Connect with us
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sport

Wales 21 – 29 Australia

Published

on

AUSTRALIA defeated Wales on Saturday (Nov 11) at the Principality Stadium in the first game of the Under Armour Autumn International series to stretch their run to thirteen consecutive victories over their hosts dating back nearly a decade. Wales now haven’t won their opening match of an Autumn series since 2009 [40-3 v Romania] and this result also extends the Wallabies current unbeaten run to seven, their longest since reaching the 2015 World Cup Final at Twickenham.

Such is their current pedigree they took the scalp of arch rivals New Zealand 23-18 last month and this green and gold side are content to mobilise the ball in direct lines whenever possible, whilst expertly managing the game away from their own try line under pressure.  Their first half dominance laid the foundations for the success as they had 67% possession making the home side make 80 tackles to defend their line, whilst having to make just 30 themselves.

Statistics won’t lie to Head Coach Warren Gatland, who selected a side which included eight Scarlets players and scrum half Aled Davies carded as a substitute. Gatland had changed the game plan which served him so well over the decade he has overseen the national side, looking to develop a line up capable of challenging at the very top come the 2019 World Cup.

He gave a debut to Gloucester playmaker Owen Williams at inside centre and with injuries in the backrow of skipper Sam Warbarton, Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric his hand was forced to play exuberance, vigour and players in form alongside Taulupe Faletau.   Stepping up to the plate in the heat of the battle were Josh Navidi and ‘son of Hendy’, flanker Aaron Shingler, both of whom were tenacious in their defence duties.

A nervous Welsh start settled after six minutes when outside half Dan Biggar put a searching kick into the Aussie 22 and winger Liam Williams followed up to charge down the clearance from full back Kurtley Beale.  A scrambled defensive clearance subsequently saw hooker Ken Owens find second row Jake Ball at the front of the line out before third phase ball found winger Steff Evans coming in on the opposite wing to draw a penalty for offside on the 10m line. Leigh Halfpenny, in his first international game under a Scarlets ‘flag’ duly slotted it over for a 3-0 lead, which lasted less than four minutes as the green and gold responded through hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau. He was driven over by his fellow forwards following their first real incision into Welsh territory allowing outside half Ben Foley to convert for 7-3 lead. 

Spurred into action prop Rob Evans, returning after a prolonged absence for a head injury suffered against Connaught in September combined with centre Jonathan Davies for the red machine to move the ball 45m, only to see former Scarlets winger Liam Williams held up with a last ditch tackle.

Wales were now confident and scrum half Gareth Davies made an incisive 30m break.  Quick second phase ball set centre Jonathan Davies clear once again to put Williams away on a 3 v 1 overlap; demonstrating quick hands through Halfpenny it allowed winger Steff Evans to crash over in the corner on his home debut and Halfpenny added the extras for a lead of 10-7. 

The game sea sawed again after 23 absorbing minutes when second row Adam Coleman waltzed over unopposed with Rob Evans guilty of ball watching, for a converted try to see Australia lead 14-10.  The experienced Foley and half back partner Will Gena were vibrant and positive with the ball in hand putting Wales firmly on the back foot. 

Composure was needed under pressure and the go to man in the line out was back row star Shingler, who was winning ball at the front or back of the line.  One such success resulted in a penalty permitting Biggar to kick to the edge of the visitors 22 but to no avail.  In such an open and fast game, where the collisions between players was high on intensity, the difference emerged between the two nations as Australia converted their opportunities into points. 

Wales conceded a penalty after Tom Francis in the front row was penalised for not scrummaging square and the Wallabies accepted another penalty decision from New Zealand referee Glenn Jackson allowing winger Reece Hodge to thump over a monster penalty and a 17-10 lead with five minutes of the half remaining.

Halfpenny responded with a 35m penalty from in front of the posts after Ken Owens had won the ball back for his team, but Australia completed the first half scoring when some sustained drives and slick hands drew the defence allowing flanker Michael Hooper to slew over the line for a superb try, converted by Foley on the cusp of half time for his side to lead 24-13.

