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Wanderers blow Ynys away

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CARMARTHEN Wanderers earned their second win of the season on Saturday (May 11) as they beat Ynystawe by 26 runs.

Ynystawe won the toss and elected to field and they bowled well as they restricted the Wanderers to 142-7.

However, Robbie Crawford took four wickets for the home side to help them to victory.

The Wanderers lost Leighton Walters early on when he was caught off the bowling of Rhys Palmer but Crawford and Stephen Inward then shared 50 runs for the second wicket.

Crawford made a patient 23 with one boundary but he was then trapped leg before by Andrew Beasley.

Inward hit five fours as he scored 34 but he was stumped off the bowling of Tom Morgan and the Wanderers had slipped to 87-3.

Gareth Thomas hit 20 but also fell to the bowling of Morgan while Owain Binding was trapped leg before by Carl Roberts on a score of 14.

Roberts then removed Owain Davies on a score of 12 and Steven Mills was then bowled by Alex Fletcher.

Darrell Griffiths was not out on 12 but it wasn’t enough to help Carmarthen pass 150 runs.

Tom Blake and Morgan Hodges then got the visitors off to a good start in their reply as they shared 30 runs for the opening stand.

Owain Binding made the breakthrough for the Wanderers as he had Blake caught by Ifan Knott on a score of 7.

Andrew Beasley fell for the same score when he was bowled by Gareth Thomas, leaving Ynystawe on 49-2.

Hodges then shared another 37 runs with Carl Roberts and it looked as if they would reach their target but the Wanderers had other ideas.

Steven Mills trapped Roberts leg before on a score of 14 and soon after, Hodges, who hit two fours and two sixes in his knock of 45 from 112 balls, was caught by Darrell Griffiths off the bowling of Thomas.

That left the visitors on 91-4 but they were still in a good position.

Leighton Walters and Robbie Crawford were brought on to bowl and wickets soon started to fall.

Walters had Tom Davies caught by Thomas and Crawford then bowled Dean Price to reduce Ynystawe to 110-6.

Crawford then bowled Alex Fletcher and Rhys Palmer while Walters had Tom Morgan caught by Thomas on a score of 13 and the visitors had collapsed to 112-9.

Crawford then wrapped up the innings with his fourth wicket as Ynystawe were bowled out for 116.

On Saturday (May 18), the Wanderers are away as they take on Panteg.

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WALES TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT

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Wales have made one change to their starting XV to face Ireland this weekend with Nick Tompkins, who made a try scoring debut in round one, coming into the side.
Tompkins will line-up at outside centre with George North moving to the wing for the clash in Dublin.
North will line-up in an experienced back-three alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny whilst Tompkins will partner Hadleigh Parkes in the midfield. Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar continue their partnership at half-back.
Wales have named an unchanged pack with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis in the front-row and Jake Ball lining up alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones.
Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau feature in the back-row.
“We’ve made just one change after a winning start last weekend,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“Nick comes into the side, I thought he played exceptionally well when he came on last week so he deserves the start. George, who played really well last weekend at centre, moves back out to the wing.
“On the bench we have a few players back available, Rhys Carre impressed at the RWC and he comes back in. Adam Beard comes in for Cory Hill who picked up a leg injury earlier this week, Gareth (Davies) is fully fit and Owen Williams comes onto the bench and gives us a bit more cover.
“Momentum is important in the Championship, it was nice to get a good winning start under our belts and hopefully we can build on that through the tournament.”
On the bench Rhys Carre joins Ryan Elias and Leon Brown as the front-row replacements with Adam Beard and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Owen Williams and Johnny McNicholl provide the back-line cover.

