Llanelli Town 5
Cambrian & Clydach BGC 0
THE visitors arrived at Stebonheath on Friday (Sept 13) as undefeated league leaders from their opening five matches, but were blown away in no uncertain manner by a superb home display which was their best performance to date by a country mile.
A Tim Parker brace combined with contributions from Nathan Logan, Kyle Copp and Liam Samuel saw them romp home to an emphatic win, and in the process, relieving their opponents of top spot in the table.
They are now also the only unbeaten side to date, and if they are able to maintain this level of performance, will almost certainly be among the front runners for the title come the end of the season.
Also pleasing, was the fact they achieved the win despite being without the injured pair of Jordan Davies and Ross Jones, while match-winner at Caerau Ely last week, Ryan Hurlow, was unavailable, although on the plus side, they did welcome back James Loveridge on the bench after his lengthy absence, and he made an immediate impact late in the game as a replacement for Parker.
After some initial sparring by both sides, the Reds made the first decisive move when Logan pursued a ball down the middle before being forced wide but still managing to deliver a cross to the far post where Parker was on hand, but his effort was blocked, and when he met the rebound, his final header lacked power and was safely gathered by Daniel Bradley in the visitors` goal.
Lee Bevan directed his header across the face of the Cambrian net and just wide of the back post when he met a Copp free kick, and when Samuel was picked out by a superb pass by Copp, he was crowded out in the box and the danger was averted.
The visitors had offered little in the way of attacking options, and the home side were looking dangerous every time they were in possession, and deservedly took the lead on 15 minutes through Parker who rose high in the goalmouth to head home a well- flighted Copp free kick.
A rare foray on the home goal from distance by Leon Jacka was easily dealt with by Scott Coughlan, and six minutes after the opener the lead was extended with Parker notching his second by reacting first to a great delivery into the middle by Joe Clarke, just beating Bradley to the ball before steering it home.
Well on top, and playing some measured, incisive football, the Reds were piling pressure on the visitors, with Copp firing his set piece just off target, before Coughlan was called into a rare piece of action, doing well to push clear a well struck long range attempt by Jacka.
Before the interval, chances fell to both sides as Liam Reed directed his finish from the edge of the box just wide of the home goal, while another Copp free kick was again fractionally wide of the mark.
The second half started as the first had ended, with the Reds in the ascendancy, with both Zac Brown and Copp seeing their set piece efforts kept out by some desperate defending.
When the hosts broke up the right, Bradley elected to come off his line in an attempt to clear the danger but was beaten to the ball by Parker, whose attempt to find the vacant goal sailed across its face before being cleared.
This did not prove to be too costly, as the lead was further extended in the 58th minute with Parker again involved in the initial move, and finished off by Logan who met the ball wide on the left before lashing an unstoppable shot beyond Bradley who was left grasping thin air.
Comfortably in the ascendancy, the hosts made a change on 75 minutes with Parker making way for the introduction of Loveridge, and he almost made an immediate impact, forcing Bradley to make a good save to keep out his powerfully struck free kick.
He then forced the keeper to tip over his angled first time shot, before the lead was extended two minutes from time through Copp who found himself in space in the box and made no mistake with his volley.
There then occurred a bizarre few minutes when Scott Smith, who had earlier replaced Logan, received two yellow cards in quick succession, resulting in his dismissal after just seven minutes on the field.
With the contest already won, the icing on the cake was applied in stoppage time when a rapid counter led to the visitors` defence being outnumbered with Samuel being the recipient of the final ball, and he gratefully accepted the chance by shooting past Bradley to complete a miserable and deflating evening for the erstwhile table-toppers who were ultimately well beaten by a rampant home side.
Another difficult game on Saturday (Sept 21) awaits the Reds at STM Sports, kick off 2.30pm.
Six Nations: North set for 100th cap against England
GEORGE North is set to become the youngest player in the world to reach the 100-cap milestone for his country on Saturday, February 27, when Wales take on England at Principality Stadium (KO 16.45 BBC & S4C).
North, 28, made his international bow in November 2010 and has amassed 42 tries in his 99 appearances.
North will line-up in the centre alongside Jonathan Davies on Saturday, outside of half-back pairing of Kieran Hardy and Dan Biggar. Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams comprise the back-three.
Wales name an unchanged front-five with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis packing down in the front-row and Adam Beard partnering captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row.
Josh Navidi returns to the side to line-up alongside Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.
“We’ve had a great two weeks leading into this game and we are looking forward to Saturday,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“We continue to build and we know there is plenty left in us in terms of improvements from the opening two rounds. We are 2/2 but we want to continue to improve performance wise.
“Saturday is a great milestone for George, it is a huge achievement at his age and we are looking forward to seeing him in action.”
Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones and Leon Brown provide the front-row cover for Wales with Cory Hill and James Botham completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy and Uilisi Halaholo provide the back-line cover.