Optimism for the second half was held where the Dragon could roar dependent on them making key decisions to clear their lines and play in the opposition territory.  That optimism amongst the crowd was raised when Halfpenny and Faletau put Liam Williams in space and his kick took play midway into the opposition half only to see the ball lost in a tackle on Jonathan Davies. Faletau and Williams again combined on the opposite wing as Foley was putting the ball into the rooftop testing Halfpenny and Evans who fielded the bombardment with aplomb.

Biggar set up a line out from 15m after a penalty was awarded for holding the ball and after several phases of driving play Halfpenny nailed a straight forward penalty from 20m out, leaving Wales eight adrift at 24-16 with half an hour to play.

Turnover ball on halfway saw some enterprise around the hands of Rob Evans as he again sounded the battle cry for his team mates to grow in stature and play the situation which panned out before them.  A scrum free kick moved skipper Alun Wyn Jones to call for a second set piece where Faletau and Williams combined on the blindside making 30m as pressure was imposed on the visitors 22 line.  Wales were now like a pack of hounds who had found a scent and were firmly hunting for the jugular of a Wallaby side who were pinned inside their own half.

Evans grubber kick was collected by Jonathan Davies as the red tide built momentum to a chorus of hymns ‘n arias.  A penalty conceded for not rolling away saw discussion between Jones, Biggar and Halfpenny before the full back pushed his kick wide of the right hand post from just inside his own half. 

Bancyfelin born Davies was on fire, bringing his ‘Lions’ form from the summer to the banquet and he collected the restart as play returned deep into Australian terrain.

An expansive Welsh back line moved the ball at will as the halfway point of the half passed, with winger Evans, his namesake Rob and Shingler to the fore in rugby more akin to a Barbarian’s style.  On small margins games at the highest level are won and lost; full back Beale performed a sublime tackle to not only stop a flying Evans in his prime but emerge with the ball and race from his own half to score under the posts before anyone in the 70,275 could draw breath.  Foley converted for a 29-16 lead as the crowds astonishment at what they had witnessed in a match changing split second slowly dawned and their appreciation followed.

The high tempo of the game saw substitutes enter the amphitheatre and Hodge land short with a penalty from inside his own half as the time wound down to the final 15 minutes. Back came the Men of Harlech and Hooper was yellow carded with Jackson’s patience was eliminated with the build up of infringements.  From the dominant scrum Wales applied pressure through Biggar’s touch finder with eight minutes to play.  His forwards secured good line out ball to draw another penalty in front of the posts as scrum after scrum ensued in the anticipation of tasting the ‘Bread of Heaven’ from the top table.  Scrum half Davies emerged into space to make good ground only for his skipper Jones to spill the ball with the line agonisingly close.

Aled Davies came on at scrum half and fellow replacement Hallem Amos was held up just short of the line as Wales went through a plethora of moves to test the wilting golden wattle to the brink.  Biggars hopes of a quick play were called back by Jackson and from the resultant penalty ball was again secured at the line out which allowed for some enterprising handling before Amos harvested his first international since the 2015 World Cup.  Halfpenny missed the touchline conversion which would have put Wales within a score of victory and the game ended 29-21 and parity in terms of possession and territory, a startling turn around on the first half statistics.

Gatland will be pleased, if he can be in defeat where the set piece was dominant, the defence successfully making 98% of their 264 tackles but most importantly seeing his attacking options bear fruit.  In an offensive display his runners beat their man on 20 occasions and off loaded 18 times as they had a 100% success from mauls and 95% success rate at rucks, conceding just three penalties, ten less than their opponents.

The error count ultimately proved the difference for Wales between success and failure as Australia outscored them four tries to two.  To a man those Scarlets players who drew on their countries colours did themselves, their Region and nation proud, where the tourists clinical execution of turn over possession to points was key. Youngster Evans will reflect on a positive try scoring attacking display with some concern over his defensive decision making.  He will do well to remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and the Scarlets style of play is certainly a blueprint Gatland and his staff are embracing for the future.

