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Wales hold on to beat Ireland

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Wales 21 – Ireland 16

AN UNEVEN display by Wales, who spent 65 minutes of the game with an extra man, was enough to see of an Irish side which never stopped pressing for an against-the-odds win.

And the win is what counts.

In a punishing and physical encounter, Wales lost players to injury and head assessments, which might explain the up and down nature of their performance.

When Peter O’Mahony was given red on fifteen minutes for a headshot on Tomos Francis, Wales might have fancied their chances; especially with the benefit of a six-point lead, courtesy of Leigh Halfpenny’s reliable boot. The brutal physical exchanges favoured Ireland, who spoiled Welsh possession, tackled like demons, and played a territorial kicking game to pin Wales back in their own half.

That was enough for Ireland to chisel their way to a 13-6 lead at the half.

With O’Mahony off the pitch, Ireland scored thirteen unanswered points. Six from Sexton’s boot and a try from a Welsh mistake.

Ireland’s try came when Wales made a hash of their own put in at the lineout. Scruffy ball got to Henshaw, who carved a gap through Wales’ defence. His pass found Josh van der Flier, who powered on before being hauled down. From the resulting ruck, Tadhg Beirne forced his way over the Welsh line and Sexton added the routine extras.

The lead was no more than Ireland deserved. After a promising first ten minutes, Wales faded out of the game for the last twenty minutes of a rugged first half in which the sides traded heavy tackles. Having got sucked into a physical encounter, Wales missed out on the chance to spread the ball wide to make the best use of their one-man advantage. Hallam Amos, out on the blindside wing, barely touched the ball or received a pass in an attacking position.

The third quarter of the game was Wales’ best period of sustained play as they, at last, managed to get on the front foot. Some brutal tackling blunted Wales’ efforts, with Taulupe Faletau losing the ball in contact when well-placed.

However, tries from George North – who was impressive at outside centre – and Gloucester flyer Louis Rees-Zammit, with an acrobatic effort, were a fair reward for the Welsh team’s efforts. Those scores were enough to give Wales and 18-13 lead, which Leigh Halfpenny increased to eight points with a 65th-minute penalty.

With that lead, Wales brought on fresh legs for the final fifteen minutes.

Callum Sheedy stepped in at fly-half with Dan Biggar moving to full-back and Halfpenny switching to the left-wing in place of Hallam Amos. Will Rowlands came on in at lock, and Leon Brown and Rhodri Jones came on in the front row.

Billy Burns, on as HIA replacement for Robbie Henshaw only minutes before came on at fly-half to replace Johnny Sexton, with Sexton’s half-back partner Conor Murray leaving the field shortly afterwards.

Burns kicked a penalty to make it 21-16 with eight minutes left.

The outstanding Justin Tipuric, who played from the first whistle to last made a vital tackle in injury time at the end of the game, as Wales clung on to their five-point lead.

Ospreys number six Dan Lydiate waited two years for a call-up to Wales’ starting fifteen. His return lasted all of twelve minutes before what is thought to be a serious ligament injury.

The blow means he will miss the rest of Six Nations. In his place, substitute Josh Navidi, himself working his way back from injury, had a decent game but was some way from his rampaging best.

Wales also lost centre, Johnny Williams, to a head injury assessment (HIA), while scrum-half Tomos Williams left the field with a hamstring injury at the half. Near the end of the game, Hallam Amos also left the field for an HIA.

In exchange, Ireland lost lock Johnny Ryan and the talismanic Johnny Sexton, while Robbie Henshaw left the field for an HIA, returning after Sexton left the pitch.

The Welsh tight five looked a lot better in the scrum than they did throughout the autumn internationals. The return of Ken Owens certainly added heft to the front row, but the lineout problems which plagued Wales throughout 2020 persisted. Wales also lost the ball in contact too many times for comfort and that is an area they will need to tighten up against Gregor Townsend’s in-form Scotland team this Saturday.

PIVAC COUNTS THE COST OF VICTORY

After the game, Wales’ coach Wayne Pivac reflected on Wales’ performance.

“We’ve picked up a few injuries, so we’re looking at those now. We’re sort of counting the walking wounded after that one,” said Pivac.

“With a six-day turnaround before Scotland, it means any players with head knocks are gone. That means we’ll lose a couple of players straight away.

