Wrexham Rugby Football Club
Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham, LL13 9TY (UK)
01978 261215

CLUB NEWS 05-06
from

Chris Kilfoyle

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Match Reports

Old News

Week Ending 5th May

Wrexham Firsts, having started this season without a coach and no access to their clubhouse while it was being refurbished, have overcome numerous obstacles to gain promotion by finishing only three points behind Division Five North champions Llandudno.

Richard Lloyd and Chris Andrew performed well as caretaker coaches with skipper Mike Ward until Norman Stalker returned from Whitchurch to assume the duties of Head Coach after Christmas. Stalker didn’t make many changes and was able to build on successful basis that had been laid down by Lloyd at the start of the season.

Keeping the squad small but at the same time encouraging competition for places was a key to the success of the 2005/2005 side. Only 30 players represented the senior side during the season compared to the usual requirement of 42 players, and the fitness of the squad improved while the injury count remained low.

Curiously, only 5 successful penalty kicks, compared to an average of 22 penalties, were recorded during a 20 match season, but the low count is probably due to the desire of the players to ignore kicks at goal and pursue the scoring of tries instead.

They certainly performed well on try count, notching an average of 4 per game as they won 16 of their 20 contests. They will need to carry that try scoring ability into next season when they will face stiffer contests against clubs like Mold, Nant Conwy and Pwllheli in Division Four North.

Points will not be so easy to secure and they may have to sacrifice some of their free running style of rugby to extract some reward when opportunities arise. That will mean having to improve their goal kicking as well as reinforcing their side with one or two players capable of playing at a higher level and a faster pace. 

For the moment the players can relax to contemplate a job well done and the promise of a celebration at next week’s Annual Dinner and Presentation of Awards evening. This will be held their magnificently refurbished clubhouse at Bryn Estyn Road on Friday 12th May with over 100 players and supporters set to enjoy the evening (7.30pm).

Week Ending 29th April

Wrexham, having completed their league season with a winning performance against previously unbeaten Llandudno, are hoping to sign off their very successful season with a friendly fixture against a competitive side from either North Wales or the North West Region.

Fixture Secretary Kevin Davies has been looking for a suitable match in the local fixture pool and has high hopes of being able to secure an end-of-season friendly.

Centre Daniel Cheesbrough is unavailable tomorrow due to work commitments, but lock Mike Jones, injured last week, is expected pass a late fitness test.

In the battle to win the North East Wales Championship, leaders Wrexham Seconds travel to Flint who are in fourth place. Number eight Dean Griffiths, called up for First Team duty last Saturday, is expected to return to the pack while Kelvin Bryan will fulfil the all important role of playmaker at outside-half.

Wrexham Thirds face a tough assignment in another league game at Abergele, who won the Division B title earlier this season and are now pressing hard in second place to win the North East Wales Championship (k.o.2.30pm). They hope to have Andy Lee in the centre and Gareth Owen on the flank.  

Wrexham Youth Team have completed their programme of games in Division Two of the North Wales Youth League, but have one more game to play before they hang up their boots for the summer. Captained by Andy Clutton at outside-half, they will take on Abergele in a friendly match at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow (k.o.2.30pm).  

Wrexham’s Mini and Junior Rugby Section will stage a Mini Rugby Tournament at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning with over 600 young players from clubs across North Wales and the North West of England taking part. It kicks off at 10.30am and should provide a fitting climax to another successful season.

Week Ending 21st April

Wrexham and Llandudno are aiming to put on a dazzling show of running rugby when the two promoted sides from Division Five North meet at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon with Llandudno’s unbeaten record up for grabs (kick-off at 2.30pm).

The hosts will also be hoping to avenge defeats in league and cup campaigns suffered at Llandudno earlier this season. The first reverse was a 38-19 hammering in a league game at Maesdu Recreation Ground and the second defeat was a lesser 18-0 whitewash in a North Wales Cup match at the same venue.

Wrexham coach Norman Stalker, who was coaching at Whitchurch at the time of those defeats, is looking forward to tomorrow’s end-of-season showdown. He is content that he will be able to field a full strength side with the exception of centre Simon Williams who is unavailable due to work commitments.

Lock Mike Jones received physiotherapy treatment this week for a nagging shoulder injury and is expected to be fit to play while prop Guy Bingham has overcome a calf strain and will be in the starting line-up. Full-back James Wrathall, who has missed only one game this season, will make his 60th senior appearance for his club.

Although the team was disappointed that they had a blank fixture date last Saturday and were therefore unable to play a warm-up game, former skipper John Roberts was able to maintain his match fitness by playing for Ruthin against Pencoed on permit. He played well for the Division Three side in the centre but will be back at scrum-half for tomorrow’s encounter.

Llandudno have won this season’s League Championship with a fine blend of forward power complemented by fast attacking skills from their backs. They have scored an average of 8 tries per game and conceded an average of only one, while Wrexham have emerged as the best of the other teams in Division Five with an average of 5 scored and only one conceded per game.

When Llandudno defeated Wrexham at their seaside stronghold early this season, they took the visitors by surprise and scored a converted try within 30 seconds by right wing Simon Beards. He has gone on to score a hat full of tries this season and poses a real threat which Wrexham winger Scott Davies and his back-row will have to stifle.

The visitors may remember, however that they lost by 23-6 when they last played at Wrexham over two years ago. They were favourites to win on that occasion but were unsettled by Wrexham’s driving forward play that was supported by a fine performance from the home backs, who notched three impressive tries.

The Wrexham internal try scoring battle between lock Mike McLeod and winger Scott Davies is set to go to the wire with McLeod leading by 2 scores. Davies, however, grabbed a notable hat-trick of tries in his side’s first defeat at Llandudno and is hoping that his fierce rivalry with McLeod will inspire his side to turn the tables this time.

Wrexham Seconds, who currently lead the North East Wales Championship with three games to go, entertain Colwyn Bay Seconds who have yet to win a game in the play-offs.  

The Thirds are also at home but face a much stiffer test in their play-off game against Mold Seconds who are in third place in the competition (k.o.2.30pm).

Wrexham Youth will complete their programme in Division Two of the North Wales Youth League with a visit to Dolgellau tomorrow afternoon. Dolgellau just managed to edge a 17-15 victory when the two sides met at Bryn Estyn Road in February but Wrexham have improved since then and can win in Gwynedd if they can make the best of their scoring opportunities.

In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 13’s visit Shrewsbury and the Under 11’s and 15’s will train at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning.  All of the other teams will travel to Colwyn Bay for a full programme of games with the Under 16’s hoping to maintain their winning run (k.o.10.30am).    

The destination of one of the trophies to be presented at Wrexham Rugby club’s Annual Dinner on Friday 12th May has already been decided. Scrum-half John Roberts and winger Scott Davies will share the Bernard Malley Award for making the most appearances in the First Team this season, both having played a full 20 games.  

