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Strong squad for France opener

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WALES Women head coach Rowland Philips has selected a strong side for the Women’s Six Nations opener in Montpellier on Saturday night (9pm local time).

“We made such huge progress during the autumn – especially against Canada in our final game – that it was important to continue to build on the momentum we created.”

There are two changes and two positional for Saturday’s clash from that previous Wales Test. Scarlets pair Hannah Jones and Alisha Butchers return to the side, Jones will partner Alicia McComish in the centre while Butchers returns from injury to start on the blindside flank. There is a reshuffle in the backrow with Beth Lewis starting at No 8 in place of injured Sioned Harries and Manon Johnes starting on the openside.

“Physicality will be key against France on Saturday,” added Phillips. “That is their strength and they will come out flying. That is an area we have been working on. We’ve prepared for it and now we need to keep our focus from minutes one to 80. Not only do we need to stand up to the physical challenge France will bring but we need to impose our own tempo on the game too.

“Playing France away from home is the only place you’ll experience such a cauldron in terms of the huge crowd and welcome and that’s something the players must embrace and feed off. France are the envy of the women’s rugby world at the moment and our players will certainly gain from the experience.”

The game takes place on Saturday, February 2, 9pm (local time). Live on S4C 8pm GMT:

Team: Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Alicia McComish (Dragons), Lisa Neumann (RGC); Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets) Manon Johnes (Blues), Bethan Lewis (Dragons).

Replacements: Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Natalia John (Ospreys), Alex Callender (*Scarlets) , Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Jess Kavanagh (RGC).

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Sport

More signings as Cwm build squad

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FOLLOWING on from announcing their three new signings last week Cwmamman United have announced a further six this week.

Nathan Davies, who has captained the Carmarthenshire League Select side, joins from Bwlch Rangers while Rob Morgans joins having played with Haverfordwest County and Goodwick United previously.

They also announced the signing of four tremendously talented young players in Oliver Diamond, Korey Palmer, Stevie Evans and Joe Lewis.

“We are really pleased to have these boys on board as we are not only strengthening our first team squad with some really talented players ” said Ryan Stephens, First Team Manager, “but we are also building for the future.”

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Ammanford romp to friendly win

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AMMANFORD romped away in a goal fest in this pre season friendly beating their plucky opponents Pontarddulais by ten goals to nil on Friday (Jul 12).

Ammanford Manager Gruffydd Harrison will be pleased with his teams workout and even more excited with his forward line finishing prowess.

There were hat tricks for Gavin Jones who showed excellent pace and new signing Tristan Jenkins along with goals from Lee Trundle, Bruno Forkouh, Mathew Fisher and Craig Frater.

Ammanford have another friendly this Friday (Jul 19) when they take on Ynysygerwn.

After that they travel to Pontardawe Town on Tuesday (Jul 23) before a trip to Welsh Premier League neighbours Carmarthen Town on Saturday (Jul 27).

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Carmarthenshire cyclist heading to Mont Blanc

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WITH THE TOUR DE FRANCE in full swing and the World’s best doing battle against each other, there is another big cycling event taking place within the French Alps.

The Tour du Mont Blanc claims to be the Worlds toughest road cycling event and Llangadog based cyclist, Matthew Page will be lining up and attempting to complete the arduous route.

The event is a non-stop, circumnavigation around the alpine peak of Mont Blanc, starting in France alpine resort of Les Saisies and heads through Switzerland and Italy before returning to finish back in Les Saisies.

Covering a total of 330km (205 miles) with 8300 vertical metres (27,300 feet) of climbing it is roughly the equivalent to tackling two of the toughest Tour de France stages, back to back without stopping and takes in well known alpine passes including the Grand Saint Bernard, Petit Saint Bernard, Cormet de Roseland and Col de la Forclaz.

Matthew is a former professional Mountain Biker, who competed internationally and specialised in 24hr solo competitions and also Carmarthenshire Sports Personality winner. Now a cycle event organiser and cycling media journalist he organises major off-road events within the county including Battle on the Beach, Gritfest and in November 2019 will be organising a round of the British Cycling cyclocross national series within Pembrey Country Park.

With less than 50% of starters likely to finish, Matthew is understandably apprehensive about the challenge: “This will undoubtedly be one of the hardest days I will ever encounter on the bike and despite having done 24hr events previously, the extra challenges the Tour du Mont Blanc brings, including lack of a support crew, route navigation, logistics and uncertain weather especially at higher altitudes. The event has been a major focus for me this year and I am looking forward to the challenge”.

The event takes place on Saturday July 20, with the fastest riders expected to finish in under 12 hours.

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