WALES Women captain Carys Phillips believes her side are in the best shape yet to face their Six Nations challenges
“This year’s build-up feels different following a new regional training and playing programme leading into a successful autumn series,” said the 42-times capped front row forward.
“Following that and a Six Nations preparation period including a useful warm-up game against Ireland, I believe we will more competitive than you’ve seen in recent years.
“We have a lot of youngsters in our side. Our backrow has an average age of 19 and they aren’t daunted by the challenges facing them, they just see them as any other game.
“We have France and Italy first up as back to back away games which is a new experience for us. It’s a cliché but we really are just focussing on France to start with ad taking each game one by one. They are an excellent outfit as current champions, and we are expecting a huge crowd in Montpellier. It was a similar scenario two years’ ago in France – it will be a tough challenge away from home but you couldn’t ask for a better experience to kick off the tournament.
“You have to concentrate on playing rugby but you also have to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy it.
“France are a physical side that also like to kick the ball and play a wide game but we’re in a confident place and it’s games like this we need to make further progress as a team.”
Wales’ home games will once again be played at Cardiff Arms Park.
“We are really looking forward to coming back to the Arms Park for Round Three and a huge clash against England.
“Cardiff Arms Park is an excellent place to play, the crowd really got behind us in the autumn which means so much to us as a team.”
Tickets for Wales Women v England (Sunday, Feb 24, 12.30pm) and Ireland (Sunday, March 17, 1.30pm) are on sale now from Cardiff Blues box office online and to personal callers.
On a more disappointing note, Wales Women No 8 Sioned Harries suffered an ankle injury in the side’s Six Nations warm-up against Ireland and after further assessment will undergo an operation ruling her out of the forthcoming tournament.
Head coach Rowland Phillips is not currently planning to replace Harries in the Six Nations squad. He said: “It is obviously a disappointing blow for Sioned and for us as a squad. However, we are a tight knit group with a fair amount of strength in depth, especially in the second and back row. In particular we have a number of very young players who are set to gain a huge amount of international experience and exposure throughout this tournament.”
Bethan Davies and Gwenllian Pyrs were recently involved in a road traffic incident and are recovering from the effects of that before returning to rugby training.
Street back to winning ways
BOW Street at last got back to winning ways in the league with a deserved and vital victory over worthy opposition on Saturday (Feb 16).
The visitors were combative opponents and had much of the possession and pressure in a frantic first half. But the home side took the lead after 30 minutes with an early contender for ‘Goal of the season, with a phenomenal 35-yard volley from Tomos Williams.
Bow Street settled after the interval and played far better and threatened the Llandrindod goal numerous times.
The game was finally settled when a sublime through ball from substitute Chris Jones played in Williams for his second goal. It was a solid team effort, with the goalkeeper and defence resolute.
The victory takes Bow Street up to 12th position in the league table.
Manager Barry Williams stated: “We knew it was a must win game and the whole team responded superbly. This will set up the boys nicely hopefully for the crucial next few weeks.”
Team: A Pennock, T Wyn Roberts, G Nutting, L Hughes, R Evans, T Williams, B Jones. O Roberts Young. M Pemberthy, C Ferreira, D Evans. Subs – R ap Owen, C Jones, J James.
On Saturday (Feb 23), they are away to fourth placed Berriew.
Aber earn first league win since November
ABERYSTWYTH Town’s season swung upwards on Friday night (Feb 8) at Stebonheath Park as a devastating three goal blitz in six minutes at the end of the first half put the Black and Greens in an unassailable position, and earned them their first League win since November.
Goals from Paolo Mendes (41 mins), Wes Baynes (43 mins) and two from the evergreen Geoff Kellaway (45+2 and 62) saw Town to the Top of the Play Off Conference with Joe Clarke (57 mins) and Joe Hunt (64 mins) responding for the Reds of Llanelli in vain.
After eight games without a win the magnitude of this match was huge for Aber and on a cold and blustery evening the home groundsmen had done a superb job to get the game on.
The Ceredigion men started well with Declan Walker and Wes Baynes putting dangerous balls into the box, and Ash Ruane having a shot blocked. The hosts were also creating chances though as Chris Jones’ effort from a James Loveridge pass was saved.
Mattie Jones’ superb left wing cross then saw Ruane straight through but home keeper Scott Coughlan pulled off a great save to deny the Green Goal Getter. Further quality crosses from Baynes and Jones caused consternation and then Ryan Wollacott, who was superb all night at the back for Town, brought another save from Coughlan with a header.
Loveridge curled a shot narrowly wide for Llanelli but then Baynes went even closer at the other end with a cross shot. Then a series of corners turned the game, and maybe even Aber’s entire season. First Jones’ corner reached Mendes at the back stick to head home.
Ruane’s shot was then deflected over for another corner, and Baynes’ cute delivery curled right into the top corner.
Four minutes later Aber were in dreamland as Kellaway found the bottom corner with a superb strike from the right hand side, and with the visiting fans signing for joy clinical Aber went in three goals to the good.
Playing against the wind in the second half the visitors continued to press without really creating too many openings. However, two former Black and Green players combined as Chris Jones crossed for Clarke to head Llanelli back into the game.
The next goal appeared crucial as the game opened up and Jones just failed to find Loveridge with a cut back which would surely have caused huge problems for Aber.
As it happens the hard working Marc Williams found the bye line at the other end and cut back for Kellaway to stab home a killer fourth, and surely the game was over?
However with the next move Joe Hunt’s free kick curled right into the corner of Terry McCormick’s net and it was 4-2.
A hugely open game continued apace and Aber’s Superb Singing Fans inspired their team forward. Kellaway burst through down the left but was denied a hat trick by Coughlan, and then Ryan “The Rock” Wollacott cleared off the line with the hosts threatening a comeback.
With five minutes of injury time indicated sub Joe Dyer sent a great chance over for Llanelli, and Aber held on for a priceless win.
Aber up to fourth after beating Llangwm
ABERAERON continued their march up the table as they earned a 55-0 victory at home to Llangwm on Saturday (Feb 9).
The Ceredigion side now sit fourth in the table just two points behind third place Haverfordwest with three games in hand as well.
As expected the outcome was never really in doubt with the bonus point win top of the agenda for Justin Lloyd and his coaching team.
True to form, it was the home side first out of the blocks, putting the visitors defence under considerable pressure in the opening phases.
They were rewarded for the enterprise with a try for wing Dyfrig Dafis with an excellent conversion against the elements by Rhodri Jenkins.
A competent Llangwm rearguard coupled with some unforced errors by the hosts reduced opportunities until midway in the opening period until no 8 Tudur Jenkins benefited from forward domination to cross for his 9th try of the campaign.
With forward play becoming more evident as the game progressed the front row of Ceri Davies, Sion Evans and Matt Roberts ably supported by second rows Daf Lloyd and captain Gethin Hughes paved the way for flanker Gethin Dafis to record his second double in a week with Jenkins adding a conversion giving Aberaeron a 24 point advantage at the break.
It did not take long after the restart for further scores with Morgan Llewelyn the benefactor again ably converted by Jenkins. With the result never in doubt the introduction of several subs brought immediate benefit as prop Owain Wozencraft bulldozed his way over the line after receiving his first pass.
The added conversion by Jenkins was followed by another double, this time by centre Ollie Sawyer, a due reward for a stalwart both in attack and defence.
The final score by wing Rhodri Thomas added icing on the cake and the conversion by Jenkins brought a tally of 10 points for the outside half.
It will be fourth versus fifth this Saturday (Feb 16), as Aber host Laugharne in what will prove a good test for the Ceredigion side.
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