WREXHAM UNDER 19             15             MACHYNLLETH UNDER 19             22

There were no senior games for Wrexham last weekend, the Firsts being unable to find a suitable game in the local fixture pool to fill a blank date, and touring sides being hard to find this Easter. However, the Under 19’s took on Machynlleth at Bryn Estyn Lane and very nearly defeated their well drilled opponents.

Wrexham started well and took the lead in the 6th minute with a kick and chase try in the corner by full-back Matthew White. Outside-half Adam Hind failed with his conversion attempt but Wrexham remained in control until Machynlleth’s left winger squeezed in at the corner from a tap penalty move.

The visitors then took over with pressure from quick breaks but Wrexham’s tackling denied them a score with centre Robert Massam and number eight Glen Bellamy prominent. Massam then regained the lead after a stunning 70 metre break which led to easily the best try of the game, but Hind’s conversion attempt hit an upright.

The home kept up the pressure with lock Tim Roberts providing a stream of possession from the line-outs, but a concerted attack broke down when a poorly directed pass went to ground. Machynlleth’s alert centre kicked ahead and scored under the posts and a conversion was then added to give the visitors a 12-10 lead at the break.

Wrexham were caught cold at the start of the second-half when the Machynlleth centre touched down under the posts from a quickly taken tap penalty. A conversion followed by a penalty put the visitors firmly in the driving seat but Wrexham reduced the arrears with a storming try by Bellamy at the start of the final quarter.

A draw or better looked on the cards as Machynlleth were forced to defend in their 22 for lengthy periods, but dropped passes and over elaboration in their attacking play cost the home side dear in the final hectic minutes. A relieved Machynlleth side claimed the spoils of victory but Wrexham could take credit for a vastly improved performance

Week Ending 14th April

Wrexham, aiming for a storming finish to the season before they focus their sights on next year’s demanding challenge as a promoted club in Division Four North, are hoping to fill tomorrow’s blank date in their programme with a suitable match from the local fixture pool.

Skipper Mike Ward, unavailable due to a wedding commitment last week, returns to lead the side but fly-half Dafydd Williams, centre Graham Shepherd and prop Chris Phillips will be missing from the squad over the Easter weekend. Lock Mike Jones is receiving treatment for a shoulder injury.

Wrexham had to settle for second place in the Division Five North Championship when news was received last Saturday afternoon of Llandudno’s 66-0 defeat of Rhos. That win and a vastly superior try advantage of 48 scores means that, even if Llandudno lose their last two matches, they will still be crowned Champions.   

For Mike Ward and his men, however, there is still the challenge of finishing their promotion gaining season on a high note, and defeating Llandudno at Bryn Estyn Road in a week’s time is of utmost importance. There is also the matter of avenging cup and league defeats suffered at Llandudno earlier this season.

Wrexham Seconds and Thirds may combine to form a team capable of taking on Crewe and Nantwich Seconds at their Cheshire ground tomorrow afternoon. It will keep the available players in trim before the Seconds take on Corwen and the Thirds take on Mold Seconds in crucial North East Wales Championship games next weekend.

The Youth Team is due to take on Machynlleth in a North Wales Youth Division Two contest at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow, but the game may be postponed because the Machynlleth senior side is struggling for players and is likely to draft in key Youth Team replacements at short notice (k.0.2.30pm).

The Mini and Junior Rugby Section, who usually play a full programme of games on Sunday mornings, will enjoy an Easter break this weekend.

Wrexham Rugby Club’s Annual Dinner will be held at the clubhouse on Friday 12th May. It has been a successful season, both on and off the field, and promotion to the top flight of rugby in North Wales will be fully celebrated while trophies will be awarded to the players and officials who have made outstanding contributions to the success of the club (7.30pm).

Week Ending 7th April

Wrexham entertain Machynlleth in a Division Five North contest at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon and will be going all out to keep up the pressure on league leaders Llandudno who can still be overtaken at this stage of the season (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Skipper Mike Ward is unavailable for tomorrow’s game and is likely to be replaced in the back-row by either Graham Shepherd or Phil Williams. Prop Guy Bingham is doubtful due to a calf strain picked up in last week’s match, but full-back James Wrathall will return to strengthen the backline.     

Winger Scott Davies will make his 60th senior appearance and will be keen to grab the two scores that he needs to enable him to catch up lock Mike McLeod in the top try scoring stakes. Davies was top dog last season but has lost a little bit of pace this term, enabling the evergreen McLeod to race ahead with 13 tries to his credit.

Wrexham emerged as 17-3 winners when they took on Machynlleth in Mid Wales only a fortnight ago. That game took place in a downpour on a greasy surface and the visitors were forced to play a fairly tight game with their chief ball carriers, Mike McLeod and Ian Sanger, blasting holes through Machynlleth’s wall of defence.

With luck, conditions may be better tomorrow and the home threequarters may be able to feature prominently in a more open game. They know that they will face stiffer opposition when they go up to Division Four next season and will have to sharpen their cutting edge if they are to succeed against leading clubs like Mold.

Machynlleth are in fifth place in the league table with 8 victories out of 14 to their credit but have been struggling to fulfil fixtures of late and have been warned about this by the Welsh Rugby Union. Their visit to Wrexham last season resulted in a 21-29 defeat and the East Walians should have the edge again tomorrow.

Wrexham Seconds, new leaders of the North East Wales Championship, visit old rivals Llangollen for a play-off game tomorrow while the Thirds face a tough assignment when they travel to Ruthin Seconds hoping to reverse a 10-38 defeat that they suffered earlier this year (k.o.2.30pm).

 In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 13’s take on Warrington at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning while all other teams will train at the same venue (k.o.10.30am).

Week Ending 31st March

The stage is set at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon for Wrexham to secure the one point that they require for promotion by defeating or drawing with visitors Rhyl in an eagerly awaited Division Five North league contest (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Following last week’s crucial league victory at Machynlleth, coach Norman Stalker knows that Llanidloes are now the only club that can prevent his side from being promoted to Division Four with Llandudno. Llanidloes, six points in arrears, would have to win their two remaining games, rely on Wrexham losing three home games and score at least 18 tries in order to succeed.

“It would be nice to win at home on Saturday in front of our supporters”, said Stalker on Monday. “With promotion secured, our game against Llandudno in a fortnight’s time would become an ideal way to end a fine season for both clubs. But first of all we’ve got to defeat Rhyl and we can’t afford to take any chances”, he added.

The only injury doubt for tomorrow’s game is back-row player Rhodri Evans who missed last week’s game due to an ankle injury. He will undergo a late fitness test but is expected to have recovered sufficiently to take a place on the substitutes bench. Last week’s dynamic duo of Mike McLeod and Ian Sanger are raring to go and should prove to be too powerful for the Rhyl defence.

