WALES Women head coach Rowland Phillips has named a 35-strong squad for his side’s five matches in November – their biggest autumn series to date. Hooker Carys Phillips will continue to captain the squad which includes 14 uncapped players.
Wales begin the series with three away matches – against Spain, Ireland and Scotland before returning to Wales for the first match against a women’s Crawshay’s team coached by new WRU Council Member Liza Burgess and the first professional female coach in Wales – Rachel Taylor.
That game will take place at Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale on Saturday, November 23, and Taylor will also be part of the opposition coaching team a week later for Wales Women’s first match against the Barbarians in the Principality Stadium double header.
Phillips said: “Our focus hasn’t changed. We are already qualified for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup and our key aim is to build a squad of young players with significant experience under their belts.
“This autumn series is a huge opportunity to do that. All players will gain from the experience of travelling away for three testing encounters against Spain, Ireland and Scotland – all of whom still need to qualify for the World Cup. And to be part of two historic encounters in Wales at the end of November against the Crawhshay’s and Barbarians is something we will all look forward to and enjoy.
“We finished the Six Nations on a high with a dramatic win over Scotland and then a pleasing win and performance against Ireland and we want to build on that momentum this season.
“There is excellent quality coming through – that was evident in the regional programme again this summer and some of those players are rewarded with squad places today. We have a responsibility to continue to develop those players, maximise their potential and also manage them well. We will expose them to an international environment and give them game time when ready. The likes of Lauren Smyth, Manon Johnes, Alex Callender and Gwen Crabb all earned their first caps last autumn and have gone on to become key players in the squad. The opportunity is there for others to do the same if they apply themselves.
“We are clear on where we need to develop to become consistently competitive. There’s a better understanding now from players of what is required of an international player in terms of fitness, skill levels, attitude and everything else that goes with being an international rugby player.
“We aren’t looking beyond the first game. Spain are making significant progress and will provide a tough challenge especially on their home turf. We are looking forward to locking horns with our Six Nations adversaries Ireland and Scotland who both have a point to prove and we want to engage as many home fans as possible in our journey and be part of our home matches at Ebbw Vale at Principality Stadium.”
WRU international skills coaches Geraint Lewis and Chris Horsman have joined Rowland Phillips and Gareth Wyatt in the Wales Women coaching set-up and will provide specialised input throughout the autumn campaign.
Phillips welcomed the addition of the former Wales international forwards. “Geraint and Chris are excellent coaches. With their wealth of experience working with young international players, they understand the need to adapt styles and management skills accordingly. It’s hugely encouraging for the women’s programme to become a more integrated part of the WRU performance structure. I know I’ve learned a lot from coaching female athletes and Chris and Geraint have already shown they will add value to the programme.”
Wales Women autumn series squad:
Forwards: (5 uncapped*)
Alex Callender (Scarlets), Gwen Crabb (Ospreys), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Georgia Evans* (Cardiff Blues), Abbie Fleming* (Cardiff Blues), Cerys Hale (Cardiff Blues),
Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Cara Hope (Ospreys), Jordan Hopkins* (Cardiff Blues), Gwenllian Jenkins* (Scarlets), Natalia John (Ospreys), Manon Johnes (Cardiff Blues), Kelsey Jones (Ospreys), Bethan Lewis (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Robyn Lock* (Ospreys), Carys Phillips (Ospreys), Gwenllian Pyrs (RGC)
Backs: (9 uncapped*)
Keira Bevan, (Ospreys), Angharad Desmet* (Scarlets), Alecs Donovan (Ospreys), Lleucu George (Scarlets), Courtney Keight* (Ospreys), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Caitlin Lewis* (Scarlets), Ffion Lewis (Scarlets), Rebekah O’Loughlin* (Cardiff Blues), Kayleigh Powell* (Ospreys), Paige Randall* (Cardiff Blues), Catherine Richards* (Cardiff Blues), Lauren Smyth (Ospreys), Elinor Snowsill Ospreys), Niamh Terry* (Ospreys), Megan Webb* (Cardiff Blues), Robyn Wilkins (Cardiff Blues)
Wales Women fixtures November 2019:
Spain v Wales Women, Estadio Nacional Computense, Madrid, Sunday, November 3, 12.45pm local time
Ireland v Wales Women, The Bowl, UCD, Dublin, Sunday, November 10, 1pm
Scotland v Wales Women, Glasgow, Sunday, November 17, 3pm
Crawshay’s v Wales Women, Eugene Cross Park, Ebbw Vale Saturday, November 23, 2.30pm
Wales Women v Barbarians Saturday, November 30, Principality Stadium 11.45am
Tickets for the Barbarians double-header on sale via wru.wales/tickets
‘Seaside Kicks’ off to great start in Glanymor Ward!
A new project has been launched which is completely free for young people from across the Llanelli area.
‘Premier League Kicks’ run by Swansea City Community Trust started last Tuesday (14th January) and is already proving to be a success with both children and their parents.
Boys and Girls of all abilities are welcome to take part with sessions taking place on the brand new 3G pitch at Ysgol PenRhos.
Ages 8-12 take place on every Tuesday evening between 5.00pm and 6.00pm with ages 13-16 on every Wednesday between 8.00 and 9.00pm.
As well as the football sessions, activities will also include informative, educational workshops covering a wide range of issues including knife crime, county lines and online safety.
Craig Richards from the Swans Community Trust said:
“Nationally, ‘Premier League Kicks’ is one of the Premier League’s flagship community programmes. It has a long history of using the power of football and the value of sports participation to help youngsters in some of the most-high need areas.
“By engaging young people in constructive activities including football, coaching, educational and personal development sessions, communities up and down the country have been transformed with impressive football and sports participation rates, and authorities reporting significant reductions in anti-social behaviour in the areas in which it is delivered.”
