By Jonathan Twigg
THE 2018 Six Nations Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday (Feb 3) when Wales, captained by Alun Wyn Jones, welcome Scotland to the Principality Stadium in a match to be refereed by Frenchman, Romain Poite.
Coach Warren Gatland’s squad has been hampered with many high profile injuries, the latest being former Scarlets full back Liam Williams alongside scrum half Rhys Webb and his half back partner Dan Biggar.
The Welsh nation’s attention will be focused over the next seven weeks on the rugby and local interest has been heightened due to the Scarlets progressing to the European Cup quarter finals where they play La Rochelle on Friday (Mar 31).
The opening game against a Scottish side who have revelled in attacking flair under coach Gregor Townsend in the Autumn Series will offer a test which Gatland’s charges will have to meet front on to secure a victory. Winning will set down a marker by which the side will be judged.
They travel to Twickenham a week later to take on England before crossing the Irish Sea to take on the Emerald Isle in Dublin at the end of the month.
Both England and Ireland are at the top of their game at present, where any positive result will see euphoria amongst rugby followers. Gatland has changed his blueprint of direct rugby through hard running centre partnerships now opting for a more creative player at 12 which follows the way the Scarlets have developed this season.
Rhys Patchell could well have the nod to partner Gareth Davies at half back and the back division would feature fellow Scarlets, winger Steff Evans and Leigh Halfpenny, although neither have played a lot of ruby in recent weeks.
The centre partnership may be pivotal, with Osprey bound Scott Williams linking with adopted Kiwi Hadleigh Parkes after both impressed in the Autumn Series.
Prop Rob Evans should pack down on the coal face alongside Scarlets captain Ken Owens and fellow prop Samson le has returned to full fitness and may become the third player in the front row.
Back row dynamos Aaron Shingler and newbie James ‘Cubby’ Davies, brother of injured centre Jonathan, are also probable starters for Gatland meaning the Pivac influence of ‘expect the unexpected’, albeit abstractly, could well influence how well Wales perform.
Following the two testing trips on the road, Wales return to the Principality Stadium to take on Italy on Sunday (Mar 11) when the fixture follows the Women’s international between the two countries, before the finale of the season when France take on the ‘Men of Harlech’ a week later.
Predicating any result in sport is precarious at the best of times and the Six Nations championship often depends on which country has the key fixtures at home. Wales would be looking to secure three home victories, where the toughest encounter will be the opener against our Gaelic cousins.
Travelling to Twickenham and Dublin are daunting for any side where realistically a positive result will be an outside chance at best.
England, with colourful Aussie hooker Eddie Jones in charge are hardworking and Wales may have to live off limited possession, although the Scarlets faced such a scenario when they travelled to the ‘Rec’ and comprehensively dismissed Bath in front of Jones watching eyes.
Where there is a will there is a way as veteran second row Alun Wyn Jones leads the side knowing it could present a title showdown against Ireland, possibly the toughest of opponents in their own back yard.
With some optimism the prediction is for four victories, the three home fixtures and an exhilarating performance to light up the return journey down the M4 for those die hard supporters making the trip to HQ.
England will also return with four victories, beating Scotland in the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield and France in Paris as recompense for their humbling at Wales hands.
Ireland, with a win over Wales may find the final game at Twickenham one step too far as the ‘Rose’ will find it unbearable to lose two home games meaning they also end on four victories.
Italy will pick up the wooden spoon without securing a win, ahead of France with Scotland in fourth position.
Representing Wales on the referee’s circuit will by Nigel Owens, who has a long association with Pontyberem RFC in the Gwendraeth Valley, taking centre stage when Ireland take on France.
Bow Street celebrate 2018/19 season
AN excellent gathering of players, wives, girlfriends and officials attended the annual Bow Street Football Club dinner at the Marine Hotel in Aberystwyth on May 17, to celebrate the end of the 2018/2019 season.
The season saw both the first and reserve teams consolidate themselves in their respective leagues after indifferent starts. The highlight though was the Under 19 team winning the Mid Wales League Cup and finishing runners up in their league.
All enjoyed a magnificent carvery, and the Chairman, Wyn Lewis thanked the Marine for the superb welcome and warm hospitality.
The Chairman thanked all at the club who had contributed during the season both on and off the field.
He was particularly proud of all the support that the teams had received during the season.
He then announced the first award of the evening – ‘Clubman Of The Year’.
This proved an extremely popular announcement as it was awarded to Richard Lucas, who is stepping down from the first team Management after 5 years.
Richard has contributed fully to the activities of the club for over 20 years as a player, junior coach and coordinator and as part of the senior team management.