Wrexham defeated the Seasiders on their own ground by 32-5 last December and will have noted that Llanidloes pulled off a 43-10 success at the same venue on Saturday. Still recovering from the trauma of last season’s relegation from Division Four, Rhyl will improve measurably when several of their fine Youth Team players become available for senior duty.

As far as tomorrow’s game goes, however, Rhyl will contest strongly in the forward exchanges and defence, but are unlikely to have the strength to cope with Wrexham’s powerful ball carriers and the pace to keep up with wingers like Scott Davies and Ben Cheesbrough who should feature prominently.

In a rare confrontation between two sides from the same club, Wrexham Seconds and Thirds face each other in a North East Wales Championship play-off game at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow. The Seconds are second in the table after winning their opening games against Ruthin and Mold, but that will count for little when team pride is at stake and brothers clash on the rugby field (k.o. 2.30pm).

In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis visit Wilmslow on Sunday morning for a full programme of games, the Under 13’s travel to Stoke on Trent, the Under 15’s train at home and the Under 14’s and 16’s take on teams from Rhyl at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.10.30am).

Week Ending 10th March

Wales will take on France in Cardiff in the final game of their RBS Six Nations campaign tomorrow afternoon with France needing a victory to win the championship trophy and Wales looking for an improved performance following below par displays against Ireland and Italy (kick-off at 3.30pm).

Wales handed Italy their first away point after 17 successive defeats on the road when they were forced to settle for an 18-18 draw at a packed Millennium Stadium on Saturday. Italy conceded two tries as Wales dazzled in the first quarter, but they also managed to touch down twice and confounded the formbook by dominating the second-half.

Scott Johnson, the Wales caretaker coach, refused to make excuses after the game, preferring to concentrate on the poor execution of the young players given an opportunity to shine due to injuries of senior players. The outstanding scrum-half Dwayne Peel was sorely missed after departing with a shoulder injury early on.

“We played well for 25 minutes and scored two very good tries through Mark Jones and Stephen Jones. After that our execution was poor and Italy, as they have all season, gave us an indication of what a dangerous side they can be”, lamented Johnson as his thoughts turned from the loss of Wales’ championship towards the final game against France.

If Wales have problems, England are in some disarray after being pounded to a record 31-6 defeat by France on Paris last Sunday. France were poor in parts, and showed signs of fading during a second-half onslaught by the visitors, but they gathered themselves in the final quarter and won convincingly to keep their Six Nations campaign on track.

France are confident that they can defeat the current champions and win the Six Nations Trophy in Cardiff. They will, however, come up against a Welsh side that will match them on the physical side and will try to emulate the Scots who knocked the French out of their stride before winning the opening game of the Championship.

Although Wales are missing through injury many of the players who helped them to win the Grand Slam last season, outside-half Stephen Jones is playing at his very best at the moment and will relish the chance of attacking the French at pace. His reading of the game is exceptional and will pose problems for the visiting defence.

Winger Mark Jones, who has scored tries against Ireland and Italy in successive championship games, is also in top form and is expected to recover from a knee injury. His pace and that of Shane Williams will trouble France provided that the Welsh pack can win sufficient possession from the line-out and the rucks and mauls.     

Mike Phillips, the tall scrum-half who replaced the injured Dwayne Peel in the game against Italy, delivered a promising performance and could come out on top against his opposite number Frederic Michalak. Lions flanker Martyn Williams should also be a major influence for Wales in turning over French possession in this final championship game.

France will start tomorrow as clear favourites to reclaim the Six Nations title that they forfeited to Wales only a year ago. They will arrive with their own Dad’s Army, the oldest pack in the Six Nations Championship, and it will be interesting to see how they compete against the pace of Wales who dearly want to conclude their campaign in style.

If Wales defeat France tomorrow, Ireland can then win the title if they defeat England at Twickenham (k.o.5.30pm).  Earlier in the day, Italy will have a chance of avoiding the wooden spoon if can overcome Scotland at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome (k.o.1.30pm).

David Blackwell, the young Wrexham player who has forced his way into the Wales Under 16 squad with encouraging displays at hooker, gained his first rugby cap for his country in Italy on Sunday. He came on as a replacement with 15 minutes to go and helped Wales to claim an emphatic 48-5 victory over the Italians.

Blackwell came though his big test unscathed and gave an impressive performance. He has already been capped for Wales in cricket and is now aiming to force his way into the Welsh Under 16 rugby squad as first choice hooker.  

Wrexham Rugby Club’s attempt to keep their first choice players in match trim with a visit to Ruthin last Thursday was frustrated when heavy rain rendered the pitch unplayable at Cae Ddol. While the First Team squad will have to wait another week before they can resume action, Wrexham Seconds will take on the Yorkshire touring side Aireborough at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon (k.o.1.30pm).

In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis will visit Hoylake on the Wirral for a full programme of games on Sunday morning, the Under 14’s will train at home and the Under 13’s, 15’s and 16’s will take on teams from Newcastle Under Lyme at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.10.30am).

Week Ending 10th March

Wrexham Firsts, who’s quickly arranged friendly against old rivals Ruthin was just as quickly cancelled last night, due to a waterlogged pitch at Cae Ddol, will have a get together at their Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse tomorrow afternoon before they watch Wales playing Italy in the 2006 Six Nations Championship in Cardiff (k.o.1.30pm).

Wales, who suffered a 5-31 drubbing by Ireland at Lansdowne Road a fortnight ago following the resignation of their coach Mike Ruddock and loss of their captain Gareth Thomas through injury, need to find a way to bounce back quickly. Caretaker coach Scott Johnson is determined that they will succeed and views the home game against Italy as the ideal springboard.

Outside-half Stephen Jones, who put the Irish under sustained pressure until he was forced to leave the field after 20 minutes with a ‘dead leg’ injury, has bounced back to take his place in tomorrow’s starting line-up. Winger Mark Jones, who injured ribs against Bath in last Saturday’s Powergen Cup semi-final, but has since made a remarkable recovery, will join him.

Italy have lost all of their three games played so far but have demonstrated that they are made of sterner stuff under new French coach Pierre Berbizier. They led France by 12-8 at the Stade De France a fortnight ago and led England by 9-7 at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome before running out of steam in the final quarter and conceding heavy scores which finally defeated them.

Despite the superb kicking of their former Leicester outside-half Remiro Rez and the free running skills of their intelligent centre Mirco Bergamasco, Italy look set to fall in the closing stages to a Welsh side that has proved that it can last the full distance against any international side.  

Wales coach Scott Johnson is still pondering the offer of a post as assistant to new Australian coach John Connolly in preference to an extension of his contract with Wales, but has prepared Wales fully for tomorrow’s struggle with the physical Italians. The return of Stephen Jones and winger Shane Williams should provide the inspiration that Wales need to recharge their Championship campaign.       

