Wrexham Rugby Football Club
Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham, LL13 9TY (UK)
by Chris Kilfoyle
|Previews||Reports & news|
|Preview for 1st June 2002|
|Rugby 24th May 2002|
|Rugby 17th May 2002|
|Rugby 13th May 2002|
|Preview for 4th May 2002||Report for 4th May 2002|
|Preview for 27th April 2002||Report for 27th April 2002|
|Preview for 20th April 2002||Report for 20th April 2002|
|Preview for 15th April 2002||Report for 15th April 2002|
|Report for 6th April 2002|
|Rugby news 1st April 2002|
|Preview for 30th March 2002||Report for 30th March 2002|
|Preview for 23rd March 2002|
|Preview for 16th March 2002||Report for 16th March 2002|
|Preview for 9th March 2002||Report for Saturday 9th March 2002|
|Preview for 2nd March 2002||Report for 2nd March 2002|
|Preview for 23rd & 24th February 2002||Report for 23rd Feb 2002|
|Preview for 16th February 2002|
|Preview for 9th February 2002||Report for 9th February 2002|
|Preview 2nd February 2002||Report for 2nd February 2002|
|Preview for 26th January 2002||Report for 26th January 2002|
|19th January 2002|
|12th January 2002|
|Preview for 5th January 2002||5th January 2002|
|29th December 2001|
|15th December 2001|
|8th December 2001|
|1st December 2001|
|24th November 2001|
|17th November 2001|
|3rd November 2001|
|30th October 2001|
|27th October 2001|
|6th October 2001|
|2nd October 2001|
|22nd September 2001|
|11th September 2001|
|4th September 2001|
|30th August 2001|
Skipper Robbie James will take a competitive Wrexham squad to tomorrow's
Llangoed Sevens in Anglesey, keen to round off this season in style by repeating the club's 1998 success at this prestigious tournament
Wrexham restored their old reputation as excellent seven-a-side performers by defeating Llangefni 26-12 in a hotly contested final four years ago, having disposed of favourites Pwllheli, Liverpool side Sefton, Porthmadog and Bethesda in the early rounds.
Former skipper Llyr Williams and John Roberts are the only survivors of the successful squad to represent the club tomorrow. They will be joined by current First XV regulars Stuart Van Wyke , Gavin Brace and the very mobile flanker Ringo Wu, who may be ideally suited to the seven-a-side game.
Surprise additions are former Youth Team outside-half Dave Anderson and his brother Axel, who has experience of playing rugby league at a competitive level and should know how to maintain a defensive line and then exploit a gap when it is fashioned. Possible late inclusions in the squad are forwards Gareth Sanger and Paul Campbell who have performed superbly for Chester and New Brighton this season.
Coach Ross Roberts has never tasted success at this event but has competed well at similar tournaments during his long career. His side should be able to account for Congleton and Caernarfon in the early rounds, but they will have to be at their best to defeat Llangefni, whose skilled backs were largely responsible for winning the North Wales Championship this term.
Other competition at the group stage will come from Manhattan Select who are an unknown quantity and could include some higher division players from South Wales. Wrexham can probably afford to lose one of group games and still reach the later stages of the competition but, if they blend well from the beginning, they could race into the final and possibly win it again.
In mini and junior rugby, applications have been invited from parents who wish to enrol their sons or daughters on a Rugby Summer School to be held at Wrexham Rugby Club during the weekend of 17th and 18th August. Those attending will be over 7 years of age but under 11 and will be helped to learn new skills and improve on others by a team led by Marc Roberts, the local WRU Development Officer.
The fee for the weekend is £8 per person, although the 7 year olds will be admitted for half-price. A maximum of 100 course members will be able to participate in a mini rugby tournament on the final day and all will be presented with certificates. Those interested in applying should contact Marc Roberts on 01978 317689 or Neil Sissons on 01978 357990.
It has been announced that the Wrexham's Hooker Blues Club will stage the National Blues Festival at Bryn Estyn Road from Friday 28th to Sunday 30th June. The club has become one of the premier venues for both new and established blues and R'n'B bands and is organising this popular event for the fifth time in succession.
Performers will include the famed Slack Alice band, the Florida based guitarist Tommy McCoy on his first UK tour, Rick Payne and Nashville's Fred James. Over 12 bands will entertain thousands of blues followers over a three day period and more information can be obtained by accessing the club's website on www.hookerblues.co.uk.
Although the rugby will finish at tomorrow's Llangoed Sevens Tournament, coach Ross Roberts will continue to organise training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Bryn Estyn Road. Roberts has switched the emphasis from serious power building work to light sessions where having fun without pressure to perform well is of utmost importance. Training starts at 7.00pm and new players of all abilities are very welcome to attend.
This Season's Old News
Danny Munro fulfilled a long standing ambition when he deservedly collected
the prestigious Adrian Hill Players' Player of the Year Trophy at Wrexham Rugby Club's Annual Dinner and Awards Presentation Evening at Bryn Estyn Road
The gifted all-rounder, who played most of the season in the key hooker position in the front row, added this season's top award to his share of the Bernard Malley Award for making the most senior appearances in a season. With prop Rob Pierce, he missed only four games and gave his side some much needed stability during a difficult season in Division Five North.
The Harry Hollywell Award, presented by the Club Coach Ross Roberts to his choice of top player, went to lock Ian Sanger who moved up from the Third XV to claim a regular place in the senior side. He became one of the strongest players in the pack and played his part in Wrexham's revival by claiming five important tries.
Mike Ward, the former Youth Team flanker, was voted the Most Improved Player after making the transition from the Second Team to become established in the First XV back-row. His ability to secure possession in the line-out was crucial to the side and he missed only five games, earning a coveted 'colours' tie which is awarded to players appearing in 75% of games played.
Other recipients of colours ties were Simon Williams, James Plant, Ian Sanger and John Darlington. Williams also represented North Wales and the Wrexham and Powys 'Rhinos' provincial side during the season, while Darlington proved to be a great success in the centre after joining Wrexham from the now defunct Castell Alun club last September.
Skipper Robbie James presented the players with their awards and thanked them for their contributions during a difficult season. He also expressed his pleasure at the prospect of a number of players from the Youth Team Squad becoming eligible to join the senior side next season when the club has a real chance of challenging for the Division Five North title.
The Delwyn Griffiths Award for outstanding service to the club, off the field of play, was presented to George Showell, the club physiotherapist who retired last November after a distinguished soccer career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wrexham, followed by his ten year spell at Bryn Estyn Road looking after the town's leading rugby players.
The Frank Chapman Award for hard work and personality was placed in the hands of Fixture Secretary and First XV Manager Paul Roberts who was an ever-present at all games and training sessions during the season and also had to play the role of diplomat with referees whose performances were not always appreciated by players and supporters.
Second XV skipper Kevin Davies presented the magnificent Pat's Coaches Second Team Player of the Year Trophy to winger James Wrathall who claimed 7 tries and was hugely influential in his team's success in retaining the North East Wales Division One Championship this season. A special mention was made of the contribution made by full-back Ian Connell who was the Division's top points scorer with 121 to his credit.
The magnificent John Bowen Memorial Trophy, introduced last season by the family of the popular club supporter, was presented by Robbie James to Kerry Powell who was chosen as the most promising Under 19 player with 9 First XV appearances to his credit already.
