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Spotlight – Clarbeston Road

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We sat down with Clarbeston Road manager Matthew Fox after his team’s impressive win over Hakin United Saturday. His team has impressed and turned heads up and down the county over the past few months. We got some insight on the story of their season so far.

Herald – Matt thanks for taking the time to talk to us today! It’s good timing as I’m sure you’re still on a high after Saturdays win?

Matt – No problem it is my pleasure to catch up. Of course, we are delighted with the result Saturday. That is Hakin’s first League defeat of the season so to win down there is a massive credit to the lads. Especially with the amount of fitness work they put in over the Christmas break. But we are not complacent, we know that we cannot waste the effort of last week’s result only to then drop points this week. The league is fairly relentless and that shows where we go to Merlins Bridge this week which will be a really tough game. They are above us in the league, even though we do have some games in hand, but they have not lost since the beginning of October so they will be full of confidence also. Therefore, certainly no time to sit back and enjoy one good result! The target for us will be to continue getting good results week on week and the preparation for Saturday started Monday and we will be training again this week so we are ready for Saturday.

Herald – Saturday was your second win over Hakin this year. Have you had thoughts of disrupting the ‘top’ two?

Matt – We had an indifferent start to the season so after those early couple of defeats I would have taken not being relegated at that stage of the season let alone disrupt Goodwick or Hakin!! But no, as the the old football cliché goes, our aim is only focus on the next game and that is what we will be doing this Saturday. Hakin will be right up there at the end of the Season, Skinny will get them bang at it next week, but I do think it is now Goodwick’s to lose. Leon Luby and Cam Thomas being injured for Hakin hasn’t helped them, but Goodwick beat us convincingly at their place early in the season, and in the return fixture, it was a lot closer game than the 4-0 scoreline suggests. But still, they have taken 6 points from us and under Sully and Lee Morgan, they won’t show any complacency. Our aim will to be to finish as high as we can but to do that we have to be consistent week on week. 

Herald – Obviously Goodwick would take some catching this season, so what are your goals for the rest of the season?

Matt – I agree, I don’t see Goodwick being caught in the League now. So after knocking one of the Senior Cup favourites out of the competition, you have to look at being in and around the competition come Final Day. However, there will be 16 other teams in round two thinking exactly the same thing!! In round two we have the winner of Fishguard or St Ishmaels,who have steadied themselves well in Division Two, so we cannot look further than that really as a trip to either is going to be tough. But it would be great to get back to the Meadow if we could and we will be all out to try and do that, not least to avenge the last time we got to the final where Hakin walloped us 7-1!

Herald – What’s pleased you most about this season so far?

Matt – It is probably the togetherness in the squad and the club as a whole. We train as one squad, firsts and seconds and we regularly have 30 plus training in all weathers. We all know the amount of work the committee at Clarbeston Road do for the club under the watch of Chairman Steve Brown so it is nice to put a team out every Saturday that they can be proud of and make the work that they do worthwhile. I would also have to say the amount of youngsters coming through to Senior football at the club and a large credit for that goes to the Junior Coaches at the club, not least, Raph Barnett our second team manager as he brought through seven or eight players from Junior football, that are now involved between the two squads every week. 

Herald – If you had to pick out your teams main strength what would it be?

Matt – I would say team spirit and the blend of youth and experience. We often get labelled with “tricky” or “Sticky” opponents which suggests sometimes we are just hard to play against,but I feel sometimes we haven’t had the credit we deserve for our ability to play ourselves. We have quality now right through the squads and plenty in reserve so this season we have been far less disrupted by unavailability as we have quality players who can come in when players are away and make the position their own. We went to Hakin Saturday without our Club Captain, Rheinallt George and still won. That is a credit to the lads taking their opportunities when called upon and the depth of our squad this season.

Herald – And finally, where do you see the team and the club aiming to go in the next couple of years? Is it a long term project?

Matt – It most definitely is a long term project both on and off the field. My co-manager Matt Ellis is still playing exceptionally well at the ripe old ag of 39 and I think the way he is going he will be still playing at 49! Off the field there are plans for the changing rooms and training facilities to be developed at our Knock Field site and on the pitch we just want to improve year on year, keep bringing youngsters through and giving them a chance and enjoy everything that is good about Pembrokeshire League football. Like many other clubs in Pembrokeshire, we would like to look at options for the West Wales Premier League but geography is the biggest challenge we all face with most games in the Swansea area. We really feel that we can push teams at that level as we did against League Leaders Evans and Williams in the West Wales Cup. But for now we will continue working hard at what we are doing and look to improve week on week, year on year so maybe we can disrupt the “Top Two!”

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Second row Max Douglas becomes latest Scarlets signing

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THE SCARLETS say they are delighted to secure the signature of highly-rated Australian forward Max Douglas.

The 24-year-old has just completed his second season with the Yokohama Canon Eagles in Japan.

Before his move to the Japanese top division, the 6ft 7in Douglas, who has played in the second row and back row, featured for the Waratahs in Super Rugby and the Manly club in Sydney.

He will link up with the Scarlets in the summer.

Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said: “Max is a young, athletic second row who has experience in Super Rugby and more recently in Japan’s top division.

“He is comfortable with the ball hand, which suits how we are looking to play and is excited about coming on board and being part of the Scarlets journey over the coming years.

“Max is another strong addition to our forward pack following the signings of Marnus van der Merwe and Alec Hepburn and we are looking forward to welcoming him here to Parc y Scarlets this summer.”

Max Douglas said: “I’m really excited to be joining the Scarlets. This is a club with a strong history and I’m excited at the challenge of trying to contribute to that.

“I’m looking to bring over some of the experiences and learnings I’ve gained from my time in Australia and Japan to hopefully add to what is a really strong playing group.