Although no local rugby games will be played tomorrow afternoon, Wrexham’s Mini and Junior Section have arranged a full programme of games and training on Sunday morning at Bryn Estyn Road. The mini and Under 15 rugby sides will train while the Under 14’s and 16’s will be in action against squads from Llandudno (k.o.10.30am).

It will be an ideal opportunity for local supporters to see the classy Under 16’s in action for the first time since their all-conquering Italian tour. They will miss the services of their star player David Blackwell, who has been included in the Wales Under 16 squad that will be in action in Italy on the same morning, but should still be able to account for Llandudno.       

A snow-covered pitch at Bryn Estyn Road put paid to Wrexham’s top of the table match against Division Five North unbeaten league leaders Llandudno last Saturday. Match officials postponed it following a Friday pitch inspection and Fixture Secretary Kevin Davies has agreed a new date for the match to go ahead on Saturday 22nd April at Bryn Estyn Road.  

Davies also announced this week that Machynlleth, who had to postpone their scheduled visit to Wrexham last December when their bus broke down en route in Bala, have finally agreed to play their outstanding league game on Saturday 8th April. This will be a crucial game for Wrexham as winning it could guarantee their promotion to Division Four

All other rugby games throughout East Wales had to be postponed last Saturday due to the adverse weather conditions and Sunday’s mini and junior rugby programme also fell a victim to snow covered pitches.

Week Ending 3rd March

Tomorrow’s top of the table clash at Bryn Estyn Road between Division Five North unbeaten league leaders Llandudno and second placed Wrexham should provide a feast of running rugby with the home side determined to avenge two previous league and cup defeats (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Skipper Mike Ward and prop Ian Sanger are unavailable due to other commitments but coach Norman Stalker has been able to select most of the players who featured in Wrexham’s defeat of promotion hopefuls Welshpool by 27-14 a fortnight ago.

Flanker Rhodri Evans and prop Geraint Davies return to the side with flanker Phil Williams and hooker Paul Allen joining the substitutes bench.

Scrum-half Michael Powell is still unable to train due to a shoulder injury and his place will go to the experienced former skipper John Roberts, provided that he recovers from a bout of flu. He will be partnered at half-back by Dafydd Williams who is performing better every week in his role as playmaker.

Llandudno, who are already assured of promotion to Division Four this season, defeated Wrexham by 38-19 at Maesdu Road last November. They shocked the visitors by scoring a well worked try in the opening minute and then went on to establish a 38-0 lead before Wrexham countered with a hat-trick of tries from winger Scott Davies in the final quarter. 

Two weeks later, Wrexham returned to Llandudno for a North Wales Cup game and performed much better before losing by 0-18. They contained the home side’s fast running threequarters for much of the game, but were unable to penetrate a solid wall of defence when it was their turn to attack.

A good start to the game is essential for Wrexham to unsettle the visitors and prevent them from slipping into the form which has enabled them to score an average of 8 tries per game this term. The home side, averaging 5 touchdowns per game, are no slouches themselves and will be keen to bring their threequarters into contention.

Scott Davies, who needs to score a try to catch up with leading try scorer Mike McLeod on 11 touchdowns, could provide the key for Wrexham to unlock Llandudno’s mean defence. If Ben Cheesbrough, on the other wing, can use his pace to launch his devastating diagonal runs, more scores could flow.

Coach Norman Stalker is looking forward to tomorrow’s top game and knows that his side needs to win two of their remaining four games to achieve promotion with Llandudno to Division Four. The players know that a place in the top flight of rugby in North Wales is within their grasp and defeating the Seasiders tomorrow would cap an already excellent season.

Wrexham Seconds return to action in the North East Wales Championship play-offs with a visit to Abergele who defeated them by 17-0 in January to claim the Division B Championship. The visitors recorded a surprise victory over Ruthin Seconds a fortnight ago and hope for another success at Abergele tomorrow (k.o.2.30pm). Wrexham Thirds, also featuring in the play-offs, visit Llangollen who beat them by 33-8 when the sides met at Dinas Bran last December. The Youth Team take on Abergele in a friendly at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.2.30pm).

In mini and junior rugby, the Wrexham mini rugby teams have home advantage in their full programme of games on Sunday morning against Nant Conwy. The Under 13’s entertain Shrewsbury, the Under 14’s and 15’s will train at the same venue, while the highlight of the day will be the visit of Wrexham Under 16’s to Mold for an eagerly awaited local derby (k.o.10.30am)

Most of Wrexham’s first team players made the best of a blank Saturday to visit Dublin and support Wales against Ireland. Before they travelled, however, they were overjoyed to learn that Wrexham Under 16’s had just returned from a hugely successful tour of Italy where they won all three of their games in style. Coached by Ian Morris and Russell Wingeat, and managed by Neil Sissons, Wrexham defeated Cus Verona in their opening match by 37-12, overwhelmed Rovato by 48-5 on the following day and still had the strength to outpoint Botticino on the third and final day of their tour by 21-13.

Wrexham Chairman Mr Stan Edwards was delighted to learn of the success of the Under 16’s and the prospect that the Youth Team, and then the senior sides, will soon be benefiting from such talent. “With the new developments and refurbishment of the club nearing completion, this is hopefully a sign of brighter times ahead at the club”, he enthused.Edwards’ comments were reinforced on Wednesday when it was announced that David Blackwell, a popular member of the Under 16 squad, has been named in the 22 man Wales Under 16 squad which will travel to Italy to take on their finest at that level on Sunday 12th March.

Blackwell has been given a place on the replacements bench and is set to become the first Wrexham rugby player since Andy Moore to represent his country. Some will recall that Moore was an outstanding lock forward in the full Welsh side of 2000 that defeated Ireland by 23-19 at Lansdowne Road.

Week Ending 24th Feb

Wales take on Ireland at Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Sunday afternoon, and many Wrexham players and supporters will be amongst the 30,000 strong army of rugby followers that will cross the Irish Sea to cheer on the reigning RBS Six Nations Champions (k.o.3.00pm).

Last week’s resignation of Wales coach Mike Ruddock, his replacement by Australian Scott Johnson and this week’s speculation about player power bring involved in the change of coach, will add to the interest in the game and will no doubt put extra pressure on the players.

However, the match will boil down to a classic confrontation between the two Celtic nations that has always brought out the best in both sides and has often been won by the away team. Wales haven’t won for 6 years at this ground and are therefore overdue a win while Ireland have disappointed their supporters in this year’s campaign and will be keen to impress the home crowd.

Wales beat Ireland by 32-20 in Cardiff to win the Grand Slam in last year’s Championship and, despite losing to England at Twickenham at the start of this year’s campaign, are confident that they can overcome injuries and managerial problems to win in Dublin on Sunday and put themselves in a position to retain the trophy.     

Two games will be played at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon, a mixture of Wrexham Seconds and Thirds taking on Mossley Hill from Liverpool. Wrexham Youth Team will be in action against Rhyl in a North Wales Youth League Division Two Championship game and both matches kick-off at 2.30pm.