Coach Kevin Powell, presenting new club ties to all of his young players, made a widely appreciated speech on behalf of the Youth Team, emphasising the need for greater support for the side which represents the future of the club.
Team Awards were then presented to the club sides with Geoff Lang picking up the Second XV Players' Player of the Year Award and Darrell Hughes collecting the Personality Award. In the Youth Team, Ben Cheesbrough was voted Coach's Player of the Year and Tom Stevens scooped the Players' Award.
Andy Lee walked away with the Third XV Captain's Player Award, Gerry Darbyshire won the Players' Player Award following an outstanding season, while Ian Bostock matched his brother Malcolm's feat of last season by picking up the Personality Award.
Presentations of rugby balls, signed by all members of the First team squad, were made by Club Chairman Peter Evans to mini and junior section players Shaun Strudwick, Daniel Sissons, David Blackwell and Jamie Morris in recognition of their keen role as ball-boys during the season.
Three awards have been presented recently to each mini and junior rugby side, Players' Player, Captain's Player and Team Personality, with Richard Jarvis, Simon Jones and Gareth Owen scooping the prizes in the Under 16 age group. They will move up to the Youth Team next season and will strengthen them for what promises to be a challenging season.
The club was unable to field an Under 15 side but all other levels were well represented with Glen Bellamy and Dafydd Rowlands picking up the main awards at Under 14 level and the whole team scooping the Personality Award. Huw Evans, Richard Baker and Gareth Davies took the honours in the Under 13's and Jack Evans, Jamie Morris and Kenny Simms secured the Under 12 trophies.
The Under 11's were represented by Philip Davies, Edward Lewis and David Platt while Dwayne Jones and Jack Griffiths took the first two awards in the Under 10 group with Christian Chalk and Ben Harrison sharing the Personality Award.
Jonathon Davies, Ryan Weeks and Ryan Jones were the pick of the bunch in the Under 9's and, for the first time, a young lady, Charlotte Williams, claimed the Captain's Player Award in the Under 8's. Ashley Salisbury and Ben Hewitt were popular winners of the other awards.
The Wrexham Mini and Junior Section has announced that it will hold its' annual general meeting at the Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse on Tuesday 11th June. Officers will be elected for the new season and plans are already advanced to build on the successes of last season. A club handbook will be published for circulation to local schools as well as members and a weekend summer school has been organised at Bryn Estyn Road on the 17th and 18th August.
The senior Wrexham players will bring the season to a close at the Llangoed Sevens Competition in Anglesey on Saturday 1st June where they hope to win their group and progress to the finals. However, they face stiff competition from local side Llangefni as well as Caernarfon, Congleton and the unknown Manhattan Select and will have to make a good start in their first game which
begins at 1.00pm.
The line-up of teams in next season's Division Five North has been decided following Bethesda's 31-6 victory over Bala in last Saturday's play-off game. Bethesda retain their place in the top flight, Nant Conwy are new entrants after their promotion as champions of Division Six while Bangor and Welshpool have been relegated. Llangefni are this season's Champions after Ruthin fell
at the final hurdle and finished as runners up. 17/05/02 Rugby
Wrexham Rugby Club players and supporters will gather at their Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse this evening to celebrate the end of a season which was characterised by the First Team's long and arduous but eventually successful struggle to avoid relegation from Division Five North (7.30pm).
Local businessman and popular local after dinner speaker Alan Tudor has been invited as the Guest of Honour at the club's Annual Dinner which will also feature the presentation of awards and trophies to the top performers in the senior Wrexham teams and the Under 19 Youth Squad.
Tudor, a former First XV player, will no doubt enthral members this evening with his witty anecdotes before he helps Club Coach Ross Roberts and Chairman Peter Evans to present trophies to the award winners.
With the exception of prop Rob Pierce and Danny Munro, who have already been named as the joint winners of the Bernard Malley Award for making the most First XV appearances this season, the names of those award winners will be kept secret until the prizegiving ceremony takes place.
The most prestigious award is the Harry Hollywell Award for the Player of the Year as judged by the Club Coach and Committee. Top try scorer Jason Munro must be a main contender after doing more than most to save the club from the disgrace of relegation by scoring 17 superb tries which changed the course of the season.
All of the players in the club will be invited to vote for their choice as the Players Player of the Year, the winner receiving the coveted Adrian Hill Award. This season it may go to Ian Sanger who moved up from the back-row to become as solid as a rock in Wrexham's powerful second-row and shook off injuries to appear in 22 games. Hooker Danny Munro is another strong contender along with centre Paul Mizzi and flanker Llyr Williams.
There should be no lack of candidates for the Most Improved Player award with lock Mike Ward appearing to be the outstanding prospect ahead of centre Simon Williams who also impressed for the Wrexham and Powys 'Rhinos' Provincial side in a new North Wales competition.
Second XV skipper Kevin Davies will have a difficult task to choose his Player of the Year as full-back Ian Connell, lock Jason Griffiths, centre Geoff Lang, utility back Darrell Hughes and winger James Wrathall all played consistently well during a very successful season which culminated in the team retaining the North East Wales Division One Championship.
Under skipper Sean Williams, Wrexham Thirds finished as runners up in Division Two and would probably have won the Championship if a couple of opposing sides had fielded their regulars instead stocking up with First Team players. Winger Andy Lee, full-back Mark Otter, lock Keith Roberts and centre Andy Godwin are strong candidates for Player of the Year.
There are a number of strong contenders in the Under 19 Youth Team for the John Bowen Memorial Trophy which will be awarded to their most promising player. Lock Alastair Pearce, full-back Tom Stevens, outside-half Kerry Powell and centre Mark Gasson have all demonstrated that they are capable of acquitting themselves well when they play at a higher level.
Prepared by the new and completely untried coaching partnership of Club Coach Ross Roberts, local entrepreneur Matt Arnold and Ruthin stalwart Graham Williams, Wrexham started their season with a resounding 15-9 victory over Kidwelly from Division Four in the first round of the Welsh cup. They fought back to win by 17-16 at Old Penarthians before mighty Builth Wells put a stop to their cup ambitions with a 43-0 whitewash.
Away from cup competition, however, Wrexham failed to make much of an impression after losing by 0-61 at Caernarfon with an under strength side. Confidence sagged, there was little direction in their play, fitness levels dropped and by the turn of the year they had beaten only fellow strugglers Welshpool and Bangor in league competition.
Then the London bobby Paul Mizzi arrived on the scene with his infectious desire to win matches, and lock Mike McLeod came out of temporary retirement to bring his vast experience to bear in the pack. Prop Richard Williams, another crucial player, returned from a working holiday in Canada, Iwan Roberts completed a lengthy suspension and the team suddenly started to improve.
The turning point probably came when they pulled off a shock 24-19 victory over Llangefni, the newly crowned Champions of Division Five North. With outside-half Richard Lloyd and scrum-half John Roberts back in the side after returning from Chester, Wrexham went from strength to strength, winning 8 out of their last 10 matches including their 46-14 demolition of Mold, their
biggest victory of the season.
A record number of 61 players represented the First XV during the season and success in 14 of their 30 games resulted in the team recording a slight improvement over their results last term. A haul of 79 tries and a conversion rate of 58% was commendable, but the penalty count of only 12 successful pots was far below the target of 48 per season and indicated that, for one reason or another, points were being squandered.
