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Warriors head for Betws and Fiji

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Llanelli Warriors: In Whongamomona, New Zealand

Llanelli Warriors: In Whongamomona, New Zealand

THE LLANELLI WARRIORS are looking to celebrate their 20th anniversary with one of the most ambitious trips ever undertaken by a club that includes players with disabilities. The club begin their season in Betws on Sunday (Sept 4) 

After 20 seasons of including players with learning disabilities in rugby, the club wanted something spectacular to celebrate.

For their 10th anniversary, the club followed the Lions to New Zealand, playing three matches of their own.

Although the Lions are again in New Zealand this summer, the Warriors were keen to do something different and go even further.

So rather than return to Wellington and Auckland, they will follow the Welsh team’s tour of the Pacific Islands by travelling to Fiji.

When the Warriors were formed, it was to give people with learning disabilities the chance to play rugby.

Growing up in one of the great rugby towns of the world, the players were perhaps the only people excluded from taking part.

But, as the club developed, the aim was not only to give them the chance to experience rugby and be part of what their friends and family did, but to have experiences that would raise their status and standing as rugby players again.

The club have found that apart from the fitness and social factors you would expect from be part of a rugby team, it has been a massive confidence boost.

Parents have regularly told the club that they can’t believe the difference in their sons. They have had social workers tell them that it’s transformed people’s self-esteem, even the way they walk and hold their head.

The club often have players come to them, introverted and quiet, but they find friends, support, at least one part of rugby they are good at, they travel and take on able bodied athletes, they socialise, they do things and some of these players go on to give speeches, captain the team or lead a singsong.

The players who went to New Zealand came back with experiences few of their peers could match and memories that will last a lifetime.

For probably the first time ever, they had other local players jealous of them and what they had achieved. It changed the players’ attitude and it changed people’s attitude to them.

That’s something which the club are are trying to create again by heading for Fiji. People talk about the rugby culture of Wales and New Zealand, but the Pacific Islands manage so much with tiny resources.

Anyone interested in rugby can relate to the dream of going out there, an exotic location and some of the best rugby players in the world, as proved by their Olympic champions 7s team. Whilst the team are there, they hope to liaise with local disability groups, sharing some of their good practise and no doubt learning some things themselves.

Obviously the tour is going to be expensive and so there will be a whole series of fundraising activities across the season and the team are looking for help and sponsorship wherever they can find it.

This will invigorate a whole community of families and again highlight the concept of mixed ability rugby, and that a disability shouldn’t be a barrier to playing the game.

The team aim to show people around the world, from Furnace to Fiji, what inclusive rugby means and they are going to give some local players the trip of a lifetime.

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Late goal sees Lido beat Ammanford

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Report and photo courtesy of Ian Parfitt

AMMANFORD suffered the heartbreak of late defeat at Afan Lido on Friday night with an 87th minute winner from Liam Griffiths securing a 2-1 win and all three points for the hosts.

Afan Lido started the match on the front foot and Ammanford were clearly struggling with the pace on Lido’s flanks. A foul in the box led to a penalty for Lido in the 11th minute which was dispatched by Chris Jones.

Afan Lido were largely on top in the first half however were unable to add to their goal. Ammanford were restricted to half chances although Callum Silcox did hit the post with an angled shot.

Ammanford would have hoped for an early goal in the second half and that’s exactly what they got in the 48th minute, the excellent Jordan Langley spotting the keeper off his line and hitting a looping shot into the net from 30 yards.

This goal clearly settled Ammanford and spurred on by a vociferous away support went in search of a second goal.

Afan Lido rode their luck in the 63rd minute when Owyn Airey smashed a shot against the bar.
Callum Silcox then forced Lido keeper Steve Cann into an excellent save in the 74th minute with a rasping, long range effort.

Ammanford looked the most likely team to score and had several other opportunities which they failed to convert.

Ammanford were playing well with Morgan Clarke particularly influential in midfield.

Just when it looked as if a hard fought contest was heading for a draw Griffiths swept home from close range in the 87th minute following a Lido corner.

Ammanford frantically went in search of a second equaliser in the time that remained but this eluded them and the final whistle brought about feelings of what could have been for the away team.

Ammanford will look to put things right in their next match, a home encounter against Goytre Utd on Friday (Sept 30).

