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Six Nations: Wales looking for third win in a row against England

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WALES have won their first two games in the Six Nations Championship and on Saturday, February 27, they put that record on the line against great rivals England.

Having already beaten Ireland and Scotland, the Triple Crown will be on the line for Wales, a feat they last achieved in 2019 when they won the Grand Slam.

That will be incentive enough for Wayne Pivac’s men but to do it against England will make it that little bit sweeter.

With France’s game against Scotland on Sunday in doubt, it will also give the home side a great chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Wales do not have any fresh injury concerns going into the England game and it will likely provide a selection headache for Pivac.

George North could be set to make his 100th appearance for Wales if he plays against England, and is currently second in the list of all-time try scorers for his home country.

England lost their opening game of the tournament against Scotland but got back to winning ways with a resounding 41-18 win over Italy.

The 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Cup Champions will be eager to rediscover their winning form which brought them that success but they will not find it easy against Wales.

What happened the last time England visited the Principality Stadium?

Wales last welcomed England to the Principality on February 23, 2019, and it was a game which saw Wales earn a 21-13 victory.

Cory Hill and Josh Adams scored Wales’ tries in that match while Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe added the rest of the points from the boot.

Tom Curry scored England’s only try in that match while Farrell had a 100% success rate with his kicks.

What happened when the sides met in 2020?

It was an absolute classic last year with England triumphing by 33 points to 30 at Twickenham.

Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi got the tries for England on that day while Owen Farrell had again had a 100% record with the boot.

Justin Tipuric bagged two tries for Wales while Dan Biggar scored their other as the men in red came up short on this occasion.

Of course, the last two meetings between the two sides were played in front of capacity crowds but that will not be a factor this time around, owing to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Could that be a factor in the game or will both sides treat us to an excellent display of rugby?

After the England game, Wales travel to Italy on Saturday, March 13, while England will host France on the same day.

A win for either side this weekend will be crucial; a win for Wales and it sets them up for the Grand Slam while a win for England will reignite their hopes of retaining the Six Nations Championship.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 16:45 and can be seen on S4C as well as the BBC.

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Ammanford suffer heaviest defeat

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AFTER two successive victories, Ammanford crashed to their heaviest defeat of the season at St Helen’s, losing to Swansea by a humiliating 240 runs on Saturday (July 24).

Swansea must have regretted their decision to bat first when Daniel Roberts had them at 12 for 2.

But that regret was transitory as their middle order went on to build a massive total of 295 for 7.

Half centuries came from the bats of Gareth Haydn (73), Osian Webber (66) and Adnan Ghori (56), whilst Hasan Hayat came painfully close with 49.

Daniel Roberts carried the Ammanford bowling with 4 for 51 from his 10 overs.

With several first team regulars missing, Ammanford’s batsmen had no answer to the bowling of Kazi Szymanski (5-19), Waqas Tanveer (3-27) and Brad Wadlan (2-4).

The only resistance came from Josef Davies (25) as the visitors crumbled to 55 all out in 14 overs.

Ammanford will want to forget this episode as they fight to get themselves clear of the pack at the foot of Premier One.

Seconds lose by seven wickets

Ammanford seconds lost by seven wickets to table-toppers Carmarthen Wanderers at the Park on Saturday.

Batting first, Ammanford were all out for 133, late resistance to the Wanderers bowling coming from Llyr Morgan (22) and Sion Evans (21).

Liam Rogers was Carmarthen’s chief wicket taker with 3 for 24.

Despite losing a wicket without a run on the board, Carmarthen’s middle order patiently stood their ground and took 32 overs to achieve their target for the loss of three wickets.

Opener Giles Thomas made 47 while Joshua Thomas was unbeaten on 49.

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Two late Thomas goals seal remarkable Cwm comeback

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TEN-MAN Cwmamman United staged a late rally to break South Gower hearts when captain Ryan Thomas popped up in the 78th and 90th minutes with two opportunist goals to see Cwm progress to the next round of the Welsh Cup.

It had been a match of few clear chances with neither keeper being challenged until much later in the game.

It started slowly and in their first competitive match of the season Cwm struggled to establish a pattern of play while their opponents who were playing their 3rd competitive match settled down quickly playing some neat football.

For Cwm Gareth Howarth and Elian Evans’ experience at the back was settling the side while Sean Howells continuously tried to seek options for the Blues in midfield.