Although no one managed to take part in every match, Rob Pierce and Danny Munro overcame injuries to appear in 26 games apiece. They were closely followed by Jason Munro (25), Mike Ward (25), John Darlington (23), Simon Williams (23), James Plant (23), Ian Sanger (22), skipper Robbie James (21) and Llyr Williams (20). Assistant coach Matt Arnold was pressed into service
on 17 occasions and played a full part in the team's successful struggle to avoid relegation.
The 22-10 home defeat of Llandudno ended any lingering fears of relegation and heralded the coming of age of the new coaching partnership led by Ross Roberts. Next season they will have to go one stage further and find a way of introducing a cutting edge to the threequarters to supplement the excellent work carried out by the most feared pack in North Wales.
Wrexham Seconds retained the North East Wales Division One Championship with an unbeaten record that was broken only in their last game at Ruthin against a strengthened side. Full-back Ian Connell was the Division's top points scorer with 121 to his credit, including 6 tries, and winger James Wrathall emerged as the joint third top try scorer, having claimed 7 touchdowns.
Kevin Davies's side enjoyed league doubles over Flint, Denbigh, Mold, Afon Dee and Abergele, their 114-0 home victory over Mold establishing an new club record. They didn't fare so well in friendly games against strong opponents, losing heavily to Manchester Wanderers on two occasions and Denbigh Firsts. Their 26-14 away victory against Whitchurch Seconds, however, was one to be
Wrexham Thirds failed to perform as strongly as last season but still managed to finish as runners up in Division Two. They completed doubles over Mold, Llangollen and Corwen but had their busy schedule upset by match postponements and, like the Seconds, ended up playing five games less than last season.
Led by skipper Sean Williams, their biggest victory was their 56-0 demolition of Whitchurch Fourths in a friendly. Outside-half Neil Route emerged as one of the Second Division's top points scorers with 56 to his credit including 5 tries.
Wrexham's Youth Team continued their progress in Division Two of the Dragons Rugby Trust North Wales League, finishing in second place behind unbeaten Nant Conwy to provisionally qualify for a place in Division One where they may play Mold, Ruthin and Caernarfon.
Coached by Kevin Powell, they achieved notable doubles over Bala, Harlech and Rhyl, their 78-0 early season conquest of Rhyl being their biggest victory. They will lose a few key players to the senior sides next season but will be strengthened for their new challenge by some exciting new players from this year's Under 16 junior rugby team.
In the last rugby game of the season to be played at Bryn Estyn Road, the Wrexham and Powys 'Rhinos' narrowly failed in their bid to register their first success in the new North Wales Provincial Championship by defeating the Gwynedd 'Eagles' on Monday evening. Coached by Dave Cheesbrough, the Rhinos came from behind to score tries by Wrexham players Iwan Roberts and Paul
Mizzi with another touchdown by Welshpool's Steve Beard, but lost by 15-24.
The Wrexham and Powys 'Rhinos' side are hoping that their first game at Bryn Estyn Road will draw enough support to help them to defeat the Gwynedd 'Eagles' in a closing round of the new North Wales Provincial Championship on
Monday evening 13th May (kick-off at 7.00pm).
The Rhinos, coached by former Wrexham rugby star Dave Cheesbrough and managed by Glyn Eames-Jones from Llanidloes, haven't won a game yet but have come close in several well contested encounters. Their players are drawn mainly from Wrexham and Rhos rugby clubs with the addition of a sprinkling of campaigners from Welshpool and Newtown.
Injuries and the demands of the North Wales League programme have so far hampered attempts to field a full strength Rhinos side, but Cheesbrough is reasonably confident that Monday's selection is a strong one and should pose a real threat to the visiting Eagles.
Wrexham outside-half Richard Lloyd has been recalled to the Rhinos squad along with fellow threequarters James Plant, Paul Mizzi, Stuart Van Wyke, John Roberts and Simon Williams. Iwan Roberts, Richard Williams, Rob Pierce,
Mike McLeod, Mike Ward, Danny Munro and Ringo Wu will be reinforced in the pack by the inclusion of Rhos forwards Carl Zolman and Mike Hamer.
The Denbigh and Flint 'Bulls' look set to win this season's extended Provincial Championship but a good win at Wrexham on Monday evening could provide the boost that the Rhinos need to make a big impression in next
With the rugby season almost complete, attention is now focused on the Annual Dinner and Presentation of Awards at Wrexham Rugby Club on Friday 17th May. A packed house of 200 players and supporters in the club's main function room is expected with popular local after dinner speaker Alan Tudor being the guest of honour.
Most of the prizes and awards will not be announced until the evening of the dinner, but the recipient of the Bernard Malley Award for the player making the most senior appearances in the season has already been decided. The trophy will in fact be shared between last year's winner Rob Pierce and his front row team mate Danny Munro who both managed to make 26 appearances out of 30 despite missing games through injury.
Simon Williams, James Plant, Ian Sanger and John Darlington will also be presented with prestigious 'colours' ties for appearing in over 75% of First Team games in a season. They all played a significant part in improving Wrexham's fortunes and securing the club's position in Division Five North for another season following a difficult start. A full round up of results for all teams will be published next week .
BANGOR 23 WREXHAM 22
Wrexham lost their last game of the season at Bangor when they were cruelly penalised in the last minute at Bangor, but the match will be remembered mainly for the performance of North Wales referee Bob Bishop who appeared to
lose control after being barracked by the supporters of both sides for poor and inconsistent decisions.
While Bangor enjoyed a brief celebration of their good fortune immediately after winger Iestyn Hampson-Jones had kicked the match winning penalty, Bishop issued red cards to Wrexham wingers Simon Williams and John Roberts as
they exchanged post-match comments.
Upset Wrexham officials, supporters and players met after the game and agreed to lodge a protest, in conjunction with representatives of the Bangor club, against Bishop's handling of what was always going to be a tight end of season relegation battle.
Wrexham saved themselves from relegation or the threat of a play-off by defeating Llandudno on the previous Saturday, but Bangor were still deeply embroiled near the foot of the table. Hopes were raised when they scraped
past Wrexham, but there was soon massive disappointment in the Bangor camp when news of Bethesda's shock defeat of Championship leaders Ruthin condemned them to automatic relegation.
Bethesda secured the lifeline of a play-off game against Bala who finished second behind already promoted Nant Conwy in Division Six North. Bangor and Welshpool are the sides which have been relegated from Division Five North
and will play clubs like Blaenau Ffestiniog, Rhos and Denbigh next season.
In a game that was cleanly contested throughout at Bangor, Wrexham let themselves down in the first quarter when full-back Gavin Brace made a hash of a clearance kick and the home backs quickly collected the loose ball to
send winger Meurig Jones scampering over in the corner.
Moments later, their North Wales centre Will Cobley broke swiftly from his own half and brushed aside several half-hearted tackles to score a neat try under the posts which Hampson-Jones easily converted to give his side a 12-0
Mike McLeod, Wrexham's skipper in the absence of the unavailable Carl Turner, read the riot act to his players and they responded with some excellent line-out play by Llyr Williams, powerful breaks by John Roberts and surges by
Jason Munro. Simon Williams charged down an attempted clearance by Bangor and appeared to score in the 23rd minute, but referee Bishop disallowed it.
Despite the attentions of Bangor's former Wrexham flanker Dylan Dobson-Jones, the visitors kept plugging away and broke their duck in the 36th minute when Jason Munro powered over following some good interplay with his number eight Dean Griffiths.
