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Reigning champions back on form

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Team Photo: Scarlets Ladies pictured before the game (Pic. Riley Sports)

Team Photo: Scarlets Ladies pictured before the game (Pic. Riley Sports)

Blues Ladies 7

Scarlets Ladies 46

AFTER AN UNCONVINCING, but ultimately successful display in difficult conditions against the Dragons in the last round of the Women’s Senior Regional Championship, the Scarlets Women’s Senior squad arrived at The BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in determined mood to return to the attacking free-flowing rugby that proved to be a championship winning formula last season.

The Scarlets came out of the blocks firing, putting the capital region players under intense pressure from the off and were duly rewarded in the second minute when the Blues were guilty of holding in the ruck, and the ever reliable boot of Jodie Evans settled any nerves there may have been by slotting the kick from 35 meters out.

The opening try of the day came 8 minutes later when after some powerful inter-play between the forwards and backs, impressive full back Dyddgu Hywel slice through the Blues defensive line to score near the posts. Evans adding the extras.

From the restart, the girls in red again went on the attack. After yet another infringement at the contact area by the Blues the Scarlets were awarded a very kickable penalty, however this time captain Sioned Harries opted to take a quick tap which saw her feed centre Elen Evans to race towards the line only to be brought down just short of the white wash. The Scarlets recycled the ball quickly and scrum half Kavenagh fed blindside flanker and former under 18s captain, Alisha Butchers who drove across the line to score despite the attention of several Blues defenders. Evans once again converted the try.

The next Scarlets score came soon after. Once again the forwards created the perfect platform for the exciting Scarlets backs to exploit. The Blues were finding it difficult to handle the powerful phase play of the Scarlets eight and eventually a gap was created in the Blues line, outside half Hannah Jones needed no second invitation and raced in for the score under the posts, with Evans once again adding the extras.

To their credit, the Blues girls came back into the game and after a series of penalties found themselves camped on the Scarlets line. The attacking prowess of the Scarlets Girls had been evident throughout the game, but their defensive qualities came to the fore at this stage, showing determination and no small amount of aggression to eventually secure the turnover and make their way up field. Some fantastic interplay between all the players eventually led to Whitland No 8 Natalie Walsh being released to score the bonus point try on the stroke of half time. When Evans slotted the conversion the score was 31-0 to the Scarlets.

The Scarlets started the second half in the same way that they had finished the first with a 15-minute blitz in which they scored 3 tries. Barely 5 minutes after the break, ever impressive centre Elen Evans showed pace and power to cross for the Scarlets 5th try of the day. Less than five minutes later the Reds were at it again. Jodie Evans showing that she is more kicker when after some slick handling she cut through the Blues defence to score wide out. The next, and as it turned out final score for the Scarlets came on 55 minutes when once again the irrepressible Scarlets team interlinked to release full back Hywel for her second and the Scarlets’ 7th score of the day.

The girls in red could have scored more, but were guilty of squandering some guilt edged opportunities. To their credit the Blues kept going and were rewarded in the last play of the game when winger Rafike Taylor scored a great individual try under the posts which was duly converted.

The Scarlets next face local rivals, the Ospreys on December 20 at a venue to be confirmed, in what could be the defining game of the season so far, and based on this result the Scarlets can go into that game with confidence, but will need to raise their game further if they wish to maintain their unbeaten record going into the Christmas break.

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Davies to captain Scarlets for 2021/22 season

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WALES international and British & Irish Lion Jonathan ‘Fox’ Davies will captain the Scarlets for the 2021-22 season.

Former Ysgol Dyffryn Taf pupil Davies has played 170 matches for the Scarlets since making his debut in 2006 and is one of the most decorated centres in international rugby having won 91 caps for Wales and represented the Lions in the Test series in Australia 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.

It will be his second stint wearing the Scarlets armband having been a co-captain along with Rob McCusker in 2013.

‘Foxy’ takes the reins from hooker Ken Owens who led the Scarlets for a record-equalling seven successive seasons.