“I can’t wait to meet all the players and staff and get into our work.”

Douglas is the Scarlets’ fourth signing to be announced ahead of the 2024-25 campaign with Exeter Chiefs prop Alec Hepburn, Toyota Cheetahs hooker Marnus van der Merwe and Nottingham full-back Ellis Mee on their way to West Wales.

Tongan second row Sam Lousi, Wales internationals Tom Rogers and Harri O’Connor and back-rowers Dan Davis and Ben Williams have also signed new contracts with the club.

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Castrol Team aims to ‘bounce back’ from Jim Clark Rally retirement

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THE CASTROL MEM RALLY TEAM is vowing to bounce back stronger than ever on the next round of the Probite British Rally Championship – especially with a second Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 joining its motorsport fleet soon – after what was looking like another victory turned into retirement on the Beatson’s Building Supplies Jim Clark Rally.

Chris Ingram started extremely well, setting the fastest time on the opening four stages to establish a healthy 23.1 second lead in his Volkswagen Polo GTI R5. The 2019 FIA European rally champion eased off on the unfamiliar closed roads as darkness fell and the rain continued to make the surface extremely slippery, settling for second fastest time on SS5 and 6 and going into Friday’s overnight halt with an 8.6 second advantage. 
 
Co-driven by Alex Kihurani, the Suisscourtage-backed driver set another fastest time on Saturday’s opening stage before a slow puncture saw him stop with damaged suspension after SS8.
 
Meirion Evans lost time when he spun his Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 on SS2, initiating some immediate set up changes in first service to better suit the wet and slippery conditions. He and co-driver Jonathan Jackson completed Leg 1 in a strong eighth position and had just moved up to sixth when the car’s power steering pump sprung an oil leak and the Welshman was forced to call it a day after SS9.
 
Meirion Evans said: “Unfortunately it wasn’t the end to the rally that we had hoped for. We were beginning to make tracks up the leaderboard and had a chance of getting on the podium, but at the end of Saturday’s third stage we had a problem with the power steering which meant that we couldn’t continue. Whilst we might have been able to limp through the next stage, the issue would have been too big to fix in service anyway, so we decided to call it a day. It’s a shame that Chris retired from the lead as it was looking like another very good result for the team, but I’m sure we’ll bounce back stronger on the next round.”
 
Chris Ingram said: “We had a very strong start to the rally and had controlled our pace well to build a comfortable lead ahead of previous Jim Clark Rally winner Keith Cronin. It was thoroughly enjoyable in the car. Unfortunately, after setting another fastest time on Saturday’s opening stage, on the next stage we picked up a slow puncture and went off the road under braking, which broke the front left suspension. It’s a tough result for the team, but the potential showed makes me very excited for the rest of the season and the switch to the Toyota GR Yaris Rally2.”
 
Round 4 of the Probite British Rally Championship is the Voyonic Grampian Forest Rally on 9 August, when the Castrol MEM Rally Team will field two Toyota GR Yaris Rally2s for Meirion Evans/Jonathan Jackson and Chris Ingram/Alex Kihurani.

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Red Bull Hardline Wales confirms rider list for 2024

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RED BULL Hardline, known as the most challenging downhill mountain bike race world wide, confirms the final rider list for this year’s Wales event. 

Following its first event overseas, with a stop Down Under, Red Bull Hardline returns to its home in Wales’ Dyfi valley to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The brainchild of Dan Atherton a decade ago, 34 of the brightest and best talents in downhill mountain biking are set to descend on the north Wales course. With the 2023 event sadly curtailed by the Welsh weather, there’s old scores to settle and it’s all to play for in 2024.

Confirmed Rider List:

NameNationality
Ronan DunneIRL
Bernard KerrUK
Brook MacDonaldNZL
Charlie HattonUK
Adam BraytonUK
Craig EvansUK
Theo ErlangsenSA
Matteo IniguezFRA
Juanfer VelezCOL
Gaetan VigeFRA
Jim MonroUK
Matt JonesUK
Edgar BrioleFRA
George BranniganNZ
Sam GaleNZ
Jono JonesUK
Sam BlenkinsopNZ
Brendan FaircloughUK
Josh BrycelandUK
Dennis LuffmanUK
Sam HockenhullUK
Josh LoweUK
Taylor VernonUK
Thibault LalyFRA
Thomas GenonBEL
Szymon GodziekPOL
Sebastian HolguinCOL
Alex StorrUK
Vincent TupinFRA
Harry MolloyUK
Matteo IniguezFRA

Female riders will begin training on Monday, giving them ample time to familiarise themselves with the new course, with Tahnée Seagrave, Cami Nogueira and Hannah Bergmann all set to continue to push the boundaries of their sport once again. Louise-Anna Ferguson will be returning to Wales fresh from her success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, putting on a gutsy performance to finish a full finals race run despite an early crash. New to Red Bull Hardline, Vaea Verbeeck will make her first appearance, bringing fresh fire power to the women’s lineup 

Following his stand-out success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, Ronan Dunne will be taking to the start line with aims of achieving the double. Nipping at his heels will be three-time winner Bernard Kerr, who placed second in Tasmania back in February. 2017 champion Craig Evans is back once again and eager to replicate his success of 7 years previous.

The breathtaking race will be broadcasted live globally on Red Bull TV on Sunday 2nd June at 2.30pm GMT. Ahead of the event, fans can enjoy the week’s best action from course walk and practice on the Red Bull Bike YouTube ahead of the main event. 

For further Red Bull Hardline rider updates and for more information visit www.redbull.com/hardline and make sure to save the link to Red Bull Bike YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@RedBullBike/featured to not miss out on the week’s best action.

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