“Then we’ve got a hamstring for Tomos Williams, which we’re hoping is not serious. I wouldn’t have thought it will turn round in six days. We’ll see how the rest of the squad is tomorrow and look at what sort of side we can put together on Tuesday.”

If the injuries were the downside of the 21-16 victory, they couldn’t dent the pride Pivac and his coaching team felt at seeing their side upset one of the favourites for the title.

“It was game one, so to get off to a winning start was very important. It was a mixed performance, really. Our scrum went well, which was a big improvement on the last outing, but there are still things to tidy up on in our line-out on our ball.

“On their ball, we turned some over and put pressure on, so it was a mixed bag in that area of the game. It was our discipline which cost us last time when they kicked 18 points. That’s what got them back into this game and put pressure on us throughout.

“We really have to have a look at that area of the game and what’s causing those penalties. We must make sure we tidy that up.”

What did please the Wales boss, though, was the way Georg North and Louis Rees-Zammit took their tries in the second half to spearhead Wales’ second-half revival. It was try No 42 for Wales from North on his 99th appearance for his country.

“It was good to see them both cross and a really good finish from Louis. George just used his power and pace and took good advantage of that opportunity – you’d expect that from a player of his experience,” added Pivac.

“It was a fantastic finish from Louis. We’re just disappointed we put ourselves under so much pressure in the end. We could have won the game at the scrum put-in, looked at creating one phase, cleaning out that ruck and then kicking the ball out.

“But we put ourselves under a bit more pressure for another three to four minutes. We have discussed that in the changing room as well. In a game like that with the injuries, we did not really need that.

“The players had already called the play and knew what they needed to do to make one last ruck and get the ball out, but there was one player on the pitch who wasn’t on the same page and Ireland got the ball back. Unfortunately, it meant a lot more defending and a lot more out of the tank before a six-day turnaround.”

“We talked around our discipline and how important it was after the last time we played them, and I think after the sending off we conceded the next six penalties,” said Pivac.

“It was very difficult to get our hands on the ball and the possession and territory stats showed that right away. We talked about that at half-time and the third 20 minutes were a lot better and we managed to claw our way back into the game and get two scores ahead.

“To get a win in circumstances like today was important. Since taking over the role, it has really been about this competition. It was day one, round one and it was very important we got a win. Now we’ve got to re-focus before facing a very confident and very strong Scotland squad in their backyard after a very good win.”

Sport

Joyce set for second Olympic Games

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JASMINE Joyce has been selected to go to her second Olympic Games, representing Team GB at rugby sevens.

She is one of three female players who finished fourth in Rio – Natasha Hunt and Abbie Brown were also part of the squad five years ago. Brown will co-captain the side along with former Glantaf pupil, England international Megan Jones.

WRU CEO Steve Phillips said, “Huge congratulations to Jasmine Joyce who will fly the flag for Welsh Rugby in Tokyo next month. It’s a huge achievement to be an Olympian once, let alone twice and Jasmine will no doubt do her family, friends and Welsh rugby proud on the world stage once again. She has our full support and we will be watching the Tokyo Stadium action very closely.”

For Jasmine, from St David’s in Pembrokeshire, it’s the culmination of five years of hard work.

“After the amazing experience of competing in Rio, returning to another games has been front and centre of everything I’ve done for the past five years and being named in the squad makes it all worthwhile. The Olympic Games is the ultimate achievement for any sportsperson and that dream became so much more achievable for me when rugby sevens became a Olympic sport.”

At 20, Jasmine was one of the youngest players in the Team GB squad in 2016 and hadn’t been capped for Wales at 15-a-side. Five years on and with 19 senior Wales caps, she is looking to draw on her experience to help the side to come back with some silverware.

“I was the new girl in Rio with little pressure on my shoulders. I’ve definitely got a different mindset this time around. People know my game more and there is more pressure on me to perform but I’m happy with that. We were disappointed not to medal last time around and are definitely going for gold next month.”

Jasmine paid tribute to fellow Wales international and GB Sevens training squad member Hannah Jones who missed out on selection.

“Hannah is my best friend so it was great to train together in GB camp. She has put so much hard work into everything she has done in recent years too, as have all the players in the training squad and the fact she’s missed out shows the level of competition throughout the squad is insane.