Sion Manley and Rhys Evans the Under 19 Managers then introduced the awards for a team which had exceeded all expectations by winning the prestigious League Cup.
The popular management duo of Rhodri Jones and Leighton Reynolds introduced the awards in relation to the Reserve team, and Barry Williams, Richard Lucas and Amlyn Ifans, the First team management, announced the awards relating to the senior team.
The final award of the evening was the Pat Evans Memorial Award, which was given to the ‘Supporters’ Player Of The Year’ – winner being Tomos Wyn Roberts.
The evening, concluded with short speeches from Dylan Roberts on behalf of the sponsors and Allan ‘Baba’ Evans, vice president of the club.
Bow Street FC Firsts
Players player of the year: Matthew Pemberthy & Tom Wyn Roberts
Supporters player of the year: Tom Wyn Roberts
Top Goalscorer: Tomos Williams
Manager’s player of the year: Matthew Pemberthy
Young player of the year: Ryan Evans
Most improved young player: Bradley Walsh
Bow Street Reserves
Managers Player of the Year: Jac Williams
Player of the year: Neil Davies & Shaun Jones
Top goalscorer: Shaun Jones
Top goalscorer: Shaun Jones
Players Player: Siencyn Jones
Managers Player: Harry Turner
Clubman Of The Year: Richard Lucas
Bow Street reveal new Football Festival sponsor
THE prestigious Bow Street FC Junior festival celebrates its 17th anniversary on July 13-14 this year, and the club are delighted to reveal their new event sponsor.
Castell Howell Foods, firmly established as one of the UK’s leading independent food wholesalers, has agreed to sponsor the extremely popular event for the next two years.
Bow Street FC Chairman Wyn Lewis said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods on board as our tournament sponsors.
“Castell Howell are well known for their commitment to community-based activities especially junior sport, and we appreciate the faith they have shown in us by agreeing to become our new partners.
“Brian Jones is a hugely respected figure in Welsh life and having been fortunate to meet him on a few occasions, it is obvious he has a huge passion for supporting youngsters and grass roots organisations.
“Our well-established Junior football festival is now supported by teams from across Wales and we believe that our new partnership demonstrates both its profile and the Club’s values and aspirations.”
Castell Howell’s Managing Director, Brian Jones said: “May I say how delighted, happy and proud we are to be associated with this now very well established, popular and hugely successful Junior Football Festival organised by Bow Street FC.
“We at Castell Howell are big supporters of communities and believe greatly in giving our youngsters opportunities and we are delighted to support this superb event in Bow Street.”
Under 19s retain National League trophy
ABERYSTWYTH Town’s Black and Green Under 19s retained their National League Trophy on Monday night (May 6) at Newtown with a well deserved 2-1 victory over Northern Champions Cefn Druids, thanks to goals from Lee Jenkins (36 mins) and captain Tom Evans, whose 75th minute strike won the match following Lewis George’s injury time equaliser for the Ancients.
Looking to repeat their first of last season by winning the Club’s first ever National League Trophy, Bari Morgan’s team started well with Dylan Benjamin and Tom Evans prominent down the right, and Harri Rowe impressing on the left side.
A number of opportunities were created with Liam Doherty and Niall Coleridge amongst others going close, but then nine minutes before the break Welsh Schools Captain Jenkins rose like a salmon to power home a header and give the Ceredigion side a priceless lead.
Oli Farebrother did brilliantly to deny George in a one on one but then in the third minute of injury time George sneaked in at the back post to equalise, leaving the game in the balance.
In truth Aber had dominated the first half without taking all their opportunities, and that pattern was repeated in the second half with Town’s back four of Rowe, Jenkins, Ryan Evans and Benjamin looking solid, Liam Berner, Carwyn Morgan and the tricky Niall Coleridge controlling the midfield and the front three of Steff Gittins, Doherty and Evans always looking dangerous.
Finally with a quarter hour remaining Evans down the right was played in by Doherty, and he expertly spun his man before blasting the winner low into the corner of the net.
Druids’ Ryan Davies was sent off with eight minutes to go and Aber saw the game out comfortably to ensure another hugely impressive triumph.
Captain Tom Evans received the Trophy amid joyous scenes and Manager Bari Morgan, Assistant Stefano Antoniazzi and Goalkeeping Coach Dave Owen were proud men as their young side celebrated another remarkable triumph.
They have a chance to earn a third Trophy of the season on Friday night at Machynlleth when they face Llanidloes Town in the Central Wales FA Youth Cup Final.
Everyone at the Club congratulates the entire squad on a wonderful achievement, which bodes well for the future of Aberystwyth Town FC and football in Ceredigion.
Photo by Colin Ewart
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