On Sunday morning, the Wrexham Mini and Junior Section have arranged a full programme of games with the Under 8’s to 12’s visiting Shrewsbury and the Under 13’s and 14’s travelling to Oswestry.

The Under16’s are on tour and the Under 15’s will train at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.10.30am).   The Wrexham First team squad will work hard in training next week to prepare for the long awaited return game against Division Five North championship leaders Llandudno at Bryn Estyn Road on Saturday 4th March. Llandudno defeated Wrexham by 38-19 in the league and then 18-0 in the North Wales Cup this term, but Wrexham have the ability to turn the tables on their home ground.

In second place in the table, and six points ahead of their closest rivals.Wrexham need to win two of their last four games to clinch promotion to Division Four. Facing a visit to Machynlleth in March and home games against Machynlleth and Rhyl in April, Mike Ward’s side should be able to achieve its goal and return to the top flight of rugby in North Wales

Week Ending 17th Feb

Following last week’s setback at Llanidloes, where they were beaten by the slender margin of 3-0, Wrexham will need to pull out all the stops at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon to overcome a resurgent Welshpool side (kick-off at 2.30pm).

A victory tomorrow, with Wrexham’s nearest promotion challengers Llanidloes looking odds on to lose at league leaders Llandudno, would restore the six point advantage which Wrexham have held over their rivals for some time. A defeat would put them under severe pressure with a home game against Llandudno to come. Centres Chris Andrew and Peter Doogan, unavailable last week, are expected to return to the squad and flanker John Gill should return from a shoulder injury. Scrum-half Michael Powell, another shoulder injury victim, remains doubtful for tomorrow’s game with John Roberts standing by to deputise if necessary.    

 Welshpool, lying near the bottom of Division Five North before Christmas, have improved dramatically since then and moved up to fourth place in the Championship last week with a 33-5 home demolition of Rhos. They have discovered the knack of scoring tries and could have the potential to overtake second placed Wrexham by the end of the season. Matches between Wrexham and Welshpool have always been fiercely contested and this is born out by recent scores.

October’s game at Welshpool resulted in a 15-9 victory for the visitors and in the previous season, although Wrexham completed a notable double, there was no more than a dozen points difference between the sides. The key to success against Welshpool is competing well in the forward battle which is the main strength of their current side. Provided that Wrexham can win their share of possession and stand up to Welshpool’s driving mauls, the home side possess the cutting edge behind the scrum to outstrip the visitors defence and score match winning tries.

The North East Wales Championship play-offs start tomorrow with Wrexham represented by their Second and Third XV’s.  Both have been given home advantage, the Seconds taking on Ruthin Seconds, the current champions, and the Thirds facing their old adversaries Flint (k.o.2.30pm).

Wrexham Youth Team visit Abergele for a North Wales Youth League Division Two contest, both sides having failed to win any of their games so far and having drawn 29-29 when they met at Wrexham last October. The visitors have impressed in recent games and should finally claim the victory that they have been searching for.

In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham Under 13’s will take on Newport at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning while the rest of the teams will be either training or on tour (k.o.10.30am).

Week Ending 10th Feb

Wrexham will face a crucial promotion battle when they travel to Mid Wales on Saturday to take on a successful Llanidloes side in a Division Five North Championship contest (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Coach Norman Stalker has been allowed the luxury of being able to select from a full strength squad this week, centre Daniel Cheesbrough and prop Ian Sanger returning from work commitments that prevented them from taking part in Wrexham’s last game against Bangor a fortnight ago.

No injuries have been reported and the week’s break in the fixture programme, due to the start of the 2006 Six Nations Championship, has helped some players to recover from minor bruises and aches and pains. Prop Geraint Davies and scrum-half Michael Powell should be back to top form, ready to make a strong push for promotion.

Llanidloes, who defeated Wrexham by 19-17 in last season’s league game, have made great strides in rugby this term with a hard working team backed up by keen supporters and an impressive new ground and clubhouse. They currently occupy third place in the table, six points behind Wrexham who have a game in hand.

Wrexham defeated the Mid Walians when they visited Bryn Estyn Road last October, but they had to work hard for a 10-0 victory and were indebted to a fine debut performance by flanker Keir Harding who claimed a brace of unconverted tries. It was the hardest home game of the season and a similar contest can be expected at Llanidloes tomorrow.

Victory, with only five more league games to go, would keep Wrexham in a virtually unassailable second place in the championship table. Defeat would be a setback, but one that could be addressed and overcome with good performances in the four home games that have still to be played.

The Championship has not yet been won by unbeaten leaders Llandudno, however, and they could still be overtaken by Wrexham if they slip up at Bryn Estyn Road in March and lose or draw one other game on their travels. Wrexham will remain focused on that ultimate challenge and should be determined enough to knock Llanidloes out of the promotion race tomorrow.    

Wrexham Seconds visit Whitchurch Seconds for a cross-border friendly fixture and have high hopes of repeating the 12-5 success that they achieved against the same opponents last season. Captained by Darrell Hughes, the Seconds have won six of their last seven games with some very impressive winning margins.

The Thirds face Whitchurch Thirds at Bryn Estyn Road and will be keen to make up for the 7-29 defeat that they suffered at the hands of the Shropshire men a fortnight ago. The Youth Team will also be at home, switching from league action to a friendly fixture against old rivals Denbigh (k.o.2.30pm).

In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis will visit Rhyl for a full programme of games on Sunday morning while the Under 13’s and 16’s will travel to Wilmslow. The Under 14’s and 15’s will train at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.10.30am). 

Week Ending 3rd Feb

Wales, the 2005 Grand Slam champions, will open their 2006 Six Nations Championship campaign when they take on England, the World Champions, at Twickenham tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 3.30pm). They haven’t won at Twickenham since 1988 when Jonathan Davies released Adrian Hadley down the left wing to score two second-half tries that helped the visitors to an 11-3 success. England went on to dominate subsequent matches under Will Carling and Martin Johnson but are now in a period of transition.

Although Wales are riven by injury and suspension, coach Mike Ruddock expressed confidence this week that Wales can lay the bogey at Twickenham and go on to win a back-to-back Grand Slam. Part of this confidence stems from the fact that his outstanding captain Gareth Thomas has recovered from a facial injury and is itching to spearhead the new campaign. With home games to come at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium against Scotland, Italy and France, and only one more away game in Ireland, Wales will certainly have an excellent chance of retaining the Championship if they can beat England tomorrow. However, England, beaten in Cardiff last year by a late Gavin Henson penalty, will be looking for revenge and harbour Grand Slam ambitions of their own.  

