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 make five changes for European quarter-final
Johnny Williams and Sione Kalamafoni have been handed their Scarlets’ European debuts for Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol (8.15pm UK time).
Both summer signings are included in a side showing five changes to the line-up that took the field against the Dragons in the Scarlets last match of the Guinness PRO14 season.
Wales and British & Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny returns to face his former side, linking up with Johnny McNicholl and Steff Evans in an all-international back three.
Williams and Steff Hughes continue their midfield combination, while Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies has recovered from injury to partner Dan Jones at half-back.
Skipper Ken Owens, Wyn Jones and Samson Lee pack down in the front row and behind them Tongan international Sam Lousi starts at lock alongside Jake Ball.
In a reshuffled back-row, the PRO14’s turnover king Josh Macleod gets the nod at openside; Kalamafoni, who featured for Leicester Tigers in the pool stages of the tournament, wears the No. 8 jersey and Scotland international Blade Thomson has recovered from an Achilles issue to start at blindside.
On the bench, Ryan Elias, Phil Price and Javan Sebastian provide front-row cover with Lewis Rawlins and James Davies the other forward replacements. Kieran Hardy, Angus O’Brien and Tyler Morgan cover the backs. Morgan is set to make his first Scarlets appearance since joining from the Dragons.
The Scarlets and Toulon faced each other twice during the pool stages. A last-gasp converted try grabbed a 17-16 victory for the French side in November. The three-times European champions then claimed a crucial 27-15 win at Parc y Scarlets in January to ensure they topped the group.
Head coach Glenn Delaney said: “It is a final for us. If you win three finals in a row you win a trophy. We are that far away from achieving the objective we all set out upon 12 to 13 months ago. It would be lovely to finish it off the right way. Whenever you get the opportunity to play for a trophy you have got to be very respectful and take it deadly serious, which is exactly what our boys have been doing.”
Scarlets team v RC Toulon (Saturday, September 19, 2020; kick-off 8.15pm UK)
15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Wyn Jones, 2 Ken Owens (capt), 3 Samson Lee, 4 Jake Ball, 5 Sam Lousi, 6 Blade Thomson, 7 Josh Macleod, 8 Sione Kalamafoni.
Reps: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Phil Price, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Unavailable because of injury
Rob Evans (neck), Rhys Patchell (calf), Liam Williams (foot), Daf Hughes (knee), Steff Thomas (knee), Alex Jeffries (elbow), Tomi Lewis (knee), Aaron Shingler.
Pembrey Country Park to host one of first post-lockdown events
CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s Pembrey Country Park has been chosen to host one of the first outdoor sports events in Wales since the Covid-19 lockdown.
Welsh Government has given the go ahead for three trial sport and culture events as part of its continued easing of restrictions.
Pembrey Country Park will host a duathlon on Sunday, September 6, with a limited number of competitors, although there will be no spectators.
The event will be monitored and will help inform Welsh Government policy on future sporting events as the country continues its recovery from Covid-19.
The council is working with Welsh Triathlon to ensure athletes can compete safely, with strict risk assessments and protocols being put into place.
Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “We’re delighted to host this trial event here in Carmarthenshire, and hope this signals a return of more sporting events in the future. Our teams are working alongside Welsh Government and Welsh Triathlon to ensure that the event is safe and secure whilst providing an exciting and challenging duathlon course for competitors.”
Trundle and Robinson are back for another season with Ammanford AFC
Ammanford AFC are pleased to announce that the Ex Swans legends Lee Trundle and Andy Robinson are back for a second season with the club
The pair helped Ammanford AFC to achieve a respectable seventh place finish in the JD Cymru South league last season.
The Supporters of Ammanford will welcome the news and will be hoping that they can go and watch their team once clearance has been given.
News2 days ago
Llanelli lockdown looms
News5 hours ago
Llanelli becomes a Covid-19 ‘health protection zone’
News1 day ago
Local sailor taking on virtual London marathon
News1 week ago
Trade deal won’t benefit Wales
News1 week ago
The latest increase in coronavirus in Wales is ‘sobering’ says First Minister
Uncategorised1 week ago
WASPI unaffected by appeal’s failure
News2 days ago
Gemma runs 50 miles for air medics who attended her Dad
News2 weeks ago
Partners working to support national problems with booking COVID tests