WALES TEAM TO PLAY IRELAND (Saturday February 8 KO14.15 ITV & S4C)
15. Leigh Halfpenny (86 Caps)
14. George North (92 Caps)
13. Nick Tompkins (1 Cap)
12. Hadleigh Parkes (26 Caps)
11. Josh Adams (22 Caps)
10. Dan Biggar (80 Caps)
9. Tomos Williams (17 Caps)
1. Wyn Jones (23 Caps)
2. Ken Owens (74 Caps)
3. Dillon Lewis (23 Caps)
4. Jake Ball (43 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (C) (135 Caps)
6. Aaron Wainwright (19 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (73 Caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (73 Caps)

Replacements:
16. Ryan Elias (10 Caps)
17. Rhys Carre (6 Caps)
18. Leon Brown (7 Caps)
19. Adam Beard (20 Caps)
20. Ross Moriarty (42 Caps)
21. Gareth Davies (51 Caps)
22. Owen Williams (3 Caps)
23. Johnny McNicholl (1 Cap)

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Gritty Aber overcome Crymych

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ABER produced a full of determination and character to overcome a rugged Crymych side who neither gave nor asked for any quarter in a full-throated game.
The late withdrawal of scrum-half Llyr Thomas could easily have disrupted Aber’s game. However, his replacement by elder brother Ifan proved no handicap as the latter gave a complete performance in the number 9 shirt.
The game was fiercely competitive, with strong tackling from both sides, and play remained between the 22’s for the first 25 minutes.
The early loss of their hooker, Carwyn Rees, seemed to disrupt the Crymych lineout but they continued to scrummage strongly.
Crymych also lost their outside half, Ifan Phillips, to a bad elbow injury after half an hour. His replacement, Gareth Davies, only lasted 5 minutes before damaging his shoulder.
After 33 minutes, Adam Phillips kicked a penalty for Crymych after an Aber ruck infringement.
Having conceded the lead to their relegation-threatened hosts, Aber wasted little time in striking back.
In the 37th minute, Dorian Jones stole a Crymych line out. After a great kick by Ian Ellis and some neat handling, Adam Carvell crossed in the corner.
Steff Rees kicked the tricky conversion to give Aber the lead.
In the lengthy injury time at the end of the first period, Steff Rees sustained a nasty cut to his mouth and Harry Hewson came on as a blood replacement, while the Aber kicker had strapping fixed to his face.
The second half started with Aber absorbing a lot of pressure in their 22. The visitors’ scrum held firm, however, and Aber weathered the storm, despite having a forward yellow carded.
When Aber worked their way up the field, Paul Stubbs was able to win a penalty by standing strong in the ruck, which Steff Rees kicked.
The setback prompted Crymych to redouble their efforts and they forced play upfield, applying pressure before centre Carwyn Phillips scored in the corner.
The conversion went wide and Aber tried to relieve the storm by introducing fresh legs to stem the Preselimen’s tide.
With 32 minutes gone in the second half, Crymych’s Adam Phillips kicked a penalty after Aber were penalised for not pushing straight to take them into the lead for the first time.
Aber needed to show their character to regain the lead. After battling hard at the breakdown, a smart break for replacement flanker Steffan Rattray got the team into a good position. Further determined running led to Ian Ellis going over in the corner for a score which was well converted by Steff Rees.
Those were the final points of the game. A bruising encounter and tough match. Injuries to key players cost the Preselimen dear, while Aber will go away relieved to have shown real grit to secure a determined away wi

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The Six Nations: Come on Wales!

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WITH new coaches in charge of Wales, Ireland, France, and Italy, there’s an air of change about this year’s Six Nations competition.

Only Eddie Jones and – for now – Gregor Townsend remain at the helm of their countries’ sides from last year.
Wayne Pivac, the former Scarlets coach, takes charge of Wales following Warren Gatland’s retirement. He has very big shoes to fill and his task is not made any easier by the failure of the WRU to retain the services of key backroom staff member Shaun Edwards.

There are five uncapped players in Wales’ 34-member squad for the tournament: Louis Rees-Zammit, Johnny McNicholl, Nick Tompkins, WillGriff John and Will Rowlands.

Rhys Webb also gained a recall having signed a contract with Ospreys following two years with Toulon which ruled him out of the Test arena.

It’s also a welcome return for prop Rob Evans, from Spittal, who was left out of Wales World Cup squad to widespread astonishment. Evans is a strong scrummager and powerful in the loose. He has been in destructive form on the loose-head side for Scarlets this season alongside his Welsh teammate Ken Owens.

Absent are the long-term injured Gareth Anscombe, Jonathan Davies, and Tomos Francis.

The absence of Jonathan Davies is likely to be keenly felt in midfield. While Owen Watkins is making a faster than expected recovery from his injury, Wales will need to reshuffle their settled three-quarter line which shone in the Rugby World Cup.

