kept up their relentless pressure and George Macdonald was rewarded with a try to the left of the posts which reliable Nick Gale converted. Half Time Score: 7-24.

The second half continued in a similar vein finishing up with a final score of 12-43. So the OTTERS remain unbeaten this season and having blooded some very promising young players Sean Gale is justly proud of his results.

The outstanding performance from young George MacDonald netted him 4 tries and the award of Man of The Match presented by former Wales International legend and Trebanos supporter Rob Jones.

In the post-match summary Coach Sean Gale commented on his new “diamond” George Macdonald who scored 4 tries and the superb commitment of his other strong team members in the back row – Steff Phillips, Guto Davies, and Richie Rees the Captain. He was also full of praise for Ryan Banner and Rees Williams. In his view the control of the forwards was good and the defensive sets followed the drills so meticulously practiced in all their mid-week training sessions.

No wonder the travelling supporters came home to Narberth in a very merry mood. Narberth travelling supporter Peter John also commented that the Trebanos caterers provided the best beef burgers in the west.

The WRU has published dates for the second round of the WRU Championship Cup but at the time of going to press Team fixture dates/venues are not defined but the first set of games will take place on October 9.

However, the shortened WRU Championship League fixtures are known. The first home game for Narberth is Saturday, November 13, when they will host Neath.

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