WALES Women head coach Rowland Phillips believes his side can raise their game for their final Women’s Six Nations Test, against Ireland on Sunday (Cardiff Arms Park, 1.30).
Phillips has made two changes to the starting line-up with Elinor Snowsill starting at 10 and Alisha Butchers slotting back into the back row at blindside flanker.
Phillips said, “We want to capitalise on the confidence we’ve gained from the win over Scotland.
“We’ve shown a huge amount of character throughout this tournament – to hold Italy out at the end of that game and to come back from behind to win in Scotland showed remarkable attitude – and skill for such a young side.
“Despite that, I don’t feel we have shown how good a side we are and we’d like to do that on Sunday.
“Ireland are in a similar place as us. They played well against France last weekend. They have a strong back row and players who can make a difference. We certainly won’t be under-estimating them.
“However, we want to focus on ourselves, show what we can do with the ball and produce a better all-round performance. There’s a big game in us and hopefully we can showcase that on Sunday.”
Alisha Butchers, who earns her first start in the tournament since the opening round, is looking forward to some home comforts.
“Being at home lifts us girls massively. We’ve only had one home game this year and although England were tough opposition, we lifted our performance for our home support.
“Travelling away isn’t always accessible for our families so having them there boosts us. I love having my mum and dad and my brothers and sisters there, I can’t wait. There’s very much a family feel ethos and hopefully we can produce an entertaining game.”
“Last week’s game was really exciting and a good stepping stone for us. Moving forward I think we need to stick to our game plan, carry on working on our physicality and keep building as a team.
“Our performance was good last weekend but it can an still be better. We can use the confidence and momentum created by that victory to up our game and also spread the ball a bit more.”
Alisha is now working as a Hub Officer at Y Pant and Bryn Celynnog schools in the Pontypridd area, increasing the range of opportunities for girls to engage with rugby.
“I love it. I’ve already seen a huge increase in the number of girls playing the game and that inspires me – the thought that I’m having an impact on the next generation. They are both brilliant schools and we are getting 40 or more girls training now which is fantastic.
“Traditional 15 a side full-contact rugby isn’t for everyone so we make sure there are different formats and different opportunities all girls to enjoy taking part. A lot of them enjoyed the Rookie Rugby events we held recently, some play touch rugby, others enjoy crash mat rugby which is an introduction to contact or full contact rugby for the more established players who are keen.
“Hopefully a few of the girls – and boys – from the schools will come and support us on Sunday and bring their parents along to see what our game is all about. A few of the girls have role models within the squad, some are inspired by our captain Carys Phillips so I’ve promised they can have some photos after the match.”
Tickets available to print at home from www.cardiffblues.com/tickets and from 10am Sunday at the WRU shop, Westgate Street.
Wales Women V Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm, Cardiff Arms Park):
Lauren Smyth (Ospreys); Jasmine Joyce (Scarlets), Hannah Jones (Scarlets), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Jess Kavanagh (RGC); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Dragons), Carys Phillips (capt, Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Bethan Lewis (Dragons) Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys)
Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Alex Callender (Scarlets), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Robyn Wilkins (Blues), Lisa Neumann (RGC)
Ingledon stars as Laugharne sweep Town aside
LAUGHARNE remain second in Division 3 after they beat Haverfordwest Thirds by 150 runs in Division 3 of the Pembrokeshire League on Saturday (May 18).
The Carmarthenshire-side batted first and made an impressive total of 217-8 from their 45 overs.
James Ingledon was the mainstay of the innings as he top scored with 71 while he was supported by Carl Stephenson who scored 26.
Andrew Edwards added 22 and Kevin Pearce scored 21 as Town struggled to keep them below 200 runs.
Alistair Dyer was the pick of the bowlers for Town with two wickets for the loss of 22 runs.
There was also two wickets for Paul Jenkins (2-45) and Will Phillips (2-45).
Having starred with the bat, Ingledon then did so with the ball as he took five wickets for the loss of only 16 runs.
Carl Smith also took three for the loss of 15 runs as they helped bowl Haverfordwest out for just 67.
Jason Phillips top scored with 18 for Town but it did little to affect the outcome of the game.
The win keeps Laugharne nine points behind leaders Herbrandston who they play in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl tonight.
On Saturday (May 25), Laugharne are away to Llanrhian while Haverfordwest Thirds are at home to Narberth Seconds.
Llanelli secure Premiership status
LLANELLI secured their place in the Principality Premiership for next season on Friday night as they beat Championship winners Pontypool 27-16 in the play off at Aberavon.
Pontypool have only lost one game in three seasons but knew they would need to win to go up at the expense of Llanelli.
