WALES moved up to second place in World Cup Qualifying Group D as they beat a stubborn Moldova side 2-0 in Chisinau on Tuesday (Sept 5).
That win, coupled with the Republic of Ireland’s loss to Serbia sees Wales go above the Irish by a point but there are still two games to be played.
On Tuesday, Wales had numerous chances to go in front but came up against a Moldovan defence who were prepared to sit back and let Wales come at them.
Their first real chance of the game came on the twenty minute mark as Ramsey found Bale on the right side of the box and his shot was parried by the keeper into the path of Ramsey who saw his shot saved before Hal Robson-Kanu also saw his effort turned wide for a corner by some desperate defending.
Ben Davies also tried his luck from long range but saw his effort go just wide of the right hand post.
Moldova held on until half time as they continued to frustrate the men in yellow.
Wales continued where they had left off in the first half and it was Robson-Kanu who again came close after a nice turn but he fired his shot just wide of the post.
Ben Woodburn, hero from the Austria game with his excellent goal, was then brought on and with fifteen minutes to go he looked to have been brought down in the area but the referee waved the penalty appeals away.
With ten minutes to go Wales finally made the breakthrough much to everyone’s relief and it was that man Woodburn who created the goal with a fine run down the left wing and an excellent cross which found the stooping head of Robson-Kanu who headed home.
Wales seemed to switch off momentarily and that allowed the Moldovans in and Wayne Hennessey was forced to make a good save to turn a shot away in the first minute of time added on.
However, the points were sealed just a minute later as Aaron Ramsey’s deflected shot bounced into the net.
The hosts came back almost straight away and nearly scored when a shot cannoned back off the post but Wales survived to win the game 2-0.
With Serbia beating Ireland, they are now top of the group by four points from Wales with two games to go and it looks like Wales will have to settle for second spot if they win their remaining two games.
Wales’ next game sees them travel to Georgia before a final day showdown in Cardiff against Ireland.
Ireland play Moldova in their next game and will be favourites to pick up a win meaning all roads will lead to the capital for a decisive final game of the group stages.
Wales Rugby League – a hotbed of talent says CEO
FOLLOWING Wales under 16s beating their English counterparts for the first time ever, Wales Rugby League CEO Chris Thair says the young talent has always been in Wales but recent results are finally making the elite clubs take notice.
Nine of the 17 players in the Wales side were under 15, which makes their historic 18-10 victory over England in Cardiff all the more remarkable, especially as they were up against a side that contained 14 players who are in Super League club’s academies.
Thair said: “The game was a marvellous advert for the sport and the talent on show from both sides was immense, however the result is remarkable given the difference in investment levels, systems and pathways between the two nations.
“Wales is small in size, however large in heart and even bigger when it comes to sporting talent. The sports authorities and elite clubs must now take note that Wales remains an outstanding player pool for the sport of rugby league.
“Investment is now the key to making this succeed. Super League clubs must invest by taking chances on young Welsh players and the sporting authorities must invest in Wales to ensure this young talent continues to come through the system.
“Young players in Wales are now enjoying playing more Rugby League than ever before, however our school and club programmes only begin at under 12s, where as in England it is under 7s.
“The seasons are much longer in England and by the time players reach 16 years of age they are likely to have a lot more training sessions and games under their belt. They would have also enjoyed the luxury of being involved with elite player scholarship systems with Super League clubs for a couple of years.
“The differences in experience levels for the under 16 international this weekend were immense and that alone makes the win an outstanding achievement. England had players of honed talent whereas Wales raw talent in terms of playing rugby league.
“Great talent but raw nonetheless and this makes it so exciting for all the scouts. A player of honed talent will improve at marginal levels however clubs are more likely to see significant jumps in performance levels after taking someone of raw talent.”
Thair is looking forward to the Rugby League World Cup in Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, which starts next month, and he knows that Wales will once again have a squad whereby over half of the players will have been developed through the Wales Rugby League system before first team.
“Welsh talent is shining at the moment,” he said.
“We began the season with Ben Flower and Rhys Evans helping their clubs beat their NRL counterparts in the World Club Challenge games, showing that we have world class players. Young Welshman Regan Grace then made one of the most impressive Super League debuts ever for his club St Helens. These three players along with many other professionals started their Rugby League in Wales and we urge clubs to continue to take the chance on recruiting Welsh talent, for the good of the club and the international game.
“We have over 60 Welshmen playing throughout the three professional leagues of the sport, however quality is still in abundance at the beginning of the pathway. Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf from Cardiff were once again crowned UK Champion Schools winners last month after beating Mirfield School in the Year 9 Final. This Glantaf school team has only been beaten once in three years of playing the sport.
“We have a system in Wales to bring through players from 16 to 21 years old and this is developing all the time however this is poor in comparison to a Super League club. St Helens had to take Regan Grace from our system at 17 and gave him a Super League debut at 20 years of age. Players who remain in Wales will come through and play for North Wales Crusaders or South Wales Ironmen in League 1 and whilst they are competitive the teams are not challenging for Super League.
