WITH THE BRITISH and Irish Lions touring New Zealand in 2017, there is more excitement than ever surrounding this year’s RBS Six Nations, according to Clwb Rygbi Rhyngwladol commentator Gareth Charles.
S4C is the only broadcaster showing every Wales match in the RBS Six Nations this year, and the experienced commentator is a key member of the presentation team. Gareth, who comes from Pont-Henri in the Gwendraeth Valley, will be accompanied by former Wales captain Gwyn Jones in the commentary box, while former international players Shane Williams, Andrew Coombs, Dafydd Jones, Nicky Robinson and Deiniol Jones will join presenter Gareth Rhys Owen during the Championship.
S4C will also be showing two of Wales Under 20s’ matches live, as well as the women’s team match against Ireland. Highlights of the women’s team matches will also be shown on Clwb2 on Sunday nights.
With the Six Nations fast approaching, S4C recently caught up with Gareth to get his take on this year’s competition.
S4C: “With Gatland away with the Lions, Rob Howley taking his place and Alun-Wyn Jones taking over the captaincy from Sam Warburton, the Wales team is going through a transitional period. How will this affect them in the RBS Six Nations?”
Gareth Charles: “There’s a lot of pressure on Wales and Rob Howley to change to a more open style of rugby. With Wales playing against Italy in the first game and with bonus points being introduced this year, there’s pressure to get off to a good start – even though, traditionally, Wales start slowly every year.”
S4C: “Who are the favourites to win this year?”
GC: “I’d say England. The progress they’ve made under Eddie Jones is phenomenal. They play good rugby and they have so much depth. But Ireland aren’t far behind after their historic recent win over the All Blacks, so they will certainly be a threat to England.”
S4C: “Which players are you looking forward to seeing this year?”
GC: “For Wales, Taulupe Faletau, on his day, is certainly one of the best players in the world. England have Maro Itoje in the second row and Jonathan Joseph in centre, who always creates problems for Wales. Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg always have a big influence for Scotland too. It’s a Lions’ year, so I think that will bring out the best in everyone.”
S4C: “Considering all these new factors – the Lions and bonus points – how much are you looking forward to this year’s competition?”
GC: “ I’m looking forward to this year’s Six Nations more than usual. I’m looking forward to the women’s competition and seeing how they get on at their new home, Cardiff Arms Park, and I will be commentating on their match against Ireland. I’ll also be commentating on the Under 20s matches, and there is always a good atmosphere at Eirias Park for those games. Although I have to say that I’m also looking forward to following the men’s team to Rome and Paris.”
S4C: “Which Five Nations or Six Nations memories stand out in your mind?”
GC: “Obviously the match when Scott Gibbs scored that unforgettable try in Wembley will stay with me forever. The game where we put 30 points on England in Cardiff, in 2013, was also a fantastic occasion. It seems that victories over England are the ones that stand out the most. Of course, the other match I remember fondly is the win against Ireland which secured the Grand Slam in Cardiff, in 2005, under Mike Ruddock. I’d never seen such crowds of people in the city and it was a brilliant day.”
Swans still sweet on Premier League survival
By Jonathan Twigg
SWANSEA’s clamber through the trials and tribulations of the Premier League can be compared to that of a child running amok in a sweet shop, so many tantalising favourites to devour, with the occasional reminder that not all sweets are sweet.
A retro walk down the Bridge Meadow Lane would have taken a child past the shop run by Connie Clarke, renowned for her welcome on the bell clanging. Supporters of Haverfordwest County and their opponents on match day, welcomed with few words but with the knowledge her confectionary delights never failed to deliver.
Following Saturday’s (Apr 14) 1-1 draw with Everton, who arrived without former Swans stars Ashley Williams and Gylfi Sigurdsson in their line-up, supporters left knowing the sweet taste of success held by the Premier League is still within their grasp.
With two of the bottom three to visit the Liberty in the final week of the season this point is one gained in search of extending their Premier League status to an eighth season, although manager Carlos Carvalhal nearly led his side to five consecutive home wins, something no other manager has done since the heady days of John Toshack in 1981.
Swansea welcomed Jordan Ayew back from a three game suspension to partner elder brother Andre as Bolton based referee Lee Mason began the game in front of 20,933, the returning brother setting the tone alongside Andy King at a sun drenched Liberty Stadium.
Carvalhal has worked some magic since his arrival on the cusp of Christmas, tactically leaving opposite number former England supremo Sam Allerdyce to venture to the touchline with his pocket ball side kick Sammy Lee to stem the tide; the blues were overrun in midfield, Jordan Ayew having a wonderful chance cleared off the line as was captain Frederico Fernadez header from the resultant corner, before Andre’s sight of goal was saved by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Alfie Mawson has grown to be imperial at the back for the Swans, attracting the interest of Manchester United, one of those mints that the longer you savour, the better it lingers. Luciano Narsingh however can be likened more to a quickly dissolving peppermint cream, releasing the taste with speed, rousing the Jack Army with an immediate hit, succulent whilst it lasts, inspiring the Swans to drive forward.