Injuries to Evans plus more concerningly Lions star centre Davies may cause some player rotation before Wales take on Georgia tomorrow [2:30pm] with an eye on New Zealand the week after, coached by former Wales head honcho Steve Hanson who bring an unbeaten record stretching back 64 years.

One Scarlets player who will not be playing in these games will be New Zealand born centre Hadleigh Parkes, who is earmarked for a debut in December against South Africa.  Parks was reunited with Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac when he came to Parc Y Scarlets in 2014 and he will be a beneficiary of the three year residency rule, allowing him to make his debut three years to the day from his signing for the Scarlets.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sport

Bhatia and Stent send Commoners top

Published

on

ABERYSTWYTH University Commoners sit top of the West Wales Conference after they earned a six wicket victory over Aberystwyth Seconds on Sunday (May 20).

The Commoners won the toss and elected to field first and that proved to be a good decision as they bowled Aber’s Seconds out for just 110.

Anthony Evans fell early when he was caught by Neil Stent off the bowling of Ian Lawton for a duck.

Tom Constantine fell for a score of 2 as he was caught by Chris Ward to the bowling of Lawton before Ceri John and Alwyn Davies offered some resistance.

Davies made 16 but he was then caught by Bill Somerfield off the bowling of Ward.

None of the Seconds’ other batsmen made it into double figures with M Hughes the next highest scorer on 8. He was caught and bowled by Somerfield while Ward also trapped Mel Jones leg before.

Steffan Davies, Dylan Jenkins and Titus Mathew all fell cheaply to the bowling of Josh Wills while Emlyn Mainwearing was run out by Umar Aslam.

Ceri John was the mainstay of the Seconds’ innings as he made his way to a score of 63 and their total could have been a lot lower had it not been for him. John was eventually caught by Rakesh Bhatia off the bowling of Aiden Reveley.

The Commoners got off to an excellent start with Neil Stent and Bhatia putting on an excellent opening stand.

Bhatia hit eight fours and two sixes as he scored 56 before being caught by Alwyn Davies off the bowling of Tom Constantine.

The Seconds looked to take more wickets and they had Will Copeland caught by Mel Jones off the bowling of Ioan Morris for a score of 7.

Constantine also bowled David Wilcockson and had Josh Wills caught and bowled but they were unable to remove Neil Stent who played a patient knock of 39 with five fours to guide his side home.

The Commoners replaced Aberaeron at the top of the table who beat Aberystwyth’s first team on Saturday (May 19).

ABERAERON batted first and made an excellent total of 242-9 from their 40 overs.

J Fice and David Grinszpan made an excellent start as they shared 149 runs for the first wicket.

Fice hit eleven fours in a knock of 73 before he was stumped by Robert Rudge off the bowling of Mark Evans and Grinszpan fell soon after when he was bowled by Titus Mathew having hit nine fours in a knock of 64.

Hywel Rees was then caught by Mark Evans off the bowling of Mathew for a duck and Dave Floyd only scored 1 before he was caught by Joel Dixon off the bowling of Ted Trewella.

Chris Strange hit three fours and two sixes in a knock of 31 before he edged to Rudge off the bowling of Trewella.

Neil Snowdon also fell cheaply when he was caught by Zaid Khan off the bowling of Mark Evans and Khan then bowled Jacob Jenkinson who hit three fours in a knock of 21.

Simon Mitchell was also out for a duck as he trapped leg before by Evans before Hughes and S Jenkinson finished not out on 10 and 7 respectively to end the innings on 242-9.

Aber knew they faced a tough test in their reply but none of their batsmen could match the early scoring of Fice and Grinszpan.

Mark Evans only made 13 before he was bowled by Neil Snowdon and Joel Dixon was stumped by Dave Floyd for a duck, also off the bowling of Snowdon.

J Cordy and Zaid Khan offered some resistance before Cordy was bowled by Paul Hughes for a score of 24.

Ted Trewella was caught by Snowdon off the bowling of Hywel Rees for a score of 6 before Khan had to retire hurt on 36 (seven fours) in what was a blow to Aber.

Ben Dimmock, Steffan Davies and Ioan Morris all fell for a combined score of 9 to the bowling of Paul Hughes and Titus Mathew was bowled by Simon Mitchell for a score of 4.