More heavy pressure from the Wrexham forwards produced a welcome try just before the break, John Roberts spotting a gap in the mainly reliable home defensive line and diving over for a score wide-out. Centre Paul Mizzi's conversion attempt was close but not close enough to tie the scores, leaving Bangor in charge with a 12-10 lead at half-time.
The visitors made a determined start to the second-half but were soon pegged back as they conceded a stream of penalties. Bangor gladly accepted the invitation and increased their advantage in the 51st minute when Brace
surrendered possession on his 22 and Hampson-Jones scored under the posts. Surprisingly, he failed with a simple conversion attempt.
Mizzi replied by missing a penalty in front of the posts but replacement prop Iwan Roberts made no mistake at the start of the final quarter when he collected the ball from a free kick and ploughed through for a deserved try near the corner. Mizzi landed an excellent conversion into the breeze and Wrexham were level at last.
Once again, however, Bangor were soon awarded a penalty and Hampson-Jones succeeded with a kick that put his side in front again. The Wrexham backs lacked pace and could make no headway against a well organised defence but the forwards gained the upper hand in the closing stages and produced the score that appeared to have won the match for them in the 78th minute.
Replacement flanker Mike Ward claimed the ball from a line-out just inside the Bangor 22 and delivered it to his big forwards who drove hard for the home line. Just when it seemed that the attack would fail, hooker Danny Munro wriggled through a wall of defenders and suddenly found open space to score wide-out. Mizzi's conversion attempt looked on target but just shaved the left post to leave Wrexham with a very slender two points advantage.
Bangor threw everything into an all-out final assault but were repulsed by counter attacks including an excellent break by Simon Williams. When Wrexham were awarded a scrum near the halfway line deep into injury time, referee
Bishop suddenly changed his mind and penalised them instead, giving the home forwards a chance to attack in the left corner.
Fierce resistance by the home defenders appeared to have paid off when referee Bishop suddenly signaled a penalty award and raced to a point immediately in front of the posts although all of the Wrexham backs were in an onside position. All that Hampson-Jones had to do was to concentrate on his task and he made no mistake to claim the match as a storm of protest duly erupted.
Wrexham, now safe from any threat of relegation, can still influence the
final placing's at the bottom of the table when they take on Bangor at Cae Milltir in the last league game of the season tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at
Another victory for the East Walians will condemn their hosts to automatic relegation from Division Five North while defeat will probably hand Bangor the lifeline of a play-off game against Bala, the club which has finished in second place in Division Six and has been trying for many years to break into the top league in North Wales.
Carl Turner, the experienced flanker who has guided Wrexham to three successive victories during the absence of injured skipper Robbie James, is unavailable for tomorrow's contest and so is centre John Darlington who was set to make a return to the side after playing a couple of games for the Seconds.
However, prop Richard Williams returns from injury and suspension to bolster the front row and utility forward Iwan Roberts is back from a short holiday, ready to make an impact in the pack. Hooker Danny Munro, who has played an important role in most of the games this season but missed last week's match due to a nose injury, will have to undergo a late fitness test.
Wrexham's 36-17 victory over Bangor at Bryn Estyn Road last December heralded the beginning of their recovery from a disastrous start to the season. Bangor have also improved since then, thanks to the form of their Natal Sharks winger Siya Sibiya, their North Wales centre Will Cobley and their former Wrexham Northern Counties flanker Dylan Dobson-Jones.
The Gwynedd side have more to play for tomorrow as their continued existence in the top flight of North Wales Rugby is at stake, but Wrexham will want to complete their season on a high note ready to make a serious challenge for the Championship with strengthened resources next year. Another tight game is in prospect and the result could go either way.
All of the other Wrexham teams have completed their rugby programmes for the season but the Seconds are travelling with the First XV to Bangor in the hope that their hosts will be able to provide a side to play one more game before they store their boots for the summer. There will be some seats for supporters on the team coach which will leave Bryn Estyn Road at 11.00am.
Local rugby followers will have a chance to watch the Wrexham and Powys 'Rhinos' side playing the Gwynedd 'Eagles' in a round of the new North Wales Provincial Championship at Bryn Estyn Road on Monday evening 13th May at 7.00pm. There will be a strong representation of local players in the Rhinos side including Chris Brooks and Mark Davies from Rhos and Rob Pierce, Mike Ward and James Plant from Wrexham.
Club Coach Ross Roberts has entered Wrexham in the prestigious Llangoed Sevens Competition which takes place in Anglesey at the end of May. Wrexham won the tournament the several years ago, a great feat because the event is always enhanced by the presence of a number of top players from the leading clubs in South Wales.
WREXHAM 22 LLANDUDNO 10
A late try by top points scorer Jason Munro settled what turned out to be a difficult contest in Wrexham's favour and made sure that the season-long threat of relegation from Division Five North was finally lifted.
It was Wrexham's 10th league victory of the season and it lifted them up two places to 7th in the table. Munro's try, his 16th of the season, took his side's total score for the season past the 500 landmark, an improvement on last year's performance.
Luck seemed to have deserted the home side in the opening minutes, outside-half Richard Lloyd miscuing two easy penalty shots and Munro having a 3rd minute try disallowed for putting a foot in touch. Perseverance paid off, however, and a break by scrum-half John Roberts, followed by a run by winger Stuart Van Wyke, finished with an unconverted try for lock Jason Griffiths.
Lloyd redeemed himself by adding the conversion and then slotting a 22nd minute penalty. Wrexham dominated proceedings, particularly in the forward exchanges, but gained little reward because they persisted in choosing wrong options when they attacked.
Llandudno soaked up a lot of pressure with some keen tackling and then started to win a stream of possession in the line-out through their former Wrexham lock Jim Coy, despite Mike Ward's excellent performance for the home side in that area.
A five minute spell of pressure by the visitors led to several tap penalty moves near the home line and lock Richard Pike used his physical presence to force his way over the Wrexham line for a deserved try. Paul Algieri, Llandudno's dangerous goal kicker, failed with his conversion attempt and was then sent off for 10 minutes for blocking the release of the ball on his 22.
Leading by 10-5 at the break with Algieri still in the sin-bin, Wrexham took full advantage by drawing in the Llandudno forwards on the resumption of the game and driving lock Ian Sanger over for a superb try in the corner. The contest was thrown open again, however, when Coy capitalised on pressure near the home line to blast over from a scrum, the fourth second-row player to score in this match.
Wrexham returned to the other end but squandered more chances to tie up the game. Another failed penalty attempt by Lloyd looked as though it might prove to be crucial when Llandudno returned to the attack and pummelled Wrexham near their line, but the home defence held firm this time.
Llyr Williams replaced the injured Jason Griffiths deep in the final quarter and helped his threequarters to escape from a Llandudno stranglehold. When Algieri had a clearance kick charged down, centre Jamie Brown reacted the quickest and fed the ball to Munro who proved unstoppable under the posts. Centre Paul Mizzi took over the kicking duties and added the final points.
Wrexham Seconds suffered a 10-22 defeat at Ruthin and lost their unbeaten record in North East Wales Division One, although they will still be crowned as Champions for the second year in succession. Ruthin Seconds fielded the ineligible New Brighton lock Paul Campbell who made a big difference to their effort alongside another former Wrexham player Rhodri Jones. Nick Stott grabbed both of Wrexham's tries from rolling mauls.
