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Wales ready for Six Nations

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By Jonathan Twigg

THE 2018 Six Nations Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday (Feb 3) when Wales, captained by Alun Wyn Jones, welcome Scotland to the Principality Stadium in a match to be refereed by Frenchman, Romain Poite.

Coach Warren Gatland’s squad has been hampered with many high profile injuries, the latest being former Scarlets full back Liam Williams alongside scrum half Rhys Webb and his half back partner Dan Biggar.

The Welsh nation’s attention will be focused over the next seven weeks on the rugby and local interest has been heightened due to the Scarlets progressing to the European Cup quarter finals where they play La Rochelle on Friday (Mar 31).

The opening game against a Scottish side who have revelled in attacking flair under coach Gregor Townsend in the Autumn Series will offer a test which Gatland’s charges will have to meet front on to secure a victory. Winning will set down a marker by which the side will be judged.

They travel to Twickenham a week later to take on England before crossing the Irish Sea to take on the Emerald Isle in Dublin at the end of the month.

Both England and Ireland are at the top of their game at present, where any positive result will see euphoria amongst rugby followers. Gatland has changed his blueprint of direct rugby through hard running centre partnerships now opting for a more creative player at 12 which follows the way the Scarlets have developed this season.

Rhys Patchell could well have the nod to partner Gareth Davies at half back and the back division would feature fellow Scarlets, winger Steff Evans and Leigh Halfpenny, although neither have played a lot of ruby in recent weeks.

The centre partnership may be pivotal, with Osprey bound Scott Williams linking with adopted Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes after both impressed in the Autumn Series.

Prop Rob Evans should pack down on the coal face alongside Scarlets captain Ken Owens and fellow prop Samson le has returned to full fitness and may become the third player in the front row.

Back row dynamos Aaron Shingler and newbie James ‘Cubby’ Davies, brother of injured centre Jonathan, are also probable starters for Gatland meaning the Pivac influence of ‘expect the unexpected’, albeit abstractly, could well influence how well Wales perform.

Following the two testing trips on the road, Wales return to the Principality Stadium to take on Italy on Sunday (Mar 11) when the fixture follows the Women’s international between the two countries, before the finale of the season when France take on the ‘Men of Harlech’ a week later.

Predicating any result in sport is precarious at the best of times and the Six Nations championship often depends on which country has the key fixtures at home. Wales would be looking to secure three home victories, where the toughest encounter will be the opener against our Gaelic cousins.

Travelling to Twickenham and Dublin are daunting for any side where realistically a positive result will be an outside chance at best.

England, with colourful Aussie hooker Eddie Jones in charge are hardworking and Wales may have to live off limited possession, although the Scarlets faced such a scenario when they travelled to the ‘Rec’ and comprehensively dismissed Bath in front of Jones watching eyes.

Where there is a will there is a way as veteran second row Alun Wyn Jones leads the side knowing it could present a title showdown against Ireland, possibly the toughest of opponents in their own back yard.

With some optimism the prediction is for four victories, the three home fixtures and an exhilarating performance to light up the return journey down the M4 for those die hard supporters making the trip to HQ.

England will also return with four victories, beating Scotland in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield and France in Paris as recompense for their humbling at Wales hands.

Ireland, with a win over Wales may find the final game at Twickenham one step too far as the ‘Rose’ will find it unbearable to lose two home games meaning they also end on four victories.

Italy will pick up the wooden spoon without securing a win, ahead of France with Scotland in fourth position.

Representing Wales on the referee’s circuit will by Nigel Owens, who has a long association with Pontyberem RFC in the Gwendraeth Valley, taking centre stage when Ireland take on France.

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Mumbles win well against Ammanford seconds

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AMMANFORD seconds suffered a heavy 125 run defeat at the hands of Mumbles at Marespool.

Winning the toss, Ammanford invited Mumbles to bat first, and a terrific 188 run partnership for the second wicket, featuring Ben Jones (94) and Stuart Seaton (77), helped the home team to a healthy 221 for 4 in 45 overs.

Several Ammanford batsmen got into double figures but none were able to stay long enough to make any impression on the run chase. Eirian Morgan top-scored with 25, but the Ammanford innings finished disappointingly on 96 all out.

Gethin Morgan and Phil Roche each took three wickets for Mumbles.

Thirds beaten by Landore

Ammanford thirds travelled to Landore only to lose their match by 50 runs.

Ammanford skipper Carl Griffiths put Landore in to bat, and the home team scored 148 for 9. Landore
skipper Terry Summerfield top-scored with 33.

Ammanford’s Tom Davies was chief wicket-taker with 4 for 38.

Despite a solid 30 from opener and man-of-the-match Tom Davies, Ammanford failed to get anywhere near the required target and folded their innings on 98 inside 34 overs.

The defeat dropped them out of the top half of division six on the SWCA.

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Cwmamman United Juniors host end of season event

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CWMAMMAN United juniors held their end of season event at Clwb Godre’r Mynydd Ddu Glanamman.

As they celebrated throughout the day with their different age groups from Under 6 to Under 14 it looked as if almost every child in the Cwm had attended at some point.

The Juniors section at the club has grown to around 150 children over the last couple of years and with a dedicated and enthusiastic group of committee, coaches and volunteers behind them the club is excitedly anticipating further growth.

A fantastic time was had by all with all age groups proudly having their moment in the sun.

Robert Griffiths the Clubs Junior Chairman said: “I have to thank all our fantastic people at the club that get the kids out playing whether sorting games, coaching, fund raising or organising events such as our club parties and awards such as these.

“We continiue to grow and if your child would like to be part of a safe, healthy and fun environment they are most welcome here.”

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Depleted Ammanford beaten by seven wickets

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A DEPLETED Ammanford lost by seven wickets to Bridgend Town in a rain affected match at windswept Newbridge Fields on Satuday (Jun 25).

With the start delayed by over an hour because of rain, the match was reduced to 39 overs before a ball was bowled, and the toss immediately became the crucial factor in deciding the game’s outcome.

Bridgend won it and, predictably enough, put Ammanford in to bat.

The writing was on the wall as the visitors lost two wickets for 9 runs on an unpredictable wicket which was one of the first bowler-friendly tracks encountered this season.

Only four batters reached double figures as wickets fell at regular intervals. Top scorer was 14 year old wicket-keeper Gruffudd Owen (19no) who took the game to the visitors and looked capable of scoring many more had he not run out of partners.

Ammanford were all out for 90 inside 30 overs.

Tea was taken early as more heavy rain swept across Newbridge Fields, but unfortunately for Ammanford the sun made a reappearance and play eventually resumed.

The Bridgend batters did not have it all their own way, quickly losing both openers to opening bowler Owen Davies.

Davies removed a further wicket in a good spell of 3 for 15, but Thomas Cogbill (43no) and Luke Humphries (18) saw Bridgend safely home without further trouble inside 24 overs.

Next week, Ammanford welcome second placed Swansea to the Park, the memory of their 700+ run clash at St Helen’s still fresh in their minds.

Thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run

Ammanford thirds beat Pontardawe by a single run in a rain adjusted match at the Rec.

Batting first, Ammanford reached 132 all out, thanks mainly to their captain Carl Griffiths (41) and Dafydd Wyn Jones (21).

Rain meant that Pontardawe’s reply was restricted to just 16 overs, during which they had to score 53 runs.

They came very close, but two wickets each from Oliver Pallot and Iwan Matthews interrupted their progress and they fell short by a single run, finishing on 51 for 5.

The victory moved Ammanford into the top half of SWCA’s Division 6.

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