Robert Rudge finished not out on 20 (three fours) but it wasn’t enough for Aber as they were bowled out for 122.

In Sunday’s other match, Talybont were victorious by 14 runs over Tywyn and District.

Talybont batted first and were all out for 191 from 40 overs before they restricted their opponents to 177-9.

Ben Barrett top scored for Talybont with 52 before he was out to the bowling of Ted Hughes.

Joshy made 21 before he was caught by Callum Taylor off the bowling of Richard Rees and Anish Kuriakose made 14 before he was out to the same bowler.

Grayson made 22 and Phil Abraham added 24 as Talybont kept the scoreboard ticking over. Tibin made 20 before he was trapped leg before by Dave Jenkins.

Jenkins was the pick of the bowlers for Tywyn as he took five wickets for the loss of 22 runs.

Tywyn lost Niki Williams early in their reply for a score of 9 when he was bowled by Robim Woodford and Alex York was trapped leg before by the same bowler for a score of 10.

Callum Taylor scored 24 before he was out to the bowling of Tibin while Dylan Wlliams scored 21 before he was bowled by Woodford.

Dave Jenkins scored 14 as he was also out to the bowling of Woodford who later claimed figures of 5-30 with the wicket of Morgan York.

Richard Rees and James Bradbury-Willis both finished the innings not out on 22 and 33 respectively but it wasn’t enough to take Tywyn to victory as Talybont bowled well.

The teams have a week off before returning on Saturday, June 2 when Talybont face Aberaeron and UWA Commoners take on Aberystwyth

On Sunday, June 3, Aberystwyth Seconds host Tywyn & District.

Continue Reading

Sport

Aber too good for Pembroke in KO Cup final

Published

on

ABERYSTWYTH proved too strong for Pembroke in the Pembs KO Cup Final on Wednesday (May 23), as they won by 44 points to 21 in St Davids.

A good crowd gathered to watch the game between the League 1 mid-Wales side and the League 2 bound Pembroke on what was a glorious evening.

Pembroke’s Tom Harding-Jones made an early break before he was stopped and Aber were able to win the ball back.

Aber pressed but a loose pass saw the ball go into touch. Pembroke’s lineout was taken by Aber who then won a penalty and an early chance to take the lead but Steffan Rees sent the penalty wide.

It wasn’t long before Aber were in front however as with eight minutes gone, Carwyn Evans received the ball in space and he ran over to score a try under the posts. Rees then added the extra two points.

Carwyn Evans scores Aber’s first try

Five minutes later Aber increased their lead as Llyr Thomas faked a pass before stretching over to touch the ball down despite the best attentions of Dom Colman and Billy Wood. The conversion went wide and Aber led 12-0.

With twenty minutes gone Pembroke were back in the game as Colman found Harding-Jones who cut inside before touching down. Toby Smith then added the extras to make it 12-7.

On the half hour mark Pembroke had a lineout but they missed the ball and Aber collected. They then won a penalty in front of the posts which Rees scored to extend Aber’s lead again.

With half time looming, Aber came forward and Rees passed to Owen Bonsall who dived over in the corner. Rees then added the extras and Aber held a commanding 22-7 lead at the break.

It was Aber who started the second half the better and a scrum saw them win another penalty which they kicked to touch. The ball was worked out right to Matthew Hughes who shrugged off the tackles to score under the posts and Rees added the extras for a 29-7 lead.

Pembroke then looked to get back into the game and came close but lost the ball at a key moment.

Moments later they scored their second try following an excellent move involving James Davies who found Harding-Jones who set off on another mazy run and he then found Fraser James who offloaded to Tom Lewis to touch down. Smith then added the extras to make it 29-14.

Rees then increased Aber’s lead a minute later as he sent a penalty through the posts.

The Scarlets came again and a high tackle again allowed them to kick into touch. They worked the ball to the left for Harding-Jones who found Luke Hartland who cut back inside before reaching over to score. Smith added the extras and at 32-21 with over ten minutes to play, Pembroke could sense another comeback.

