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)
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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