Wrexham Thirds finished in second place in Division Two, denied the Championship after only managing a 10-10 draw at home to Ruthin Thirds. Wrexham led by 10-3 at half-time with a try by Rhodri Davies and a conversion and penalty by Neil Route, but former Wrexham Northern Counties star Steve Morgan powered over for a Ruthin try in the second-half.
Wrexham Youth were a little rusty after a six week layoff and went down at Bethesda by 7-20. The loss of skipper Kerry Powell with a rib injury reduced them to 14 men, but they still managed a try by Alastair Pearce and a conversion by John Gormley.
The Anglo Welsh Festival, organised by Wrexham's Junior and Mini Rugby Section, was a great success last Sunday with teams from Chester, Flint, Denbigh, Crewe and Nantwich and Wrexham taking part. Sunday the 28th of April saw this season's Mini & Junior fixtures culminate in the 1st ever Mini's " Anglo-Welsh" rugby festival. North Western clubs in all mini ages battles through the day to be first in their group. Over 500 players and approx. 300 spectators enjoyed a fine day. The weather was kind to us, at times threatening to put an early end to the day, holding back and allowing us to play rugby for 61/2 uninterrupted hours!
The standard of play was, as expected, high, spirited & fair. Wrexham performed well, winning the u10's & u11's. Local rivals Chester won the three other age groups, u8's, u9's & u12's. Our u12's were suffering from having 5 players on North Wales representative duty in the south and 5 other players unavailable.
Wrexham festival medals were awarded to all the winning squads. It is always sad on these occasions to send youngsters home without medals or trophies. If any business would like to help us by sponsoring medals or trophies for next year's festival we would be extremely pleased to hear from them.
The teams on the day were; Chester, Crewe & Nantwich, West Park St Helens, Birkenhead, Flint, Denbigh, LLandudno & of course Wrexham.
A special thanks should go to the "back-room boys & girls" who worked behind the scenes to make the day a success.
Having eased their season long relegation worries with victories over Newtown and Bethesda in recent weeks, Wrexham need to defeat Llandudno at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon in their last home game of the season to make sure that their future in Division Five North is assured (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Coach Ross Roberts has chosen a side which is near to full strength and is raring to complete the remarkable recovery which started with a victory over Championship leaders Llangefni at the end of January and has continued with six more victories in seven games since then.
Lock Ian Sanger, a regular in the side this season who needs to make only one more appearance to claim his prestigious 'colours' tie, suffered an ankle injury at Bethesda last week and must undergo a late fitness test before he can be given the green light to take his place in the second-row. Jason Griffiths, who scored his first senior try in a great performance last week, is expected to partner Sanger.
Iwan Roberts, sent off at Bethesda, is included in the Wrexham side until his case is heard by a WRU disciplinary committee, and the backs are likely to remain unchanged with Jamie Brown retaining his place in the centre and James Plant patrolling on the left wing.
Llandudno, the current North Wales Cup holders, have suffered several reverses in recent weeks including last Saturday's 34-31 home defeat by relegation threatened Bangor. Superior fitness helped them to defeat Wrexham by 45-24 last December and the man who made a big difference for them was former Wrexham winger Paul Algieri who contributed 15 points with his boot.
Wrexham cannot be overtaken by bottom clubs Bangor or Welshpool in this season's league contest but an unexpected win for Bethesda at Caernarfon tomorrow afternoon could prolong Wrexham's relegation worries if they fail to last the pace against Llandudno this time. Provided that they don't make the mistakes that would supply ammunition to Algieri, Wrexham have the confidence and power in the pack to complete this last home fixture on a high note.
Wrexham Seconds, who have already retained the North East Wales Division One Championship, visit Ruthin Seconds to play an outstanding game that was postponed during a soggy January. The Thirds have a Division Two home game against Ruthin Thirds and must win if they are to have any chance of catching Abergele Seconds, the current leaders (k.o.3.00pm).
The Wrexham Youth Team will visit Bethesda for a Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League game that will bring an end to a season which has seen them mature into a strong young side. Skipper Kerry Powell, lock Alastair Pearce and wing Tom Stevens head a long list of players who will make an impact in senior rugby over the next few seasons.
The Mini and Junior Rugby Section will bring another successful season to a close with an Anglo Welsh Tournament for the Under 8's to 12's at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning. The visiting teams include West Park St.Helens, Denbigh, Chester, Flint, Llandudno, and Crewe and Nantwich, and competition should be intense in each group with medals at stake (k.o 10.20am).
BETHESDA 19 WREXHAM 24
Seemingly in control of their big game at Bethesda with an eight point cushion over the home side, the wind at their backs and only 15 minutes of normal time remaining, Wrexham had to defend frantically for the rest of the game when the wind died completely and they lost three players in quick succession as the referee punished indiscretions with two yellow cards and one red card.
Luckily, Bethesda's star Western Australia centre Matt Harrington couldn't add a match levelling score to his earlier try and a home forward held on to the ball for too long in the 8th minute of injury time and conceded the penalty that Wrexham gleefully used to escape from a desperate stranglehold. The final whistle blew and Bethesda found themselves in the relegation zone, not depleted Wrexham.
The first-half saw the visitors at their best as they chose to play against a strong gusting wind and not only contained the home side but also managed to dominate play for most of the half. Lock Mike Ward ruled the line-out, scrum-half John Roberts probed incessantly from the base of the scrum, lock Jason Griffiths punched holes in the Bethesda defence and skipper Carl Turner
was an inspiration as he ripped the ball out of Bethesda hands time after time.
When Bethesda managed to win some possession, they used it well. Errors cost Wrexham dear on three occasions as outside-half Gareth Wyn Roberts used the wind to land penalties which gave his side a 9-0 lead. On the stroke of half-time, however, outside-half Richard Lloyd scooped up a poor ball from a line-out under severe pressure and fed Jason Griffiths who powered over for a great try.
With confidence high and powerful replacements ready to boost them for the second-half, Wrexham unaccountably lost their shape, failed to collect the ball from Bethesda's kick-off and then lost a stream of line-outs as the home forwards dominated for 10 minutes.
Gradually, however, the big Wrexham forwards started to regain the initiative with number eight Jason Munro leading by example. A pushover move nearly paid off in the 50th minute before Munro decided to go it alone and crashed over for an unconverted try wide-out.
Bethesda's response was immediate and their forwards won a crucial turnover before they released Harrington on a 30 metre run past flailing defenders to regain the lead with a sparkling try under the posts. Wyn Roberts added the extra points with a simple conversion.
Undeterred, the visitors stormed back to win a scrum 5 metres out from the home line and replacement prop Iwan Roberts forced his way over for an excellent try. Lloyd added the conversion which put Wrexham in front again and repeated his feat in the 65th minute after referee Mr.John Griffith had sin-binned a home prop for persistent indiscretions and had then awarded Wrexham a penalty try when the home scrum collapsed.
As sometimes happens when a team loses a player, Bethesda raised their game at the same time that Wrexham's wind advantage finally ceased. Determined play by Harrington and his forwards earned a penalty which Wyn Roberts kicked to reduce the visitors' advantage to only five points and then Jason Munro was yellow carded for lying over the ball.
4 minutes of injury time turned into 8 minutes as Bethesda camped in the Wrexham 22 and sent wave after wave of attackers in pursuit of a match winning score. Iwan Roberts was shown a red card in the 82nd minute for allegedly throwing a retaliatory punch and Turner was ordered to the sin-bin in the 84th minute for preventing release of the ball. Somehow, despite all these setbacks, the line held and Wrexham emerged triumphant to ease their relegation worries.