WALES TEAM TO PLAY ENGLAND (SATURDAY FEBRUARY 24, KO 16.45)
1. Wyn Jones (32 Caps)
2. Ken Owens (79 Caps)
3. Tomas Francis (54 Caps)
4. Adam Beard (23 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT) (145 Caps)
6. Josh Navidi (25 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (82 Caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (83 Caps)
9. Kieran Hardy (3 Caps)
10. Dan Biggar (89 Caps)
11. Josh Adams (29 Caps)
12. Jonathan Davies (85 Caps)
13. George North (99 Caps)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (6 Caps)
15. Liam Williams (68 Caps)
16. Elliot Dee (34 Caps)
17. Rhodri Jones (19 Caps)
18. Leon Brown (14 Caps)
19. Cory Hill (29 Caps)
20. James Botham (4 Caps)
21. Gareth Davies (59 Caps)
22. Callum Sheedy (6 Caps)
23. Uilisi Halaholo (1 Cap)
Wales looking for third win in a row against England
WALES have won their first two games in the Six Nations Championship and on Saturday, February 27, they put that record on the line against great rivals England.
Having already beaten Ireland and Scotland, the Triple Crown will be on the line for Wales, a feat they last achieved in 2019 when they won the Grand Slam.
That will be incentive enough for Wayne Pivac’s men but to do it against England will make it that little bit sweeter.
With France’s game against Scotland on Sunday in doubt, it will also give the home side a great chance to extend their lead at the top of the table.
Wales do not have any fresh injury concerns going into the England game and it will likely provide a selection headache for Pivac.
George North could be set to make his 100th appearance for Wales if he plays against England, and is currently second in the list of all-time try scorers for his home country.
England lost their opening game of the tournament against Scotland but got back to winning ways with a resounding 41-18 win over Italy.
The 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Cup Champions will be eager to rediscover their winning form which brought them that success but they will not find it easy against Wales.
What happened the last time England visited the Principality Stadium?
Wales last welcomed England to the Principality on February 23, 2019, and it was a game which saw Wales earn a 21-13 victory.
Cory Hill and Josh Adams scored Wales’ tries in that match while Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe added the rest of the points from the boot.
Tom Curry scored England’s only try in that match while Farrell had a 100% success rate with his kicks.
What happened when the sides met in 2020?
It was an absolute classic last year with England triumphing by 33 points to 30 at Twickenham.
Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi got the tries for England on that day while Owen Farrell had again had a 100% record with the boot.
Justin Tipuric bagged two tries for Wales while Dan Biggar scored their other as the men in red came up short on this occasion.
Of course, the last two meetings between the two sides were played in front of capacity crowds but that will not be a factor this time around, owing to the current coronavirus pandemic.
Could that be a factor in the game or will both sides treat us to an excellent display of rugby?
After the England game, Wales travel to Italy on Saturday, March 13, while England will host France on the same day.
A win for either side this weekend will be crucial; a win for Wales and it sets them up for the Grand Slam while a win for England will reignite their hopes of retaining the Six Nations Championship.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 16:45 and can be seen on S4C as well as the BBC.
Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, George Martin, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Max Malins.
Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhodri Jones, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Botham, Gareth Davies, Callum Sheedy, Uilisi Halaholo.
New format agreed for Champions Cup and Challenge Cup
THE four Welsh rugby regions have learned their fate after the finals rounds of the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup were suspended.
Group stage matches were postponed in January after the French Rugby Union raised concerns about travelling across Europe amidst a rise in coronavirus cases.
The remaining fixtures have not been rearranged and European Rugby has announced a new format.
Both tournaments will resume with Rounds of 16 matches on the weekend of 2/3/4 April and the knockout stages will continue with quarter-finals, semi-finals and the scheduled Marseille finals on EPCR’s allocated weekends in April and May.
As approved by the EPCR Board, the Rounds of 16 and quarter-final matches in both tournaments will now be decided by draws which will take place on Tuesday, March 9.
For the Challenge Cup, the eight highest-ranked clubs from the preliminary stage at the time of the suspension of the tournament and the eight clubs which have not qualified for the knockout stage of Heineken Champions Cup will compete in the Round of 16.
Scarlet will take their place in the last 16 of the Champions Cup alongside the likes of Racing 92, Munster, Lyon and La Rochelle.
Dragons, Ospreys and Cardiff Blues will all compete in the Challenge Cup and could come up against the likes of Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints.
For the purposes of the draw, clubs from the same league cannot be drawn against one another, however, Challenge Cup clubs and Heineken Champions Cup clubs can be drawn against one another.
It has also been agreed that open draws will take place to determine the quarter-finals in both the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, allowing for the possibility of matches between clubs in the same league. The draws for the quarter-finals will take place immediately after the rounds of 16 draws on Tuesday, March 9.
Heineken Champions Cup knockout stage qualifiers: Racing 92, Leinster, Wasps, Bordeaux-Begles, Munster, Lyon, Toulouse, La Rochelle, Scarlets, Clermont Auvergne, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Edinburgh, Gloucester, RC Toulon, Sale Sharks.
Challenge Cup last 16: London Irish, Ospreys, Leicester Tigers, Cardiff Blues, Zebre Rugby Club, Agen, Benetton Rugby, Newcastle Falcons, Ulster Rugby, Connacht Rugby, Northampton Saints, Bath Rugby, Montpellier, Dragons, Harlequins, Glasgow Warriors
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