THE LLANELLI Warriors Campaign to try and win the first Mixed Ability Rugby World Tournament saw them finish a disappointing 6th but they could hardly have done anymore. With further injuries ruling out both halfbacks over the weekend a rejigged squad headed to west Yorkshire.
An enjoyable opening ceremony on the Monday was followed by discussions with opponents and referees about how the games would be facilitated; a reminder of how new this concept is, even for some of the clubs involved.
The games started on Tuesday against French opponents; Pas de Calais. The Warriors started strongly and took an early lead with full back James Jeffery striking out wide. This was followed by a great try from Ben Winstanley who powered over near the posts, after a flowing move involving several players.
The French were never going to lie down, but despite a spirited fight back in which they were awarded a try by the referee despite the ball appearing to be well held up, the Warriors defence held firm to take the victory.
With a short turnaround between games, and having spent much of this time outside in the torrid weather it was no surprise that the Warriors started their next game, against Italian side Chivasso slowly. There was no doubt that they were taken by surprise with the physicality of the Italians, but after this initial shock the Warriors recovered well and Evans broke clear of the back line and stepped the full back for a fine score improved by Tony Whittaker.
With the Warriors struggling to find their rhythm and the line out suffering in the wind and rain it was difficult for them to impose themselves on the game. Whereas the French demonstrated their 7s background, the Italians, much like their national team, were strong and direct up front. They had a strong driving game that suited the conditions and eventually, again despite good defence, they scored and converted a try to level the scores.
As in the first game the Warriors temperament was suspect, running when they should have cleared their lines, and panicking instead of setting themselves. Luckily their own defence was hungry and Simon Jenkins earned man of the match through a series of big hits.
The Italians harassed and hurried them very effectively and the Warriors didn’t threaten until late in the game when they nearly got away. They surprisingly attempted a long-range penalty at the death and nearly scored in the aftermath but Chivasso held on for the draw.
When the Italians later beat Pas de Calais by 7 points the Warriors found themselves out of the top placing on try count, the controversial try awarded the French proving critical.
Playing then for places 5-8, they next faced further French opposition in the shape of Asso Christo. The French had given hosts the Bumble Bees a good game but again the Warriors looked strong and Nathan Murthy, converted from centre to scrum half got a neat try from a typical mazy run which Jenkins duly converted. Christo impressed with some strong plays and were also sharp at halfback, which led to them drawing level at the interval.
Learning from their mistakes the Warriors suppressed their instincts to run everything and were a lot more patient, with Andrew Davies supplying good line out ball they worked their way up-field and this was rewarded when Whittaker slotted a penalty that secured them a win.
Despite the magnitude of the competition 10 of the squad helped a very depleted Castleford side to fulfil their fixtures before heading for their final game of the tournament, which led to some tired legs.
Here they faced another undefeated side in The Clan who were an official Scotland XV. For the first time it was the Warriors who suffered a nightmare start as the Scottish team scored two quick tries to lead 14-0 in as many minutes. They slowly got back into the game and Dylan Harris scored a great try down the wing although this was countered by another Scottish try and when they scored again through veteran Ivor Frater they looked out of sight.
The Warriors though were finally putting some good phases together and refused to lie down with coach Gwilym Lewis finding his way through several defenders to reduce the deficit. A neat shortened line out saw Liam Tobias cross out wide but somewhat bizarrely the ref indicated time was over before Darren Pollitt slotted his conversion to leave the Warriors puzzlingly short of victory.
This meant the Warriors finished in 6th place, but ever keen to play, the Warriors organised a final friendly against Basque club, Gaztedi. Tries from Tony Whittaker, Jason Jenkins and Dai Carpenter saw them scrape home 15-12 in a very friendly affair, rounding off a good week that saw them play teams from all around Europe.
The competition on field was only part of the success. To many of the teams the concept of playing unified rugby, with disabled players as equals was new and the Warriors were often feted for their support over the years. They chaired a conference on integrated rugby and the way forward for governing body Ability Rugby International at which it was revealed that both the WEA and the official RFU guides to starting up a mixed ability side featured advice from the Warriors.
The tournament was a huge success with a unique atmosphere on the final day as the large crowd celebrated a fantastic week of rugby. The players played a major part in the success of the tournament both on and off the field and conducted themselves in a highly commendable manner that was a credit to the club and the town.
The legacy of the tournament looks set to be felt across the world and the concept of mixed ability rugby set in stone.
Scarlets convincingly beat Ospreys
Rainbow Cup • Scarlets 22 – Ospreys 6
SCARLETS delivered a dominant derby performance to claim their first victory of the Rainbow Cup campaign, beating the Ospreys 22-6, at a rain-soaked Parc y Scarlets.