They started well but saw a couple of opportunities go begging early on and there was still no score with twenty minutes gone.
Six minutes later Pontypool charged down a kick and were given a penalty after Llanelli were deemed guilty of an offside for which saw yellow.
Pooler then sent the resulting kick through the posts to give them the lead.
Soon after, Shaun Evans had a chance for Llanelli when he ran into the Pooler 22 but after he was halted they went right when they perhaps should have gone the other way and the chance soon went.
Pooler then doubled their lead with another penalty as Llanelli were guilty of a number of infringements in the first half.
However, on the stroke of half time, Llanelli took the lead as they initiated a rolling maul and Taylor Davies went over for the try which was converted by Tom Prydie.
That gave the men in red a 7-6 lead at the break but they knew they would face a strong charge from Pooler in the second half.
Early in the second half, Llanelli looked to increase their lead when Ryan Conbeer went on a snaking run but he was halted just before the line by an excellent try-saving tackle from Lloyd Lewis.
Pooler then took the lead again with a penalty but Prydie answered with a penalty of his own to put Llanelli back in front at 10-9.
Soon after, Llanelli began to take control as they pushed a Pooler scrum backwards, earning a penalty, and Prydie kicked them further ahead.
Two minutes later they had another try as Steff Hughes kicked forward and Conbeer kicked on before falling on the ball in the try area. Prydie then added the extras to make it 20-9 with fifteen minutes to go.
They then scored their third try of the game as Lee Rees broke free after an excellent Callum Evans pass and the on-loan Llandovery player ran on to score. Prydie converted again to complete a great man-of-the-match performance.
With three minutes to go Scott Matthews touched the ball down under the posts and after it was confirmed as a try by the TMO it was converted bringing the score to 27-16.
Llanelli continued to play and thought they had scored late on but Callum Evans was called back after referee Nigel Owens, superb in the middle, spotted a forward pass from Prydie.
It left Pooler with little time to respond and Llanelli saw the game out to seal their place in the Premiership for the 2019-20 season.
Spotlight on superstars in South Wales
THE next two days around Cardiff will reverberate to the excited strains of a bowls community poised to experience the best of the best, when the first week of a two-week festival of international competition reaches its climax.
Over the five days the 2019 Atlantic Championships – featuring twenty-five bowling nations from the European, African and South American theatres at four host clubs around the Welsh capital – Barry Athletic, Dinas Powys, Penarth Windsor and Penylan – has gone through the qualifying stanza in women’s singles and fours, along with men’s pairs and triples.
In the short term the rewards are medals for excellence at this event, while qualification for next year’s world championships in Australia enjoys equal status.
Tomorrow and Thursday will be the stuff of which adventure heroes are made as many of the game’s greatest players strut their stuff – tomorrow’s elimination finals are at Barry Athletic and Dinas Powys, then the gold medal play-offs at Penylan on Thursday.
Spectators at Penalyn this morning enjoyed a teaser of what to expect when two superstars went at it in the flat green game’s version of a cat fight. It was a women’s singles encounter featuring a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist England’s Natalie Chestney, who won in Dehli in 2010; up against Scotland’s Caroline Brown, who has three world championship gold medals to her credit – the indoor singles at Potters in 2007, World Cup singles at Warilla in 2014 and the 2012 world fours in Adelaide.
The quality of bowls was exceptional as Chestney demonstrated the class that elevated her to the dizziest heights. After scores were level at 9-9 at eleven ends, the England star restricted Brown to just three scoring ends for the rest of the match, winning 21-14.
At major international events sectional top finishers graduate immediately to the semi finals, while the next two best finishers are sent to the elimination rounds.
Tomorrow at Dinas Powys, Scotland takes on England and Kenya plays Zimbabwe in women’s fours at 9.30am, with winners to play South Africa and Wales respectively at Barry Athletic at 2.30. Similarly, Malta plays Ireland along with Jersey against Guernsey in men’s pairs at Dinas Powys at 9.30am, with the winners heading to Barry Athletic in the afternoon to take on the mighty England and Scotland teams in the semi finals at 2.30pm.
Conversely, Barry Athletic will host England against Malta and Jersey versus Namibia in the morning men’s triples, with winners pitted against Scotland and South Africa respectively at Dinas Powys in the afternoon.
The blue ribbon women’s singles at Barry will see Natalie Chestney (England) v Colleen Piketh (South Africa) and Cindy Royet (France) v Ruti Gilor (Israel) at 9.30am – the winners playing Lucy Beere (Guernsey) and Caroline Brown (Scotland) respectively at Dinas Powys in the afternoon.
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