However, they were unable to score again as they gave the ball away at key times and they were made to pay for those errors.

Aber’s Evans then went over for his second try of the match with ten minutes to go and he touched down under the posts to give Rees an easy conversion.

With four minutes to go Aber set the seal on their KO Cup victory with another try as Hughes scored his second try of the game and the conversion went wide.

Pembroke never gave up and looked for a late score but Aber defended well to keep them out and the final whistle brought an end to the game.

After the game, both captains thanked each other for a great game and Aber’s Arwel Lloyd was judged the man of the match before Aber celebrated their victory by lifting the KO Cup.

Continue Reading

Sport

Ceredigion miss out in Wynne Lloyd Cup Final

Published

on

 

THE Wynne Lloyd Inter-District Youth Cup Final went the way of Pembrokeshire who beat Ceredigion 36-28 in a thrilling game at Parc Y Scarlets on Sunday (May 20).

It was first blood to Pembrokeshire who scored the opening try of the game through Jack Tucker but the conversion was wide.

Ceredigion then answered back as Iestyn Evans scored the try before Dylan Morgan added the extras to put Ceredigion 7-5 ahead.

The action was back and forth and Pembrokeshire soon went back ahead as Gino Setaro (Whitland) scored and Dan Evans added the extra two points.

Pembrokeshire began to pull away as Jack Broadhurst (Narberth) scored their third try of the game with the conversion going in off the post from Evans.

Geraint Powell (Narberth) then increased Pembrokeshire’s lead with Evans again sending the conversion through the posts to give his side a 26-7 half time lead.

Ceredigion fought back at the beginning of the second half as Iwan Bowden scored the try and Dylan Morgan added the extras.

Morgan then scored a try of his own and converted to bring Ceredigion back to within five points with the score at 26-21.

They then took the lead as Dylan Davies scored the try that brought them level and Dylan Evans then added the extra two points giving Ceredigion a 28-26 lead.

Whitland’s Dan Evans put the Pembrokeshire side back ahead with a penalty from 40 metres out and they led by a single point with time running out.

As Ceredigion pushed for a late try that would have seen them claim victory, it was Pembrokeshire who got the final score of the game as Prop Cole Barry (Haverfordwest), who had been on the field for eighty minutes, went over for the try and Evans put the seal on the victory with another conversion.

Nigel Owens was the man in the middle for the game and afterwards he Tweeted: “A pleasure to referee Ceredigion Yth 28 v Pembrokeshire Yth 36. Top quality game of rugby with some class players on both sides. Well done all, a credit to rugby.”

Also running the line were Pembrokeshire’s Thomas Carew and Ross Grieve.

Tom told the Herald: “It was such a surreal experience. Being a referee was something that I’ve always wanted to do, even from a young age. To be involved in the game on Sunday was a dream come true and I cherished every moment of it.

“Nigel Owens has always been like a hero to me, I can’t remember a time where he wasn’t. I’ve always looked up to him and aspired to do what he does week in week out. What he has achieved makes him a superb role model for not only referees but for everyone.

“So to have the chance to not only meet him but to also run the line for him was an experience that I never would have expected to happen to me. Sunday will be a day that I won’t forget in a long time!”

Ceredigion Coach Justin Lloyd said: “It was a great occasion to be a part of for Ceredigion as we’ve only been set up for a few years and we’ve done really well to get to the final.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game against a strong Pembrokeshire side but I am super proud of the performance.

“Any neutrals who were watching the game would have seen a game played in Scarlets style. Both teams weren’t afraid to take any risks.”

Pembrokeshire coach Kenny Davies added: “It was a hell of a game of rugby and a great advert for west Wales rugby. Playing at Parc Y Scarlets with Nigel Owens being the referee made it an excellrnt occasion for all involved.

“We started the game well and were leading 26-7 at half time but they came back into it to lead. We then had a 40metre penalty from Whitland’s Dan Evans and we finished strongly to win it.

“Thanks to everyone involved and I hope the players got a lot out of it”.

Photos provided by Darren Harries.

Continue Reading

Popular This Week