Wrexham Seconds suffered a 59-18 defeat at Denbigh Firsts after leading the Division Six North side by 13-10 at half-time. Tries came from James Wrathall and Darrell Hughes who also dropped a goal, while Ian Connell kicked a conversion and a penalty. In another friendly, Wrexham Thirds were beaten by 38-8 at Oswestry Seconds who were strengthened by First XV players. Neil
Route scored all of Wrexham's points with a try and a penalty.
In mini and junior rugby, Wrexham Under 14's defeated the Doncaster based Thesonians touring side by 24-17 on Friday evening thanks to 4 tries from Glen Bellamy and a brace of conversions from Enion Edwards. On Sunday they hammered visitors Leigh by 57-7, their tries coming from Ceri Dawson (2), Mike Platt, Nathan Weeks, Dewi Richards, Dafydd Rowlands, James Gibney,
Martin Jones, Eiron Edwards and Enion Edwards who also kicked two conversions and a penalty.
The Under 13's rounded off their season with a 39-5 home success against Afon Dee, thanks to tries by Huw Edwards (3), Danny Lee (2), Stephen Roberts and Daniel Lloyd with 2 conversions from Lee.
The mini rugby sides took on Northwich at Bryn Estyn Road, the Under 12's running out of time to lose by 24-29 after trailing by 12-24. Gawain Rogers and Gwyn Edwards grabbed a brace of tries apiece and Kieron Morris added 2 conversions. Wrexham Under 11's won their game by 14-5, thanks to tries by Ashley Dawson and Dafydd Burrell with 2 conversions from Phil Davies.
The Under 10's lost 1-3 and 0-1 to well drilled Northwich sides with Dwayne Jones notching the home score. Wrexham Under 9's fielded an 'A' side against Northwich and drew by 4-4 with tries by Ieuan Keenan and Tyler Edwards before they sent out a 'B' side and managed a 1-1 draw, Ross Lloyd scoring the match levelling touchdown.
Wrexham, having risen to fifth from bottom of Division Five North after some stirring victories in recent weeks, face a tough battle tomorrow at fellow strugglers Bethesda where the losers could be cast into the relegation pot once again (kick-off at 2.30pm).
If they can repeat what they achieved against Newtown last week, however, a victory would put Wrexham in a relatively safe position in the mid table, ready to take on Llandudno and Bangor with plenty of confidence in the two remaining games of this season's league programme.
Prop Rob Pierce makes his 60th senior appearance and flanker Dean Griffiths, newly returned from injury, is set to complete his half century of outings. Top try scorer Jason Munro, the principal ball carrier in the Wrexham pack, retains his place at number eight, ready to take on the Bethesda defence.
Bethesda won the previous encounter at Bryn Estyn Road in December by a generous score of 35-14 after Wrexham led on two occasions but then threw the game away by defending poorly. The Gwynedd side changed tactics in the second-half and employed their Western Australia centre Matt Harrington to move the ball away from the big Wrexham forwards.
The introduction of centres Paul Mizzi and Jamie Brown, outside-half Richard Lloyd, full-back Gavin Brace and scrum-half John Roberts has brought about a marked improvement in the Wrexham back line since then and the confidence of the team has soared, despite a recent reversal at Dolgellau.
The East Walians will give a much better account of themselves tomorrow but will have to cope with a vociferous local crowd and a team which will exploit every opportunity to avoid a defeat which could condemn them to a difficult play-off against Bala to survive in Division Five North. Wrexham have the confidence and resources to win, but it could be a very close game indeed.
A supporters coach has been hired and will leave Bryn Estyn Road at 11.30am, travelling along the picturesque A5 route to avoid extensive roadworks on the A55. Wrexham Seconds have filled a blank date by arranging a game from the local fixture pool at Denbigh Firsts while the Thirds will visit Oswestry Seconds for another friendly (k.o.3.00pm).
The Hooker Blues Club, based at Wrexham's Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse, will feature the Smokehouse Blues Band from Runcorn at this evening's (Friday) performance. Tickets are available at the door which opens at 8.00pm.
The Annual Rugby Dinner, which includes the presentation of trophies and awards to top players and workers at the rugby club, will be held on Friday 17th May in the main function room at the clubhouse. Whilst several guests and sponsors have been invited, Chairman Peter Evans has confirmed that only paid-up members will be admitted to the celebration of the season end.
WREXHAM 36 NEWTOWN 5
It was a day of reflection followed by celebration at Bryn Estyn Road where Wrexham observed a one minute silence in memory of the popular former player and coach Gwyn Harries and then produced a top class performance under stand-in skipper Carl Turner to demolish a hard working Newtown side and ease their relegation worries.
Number eight Jason Munro, already the team's top try scorer with 10 touchdowns to his credit, returned from a skiing holiday to add 4 more to his tally as the visitors came under intense pressure in the first-half of the game.
Skipper Robbie James was unable to take part due to a niggling back injury, but John Roberts took over the scrum-half berth for the third time this season and unsettled Newtown with a couple of probing runs before Munro took over and scored near the corner in the 5th minute.
The visitors soon found their rhythm and levelled the scores with a try by number eight Eddie McGuire who forced his way over from a 5 metre line-out. Undeterred, Turner led his side by example and applied more and more pressure until Newtown cracked and conceded 4 tries in only 13 minutes before the break.
Munro broke from a line-out and handed off several attempted tackles as he ran 40 metres from a line-out to claim his second touchdown, and then lock Mike Ward provided the ammunition from the line-out to help his number eight to add two more tries in quick succession.
Outside-half Richard Lloyd converted one of Munro's tries and then added the extra points after centre Paul Mizzi crossed for a sparkling try when Newtown failed to win their own line-out.
With a breeze at their backs in the second-half, Newtown were able to exert more pressure of their own and slowed the Wrexham advance. The stalemate continued until the 60th minute when full-back Gavin Brace profited from a neat turn by lock Jason Griffiths and jinked through a gap to score a superb try which Lloyd made no mistake in converting.
Wrexham continued to press with some good combined work by the forwards and backs but the scores dried up, leaving Wrexham convincing winners. Turner received a special round of applause when he left the field to be replaced by Llyr Williams with the job almost completed.
This impressive victory enabled Wrexham to overtake Bethesda who were beaten 39-29 at Bangor in another relegation battle. Caernarfon, the other side forced into the relegation zone by Wrexham's success in recent weeks, managed a 19-10 home victory over Dolgellau but face tough games over the next few weeks against the main contenders for the Championship.
Wrexham Seconds were due to play Chester Veterans in a friendly fixture at Bryn Estyn Road but were left bitterly disappointed when their opponents failed to arrive and offered no explanation for their non appearance. The Youth Team suffered similar disappointment when Llangefni forgot about their rearranged league fixture against Wrexham and organised a Second XV fixture
instead against local opposition.
Wrexham Thirds travelled to Shotton to play Afon Dee Seconds in a crucial North East Wales Division Two Championship game but were very unhappy when their hosts fielded most of their First XV regulars and won by 36-3. The visitors' score came from a penalty by Youth Team outside-half Kerry Powell and Wrexham remain in third place in the table subject to a protest.