“I’ve had so much support from my family, friends and coaches throughout my career. The fact that they won’t be able to travel to Japan is disappointing but I know that we will feel everyone’s support via social media over the next few weeks and that makes a huge difference.”

The women’s rugby sevens tournament takes place from July 29-31.

Team GB women’s squad:

Holly Aitchison

Abbie Brown

Abi Burton

Deborah Fleming

Natasha Hunt

Megan Jones

Jazmine Joyce

Alex Matthews

Helena Rowland

Hannah Smith

Celia Quansah

Emma Uren

Women’s reserve: Lisa Thomson

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Sport

Junior Cricket leagues round up

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THE Pembroke County Cricket Junior Leagues continued recently with some more excellent displays.

There were wins for Saundersfoot, Stackpole and Hundleton and St Ishmaels in the Under 11s leagues.

In the Under 13s league there were wins for Kilgetty, Llechryd and Hook.

Take a look below at all the best performances from the games.

Under 11’s

Saundersfoot 322 beat Lamphey 215

Saundersfoot:

Oli Cook 26 + 2-8

Olly Badham 20 + 2-1

Dan Broomhall 4-5, all 4 wkts in 1 over

Taylor Lewis 3-9

Saundersfoot

Lamphey:

Elliot 10 + 1-9

Iorri 11

Zed 11

Morgan 9

Pembroke 239-5 lost to Stackpole/Hundleton 280-4

Stackpole/Hundleton

2 wickets each for Summer Russant and Louis Dodson and 1 for Ossian Ridgeway

Summer Russant – 12

Ollie Frearson – 10

Louis Dodson – 9

Sam Adams – 7

Cresselly 219-10 lost to St Ishmaels 264-6

 St Ishmaels:

Dillion Lewis 15

Morgan Brittain 15 & 3-4

Rossi Ninnis 10

Caydyn Mcguire  2-7

Cresselly:

Griff Jenkins 16

Dylan Taylor 14

Ieuan Prout 8

Corrin Thornton 2-17

Under 13’s

Laugharne 55 all out lost to Kilgetty 61-2

Laugharne:

Issac Joliffe 7

Liam Morley-Trivett 6

Alfie Blewitt 5

Sam Lynch 1-5

Ellis Harvey 1-8

Kilgetty:

Lewis Rossiter 21

Logan Hall 21

Olly Badham 3-15

Kiaran Sine 2-6

James Keating 2-10

George Morgan 2-10

Llechryd 124-3 beat Neyland 122-7

Llechryd:

Evan Wyn Jones 29

M Williams 26

Y Harries 21

Evan Lewis 15

Ellis Gill 2 wickets

Neyland:

Korey Arran 25

Leo Power 25

Corey Riley 13 & 2 -6

Mason Kerrison 10

Hook 111-3 beat Haverfordwest 80-4

Hook:

Rhys Phelps 26* (retired)

William Harries 20 not out

Callum Nutty 16

Jamie Gray 1-3

Haverfordwest:

Sidak 25* (retired)

Finley 16 not out and 2-16

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Sport

Carew too strong for Kilgetty in Harrison Allen quarter final

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CAREW booked their place in the semi-finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Tuesday night (Jun 22) as they beat Kilgetty.

For Carew it will mean a first appearance in the semi-finals since 2012 (when they went on to reach the final).

Carew batted first against Kilgetty and they made an impressive total of 236-3 from their 22 overs.

Nick Davies scored 55 and Lewis Hicks made 65 as the visitors began well.

There were two wickets for Matthew Lewis (2-63) but he was expensive, while the only other wicket to fall went to Levi Hughes (1-42).

Tim Hicks finished unbeaten on 38 for Carew and Rhys Davies was not out on 40 as Kilgetty were set a target of 237 to win the game.

Richard Cope scored 39 for Kilgetty in their reply but he was his side’s top scorer.

Jordan Gorman added 24 and Tom Lewis scored 20 while there were scores of 10 from Max James and Sam Rossiter.

Shaun Whitfield did the damage for Carew with figures of 4-38.

Sam Harts (3-28) also claimed three wickets while Iori Hicks took two for 38.

There was also a wicket for Rhys Davies as Carew bowled Kilgetty out for 137 to seal victory by 99 runs.

It will mean a first semi-final for nine years and they will be keen to make sure that run won’t be repeated.

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