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Raiders gain edge in inaugural Heartbeat Shield

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Before kick off: Raiders line up

Devon Sharks 10

West Wales Raiders 38

WEST WALES Raiders put themselves into a strong position in the first leg of the inaugural Heartbeat of Sport Memorial Shield as they put a less experienced Devon Sharks team to the Sword at Brixham Rugby Club.

Despite not having a game on the weekend, the Raiders decided to field a travelling squad of mostly reserves and development players to give them the opportunity to play against a team with aspirations of being a part of the Conference League South.

With an early kick off for the game scheduled, the Raiders arrived keen to get going with a fast start, and this proved to be the case as a young Raiders side put pressure on the Sharks from the off.

The first score came when some incisive play and quick handling led to the Sharks defending tight, creating space out wide for Dafydd Phillips who romped over. A difficult conversion for Daf Daniels proved to be no problem as he increased the visitors lead with the extras.

Daniels turned from convertor to scorer moments later when he crossed the line himself following a great deal of pressure from the Raiders players. Some smart handling by Rhys Davies saw the prop offload neatly from out of the tackle, catching the defence by surprise to release Daniels to gallop home. Daniels then converted his own score.

With the scoreline already looking comfortable for the Raiders at 12-0 after only 10 minutes of play, the visiting west Wales side took their foot off the gas momentarily and allowed the English side to get a foothold in the match. The lapse in concentration saw the homesters prop Josh Boaler rumble over after a smart inside pass, which caught the visitors firmly off guard. Sam Hedges knocked over the extras.

With moments of the first half remaining, the Raiders were looking like they were going to be made to rue their high number of missed opportunities, but their nerves were settled before heading back into the dressing room as mistake from the Sharks undid all their hard work in the half.

Raiders winger Liam Johnson was the beneficiary as he gobbled up a stray pass to extend his sides lead again, strolling home to stretch the lead.

This boost was countered immediately however as Marcus Phillips crossed right on the bring of half time to leave the score at 10-20, although this turned out to be the hosts last points of the match.

Throughout the game the horrendous weather had been an issue with the ball resembling a bar of soap at times, and after a period of dry and warmth at half time it was understandable that the players started the second period with little vigour or inspiration.

A slow period of 20 chanceless minute ensued as both sides called the changes in their ranks and emptied their benches.

Eventually life was breathed into the game by Raiders debutant Mathew O’Flanagan, who dived over for his first try, to his own personal delight, but also to the coaching staff, who knew the game was now all but won.

With fifteen minutes left the Raiders could’ve brought up the 50-point mark with the amount of chances they had, but they had to settle for 38 as they managed to cross just twice more, despite the Sharks being out on their feet.

It was a tough afternoon for the young Raiders at times, but ultimately they came through their test with flying colours as they triumphed in appalling conditions.

After the game Raiders owner Andrew Thorne commented: “It was great to see everyone involved enjoy the first test in the newly created link between both clubs, rugby league is growing and games like these help clubs grow.

“Devon Sharks hosted us well and it’s great to see how far rugby league is reaching. I was also pleased to see 6 under 17s players and 5 debutants who held themselves throughout the game which is great for the future of club”.

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Scarlets make five changes for European quarter-final

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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.

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Pembrey Country Park to host one of first post-lockdown events

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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.”

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Trundle and Robinson are back for another season with Ammanford AFC

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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.

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