Wrexham have prepared well for tomorrow's Division Five North encounter
against Newtown at Bryn Estyn Road, knowing that they need to produce a victory to keep ahead of their rivals in the current relegation battle
(kick-off at 2.30pm).
Most of their players who were unavailable for their somewhat unlucky Easter defeat at Dolgellau are now available for selection, including top try scorer Jason Munro, centre Paul Mizzi and outside-half Richard Lloyd. In fact, coach Ross Roberts is in the enviable position of having too many players available for selection and will have to disappoint one or two of them.
One player who is doubtful for tomorrow's game is prop Richard Williams who aggravated a back injury at Dolgellau and lasted only four minutes of that game. If Williams fails a late fitness test, he will be replaced by either Matt Arnold or Iwan Roberts with Mike Ward taking over as the main jumper in the line-out.
The line-out is a very important area for securing possession and this was amply demonstrated in last week's international games between Wales and Scotland and Italy versus England. Lock Scott Murray broke Welsh hearts by stealing their line-out possession at will and the Italian Bortolami had England in a spin for a while when he robbed them of possession in a spirited second-half revival.
Deprived of the dominance of lock Mike McLeod, who suffered a cruel ligament injury when back to his best in last month's game against Mold, Wrexham will need to give every assistance to the lightweight Ward as their main jumper with other support coming from Iwan Roberts who is no slacker in this department.
Prior to their Dolgellau reverse, Wrexham had won five games in quick succession as their heavy forwards relished the soft grounds prevailing during February and March. All that has changed in recent weeks and Robbie James and his side will have to bring their backs into the action more often if they are to succeed on the hardening playing surfaces.
Mizzi and John Roberts are certainly up to the task in the centre and James Plant appears to have recaptured his early season form with tries in his last two league games. New full-back Gavin Brace has had little to do in recent matches but is a skilled player and would have scored against Dolgellau on a rare attack if a pass directed at him had not been adjudged a shade forward.
Newtown won their home game against Wrexham by the slender margin of 13-12 last December after the visitors had led by 12-3 at the break. Jason Munro and winger Stuart Van Wyke grabbed a try apiece in a good first-half, but former Wrexham Northern Counties scrum-half Tim Jones snatched a dubious try for the home side after the break and inspired their revival.
Tomorrow's visitors have three games in hand on Wrexham but, despite some good results since Christmas, are not safe yet from relegation. They will try hard to stop Wrexham's resurgence, but the new spirit in a home camp which is at near full strength should be enough to inspire Robbie James and his Merry Men to secure another important victory.
Wrexham Seconds take on Chester Veterans at Bryn Estyn Road, hoping to make up for the two losses which they have suffered against the same opponents this season. Their goal kicking full-back Ian O' Connell requires ten points to reach the landmark of 600 points scored by the team this season and may reach that if players like winger Kevin O'Toole and centre Geoff Lang can perform at their best (k.o.3.00pm).
Fixture Secretary Paul Roberts is trying to fill a vacant date with an outstanding league fixture at Afon Dee Seconds for the Third XV, who can still win the North East Wales Division Two Championship if results go in their favour. The Wrexham Youth Team was due to visit Llangefni to play a North Wales Youth League Division Two fixture which was postponed by the host club during the soggy days of January, but the game has been postponed again as Llangefni forgot all about it!
The rugby season is drawing to a close but the mini and junior rugby teams still have games to play. The minis are in action on Sunday morning against Northwich at Bryn Estyn Road and the junior sides will visit Shrewsbury for games at all levels (k.0.2.30pm).
Wales 'A' came out on top by 30-23 in their Six Nations Championship game against Scotland 'A' at the Racecourse Ground on Friday night. A good crowd witnessed an exciting game with Wales establishing a 19-3 advantage before Scotland got into gear and turned things around to lead by 23-19 at the break.
Unbeaten at Wrexham since rugby union fixtures were introduced in 1997, Wales kept a clean sheet in the second-half and delighted the throng of North Wales supporters with a try by top international threequarter Gareth Thomas and a penalty and a superb drop goal by outside-half Craig Warlow.
The senior Wales side came unstuck against Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday after the Wrexham and Wales lock Andy Moore was prevented from scoring a near certain try and was then forced to leave the field in the 13th minute with a leg injury. The Scotland lock Scott Murray had a field day in the line-out afterwards and the Scots eventually powered to a 27-22 victory.
Chester Seconds called off their scheduled visit to Bryn Estyn Road for a pre-international friendly but the senior players who had not travelled to Cardiff took part in a practice game with members of the Second and Third Teams.
Back-row player Dean Griffiths confirmed his return to fitness with a powerful performance in the pack and skipper Robbie James shook off a niggling arm injury to demonstrate that he is back to his best. Number eight Jason Munro worked off the effects of his recent skiing holiday and winger Simon Williams showed the sort of pace that may be needed against Newtown tomorrow.
There was a massive attendance at the Pentre Bychan Crematorium on Friday morning for the funeral of the popular policeman, rugby player and coach Gwyn Harries who died last week at the age of 51. People from all walks of life attended the service and Harries and his achievements will be remembered and treasured for many years to come.
In mini and junior rugby, the Under 14's proved to be too strong for Northwich at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday. They won by 29-10 with tries from Martin Jones (2), Dafydd Rowlands (2) and Glen Bellamy, improved by 2 conversions from Eiron Edwards.
The mini rugby sides visited Crewe where the Wrexham Under 12's whitewashed their hosts by 42-0. Jack Evans (3), Gwyn Edwards (2) and Jake Edwards claimed tries and Kieran Morris converted all six tries. The Under 11's succumbed to Crewe by 14-38, Ashley Dawson and Phil Davies notching a try apiece and Davies adding both conversions.
The Under 10's played two games against their hosts, winning the first by 7-2 before they wrapped up the second game by 6-1. Jack Griffiths was the pick of the bunch with 4 tries to his credit but Joshua Roberts wasn't far behind with a hat-trick of scores. Ashton Williams (2), Dwayne Jones, Mathew Gale, Declan Simms and Andy Hughes completed the scoring. Rugby News - MONDAY 1st April 2002
It came as a great shock to many when it was announced that Gwyn Harries, the popular 51 year old policeman who devoted nearly thirty years of his life to Wrexham Rugby Club and North Wales Rugby in general, passed away at Wrexham Maelor Hospital after a lengthy illness on Saturday afternoon.
Gwyn moved to North Wales from his home in Cardigan and started playing for Wrexham as a prop forward in 1974. He was the cornerstone of the pack in a side which got better and better each year until it peaked in 1987 with their usual North Wales League and Cup double and record breaking victories over leading English clubs like Manchester, New Brighton, Stourbridge and Otley.
During this time he captained his club as well as North Wales and North Wales Police, played for the British Police XV and appeared alongside legendary figures like Phil Bennett, J.J.Williams and Ray Gravell for the invitation Crawshays XV. The touring Fiji Barbarians were so impressed with him that they invited him to tour Belgium and France with them and presented him with
their ceremonial dress which included a grass skirt.
Hanging up his boots in 1988, Harries concentrated on developing his coaching skills and became one of the leading coaches in North Wales and a great ambassador for the game North and South. He went on to coach the Wrexham based Northern Counties side which represented North Wales in Division Two of the Welsh National League between 1998 and 2000.
Gwyn leaves a wife Pat and son David and will be greatly missed by them and the many people who knew him. His funeral will take place at Pentre Bychan Crematorium on Friday 5th April at 10.30am.