The local rugby club programme will be completely blank tomorrow when all eyes will be focused on the events unfolding at Twickenham. Sunday will be an important day for Wrexham’s mini rugby players because they will be taking on local rivals Mold at Bryn Estyn Road. The Under 14’s and 16’s will face challenging games at Nant Conwy on the same morning (k.o.10.30am).

Wrexham’s senior rugby squad will continue to train hard for next week’s crucial Division Five North game at Llanidloes. The Mid Walians trail second placed Wrexham by six points in the table and know that a home defeat will end any hopes that they have of claiming one of two promotion places available this season. Wrexham, who have suffered only one defeat this term, are only three points behind leaders Llandudno who have to travel to Bryn Estyn Road next month. The Championship is still open at this stage and Wrexham can keep on winning if they can improve their support work and introduce more pace in attack

Wrexham Seconds suffered a 0-17 whitewash at Abergele Firsts who claimed the North East Wales Division B Championship leaving Wrexham in third place. Rhos Seconds were unable to raise a side to face Wrexham Thirds in the final game of the Division A Championship, leaving Wrexham in a commendable second place in the table behind new Champions Ruthin Seconds.

Both Wrexham teams have won their way through to the play-offs for the North East Districts Championship League which starts later this month. They will meet each other in a showdown at Bryn Estyn Road on Saturday 1st April, a date eagerly awaited by both squads with points to prove.

Week Ending 27th Jan

Wrexham may break their 87-0 league scoring record, which they set at Bangor last October, when they face the same luckless opponents at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).Coach Norman Stalker will miss the services of prop Ian Sanger who will be away on a course, but otherwise will be able to count on a full strength squad for tomorrow’s encounter. Centre Daniel Cheesbrough, winger Ben Cheesbrough and utility forward Graham Shepherd return from a skiing holiday to increase Stalker’s options.

Winning should be a simple task for Wrexham who face a visiting Bangor side which is rooted at the bottom of Division Five North without a single league point in the bag and a woeful record of 90 tries conceded in 11 games. Bangor deserve enormous credit for keeping going in such circumstances with very limited playing resources.When the two sides met at Cae Milltir a few months ago, Bangor competed well in the first-half to restrict Wrexham to a 14-0 at the break. They had been stretched, however, and were quickly despatched in the second-half by the powerful running of winger Scott Davies and lock Mike McLeod who claimed a brace of touchdowns apiece in a 13 try tally. Davies and McLeod are the club’s current leading try scorers with 9 touchdowns apiece and look set to improve on this by the end of tomorrow’s game.

Scrum-half Michael Powell is not far behind with 5 tries to his credit while outside-half Dafydd Williams, on the come-back trail after flu, can be counted on to kick a few conversions. For supporters, the game will provide the opportunity to watch a feast of tries and then sample the newly refurbished clubhouse which reopened last weekend. Victory will not enable Wrexham to overhaul league leaders Llandudno, but it will keep them in a secure second place, ready for a tough contest at third placed Llanidloes next month. 

Wrexham Seconds visit Abergele Firsts for a top of the table game in North East Wales Division B. Abergele won the previous contest between the two sides at Bryn Estyn Road by 26-25 and currently lead third placed Wrexham by two points. 

In Division A, Wrexham Thirds face Rhos Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road and are already assured of qualification for the top tier of the league play-offs that start next month. Wrexham Youth will host Dolgellau in a North Wales Youth League Division Two contest (k.o.2.30pm).

In Mini and Junior Rugby, all of the mini rugby sides will train at their headquarters at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning. The Under 13’s and 14’s entertain teams from Oswestry Rugby Club while the Under 15’s and 16’s will train at home (k.o.10.30am).

Week Ending 20th Jan

Wrexham travel to Bro Ffestiniog tomorrow afternoon, knowing that a victory in the slate quarrying town could give them a clear advantage over their closest rivals in Division Five North (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Once they have completed tomorrow’s contest, Wrexham face seven more games, but five of those will take place at Bryn Estyn Road where Mike Ward’s team has remained unbeaten in league competition since September 2004. Their toughest remaining home game will be against league leaders Llandudno in March.

Coach Norman Stalker has been forced to make several changes due to the unavailability of the Cheesbrough brothers, Daniel and Ben, as well as flanker Graham Shepherd. They are now abroad on a skiing holiday, which was organised before this season’s league fixtures were published.

The return of outside-half Dafydd Williams from a lengthy bout of influenza will strengthen the squad and utility back Simon Williams, unavailable last week, is expected to resume. Peter Doogan, a try scorer as replacement centre last week, will probably feature in the starting line-up.

There are injury doubts over centre John Roberts, scrum-half Michael Powell and prop Guy Bingham who all received intensive physiotherapy treatment this week, but Stalker and his coaching team are confident that they will be able to field a side capable of taking on Bro Ffestiniog.

The Gwynedd club have dropped to fourth from bottom place in the division after being beaten by 12-3 at Llanidloes last week. However, they nearly won when they visited Wrexham last October and were only thwarted when outside-half Richard Lloyd managed to kick an injury time penalty to claim a 27-24 home win.

Their centre Edwin Roberts, who crossed for two tries in that hectic game, will pose a real threat to Wrexham’s ambitions and the Bro Ffestiniog pack is capable of winning a lot of possession if allowed. Wrexham will rely on the fast moving style of rugby developed under Stalker and Richard Lloyd and will have to be at their best to win.

Wrexham Seconds entertain Widnes Seconds in a non-league game at Bryn Estyn Road while the Thirds visit Oswestry Seconds for a cross-border friendly fixture. Wrexham Youth Team visit Bala for a North Wales Youth League Division Two match with high hopes of avenging the 12-31 home defeat which they suffered last October (k.o.2.30pm).

On Sunday morning, Wrexham’s mini rugby teams have a full programme of games against Sandbach at Bryn Estyn Road. The Under 13’s and 14’s will travel to Pwllheli while the Under 15’s and 16’s will train at home (k.o.10.30am).

Steve Cook, Wrexham Rugby Club’s House and Grounds Officer, has announced that the newly refurbished Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse will re-open this evening (Friday) at 7.00pm. The bar and function room has been completely modernised and a strict non-smoking policy will be applied throughout, probably the first rugby club in Wales to do so.

The ‘official’ opening of the clubhouse will take place towards the end of the season and club officials are hoping that Welsh Coach Mike Ruddock will be able to attend as a Guest of Honour. It is intended that he will be accompanied by the All Black rugby international Jonah Lomu, who has played for Wrexham, and former Welsh international brothers Steve and Andy Moore, who were brought up in the town.

Week Ending 13th Jan

Wrexham return to their home ground at Bryn Estyn Road for the first time since mid October when they entertain Rhayader in a Division Five North contest tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Utility threequarter Chris Andrew is set to make his 100th appearance for the club and coach Norman Stalker is relishing the prospect of being able to field a full strength side with the return from unavailability or illness of centre Daniel Cheesbrough, outside-half Dafydd Williams, hooker Paul Allen and winger Simon Williams.