Prop Alex Jeffries scored the only try of the match, with full-back Leigh Halfpenny delivering a typically dead-eyed goal-kicking display in atrocious conditions.
The platform was laid by the Scarlets pack, with skipper Ken Owens, Blade Thomson and Aaron Shingler to the fore; the man of the match Kieran Hardy mixed up his game intelligently, while a much-improved defensive display saw the visitors restricted to just two kicks at goal from fly-half Luke Price.
It was the Ospreys who opened the scoring with a penalty from the boot of Price on two minutes, but the Scarlets responded strongly with Halfpenny levelling on 17 after the visitors were caught offside.
The outstanding Jonathan Davies looked like he made it over the whitewash after bursting through a couple of tackles, but the television match official adjudged the Wales centre had lost the ball as he slid over the whitewash and the score was chalked off.
Nevertheless, the Scarlets continued to boss proceedings.
With the Ospreys falling foul of Scottish referee Ben Blain, Halfpenny added a couple more penalties and an impressive half for the home side was capped when Jeffries crossed two minutes before the interval
A well-worked line-out move saw Davies burst onto a pass from Owens, breaking through a couple of tackles before feeding the tight-head prop on his inside.
Jeffries still had plenty to do but showed a superb turn of pace to race clear 20 metres to the whitewash to touch down against his former side.
That made it 16-3 at half-time with the Scarlets seemingly in firm control.
The visitors, looking for their first PRO14 win at Parc y Scarlets since 2015, did enjoy more of the game in the second period.
Price reduced the arrears with a penalty and it needed some superb defence to keep the Ospreys line-out maul at bay.
Another Halfpenny penalty five minutes from time extended the lead to 22-6 to ensure a comfortable victory and a seasonal double over the Scarlets’ arch-rivals.
Three summer tests announced for Wales
WALES will play three summer tests in Cardiff this July as revised international fixtures have been announced.
Wayne Pivac’s side will face Canada (July 3) and back-to-back games against Argentina (July 10 & 17) at Principality Stadium.
These tests replace the scheduled summer tour to Argentina which has had to be cancelled due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and uncertainty around travel restrictions.
The Pumas will now travel to Cardiff for two tests against the Six Nations Champions.
Wales will kick off their summer campaign on July 3 at home to Canada. The Canucks who are coached by former Wales captains Kingsley Jones and Rob Howley will visit Cardiff for the first time since 2008.
“We are looking forward to this summer, the opportunity it presents, and we are delighted to have three tests confirmed,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“It is disappointing not to have the opportunity to tour Argentina, especially on the back of our 2020 tour to New Zealand being cancelled, but in the current climate it is completely understandable.
“What is important is we have games and as we have said all along, this summer is a huge opportunity for us. We are delighted and proud to have 10 players selected for the British & Irish Lions, it is reward for all their hard work and we wish them all the best this summer.
“With those players away we always earmarked this summer as an important development opportunity for us.
“It is an opportunity to bring players into this environment, look at them closely and expose them to test match rugby. It is also an opportunity for current internationals to step-up into further leadership roles, so on both counts it is an important camp for us looking ahead to RWC2023.”
WRU CEO Steve Phillips added: “It is a huge credit to World Rugby that a full schedule of summer international rugby has been achieved against the backdrop of the global pandemic.
“Whilst it is obviously disappointing not to tour, we are delighted in Wales to be hosting Canada and to be able to honour the 2017 San Francisco agreement by hosting the Pumas for back-to-back matches, which will be hugely important to our international player development.
“Wayne has been adamant that his squad needs matches this summer and World Rugby have certainly delivered on that front.
“We are, of course, acutely aware of current restrictions and the ongoing and complex global COVID-19 picture. We will continue to monitor the situation in terms of any potential spectator access, but will remain entirely compliant and vigilant of all restrictions.
“In the current circumstances we are simply delighted to be able to play international rugby and any advance on that will be a bonus.”
A 48-7 victory over Italy leaves Wales a win from the Grand Slam
IT was always going to be a tough game for the Italian side, but now it is official, Wales are one win away from the Grand Slam!
Wales scored seven tries through Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, Ken Owens (2), George North, Callum Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit as they secured a comfortable Six Nations win in Rome.
The unbeaten tournament leaders reeled off a third successive bonus-point victory to increase pressure on their rivals for silverware. Italy meanwhile are staring down the barrel at another Wooden Spoon – they haven’t won a Six Nations match since 2015.https://www.youtube.com/embed/QI4FARxZcKk?feature=oembed
STILL A BIT OF WORK TO DO
The Welsh captain, Alun Wyn Jones, who is just one win away from winning his fourth Six Nations Grand Slam told S4C: “We were pretty clinical, particularly in the first half.
“We’re a tad frustrated with the second half but it’s a case of job done and plenty to work on.