In the 32nd minute with neither side really creating much a South Gower free kick was perfectly swung across the Cwm goal where centre back Morris flung himself between two Cwm defenders to put it beyond Cwm keeper Kyle Marsh.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first with both sides struggling in the final third of the pitch. The only noteworthy incident was a piledriver by Cwm’s Craig Gordon form outside the box spectacularly tipped by South Gower keeper Sam Williams.

The turning point strangely came with the sending off of Cwm’s Ryan Hurlow in the 55th minute. Flying down the wing he managed to leap over a dangerous incoming tackle but in venting his frustration at the player he incurred the wrath of the referee for raising his hands and suffered a straight red card.

This changed Cwm’s approach and a more urgent faster style increased both possession and frequency of attacks.

Craig Gordon and Geraint Rees were now seeing more of the ball and subs Scott Thomas and Lewis Byng were stretching the tiring Gower defence.  You knew something was coming and in the 78th minute Ryan Thomas took his opportunity well to equalise.

With penalties on the spectators’ minds and Cwm continuing the pressure in the 90th minute a long free kick into the box was half cleared, headed back across to Thomas who calmly slotted it home to great celebrations.

South Gower could justifiably feel unlucky after such a solid performance but it is Cwmamman who went through to the next round.

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Old Gold denied win by late penalty

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Pontypridd Town 1-1 Carmarthen Town

CARMARTHEN TOWN, since their relegation from the Cymru Premier League, had been waiting for the first opportunity to begin their campaign to restore their top tier status – and, having taken the lead late in this match against a competitive Pontypridd side, it seemed that they had made a perfect start.

But, sadly, deep into added time the home side were awarded a hotly disputed penalty and the Old Gold had to settle for a share of the points in this their first ever Cymru South League match.

However even before the start of the match the gathering of Town supporters were delighted to see the presence of a very familiar face in the pitch-side dug-out, namely that of Mark Aizlewood who had just been appointed Head Coach – a role similar to that which he had held on three earlier occasions often coinciding with times of some notable success for the Club.

In the early stages of the game it quickly became clear that these two teams were quite evenly balanced but while the play switched quickly from end to end, no serious scoring chances emerged.  At the heart of the visitors’ defence Lee Surman and Lewis Rocke were strong and assured while on the flanks Michael George and Corey Saunders gave them firm support – goal-keeper Scott James was never troubled during this spell.

At the other end of the pitch strikers Liam Thomas and Noah Daley could make little early impression on the Pontypridd defence, prominent within which were long-term Town defenders Dave Vincent and Jordan Knott.

But eventually the game livened up and on 19 minutes the first notable scoring opportunity arose for the hosts when Sam Johnson, from the corner of the penalty area, released a fierce angled drive that James watched carefully slip wide of the post.  Then moments later Aiden Lewis struck a stunning 30 yard free-kick that flew comfortably over the bar.

Pontypridd continued this spell of pressure when the ball reached Luke Gullick inside the penalty area – he turned sharply then fired a crisp volley that James turned aside with a smart reflex safe.  Then on 26 minutes Lewis threatened the visitors’ goal once more when he dispatched a promising 20 yard strike that James denied with a stunning full-length save.

The Old Gold at last managed to threaten the home goal in the 34th minute when Jordan Vickers sent a fine pass through to Thomas just inside the penalty area – from a very sharp angle Town’s all-time top goal-scorer drove the ball beyond the reach of ‘keeper Morgan Davies but, sadly, into the side-netting.

Yet the final action of the first-half was at the other end of the pitch – after 40 minutes Lee Baldock fired a long free-kick into the crowded penalty area where Drew Fahiya struck a fierce volley that James carefully watched safely fly over the bar.

After the interval Carmarthen began far more positively but apart from a Rocke header on 60 minutes that flew just over the bar following Keiran Howard’s corner they had nothing to show for their efforts – the hosts failed to achieve even that meagre “success”.

However as the match seemed to be drifting to a goal-less conclusion an unexpected frenzy of activity erupted.

On 88 minutes Thomas released a fierce drive that struck the post and the ball rebounded out – it was promptly returned into the goalmouth where Daley, reacting quicker than several other players, stabbed it into the net from close-range.

That setback seemed to galvanise the hosts into frenzied activity and as the match drifted into added time they were rewarded when the referee decided that Vickers’ clumsy challenge on the edge of the penalty area merited a spot-kick.

Baldock stepped forward and fired the ball beyond James’ reach and into the corner of the net.  A few minutes later the referee blew the final whistle.

Town’s next fixture is against Llantwit Major on Tuesday, July 27, k/o 7.30pm at Richmond Park, while on the following Saturday, July 31, k/o 2.30pm Risca United visit Richmond Park – both are Cymru South League matches.

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