Stalker’s options improved last week when lock Mike Jones returned from long term injury to give an impressive performance and, although hooker Gareth Perrin has decided to take a rest from the game to concentrate more on his career, Geoff Lawrence is a strong young replacement in the squad.

Wrexham defeated second from bottom Rhayader by 45-7 in Mid Wales last September. Lock Mike McLeod claimed a brace of tries in that seven try victory and has since added to his tally to become joint top try scorer with winger Scott Davies who is starting to hit top form again after a  fairly quiet period.

Rhayader have won one game and drawn one so far this season and are second from bottom of Division Five North. They played well last week against Llanidloes, Wrexham’s main rivals for the second promotion place in this season’s Championship race, but eventually succumbed by 15-23.

Wrexham were not at their best in their game at Rhos last week, but should perform  much better tomorrow with a full strength side. Home advantage will assist their cause and they will want to deliver a convincing exhibition in front of coach Norman Stalker and their supporters before next week’s more challenging contest at Bro Ffestiniog.  

Wrexham Seconds visit Colwyn Bay Seconds for a North East Wales Division B contest tomorrow afternoon while the Thirds face sterner opposition at home in the form of Ruthin Seconds who are clear leaders of Division A . The Youth Team has a home game against Caernarfon in North Wales Youth League Division Two (k.o.2.30pm). On Sunday there will be a full  programme of mini and junior rugby games against Ruthin (k.o.10.30am).

Refurbishment works in the Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse are nearing completion with the new shower block now fully commissioned and the impressive modern bar and clubroom scheduled to be opened next weekend.

Week Ending 6th Jan

Wrexham, out of action for the last three weeks during the Christmas and New Year festivities, face a tough start to the second part of their season when they visit local rivals Rhos for a Division Five North contest tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Centres Simon Williams and Daniel Cheesbrough will be missing from this Saturday’s Wrexham line-up due to work commitments, but prop Geraint Davies is expected to return after a lengthy rest to partner Chris Phillips in the front-row. Keir Harding, who has added extra pace to the Wrexham back-row, should also return after injury.

Wrexham, who were beaten by 10-8 when they last appeared at Ponciau Banks, currently occupy second place in the table behind Llandudno and are fully aware that they need to make a good start to the second part of their season  if they are to succeed in their ambition to be promoted alongside the current leaders.

They defeated Rhos by 38-3 in the season opener last September, largely because of the superior pace of their threequarters and the presence of  newcomer Dafydd Williams at outside-half. Williams has since established himself as a key player in the side but was injured in the team’s last game at Llandudno and will have to pass a late fitness if he is to appear tomorrow.  

Despite suffering a 0-18 whitewash in that pre-Christmas cup game at Llandudno, new coach Norman Stalker was pleased with the overall performance of his pack and will rely on them to match the power of the well drilled Rhos eight. He will, however, be looking for an improvement in the threequarter line which has lost some of its cutting edge.

In all matches between Rhos and Wrexham, fierce local pride is at stake and tomorrow’s will be no exception. Rhos, who have won only one game this term and are third from bottom of Division Five North, have home advantage and will be keen to avenge last September’s defeat, while Wrexham need to win to fend off the challenge of Llanidloes and Machynlleth who are also determined to secure promotion.    

Wrexham Seconds, second in Division B of the North East Wales League, visit Mold Seconds who ended a ten year winning run when they demolished Wrexham by 56-24 at Bryn Estyn Road last November. Wrexham have improved since then with whitewash victories over Corwen and Shotton but they will have to pull out all the stops if they are to avenge their last home defeat.

The Thirds visit Flint for a Division A game knowing that a win tomorrow would guarantee them a place in the championship play-off which starts in February. They defeated Flint at home by 18-10 in October but came unstuck in a friendly on Deeside last month and were whitewashed by 45-0.

Wrexham Youth Team, out of action for over a month, will be keen to resume league rugby tomorrow afternoon when they visit Ruthin for a North Wales Youth Division Two game. Prop Simon Durban is unavailable but full-back Adam Hind and flanker Tim Roberts should strengthen the side.  

In Mini and Junior Rugby, The Under 13’s visit Chester while the rest of the squads will train at Bryn Estyn Road before launching the second part of their season with a full programme of games against Ruthin next week.

Austin Thomas, the Director of Rugby in North Wales, has announced that North Wales will play the Llanelli Scarlets at Under 25 level in a National Amateur Cup game at Llanidloes Rugby Club on Tuesday 17th January at 7.00pm. Supporters under the age of 16 will receive free admission to the game.

Week Ending 23rd Dec

Following last weekend’s games, all Wrexham teams will take a Christmas break until Saturday 7th January, 2006, when the league programme resumes. Club officials had hoped to resurrect the traditional Boxing Day fixture with Ruthin or another close rival, but refurbishment works in the Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse will not be complete until the New Year and the fixture idea has therefore been postponed until the re-opening of the club.

The work which has already been undertaken in the clubhouse is impressive and will completely transform its appearance from a stark Seventies style into a very modern, comfortable amenity. With finances on a solid footing again, the improved facilities  should help to kickstart Wrexham’s return to the top flight of rugby in North Wales.

After the Christmas break, Wrexham Firsts will visit Rhos for what is expected to be a hotly contested local derby match in Division Five North. Currently occupying second place in the table behind an all conquering Llandudno side, Wrexham know that they cannot afford any slip-ups in the second half of the season if they are to succeed in their ambition to be one of two teams to be promoted to Division Four.

Week Ending 16th Dec

Wrexham visit Llandudno for a North Wales Cup second round game tomorrow afternoon, boosted by the return of Dafydd Williams at outside-half and the inclusion of utility threequarter Peter Dougan in their squad (kick-off at 2.30pm).

They will still have fresh memories of their previous visit to Maesdu Road Recreation Ground last month when they got off to an abysmal start by conceding a converted try within the first minute and, despite a late rally, were eventually consigned to a 38-19 league defeat.

Unbeaten Llandudno, who lead the promotion race in Division Five North by six points from second placed Wrexham, have a very impressive try tally having notched 65 touchdowns with only 6 against so far. Wrexham have scored 42 tries, three of those against Llandudno, courtesy of a hat-trick by winger Scott Davies.

Davies was feeling a bit tender in training this week after receiving a heavy knock in his side’s league victory at Rhyl. He is expected to pass a late fitness test, however, and will no doubt take his place on the right wing to remind Llandudno that their impressive defensive line can be cracked if opposed with power and pace.

Hooker Gareth Perrin and centre Daniel Cheesbrough are unavailable tomorrow, but this will gave Paul Allen an opportunity to start tomorrow’s game in the front row while Chris Andrew, who had a great game at outside-half last Saturday, will take Cheesbrough’s place in the centre of the threequarters.