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Williams’ wonder strike sinks Village

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CWMAMMAN United came away from a hard fought match at near neighbours Garden Village in front of a large crowd with the three points following a powerful strike from Sion Dafydd Williams.

It was the second win on the trot for Cwm and manager Paul Lewis will have been especially pleased with a second consecutive clean sheet.

Cwm started well and dominated the first half that saw a Cory Saunders inswinging corner beat everyone and bounce out off the far post while Williams then later saw his shot agonisingly trickle past the post.

A high ball in to the Village box then hit the defender’s hand and Cwm had a penalty. Kyle Ashford struck it well but it was a tad too high and Wyn Walters made an excellent save. Charlie Davies then had an opportunity following a great move but fired just wide.

Ross Morgan, Ashford and Davies were dominating midfield while Grant Rees and Callum Dougal in the heart of the defence were controlling the Village attacks.

The goal was coming but not expected as spectacularly as it did when in the 39th minute a cross into the box saw Sion Dafydd Williams leaving Walters with no chance as he rocketed the ball into the net from the edge of the box as he seemed to be facing away from goal.

As the first period Garden Village will have been relieved to see half time just a goal down and will have been happy that they were still in it.

The second half saw a more even game with Walters again making excellent saves from Keiran Richards and from a Williams header. Village were now breaking more and Kai Rees who had tidied up excellently behind the Cwm defence throughout had to make a great finger tip save in the 70th minute.

Both sides then had to make changes due to injury with Cwm losing Leon Croucher, Williams and Richards to be replaced by Harrison

Thomas, Jordan Sullivan and Alex Giardelli returning to his old club.

Cwm seemed to be seeing the game out comfortably but had a late scare when Giardelli was given a red card for a reckless challenge in the 98th minute and nervously had to defend one last free kick.

An important win in the context of the season and Cwm now entertain Treharris Athletic on Saturday, October 1, at Grenig Park, 2.30pm

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Amman earn first win of the season

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AMMAN United claimed their first win of the season after an opening-day draw, and a cup defeat at Haverfordwest last weekend.

However, you would have been hard pushed to imagine a 50-point final-score when, just before half time, the score remained 0-0.

But two injury time scores had then given Amman an unlikely 12-0 interval lead against the Bulldogs.

A bright opening from United saw centre Gavin Lewis, on yet another comeback, show his trickery with a nice run and offload early on. Hooker George Clark had a fine game and was in the thick of everything, as were fellow forwards Iwan Davies, Dan Jones, Rhydian Jones and captain Alun Lewis.

Bynea suffered a very early blow, losing Corey Butler to an untimely injury, and they were later to also see Jamie Thomas limp off before half time.

These injuries meant a large period of added-time, and the Bulldogs’ valiant defence cracked during the injury-time as Joel Foster and Alun Lewis combined to put in flanker Rhydian Jones for the opening try, which Tom Caddell converted.

A frustrating couple of minutes for the visitors was compounded when a quick tap and go penalty from scrum half Foster saw him smuggle over the try line for a second try on the stroke of half time.

The Reds continued in good heart after the restart, and after some good play,Foster and and Dan Jones were involved before Rhydian Jones slipped a fine offload to skipper Alun Lewis who went under the posts for another converted try.

Another “vet” came on, Adrian Thomas off the bench as the home side largely dominated with their pack in the ascendency, Cian Lewis, Jason Knell and Rhys Phillips having put in a good shift throughout.

The Bulldogs then had a purple patch for a while,centre Jack Mal almost finishing off a fine move, before more calamity struck for them as Jake Sam was sadly stretchered off.

Amman capitalised and grabbed a bonus point try when the excellent George Clarke went over for another score to make it 24-0.

But the dogged visitors were always a threat, and carved out an excellent try for their efforts as wing Nathan Baker finished off a well-worked team move, which outside half Finlay Cook converted.

Amman hit back when the back row combined well before Dan Jones went over the whitewash for a try.

A very young Bynea side battled to the end,and some more excellent play was rewarded with a try for Tom Badger, converted by Cook.

However, the home side had the last word and grabbed a very late injury time try as the industrious Rhydian Jones crossed for the final score of the game.

Amman face a tough trip to Tumble on Saturday, October 1, while Bynea are home against New Dock Stars.

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