INTERNATIONAL Rugby League will be held in Llanelli for the first time in 16 years when Wales host Serbia in a Rugby League World Cup qualifying match on Saturday October 15 at Parc Stebonheath (kick-off 6pm).
The last time Wales played in this town was in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup when Wales edged out a Hazem El Masri inspired Lebanon side 24-22.
Wales played three full internationals at the Parc Stebonheath ground before the Second World War, beating France 41-7 in 1935 in front of a reported 30,000 crowd, before an 18-2 win over the same opponents in 1938 and a 17-9 win over England later that same year. All games were part of victorious European Championship campaigns for the Welsh.
Since the war, the stadium has primarily been used for football as the home of Welsh Football League side Llanelli Town AFC, but since 2015, it has been the fortress of Conference South Rugby League side West Wales Raiders.
Raiders’ director Andrew Thorne is looking forward to hosting such an important event in Wales’ first step to World Cup glory.
“I’m so pleased that the World Cup qualifier against Serbia is being played at Parc Stebonheath,” he said. “Trying to build Rugby League in West Wales has always been tough, but over the last two years with the support of Wales Rugby League, we have managed to grow participation in the sport and now have a junior pathway. With the game coming to Stebonheath, I can only see that this fantastic sport will grow even more in the West.
“This is sure to be a fantastic event and hope that the public in Llanelli and the surrounding areas come and support the Wales team on the start of their World Cup campaign.”
Meryl Gravell, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Executive Board member for Regeneration and Leisure, said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to have the Wales Rugby League national side coming to Llanelli to continue the hard work that West Wales Rugby League are doing for the local area.”
Wales are taking part in a three-team group this autumn in the attempt to qualify for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup finals in Australia. In addition to the home game against Serbia in Llanelli, Wales will travel to Italy a fortnight later. The winner of the group goes straight through to the finals with the runners up taking on the second place side from Ireland, Spain and Russia in a final challenge in Leigh on November 4.
Wales coach John Kear is looking forward to his side playing in Llanelli and believes that Serbia will be strong opposition, especially after recently playing a full international match in Australia involving both Serbian and Australian born players. “It’s exciting that we’re going to South West Wales,” he said.
“It’s an area we’ve not played in since the last World Cup in 2013 when we took on Cook Islands in Neath.
“I’m anticipating support and enthusiasm from all the sports fans around the area and I’m sure it will be well attended.
“It’s a big game for us as we need to get to the World Cup, there’s no doubt about that. It’s now getting to knock out proportions so every game is very important.
“Serbia are looking to strengthen and that’s why they played their recent international match against the Philippines in Australia through that. Brian Smith is with them too and he’ll make sure they will be well drilled. They will be a formidable challenge for us.”
Wales Rugby League have had links with Llanelli for over 100 years. No less than 46 players who have turned out for Llanelli RUFC or the Scarlets have played Rugby League for Wales, while at least 15 WRL internationals were born in Llanelli. This is something that Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff is keen to celebrate.
He said: “I am thrilled that we are playing this game in Llanelli as it presents us with a great opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding heritage players that originated from West Wales.
“Supporting Andrew Thorne and his team of administrators and players as they continue to develop Rugby League in the region is a real pleasure, as I am fully aware of the huge amount of hard work and enthusiasm these volunteers bring to Wales Rugby League.
“Wales are the current European Rugby League Champions but we are very aware of the changing playing personnel that we will face in both qualifying games against Serbia and Italy due to our opponents’ intentions to field Australian based heritage players.
“We will, of course, stay strong to our belief that playing home grown players will continue to pay long term dividends and promote a sustainable and successful Wales Rugby League team.
“On that basis alone it would be hugely encouraging if our local supporters could fill the stadium and cheer our boys to success in this important first game. Cymru Am Byth!”
LLANELLI TOWN AFC VS PENRHYNCOCH FC
LLANELLI TOWN AFC VS PENRHYNCOCH FC
LLANELLI TOWN 0 PENRHYNCOCH 1
A blast from the past in the form of former Reds` favourite, Antonio Corbisiero, ended their interest in the JD Welsh Cup for another season in this second round tie.