“The excitement I feel every time I pull on this red jersey is insurmountable, so I’m looking forward to getting back to it on Monday and preparing for next weekend.”
Jones added: “It’s job done, but there’s still a bit to work on.”
Another heavy defeat will again raise the inevitable questions about Italy’s position in the Six Nations and whether there should be relegation.
The facts speak for themselves.
Today marked a 31st successive defeat for the Azzurri in the competition, with their last victory coming against Scotland in 2015.
Italy have not managed a home Six Nations win for eight years, with 20 successive losses.
Italy have conceded 187 points and 26 tries in four games this year.
Italy: Trulla, Bellini, Brex, Canna, Ioane, Garbisi, Varney; Fischetti, Bigi (capt), Zilocchi, Cannone, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.
Replacements: Fabiani for Ioane (7-18), Lovotti for Fischetti (65) Riccioni for Zilocchi (33), Lazzaroni for Cannone (52), Mbanda for Meyer (26-36), Violi for Varney (63), Mori for Garbisi (54) Padovani for Trulla (44).
Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, J Davies, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; W Jones, Owens, Tomas Francis, Hill, AW Jones (capt), Navidi, Tipuric, Faletau.
Replacements: Dee for Owens (54), Carre for W Jones (57), Brown for Francis (45), Ball for AW Jones (54), Wainwright for Faletau (51), L Williams for G Davies (52), Sheedy for Biggar (52), Halaholo for North (46)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Touch judges: Pascal Gauzere (France) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1370764974163947527&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.herald.wales%2Fsport%2Fa-48-7-victory-over-italy-leaves-wales-a-win-from-the-grand-slam%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=500px
Surely it was discipline that was the main problem for Italy.
Mistakes and an incredible ability to give away stupid penalties, as a series of needless errors allowed the visitors to build an insurmountable lead early on.
It all started with Paolo Garbisi sending the ball dead from the kick-off before Luca Bigi infringed at the breakdown. The captain then cynically stopped a Gareth Davies quick tap and was duly yellow carded. Against 14 men, Wales built up an advantage they would not relinquish as the visitors won the game before it had really started. It was not a good example from the skipper and is symptomatic of where the Italians are currently at.
Arguably since before the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour, the back has struggled for form, leading many to question whether that was it for the Welsh centurion. Although he is only 28, it must be remembered that North has been around at the top level for a long time and there is only so much the body can take in modern day rugby. However, the move into the midfield seems to have given him a new lease of life.
To the surprise of many, Callum Sheedy did not start against Italy after his superb performance versus England. Instead, it was the much criticised Dan Biggar who continued at fly-half and produced a significantly improved display before giving way to the Bristol playmaker in the second period. Sheedy was also excellent when he came on and it leaves Wayne Pivac with a decision to make going forward. No doubt, Biggar will start next week against France – albeit the head coach is not afraid of making a big call – but the 25-year-old is certainly not far off the first XV.
Much has been said and written about the Azzurri’s continued presence in the Six Nations and based on the evidence in this fixture, they really shouldn’t be playing in a competition of this stature. Franco Smith’s charges were never at the races with Wales racing into a 22-0 lead midway through the half without really breaking a sweat. Italy hardly threatened on attack – especially during the first half – and it looked like it was a case of men against boys for large periods of this Test. The result means they have now lost 31 matches on the trot, which is the longest losing streak in the history of the Championship, and they last tasted victory in a Round Three clash against Scotland in 2015. The time is now ripe for tournament organisers to reconsider their participation.
Although Italy were never in this encounter, Wales deserve plenty of credit as they impressed for the entire game and made full use of the opportunities which were presented to them.
Pivac will be delighted with the clinical fashion with which his players went about their business and they had their bonus point in the bag by the half-hour mark after Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau and Ken Owens (2) crossed for tries. Despite leading 27-0 at the interval, Wales did not take their foot of the pedal with North also crossing the whitewash soon after the restart and although Monty Ioane scored a try for the hosts, that was a mere blip as Wales continued to dominate and sealed their win with five-pointers from Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit.
News1 week ago
Traffic accident shuts Trimsaran Road near Pen-Y-Mynydd
News2 weeks ago
‘A hundred youths’ in station antisocial behaviour incident
News1 week ago
Strength of Police evidence led prolific drug dealer to admit possession with intent to supply
Community1 week ago
Ray’s Renal Ray of Sunshine Run
Health2 weeks ago
GP practices thanked for Covid-19 vaccine efforts
News1 week ago
Alcohol seized and teenager arrested as police deal with antisocial behaviour
News2 weeks ago
Drakeford: “We will not be lifting every restriction in Wales from June 21”
News3 days ago
Antisocial behaviour falls as police operation continues