Wrexham have the best record of all clubs in the North Wales Cup competition, having brought home the cup to Bryn Estyn Road on no less than 18 occasions. Llandudno are the in-form team in the Region’s lower division at the moment and will start as clear favourites to progress to the third round, but Wrexham under new coach Norman Stalker will certainly give them a run for their money.

Wrexham Seconds, back on the winning trail again, visit Ruthin Thirds for a North East Wales Division B game tomorrow while the Thirds will take on Denbigh Seconds at Castell Alun School in a Division A game (k.o.2.30pm).  On Sunday, most of the mini and junior rugby teams will be in action against Colwyn Bay at home while the Under 13’s will travel to Warrington (k.o.10.30am).

Week Ending 9th Dec

Wrexham Rugby Club officials announced this week that they have completed their long search for a new coach by appointing Norman Stalker to the post. Stalker, a former assistant coach at Bryn Estyn Road, has returned to the club after reviewing his plans following his recent departure from Whitchurch.

The first job for the new coach will be to prepare a team for Wrexham’s Division Five North game at Rhyl tomorrow afternoon. It could prove to be a difficult opening game for Stalker because his new team hasn’t played for a month, their scheduled game against Machynlleth being postponed last week when the visitors bus broke down in Bala.

Dafydd Williams has recovered from a back injury to reclaim the outside-half position and is likely to be partnered by scrum-half John Roberts. Michael Powell, who gave a stirring performance for the Seconds and scored two tries in their demolition of Corwen last week, may have done enough to earn a place on the replacements bench.  

The selectors have confirmed that they will adhere to the side which was due to start last week’s scheduled fixture with locks Ian Sanger and Graham Shepherd appearing in the second-row and Mike McLeod providing cover as a replacement. Mike Jones, a regular  performer in the second-row, has been struggling with a knee ligament injury and will miss the visit to Rhyl.

Games between Wrexham and Rhyl have been well contested in recent years with only a handful of points separating the sides at the final whistle. Two seasons ago, Wrexham were defeated at The Waen by 11-6 but gained revenge when they beat the Seasiders by 3-0 with a Kerry Powell penalty at Bryn Estyn Road.

Rhyl, who were relegated from Division Four North last season, are slowly rebuilding but have lost four games this term, including last week’s 13-0 whitewash at Llanidloes. They have a fragile defence compared with the leading teams in Division Five and have no real prospect of making an instant return to the top flight.

Wrexham will struggle to find cohesion in the early stages because they haven’t played together in competition for a month. Provided that the visitors can secure a fair share of the available possession, however, try scorers like Keir Harding and Scott Davies should ensure that Wrexham’s promotion challenge remains on track (k.o.2.30pm).

New coach Norman Stalker played for Chester in the centre and back-row before turning his hand to coaching. He helped to guide Chester to the 1997 Cheshire Cup Final against mighty Sale and then moved to Caldy where he assisted them in their drive to become one of the leading non-professional clubs in the North West.

Stalker, excited at the prospect of coaching Wrexham, said this week, “Circumstances have given me the opportunity to coach what I believe is one of the strongest clubs in North Wales. Now that the future of the club is guaranteed, I want to put the playing side back where it should be.”

“In the short term, my ambition this year is to get the club promoted to Division Four North which is the top flight of North Wales Rugby. I’m also aware that I can help to develop coaching at the club and uncover the existing talent which will continue to make the club successful”, he added.

Wrexham Seconds, rejuvenated by their 77-0 victory over Corwen last Saturday following three successive defeats, will be in action at Shotton tomorrow in a North East Wales Division B game. The return of Peter Doogan at full-back has been a major boost for them and they have high hopes for another win tomorrow.

The Thirds entertain Rhyl Seconds, recent conquerers of Division A leaders Ruthin Seconds, at Castell Alun School. Wrexham Youth Team, out of action for a month, visit Machynlleth where they are hoping to gain their first win of the season (k.o.2.30pm).

On Sunday morning, Wrexham’s mini rugby teams will be in action at Chester Road, Mold, against teams from the host club and Altrincham.  The Under 13’s visit Newport while the Under 14’s to 16’s will train at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.at 10.30am). 

For the 2nd year running Machynlleth failed to fulfil their Division 5 North fixture with Wrexham 1st XV . This year the match was unable to be played due to transport breakdown between Dolgellau and Bala, whilst Mach were travelling to Wrexham. Due to the Welsh 'International' ruling Wrexham have only been able to play only one match in the past 6 weeks and go to Rhyl this Saturday without any competitive rugby for 1 month.

Week Ending 2nd Dec.

Wrexham take on unbeaten Machynlleth at Castell Alun School tomorrow afternoon and will be hoping that the sparkle provided by two of their players celebrating their half century of First Team games played will inspire them to an absolutely essential victory (kick-off at 2.30pm).

Rhodri Evans and Scott Davies are the players who have been selected to make their 50th appearance for the club and can be counted on to deliver top performances to help Wrexham maintain their current second place in the Division Five North table. Machynlleth are in third place, three points behind with two games in hand.

The venue for the game has been switched from Bryn Estyn Road to Castell Alun School in Hope because the Wrexham clubhouse is at a crucial stage of refurbishment and no post match showers are currently available.

Ian Sanger and Graham Shepherd have trained hard during the last couple of weeks and are expected to continue their strong partnership in the second-row of the pack. Regular locks  Mike Jones and Mike McLeod, who were both unavailable for Wrexham’s last game at Llandudno, have been unable to train recently but McLeod is expected to claim a place on the substitutes bench. 

McLeod, who is Wrexham’s top try scorer with 8 touchdowns to his credit, will be complemented on the right wing by Scott Davies who has claimed 7 tries already including a hat-trick at Llandudno. Davies has been struggling to find the form which helped to transform Wrexham into a leading side last season, but now appears to have boosted his pace.   

Llandudno caught Wrexham cold in their last game and put enormous pressure on them by scoring within the first minute. The visitors tried to respond but the Seasiders showed more determination and it wasn’t until the final stages of the game that Wrexham managed to make any impact.

Following that shock reverse, Wrexham have worked hard in training to prepare for a difficult match against Machynlleth who, like Wrexham, are playing well and are keen to gain promotion to Division Four North. The Mid Walians possess a strong pack which was a dominant force in last season’s home game between the two clubs before the visitors were beaten by 29-21. 

Prop Geraint Davies has been working hard to overcome a back problem and may not start tomorrow’s match. With new front-row recruit Geoff Lawrence waiting in the wings, however, Wrexham should be able to counter Machynlleth’s likely early dominance, provided that they are fully warmed up and prepared for a titanic struggle.

Wrexham Seconds, losers of their last 3 matches, should have enough firepower to stop the rot when they take on Corwen in a North East Wales Division B championship game at Castell Alun School tomorrow. Dean Griffiths will make a big difference at number eight while hooker John Gill will inspire his side after recent powerful performances. 


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