By Ian Golden at Stebonheath Park
PRE-SEASON friendly matches don’t often tell us too much, especially when sides use so many substitutes, but one thing’s for certain, West Wales Raiders don’t look like they’ll be pushovers this year.
Sure, there are a few creases to iron out before they face Coventry Bears in a fortnight in the League 1 opener, but already one can see a far more solid defence, conceding just six tries in this 34-0 loss to an extremely well-drilled Wigan Warriors “reserve” side, who rightly showed quality in every position.
Out of the 23 players named by the Raiders, only nine turned out last season, one of those being new skipper Ashley Bateman who made just a solitary appearance at the start of 2018 before requesting a move to Coventry.
But this is a new Raiders, new season, new coach and plenty of new recruits from both Wales and abroad, and the difference showed straight away as they pounded Wigan’s backline throughout the first five minutes. An interception cost them a second minute try and good defence prevented the Welsh on the next time they had the ball.
It took eight minutes for Wigan to get into the Raiders’ half, scoring on their first attack. Winger Cian Tyrer did well to leap onto a grubber to ground in the corner.
Again Raiders looked for a try, again they couldn’t finish it. Mike Connor was held up over the line, and Dan Maiden missed an opportunity to leap onto a bouncing ball.
Wigan scored their second try on 19 minutes. From an interception, Joe Brown raced 30 metres to score. Callum Green converted.
Fighting for a third, Ethan Havard was held up over the line. Morgan Smithies was also stopped in his tracks when going for the whitewash.
Finally, Brown broke for the line with two minutes to go in the half for Wigan’s third, Green converting again to put the half-time score on 16-0 to the Super League youngsters.
Raiders once again applied the early pressure when the second half started. Twice in five minutes was winger Sam Baker was blocked by the solid Wigan defence after the Raiders won a repeat set.
But once again when Wigan got into their opponents half, they scored. Big prop Ben Kilner forcing his way over and Green converting.
From kick-off, Corey Hall scored Wigan’s fifth, grounding in the corner from Ryan Forshaw’s kick, with Green adding the extras again.
As the game entered its final stages, Raiders continued to fight hard to get on the board. After winning a penalty on Wigan’s ten-metre line, they had another determined set of six, but again the Warriors backline stood painfully firm.
The final say went to the Warriors as Jack Kennedy finished off a length of the field move for them to score their sixth of the afternoon. Joe Shorrocks converted.
More signings as Cwm build squad
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.”
Ammanford romp to friendly win
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).
Carmarthenshire cyclist heading to Mont Blanc
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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