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Wales take game to Armed Forces in special match

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WALES Women took the game to a determined UK Armed Forces side on Wednesday evening (Nov 8) at the Cardiff Arms Park, prevailing 39-22 in this special Remembrance Rugby fixture.

UKAF were evidently fired up in the opening exchanges (perhaps with memories from last year’s encounter still fresh in the mind), and attacked with gusto, with an equally zealous defense to boot.

That feistiness in the close quarters was found lacking out wide in the eighth minute, however, when North Walian speedster Jess Kavangh-Williams showed a clean pair of heels on halfway and sprinted all the way in for a try.

Alecs Donovan, the newcomer in the Welsh jersey, also looked lively in the early midfield exchanges, whilst flanker-turned-fly-half Lleucu George (pictured) was a creative as well as powerful presence with the ball in hand.

As the half-hour approached, patient work from the Welsh forwards paid dividends as they fashioned a score out wide through captain Carys Phillips for a 10-point lead.

It was then the turn of George, using all her considerable strength to fend off the UKAF defence and score from 5m out. Her successful conversion of her own try out wide was a striking effort.

UKAF weren’t to be humbled, and they struck back with aplomb through the evasiveness and sheer pace of centre Jade Mullen for a try which was converted by Wales’ very own Gemma Rowland just before the half-time break.

Two minutes into the second half, and Wales Women had got themselves into a good position deep inside UKAF territory, from where their driving maul allowed Phillips to touch down for her second try of the night.

The Welsh coaches made a raft of replacements in the 50th minute, which had the desired effect of re-energising an already high-tempo attack. Indeed, after five minutes of their introduction, they had once again breached the UKAF line – again by the indefatigable Phillips, who deservedly claimed her hat-trick.

The Armed Forces then showed that they too had try-scoring front rowers in their ranks, as loosehead Sarah Batley crashed over for her team’s second try with quarter of an hour left to play to make it 17-22.

Replacement back Rhi Nokes made a stirring impact late on as she broke away from the clutches of the UKAF defence to sprint away for a try, converted by Robyn Wilkins.

The last word was almost left to Kavanagh-Williams, who really put her stamp on the game with another scintillating try down the left wing with four minutes to go.

Then, with time already up on the clock, UKAF hit back with a mighty score from England hooker Amy Cokayne in what was a fitting end to a fiercely-fought contest between the two sides.

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Rugby and Girlguiding join forces to provide new opportunities

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WELSH Rugby is joining forces with Girlguiding Cymru to offer new opportunities to girls across Wales.

As the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women, Girlguiding conduct an annual Girls’ Attitudes Survey, collecting the views of girls and young women aged 7 to 21 across the UK on a wide range of issues.

The latest survey revealed that girls and young women are encountering gender stereotypes in all areas of their lives – from their peers to the media, causing them to change their behaviour because of the pressure they feel to be or act a certain way. 55% of girls ages 7-21 say gender stereotypes affect their ability to say what they think.

When asked what sports girls aged 11 to 21 want to do at school, 22% want to play rugby. Through the newly found partnership with Girlguiding Cymru, the WRU is looking forward to introducing rugby to girls who do not have the chance to participate through school and show them that girls can play rugby regardless of their gender.

Members of all sections of Girlguiding Cymru (starting with Rainbows) will now be able to work towards a Welsh Rugby badge, guide leaders have been put through a WRU coaching qualification in order to start introducing rugby games within their girlguiding units, and there will be opportunities to link up with girls-only summer clusters around Wales.

Wales Women international and rugby sevens Olympian Jasmine Joyce, a former guide herself, is an ambassador for the scheme. She said: “When I was in the guides, the activities tended to mainly involve arts and crafts and problem solving so I think this is a brilliant addition for girlguiding. You make some of your best friends in rugby, and it’s great that we’re working with the clusters to provide new opportunities for guides to get involved in our game.”

Anne Mary Simpson is a 16 year old Young Sports Leader for Gwent Girlguiding. She said: “I’m keen to join a rugby club myself after getting a taste for it on the training day. It’s fun and so energetic, I think it’s something the girls will really enjoy, especially at their age.”

Penny Christie From Second Narberth Browies added: “I think it’s brilliant. We can teach the girls how to work as a team. It’s good for their health and it’s so much fun, our girls will really love it, they are up for anything and this opportunity will be amazing.”

Gabriella Doyle, Sports Development Officer for Girlguiding Cymru said: “After receiving a Calls4Action grant from Sport Wales, we have been able to provide new opportunities for thousands of our members and a ‘Give it a go’ attitude with regards to getting more young women and children engaged in sport and physical literacy.