“Yes we want players to remain in the system in Wales however at the same time we also want elite clubs to take on as many Welsh players as possible. The talent is here in Wales however it has to be nourished. Everyone involved in Wales Rugby League should be extremely proud of what is taking place in Wales and we continue to plan for a brighter future.”
The next chances to watch Wales’ up and coming players in action is this Saturday (Sept 9) when South Wales Ironmen and North Wales Crusaders clash at both under 18 and open age levels. The first game kicks off at midday. For more information, go to https://twitter.com/ironmenrl.
Wales under 18s then host England Lions at Cardiff Metropolitan University on Saturday, September 16 (kick-off 2pm).
Aber slip to defeat
Aberystwyth 12 • Penclawdd 16
League 1 West
IN ideal conditions on a pristine pitch Aber started their league programme with a repeat of last season’s opening fixture against Penclawdd on Saturday (Sept 2).
Before kick-off both teams and supporters observed a minutes silence in memory of Rhydian ‘Bish’ Hughes a player, coach and generally good man who sadly passed away recently.
Aber started the game strongly and dominated the early exchanges but were met with some strong defence by Penclawdd. Centre Steff Rees opened the scoring after full-back Mathew Hughes fielded a speculative kick and made a fine break before linking with Steff Rees who outstripped the defence down the left wing to score a fine try in the corner.
A few minutes later Steff Rees was heavily involved again this time in a defensive capacity when he tracked back and intercepted an inside pass from the Penclawdd left wing to thwart a very promising attack and save a certain try. Penclawdd continued to attack but some resolute defence by Aber held out a series of close drives.
There followed a couple of yellow cards, one for each side with Penclawdd having slightly better of the play and they converted a penalty by centre Dan Guaneri to make the score 5-3.
Aber then unfortunately lost full-back Mathew Hughes to a rather dubious tackle but they finished the half strongly and were unlucky not to score after a very promising attack down the right flank.
That was quite an evenly contested half of rugby with some notable individual contributions but an inability to look after the ball in contact meant that Aber could not maintain pressure and some promising attacks came to naught.
Penclawdd opened the second half full of intent and took full advantage of another yellow card for Aber with centre Guaneri kicking a penalty to take the lead at 5-6.
They increased the lead a few minutes later when right winger Jack Porter burst through to score a try converted by Guaneri to make the score 5-13. Aber then came back into the game with backs and forwards linking well in attack and scored a lovely try by centre Carwyn Evans.
From a scrum on the Penclawdd 22 he cut back on the angle and ran through untouched to score near the posts. The try was converted by outside half Steff Rees to make the score 12-13.
One facet of the game which the referee had been keen to punish offenders was killing the ball and Aber transgressed quite late on for Guaneri to kick another penalty and seal the win for Penclawdd 12-16.
This was a disappointing performance from Aber which lacked urgency and accuracy. Their scrummage dominated periodically but not consistently whilst their line out work was shoddy.
Penclawdd meantime through man-of-the-match second row Will Guaneri secured their line out ball comfortably throughout the game and fully deserved the victory.
Tregaron sting the Wasps
Llangwm 26 • Tregaron 42
League 3 West A
A DETERMINED Llangwm side were beaten 42-26 by Tregaron in their opening game of the season at Pill Parks on Saturday (Sept 2).
It was Tregaron who made the better start with only two minutes gone as Mel Davies raced over in the left corner but Outside Half Gwion Phillips failed to add the extra two points.
Phillips then kicked a penalty soon after to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
Llangwm looked to clear their lines but when a kick was charged down the ball rolled into the try area and it was Davies again who touched the ball down despite the best efforts of Josh Hicks. The conversion was wide and Tregaron’s lead remained at 13-0.
With twenty minutes gone, Llangwm started to come into the game and after winning a series of penalties, they opted to kick for goal and Steve Inward sent the ball through the posts to reduce the gap.
However, just two minutes later, Mel Davies faked a pass to create some space and was able to burst through for his hat-trick try and Gwion Phillips added the extra two points for a 20-3 lead.
The home side did not give up and were soon back on the attack and kicked to touch for a line out on the 22. They won the lineout but another infringement gave the home side a scrum. From there Gavin Jones picked up the ball and burst his way through to score the try and Inward added the extra two points.
With two minutes to go until half time Llangwm pushed for a second try and were rewarded when Luke Hayman made his way over and Inward sent the conversion through the posts to make it 20-17.
On the stroke of half time Tregaron were awarded a penalty which Phillips sent through the posts for a 23-17 half time score line.
Llangwm started well in the second half and reduced the gap further when Inward kicked a penalty from the half way line, assisted by the wind, to make it 23-20.
But as Llangwm looked to keep the pressure on they began to tire and Tregaron took advantage to close the game out.
Rhydian Jones crossed over but the conversion from Phillips was wide.
Hefin Ebenezer also went over and Gethin Jones crossed, both of which were converted by Phillips.
Inward added a final penalty for the hosts but it wasn’t enough as Tregaron closed the game out for a first win of the season.
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