“Jon is one of the most respected players in the game, someone with a huge amount of experience at all levels,” said Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel

“He has been a leader amongst our group for a number of years now and certainly since I have been here his leadership qualities have been there for all to see, on and off the training field.

“Foxy is the ultimate professional – when he speaks people listen. The way he conducts himself is an example to every player in the squad.

“He has been a big part of this club for a long time; he has grown up in the region, played his junior rugby here and it is clear that wearing the Scarlets jersey means a huge amount to him.”

Paying tribute to Davies’s predecessor Owens, Peel added: “Ken has been a fantastic leader for us over the last seven years and will continue to have a huge part to play in the leadership of this group.”

Davies, who captained Wales during the recent summer internationals in Cardiff, said: “It is a massive honour to be handed the Scarlets captaincy, you only have to look at the captain’s board to see so many great players and icons of the game who have led the club.

“I am fortunate that there will be a strong leadership group around me – British & Irish Lions and experienced Wales internationals who have enjoyed success at domestic and Test level. Those players also know there is a hard-working, driven group of youngsters pushing them for the jersey. There is a really exciting mix to the squad.”

Davies added: “Winning the PRO12 title with the Scarlets four years ago remains one of the highlights of my career and there is a real ambition and hunger among the players and coaching group to reach those levels again.

“There has been a good buzz about pre-season, the boys have worked really hard and we’re all looking forward to the start of the new URC season in Edinburgh on Saturday.

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Scarlets appoint Phil John as Academy coach

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FORMER prop Phil John is back at the Scarlets having been appointed to the role of Academy skills coach.

John made 330 Scarlets appearances over 17 seasons and holds the record for the most Scarlets matches played in the regional era.

Since hanging up his playing boots following his final game against Glasgow in 2016, he has worked with the RGC 1404 Academy and alongside another ex-Scarlet Mark Jones with the Premiership team in North Wales.

He also has experience coaching with the Llanelli RFC Premiership side and as an assistant to Danny Wilson for the Scarlets.

John, who started out on a rugby apprenticeship scheme at Stradey Park, replaces Emyr Phillips who becomes the Scarlets transition coach overseeing the academy players who are training with the senior side.

“It’s good to be back at Parc y Scarlets and I’m looking forward to working with a talented group of young players who have bright futures in the game,” said John.

“When you look at the players who were in the Academy five years ago when I was here, they are now starting week in week out for the Scarlets, it is great to see the journeys they have been on.

“The Scarlets Academy has a proud tradition of being a production line for the senior side and I’m excited by this opportunity to help make sure that continues.”

Scarlets Development Pathway Manager Kevin George added: “For us, this appointment was about getting the balance right in the coaching group with Emyr having been promoted to oversee the transition players.

“We had a lot of interest in the post and Phil, with his experience working with academies and the commitment he gave to North Wales, came out very strongly. We are delighted to have him on board to help nurture the next generation of Scarlets.”

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Five-star Felinfoel sink Tumble

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FELINFOEL kept up their unbeaten start to the season on Saturday (Sept 18) as they beat Tumble 5-2 at the King George playing fields in Division 1 of the Carmarthenshire football league.

However, they didn’t have it all their own way as Tumble took the lead after five minutes through Matthew James.

Foel kept plugging away and were rewarded when Chris James hit a 25-yard shot that was fumbled over the line by the keeper to make it 1-1.

Some good passing football then put Sam Ashford through on goal to put the ball past the keeper and make it 2-1 to the home side.

They weren’t done there as Chris James made it 3-1 with a great header.

In the second half, both sides were looking to score again but it was Foel who got their fourth when Mathew Ellis supplied top goal scorer Jordan Badman with the pass to make it 4-1.

Five minutes later the roles were reversed when Badman played in Mathew Ellis to make it 5-1.

To Tumble’s credit they kept plugging away and were rewarded with a goal two minutes from time as James scored his second of the game.

It was a great strike from James but it mattered little as Foel came away with the 5-2 win and their unbeaten record still intact.

On Saturday (Sept 25), Felinfoel are at hoem again as they host Bancffosfelen, kick off at 2pm.

Tumble are also in action as they travel to Llangennech.

Photo by Darren Harries

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