“Rugby is such a momentous occasion in Wales, the women’s team have done so well so it’s great that our members can be part of this too. We know that our members are very excited about this partnership with Welsh Rugby Union and it could help change the perceptions for many young girls across Wales.”

The WRU believes there is a place for everyone in rugby and is keen to work with Girlguiding to provide new opportunities and make connections with the girls-only clusters around Wales.

Katy Evans, WRU Game Changer for Women and Girls said: “The collaboration with Girlguiding will help both organisations in our aims to provide more opportunities for girls and young women, in terms of playing, but also coaching or volunteering. Hopefully we can help create some new role models for the guides and encourage more women and girls into our game.”

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County Cricket fixtures released

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THE fixtures for the 2018 season of the Pembroke County Cricket League have been released with the first games being played on Sunday, April 22.

Last season the Division 1 title picture was thrown into chaos as Carew declared on 18-1 meaning nearest challengers Cresselly would not be able to win the title.

Carew were subsequently relegated to Division 2 for the way in which they achieved the title and they have been given an intriguing local derby to start things off on the first day, against Division 3 champions Cresselly Seconds.

Back in Division 1, Cresselly’s first team are at home as they take on Division 2 champions Llangwm in what will be a tough test for the visitors.

Fellow promoted side Burton start with a home game but they will face a strong Haverfordwest team.

Kilgetty, who survived relegation because of Carew’s demotion, will start at home against Lawrenny.

St Ishmaels welcome Neyland and Whitland are at home as they take on Johnston.

Elsewhere in Division 2, Narberth, who finished third last season will take on newly promoted Hook.

Relegated Pembroke start with an away game as they travel to Haverfordwest Seconds.

Llechryd are at home to Whitland II and Saundersfoot play Stackpole.

Llanrhian will start life in Division 3 with an away game against Lamphey while Herbrandston, who just missed out on promotion last year, face Haverfordwest Thirds.

Lawrenny II start with a local derby against Carew Seconds while Division 4 Champions Llechryd Seconds are away to Pembroke Dock.

Fellow promoted side Narberth Seconds are away as they take on Neyland Seconds.

Last season’s Division 5 Champions Laugharne begin their Division 4 campaign with a game away to Llanrhian Seconds.

Crymych are at home against Burton Seconds while Hook Seconds face St Ishmaels Seconds.

Johnston Seconds who were relegated from the third division will start with a home game against Hundleton.

Llangwm Second will start at home to Saundersfoot Seconds.

In Division 5, Carew Thirds start with a home game against Kilgetty Seconds.

Haverfordwest’s fourth team are at home to Neyland’s third team and Stackpole Seconds are at home to Cresselly’s third team.

Finally there is a local derby as Pembroke Seconds host Pembroke Dock Seconds.

The second round of fixtures will also take place on a Sunday the following week before reverting to the traditional Saturday fixtures from Saturday, May 5.

A full list of fixtures for each Division can be found on the Pembroke County Cricket Club Website.

The Pembroke County Cricket Club AGM is set to take place on Wednesday, February 28, with a number of proposals set to be voted on.

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Croft warms up with big win

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CARDIGAN ABC’s Ioan Croft launched his build-up towards this season’s championships with a notable win over Ibraheem Sulemaan in a Wales Select v England Select match at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens on Saturday (Feb 10).

Now campaigning at 57 kg, the Crymych southpaw began strongly and proceeded to hold the centre of the ring for most of the fight, throwing sharp and accurate combinations mixed with his usual solid defence.

“I felt he won comfortably and was surprised when he was awarded a split,” Cardigan ABC head coach Guy Croft said afterwards.

“For me, it was almost a technically perfect fight where Ioan took the lead and was in control almost from start to finish.

“It was his first fight of three minutes per round and he did show signs of tiredness at the end of the second, but had recovered to some extent by the third.”

Unfortunately, twin brother Garan lost his chance for a Three Nations challenge later this season when he was on the receiving end of a unanimous points decision against George Bance, a short, powerful hooker.

Although the Crymych 16-year-old boxed well in the first round, his English opponent dragged him into a scrappy, close range fight in the second.

“I was very disappointed,” commented Croft senior. “Garan was boxing so well before Christmas and now seems to have fallen back into his old scrappy ways – we have some work to do to get him back on track.”

Promising Cardigan ABC schoolboy Mikey O’Sullivan was edged out on a split decision against Dominic Janes (Splott ABC) at Splott’s Conservative Club the previous night.

In what proved an intense encounter, O’Sullivan landed some strong right hands in a contest which could have gone either way.

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