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Raiders fall short in East v West battle



Valley Cougars 62

West Wales Raiders 18

Tight grip: The Valley Cougars didn't let the Raiders off the hook

Tight grip: The Valley Cougars didn’t let the Raiders off the hook

VALLEY COUGARS had a dominant second half against West Wales Raiders as they cruised to a 62-18 drubbing in the battle of South Wales in Treharris on Saturday.

West Wales fought well in the first half and with the score at 14-12 at the break, the stage was set for an exciting second stanza.

But there was only one winner after the break as the Cougars’ superior strength and fitness, as well as experience took over.

Cougars started well on four minutes after Dean Higgs went in under the sticks and Ben Jones converted.

Raiders were soon level after Liam Johnson sold Cougars a beautiful dummy and went over just right of the sticks. Luke Williams converted to make it 6-6.

Cougars regained the lead on 20 minutes after Lewis Wilkes forced his way over from close range. The conversion was missed.

It quickly went to 14-6 after a brilliant Cougars try. Shane Lee’s kick confused the West Wales backline and Jamie Marsh snatched the ball in midair to ground. Jones missed again for the second and final time of the afternoon.

Raiders were awarded a small lifeline after Ross Price was yellow carded for some reckless play and they made use of the extra man after Curtis Ford ran through to score. Williams converted. 14-12 at the break.

Cougars were still down to 12 men at the start of the second half but it didn’t stop Rhys Davies scoring and Jones converting to make it 20-12.

The hosts were back to 13 soon and Higgs notched his second which Jones improved.

That was soon followed up by a Marsh try in the corner and Raiders, who travelled with just two subs, were wilting. Jones converted well. 32-12.

Marsh almost got his hat-trick but was pulled into touch as Raiders desperately defended.

But it didn’t last for long. Cougars’ player-coach Dafydd Hellard pushed off four or five Raiders players to score before Lee Goddard strolled over for their eighth try.

And at exactly the same moment Hull Kingston Rovers were dumped out of the Challenge Cup by Oldham Roughyeds, Cougars brought up the 50 with Liam Watton scoring and Jones converting.

Raiders got a try back through Williams who converted himself but Cougars finished strongly with two further tries in the last five minutes.

Higgs completed his hat-trick before Wilkes got his second with a clean break going in under the sticks. Jones’ two goals made it nine out of 11 kicks for him and an emphatic win was complete. Cue the loud celebrations from the Valleys.

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Davies to captain Scarlets for 2021/22 season



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



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



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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