Among the options Wales are considering to replace their midfield general is moving George North inside from the wing to provide a physical presence and a different threat than the injured Lions centre.

Louis Rees-Zammit, the Gloucester winger, is one to watch out for; if he gets on the pitch, he’ll be the large red blur charging at the Italian defence. The eighteen-year-old flyer has been compared to George North in terms of size, speed, and predatory scoring ability. Despite representing Wales at U18 level, the Cardiff-born winger attended Gloucester’s rugby academy to fit in with his education at Hartpury College. Rumours that Eddie Jones tried to tempt him over to the dark side were quickly squashed when Rees-Zammitt was selected in the Wales senior squad.

At full-back, with Liam Williams ruled out of this weekend’s Italy game, Leigh Halfpenny is almost nailed on to start. The Scarlets number 15 has been in stellar form this season, offering threat in attack, solidity in defence, and reliability with his metronomic boot. His recovery from a serious concussion injury, which left him out of the game for a long period and ruled him out of last year’s Six Nations, has resulted in renewed determination from the Scarlets man.
“It only feels like yesterday I was one of the younger boys,” Halfpenny says.

“I’m one of the older ones now and it’s great for us as a squad to have fantastically talented youngsters coming through. It’s strengthening us as a team and there is a lot of competition.

“It does make me realise I’m probably in the latter stages of my career. When I look back on it, it has all gone so quick. It’s gone in the blink of an eye. It’s incredible. It’s always a privilege to hear your name read out for the Welsh squad and even though I am in the latter stages of my career, I’m still ambitious. I’m still hungry to achieve things, but I also want to enjoy every moment I have as much as possible at the moment.”

Leigh Halfpenny continued: “Last season the boys were absolutely outstanding. To achieve a Grand Slam was incredible and it’s now hugely exciting looking ahead to this Six Nations,” Halfpenny said.

“Our goal is to go and win the title again. That’s the challenge for us as a squad. We’ve got new coaches and management and that’s really exciting as well.

“It is a new era for the squad. What was achieved with the previous management was just incredible and the feeling in the group has been brilliant these last two weeks. The boys have come in full of energy and we can’t wait to get started with this Six Nations. Italy will be an extremely tough challenge. Both teams will want to get off to a positive start to the campaign. Having played Italy you know they do pose threats and they’re a tough team to crack. We’re going to have to be at our best to do that both in attack and defence. We want to get our Six Nations campaign off to the start we want which is with a win.”

Former Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac is the man tasked with filling the boots of fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland, who steered Wales to three grand slams and two World Cup semi-final appearances during his 12-year reign.

“The guys have been made aware of the style of game we want and the positional and role specifics they will have to play,” says Pivac.

“The expectation is we are going to move a bit more ball and what I’m seeing at the moment is a great reaction. We’ve got a good vibe in the group and if the training sessions are anything to go by, we’ve got guys putting their hands up to take to the field.”

Pivac continued: “The boys had a fantastic competition to win the Grand Slam last year. History says this year is going to be tough with England and Ireland away, but that’s the challenge.

“That’s what motivates the best players and coaches. We think we have a draw that lends itself to us building into the competition. With no disrespect to any opponent, I think it’s nice we’ve got a home game to kick it off and you can certainly sense there is a bit of excitement.

“We are going to evolve our attack and that will take a bit of time. It took a bit of time with the Scarlets and I’m sure it will be no different at an international level, except we have got a higher calibre of player to work with across the board.”

Wales haven’t lost to Italy since 2007 and the Azzurri have never won in Cardiff since joining the Six Nations. The 2020 tournament will be their 21st season in the Championship.

Italy are now coached by Franco Smith and captained by hooker Luca Bigi with Sergio Parisse – who has skippered the team for so long – absent for the Cardiff clash.

“I think there will be a lot of continuity. I think Wayne is very smart in the way he goes about things,” said Smith.
“He spent five years in Wales – there’s a reason why they’ve appointed him after Warren. It’s going to be again a big physical challenge, but I do think they will bring a bit of an attacking edge. The style Wayne played at the Scarlets will be noticeable in the new approach.

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