Former England captain Wayne Rooney had one of those games, like an aniseed ball, many unable to relish his taste as he left his mark, literally with some raking tackles; his class, undoubted, when it finally came to the fore.
An opening goal came with the aid of goal line technology, just before half time, Lucas Fabianski brilliantly making a double save from Bolasie, before a ricochet off Kyle Naughton and a half time lead, Fabianski thankfully however saving from Cenk Tosun a minute later.
Jordan became the first recipient of a yellow card in the second half, substitute Nathan Dyer creating a stir as the game went up by a level with a sugar surge, the vocal chords tingled with honey from a locket, in the form of striker Tammy Abraham’s arrival.
Full backs McNaughton and Martin Olsson created chances, Tom Carroll serving buckets of sweet balls, to no avail; Dyer driving forward over from twenty yards, Abraham and the Ayews creating half chances, Mawson’s header cleared off the line before the full quarter was served, Jordan levelling the game with a right foot half volley.
The final fifteen minutes rocked the stadium once more, after dinner mints were all Swansea’s, although Seamus Coleman thundered a shot against the woodwork, Abraham missed a gilt edged opportunity at the other end, whilst a tall and well positioned defensive wall directed Rooney’s set piece opportunity over the bar.
Extra strong mints were needed, alas unavailable as the toffees held firm, not fudging their lines with Beni Baningime taking a yellow card for the team, the games conclusion seeing a share of the spoils.
Carvalhal’s magic stars will have to be at their best to out fox and unwrap three points on Sunday (Apr 22) when opponents Manchester City will have champagne liquor chocolates on hand, having been crowned Premier League champions.
Swansea then have the opportunity to welcome Chelsea to ‘fortress’ Liberty the week after; wispa it quietly, as many have their eyes on the final weeks’ trio of games, starting with a trip to the South Coast in search of the bounty available at Dean Park, Bournemouth, before a starburst performance at home to Southampton on the Tuesday and Stoke City for a final day picnic. There can be no wine gums on show, just the everlasting gobstopper which is Premier League football.
Street reserves reach cup semis
BOW Street Reserves progressed to the semi-finals of The Len and Julia Newman Cup following a very competitive quarter final against a very good Bont team on Monday night (Apr 9).
A closely contested first half saw both sides create and miss chances but Ryan Evans and Shaun Jones converted two of the home side’s opportunities.
The second goal coming after a superb tackle by John James in his own area stopped a certain Bont equaliser.
Bont piled the pressure on at the beginning of the second half but were unable to convert any chances.
Then, the game’s outstanding player, Joe Williams scored a splendid individual goal to clinch the tie.
Osian Burrell then scored the fourth, before Bont responded with a consolation. Jac Williams with a header scored the final goal of an entertaining evening.
Manager Rhodri Jones was satisfied with the evening’s work adding: “I am delighted with the performance and the result and I feel that all the boys did extremely well against a good Bont side”.
Team: R Evans, Osian Rees Jones, J James, M Williams, S Dewdon, S Harrison, J Williams, R Evans, G ap Dafydd, S Jones, I Evans. Subs: O Burrell, J Quinn, Jac Williams, N Burrell.
Borth well beaten
WITH no sign of an improvement in the wet weather Borth entertained Llanrhaeadr at Park Avenue’s 3G pitch on Saturday (Mar 31), with the visitors arriving in second position in the league and well placed with five games in hand on Division 1 leaders Welshpool.
It took them only ten minutes to score the opening goal with Joe Vaughan netting through a crowded goalmouth and they nearly doubled the lead on twenty five minutes but Khyam Whytton’s bullet header bounced off the crossbar to safety.
To their credit Borth responded well and Ryan Edwards’s free kick wasn’t dealt with by the visitors hesitant defence and Dale Lloyd was on hand to score on his first team debut.
Slowly but surely Llanrhaeadr took control in the next few minutes with Mark Griffiths scoring twice plus an unlucky own goal by a Borth defender gave the visitors a handy 4-1 lead at the interval.
Borth resumed the second half with purpose and within five minutes reduced the lead as Dale Lloyds’s ferocious free kick was fumbled by visiting keeper Harri Matthews and the alert Ryan Edwards scored from the rebound.
However, in the next few minutes Llanrhaeadr took firm control of the match with Khyam Whytton scoring two headed goals.
As the match reached its conclusion Dan Graham scored a well-deserved hat trick for a comprehensive 9-2 win for Llanrhaeadr.
The score doesn’t complement Borth’s all-round team commitment against a well-organized Llanrhaeadr team, but the visitors run up play and clinical finishing proved to be the difference on the day.
Machynlleth picked up a victory on Saturday, Borth now slip to the bottom of the table on goal difference and they are ten points from safety.
With two home games coming up on Saturday (Apr 7) and the following Saturday (Apr 14) against the sides third and fourth from bottom respectively in Kerry and Churchstoke, Borth will be targeting two wins as they look to make up that gap.
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