Sean Rees, Llanelli Town Councillor for the Glanymor Ward added:
“It is a pleasure to link up with the Swans Community Trust, Police and Crime Commissioner, our PCSO’s, Llanelli Town Council and the Community Safety Partnership in bringing forward such an exciting project.
“Engagement has taken place with both local schools at Ysgol PenRhos and Ysgol Maes Y Morfa as well as strong partnership work with our existing sports clubs in the area at Seaside AFC and Bwlch Rangers too all of whom have been very supportive.
“It is fantastic to see so many youngsters turning out in great numbers with more expected next week. It gives them somewhere to go in the area and have fun with others within a safe environment.
“I now look forward to seeing this project go from strength to strength.”
Old Gold snatch vital draw
JD Cymru Premier League
Penybont 1 – Carmarthen Town 1
AFTER an impressive performance to defeat Penybont at Richmond Park on Boxing Day, expectations among the Town supporters who travelled along the M4 for this Cymru Premier League return fixture. Glad tidings of great joy were, however, in short supply this time around.
An uneventful opening period saw play confined to the pitch’s middle third, neither side threatening much in the way of attacking threat.
In the 11th minute, Penybont carved open the Old Gold defence in clinical fashion.
Nathan Wood fired a dangerous cross towards the far post where Daniel Griffiths rose high above Alaric Jones to head the ball back into the goalmouth. Kostya Georgievsky reacted quicker than any defender and planted his close-range header past ‘keeper Lee Idzi and into the net.
As Town appeared laboured and uncertain, on 31 minutes Penybont went close to stretching their lead when Wood released a fierce long-range drive that Idzi, with a flying full-length dive, turned narrowly wide of the post.
Carmarthen’s only significant goal threat during the entire first-half came in the 36th minute when a rasping effort from Luke Bowen was well-parried by home keeper Rhys Wilson.
The second half’s opening was no better than the quality of play in much of the first period. Both sides gave the ball away too easily, with careless misplaced passes a constant feature of their exchanges.
Midway through the second-half, Town gradually began to exert notable pressure on the Penybont defence.
On 77 minutes Declan Carroll fired a free-kick into the crowded penalty area where Jay Woodford, from 15 yards, curled a delightful shot over several defenders but saw Wilson produce a smart save to claim the ball.
Penybont defended deep in their own half while the Old Gold turned on the afterburners in search of an equaliser. Several powerful attempts on the Penybont goal were saved by the impressive Wilson. Against the run of play, Penybont squandered a late opportunity to make the game safe.
Having survived that scare, the Old Gold resumed their sustained assault on the Penybont goal – and they were duly rewarded.
Three minutes into added time Carroll sent a searching corner-kick into the packed goalmouth where Bowen saw his close-range header blocked on the goal-line by Wilson – but the experienced striker reacted immediately and positively by driving the loose ball past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
Once the Carmarthen players’ delirious celebrations had subsided the game restarted and then very soon afterwards the referee blew the final whistle, probably much to the relief of Town’s supporters!
Town’s next fixture, against Airbus UK at Richmond Park on Saturday, January 11 (k/o 2.30 pm) will be an important fixture if the Old Gold are to retain their Premier League status
County cling to win
JD Cymru League Division One (South)
Friday, January 3
Llanelli Town 0 – Haverfordwest County 1
A 5th-minute goal by the visitors` Nicky Palmer ultimately proved to be the difference between the sides at the close, a result which extended the home side`s winless streak to seven league matches. During this dismal run, they have picked up only two points, while their goal tally is equally depressing, scoring just 10 and conceding 21.
The strain showed in the reverse fixture, when despite a spirited performance, Llanelli were well-beaten in the end.
Again, Llanelli fielded a depleted side and included no fewer than five Academy members, with William Wang and Liam Thomas making their debuts, along with Liam Griffiths and Morgan and Jack Cutler.
With the Bluebirds heading the league table, the home team approached the game with hope but little expectation. However, the makeshift hosts pit up a decent showing and were not unduly overawed or outplayed.
The early opener by Palmer resulted from some slack defending when he met a cross from Marcus Griffiths to drive it past Scott Coughlan in the Reds’ goal.
The home keeper then did well to parry to safety a dangerous ball across the face of goal by Jack Wilson, before the home side came close to an equaliser following a James Loveridge delivery to the far post which was met by a header from Nathan Logan which came back off the upright.
The visitors were winning the majority of the second ball, and when a long throw into the goalmouth by Wilson caused problems for Coughlan and his defenders, Griffiths reacted first but was denied from close range by a block which resulted in a corner.
Despite determined defence, Llanelli struggled to establish a foothold in proceedings, and when a corner was partially cleared only as far as Ben Fawcett, he might have done better when he drove his finish wide from a promising position.
The home team were certainly more pro-active from the restart. The Bluebirds’ goal came under threat on several occasions, with a Loveridge back-heel setting up Logan for a strike which was diverted for a corner.
Logan then turned provider when he played a pass into Tim Parker in the area, but his effort on the turn lacked power and gave County goalie Kyle Stuart few problems.
The home team came agonisingly close again to an equaliser when Logan met a Liam Samuel ball but again could only find the upright, and when the ball ran loose, it was scrambled clear off the line.
The Bluebirds retaliated through Fawcett who drilled a free-kick inches off target, and then just failed to connect with a ball driven across the face of goal when the Reds made a complete hash of a short goal kick and conceded possession.
A minute from time, the problems for the hosts became even more acute when Loveridge and Kurtis Rees were involved in a flare-up, leading to the dismissal of both players by referee Daniel Richardson.
While the Bluebirds ran out deserved winners, there will be tougher games ahead and they will want to improve significantly on this showing to cement their place at the summit.
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