His stunning 19th minute volley demonstrated he has lost little of the craft which he used to employ to such good effect in the more heady days of the club`s history, and how they could do with him now as he was head and shoulders above anyone on either side.
Another patched-up home outfit, once again missing several key players, were, quite frankly, abysmal, struggling to establish any meaningful pattern to their play, particularly in the first half, with far too many errors allied with some careless passing which gifted possession to their opponents.
They were reduced to firing hopeful long-range efforts which seldom looked capable of reaching the intended target, with Kyle Copp in the forefront of this tactic, to no great effect.
The visitors also seemed incapable of any worthwhile attacking ploys, and it took Corbisiero`s strike to lift the contest out of mediocrity when he met a delivery from the right by Jack Rimmer on the edge of the box to volley sweetly past the despairing clutches of Scott Coughlan in the home goal.
Even this setback did little to stir the Reds out of their lethargy, and while they continued to enjoy plenty of possession, they seldom looked capable of levelling matters.
Ryan Hurlow had a tame effort easily dealt with by the Roosters` keeper, Leigh Jenkins, while he also parried and gathered an effort from distance by James Loveridge.
With a forgettable first half over, the Reds did up the anti after the restart, and were certainly more forceful in their efforts to secure the goal which would level matters, but once again wrong decisions at the vital time proved costly, typified by Morgan Cutler opting to pass inside when he had a viable shooting opportunity.
Their best, and as it turned out, only real chance arose when Jenkins opted to come off his line to challenge for a ball on the edge of the box but instead allowed it to run loose, affording Tim Parker a clear strike on the vacant net, but he failed to connect cleanly, allowing Jonathan Foligno to scramble it off the line and away from danger.
This was about as good as it got for the hosts, and even with their opponents visibly flagging as the game progressed, they still were unable to press home the advantage.
In fact, it was the other end of the field which provided the best chances when the visitors broke, with Gwion Pugh-Jones first failing to convert a ball bobbling about in the area, while Tomos Evans missed a
good chance at the far post following a run and cross by Steffan Davies.
Parker did have an effort deflected for a corner when he was found by Zac Brown, and Liam Samuel curled his finish just wide.
The Roosters then should have put the result beyond doubt when Evans was put clear in acres of space, but with only Coughlan to beat he directed his finish at the keeper who gratefully diverted it away.
As the contest entered its closing stages, an increasingly desperate home outfit did manage a couple of efforts on target, but these were capably dealt with by Jenkins, and the final whistle signalled the end of the Reds` further involvement in the competition.
Some serious work is needed if their season is not to descend into mediocrity, and the visit of Undy Athletic on Saturday could yet provide the springboard needed for a revival in fortunes. Kick off is at 2.30 p.m.
LLANELLI TOWN; Coughlan; M. Cutler (J. Cutler, 82); Brown; Thomas; Bevan ©; Griffiths; Copp, Samuel (Rees, 90+2); Parker, Loveridge, Hurlow.
PENRHYNCOCH; Jenkins; Rimmer; Pemberthy; James ©; Foligno (Gittins, 81); Corbisiero; Jones (Morgan, 84); T. Evans; Davies; J. Evans; Pugh-Jones. Subs. not used; Rees; Burrel; Meredith.
SCORER; Penrhyncoch; Corbisiero, 19.
YELLOW CARD; Penrhyncoch; Rimmer.
REFEREE; Daniel Richardson.
Llanelli Town 1 Cwmammam United 0
A second meeting between the sides in just over a week brought a further win for the Reds following their success against the same opponents in the first round of the JD Welsh Cup, but once again they made heavy weather over visitors languishing at the foot of the table with just two wins all season.
The home side have some talented players in their ranks, but many of them are playing far below their potential, resulting in results being ground out rather than achieved in a manner pleasing to the eye, and the latest game was typical of the way the season has so far progressed, with possession being conceded far too easily, and decisions wrongly taken when opportunities present themselves.
A strong wind and frequent rain showers sweeping across the ground did little to raise the overall play by both sides above the mediocre, and the game will not live long in the memory.
Welsh Athletics celebrate success
MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.
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Llanelli Town 1 Cwmammam United 0