Austin Thomas, the North Wales Director of Rugby, has confirmed that tickets
for this evening's (5th April) 'A' game between Wales and Scotland at The Racecourse in
Wrexham are still available at the ground with the official kick-off scheduled for 7.05pm. This venue has proved to be a very popular one with
Northern fans since the WRU first used it in 1997 and another big attendance tonight should ensure its continuity.
DOLGELLAU 21 WREXHAM 17
Wrexham outscored the home side by three tries to two but failed to take advantage of a number of good chances to improve that score and slipped to a narrow defeat.
Hampered by an early injury to prop Richard Williams and trying to cope with six enforced changes to the side, Wrexham still managed to open the scoring with a fine try by lock Ian Sanger who ran 20 metres from a line-out to touch down. Skipper Robbie James, returning from injury, missed the conversion as well as a first minute penalty.
Against the run of play, former Wrexham Northern Counties prop Dai Arthur Owen used his 18 stone frame to break through attempted tackles and scored an easy try to tie the scores. Wrexham soon countered with some excellent work by the forwards including number eight Carl Turner and flanker Mike Ward, but many scoring chances were missed and penalty kicks spurned before half-time arrived with the scores still level.
It took two minutes of the second-half before Dolgellau captured the lead with a try awarded to centre Ron Alexandra after centre John Roberts had a clearance kick charged down on the line. Alexandra was actually prevented from grounding the ball by winger Stuart Van Wyke but the referee was standing behind the 'scorer' and awarded the try which outside-half Alan Williams converted.
Five minutes later, Wrexham reduced the arrears with a superb try by winger James Plant who profited from a penetrating attack by John Roberts and suddenly found space down the right wing to stretch away and score in the corner. James discovered his kicking form at last and landed the conversion to level the scores again.
Then Dolgellau regained the initiative and used the wind to pin Wrexham in their 22. Two penalties by the former Wrexham favourite Alan Williams followed as the visitors used illegal tactics to try to win possession.
As the game entered the final quarter, Wrexham made another comeback with John Roberts featuring once again. The forwards carried on the assault on the home line and lock Iwan Roberts squeezed through to claim a deserved try, but James' conversion kick flew wide and the visitors still trailed by one point.
More pressure by Dolgellau resulted in a neatly dropped goal by Williams but Wrexham still refused to concede. They had forced a position only 15 metres out from the home line in the 4th minute of injury time when the referee awarded a penalty to them. Unaccountably, however, the match official blew for full time before Robbie James could instigate a tap penalty move and the
game was lost.
Caernarfon lost to Mold on the same afternoon and Wrexham's defeat therefore didn't change their league position just above the relegation zone. With Wales playing Scotland in the Six Nations Championship this Saturday, Wrexham don't have a rugby fixture this weekend but will be fully primed for the visit of Newtown to Bryn Estyn Lane on Saturday 13th April.30/03/02 Preview
Only five league games remain to be played before the end of the season and Wrexham face perhaps their most difficult task when they take on Division Five North Championship contenders Dolgellau at their Gwynedd stronghold tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Following an amazing string of five successive victories, the team spirit in the Wrexham squad is second to none and Dolgellau's recent defeat by fellow relegation strugglers Bangor will no doubt enable Robbie James and his determined squad to approach tomorrow's game with extra confidence.
That confidence will be tempered by loss of Wrexham's big lock Mike McLeod who had made a major difference to the pack since returning to the side in late December. McLeod suffered serious knee ligament damage in the recent game against Mold and will be out for the rest of the season, his place going to either Iwan Roberts or Mike Ward.
Top try scorer Jason Munro is on holiday and will be missed in a back-row which has made a big impact in recent games. It is encouraging, however, that there is strength in depth in the squad at present and the experienced Carl Turner looks set to return to plug the gap at number eight.
Skipper Robbie James returns from injury to reclaim his old place at scrum-half, allowing John Roberts to move to the centre where Paul Mizzi is unavailable. Roberts has been a revelation at half-back since returning from Chester and he managed to give Mold a thorough roasting in the recent derby game.
Winger Simon Williams has work commitments and will miss the Dolgellau trip but Stuart Van Wyke returns after being unavailable for the last league game and should find a place on the wing. Newcomer Gavin Brace looks to be an excellent prospect and is set to retain his place at full-back.
Dolgellau trounced Wrexham by 42-10 at Bryn Estyn Road last November after the Wrexham forwards gave a dismal performance and the visitors capitalised on their mistakes. Former Wrexham prop Dai Arthur Owen and outside-half Alan Williams notched scores to assist Wrexham's heavy defeat and are expected to be on duty again tomorrow.
The form of the Gwynedd side has not been impressive in recent weeks, however, and their hopes of claiming the Championship appear to be receding as fast as leaders Ruthin claim new scalps. They sustained a shock 17-24 defeat at Bangor a fortnight ago after losing their experienced North Wales centre Ian Palterman with a serious leg injury.
Dolgellau also struggled at home to defeat a poor Llandudno side by 22-20 in their previous league game and may be slowing up after a bright start to the season. Their open-side flanker Aled Evans is still a handful in the line-out and the loose, however, and has a habit of scoring against sides who fail to contain his powerful thrusts.
The key to winning this important game rests with the forwards and Wrexham will have to make up for the loss of Munro and McLeod and put in a big effort to subdue Dolgellau's well drilled pack. Flanker Llyr Williams is in tremendous form and his presence in the back-row should act as an inspiration to his colleagues to repeat the top performance that they gave against Mold.
When Wrexham last won five games in succession in 1989, they carried winning on and defeated Dolgellau by 60-9 at their riverside ground. Such a scoreline is extremely unlikely tomorrow afternoon, but the visitors would be very pleased with another win to keep them out of the relegation zone and increase the pressure on the threatened Caernarfon and Bethesda clubs.
Wrexham Seconds visit Whitchurch Seconds for a cross-border friendly game while the Thirds face a crucial North East Wales Division Two encounter at Corwen. Abergele Seconds are top of the table at present but fourth placed Wrexham have two games in hand on the leaders and trail them by only four points (k.o.2.30pm).
Wrexham Youth Team are suffering from Easter Bank Holiday withdrawals but still hope to visit Llangefni for a Dragons Rugby Trust North Wales Youth League game (k.o.3.00pm). The Mini and Junior Rugby sides are taking a well earned Easter Break before embarking on their final weeks of the season.
Hopes that Wales might pull off a victory at Twickenham for the first time since 1988 were dashed on Saturday when England recovered from their recent defeat in Paris to outpoint Scott Quinnell's improving side by a record margin of 50-10.
Interest in the game was such that Wrexham Firsts elected not to play any league or friendly matches and organised a series of inter-club training sessions instead at Bryn Estyn Road. They were heartened by the return from injury of number eight Dean Griffiths and the continuing progress of skipper Robbie James who has just recovered from an arm injury.
Wrexham Second and Third Team games against Rhyl were postponed until a future date, still to be decided. The Youth Team was set to travel to Pwllheli for a North Wales Youth League Division Two game that could have earned them promotion to the higher flight, but they were disappointed when the home side called off the game due to injuries.
In mini and junior rugby, Wrexham Under 14's travelled to Colwyn Bay and were rewarded with a magnificent 85-7 victory once they had quelled a strong opening by the Seasiders. Tries came from Glen Bellamy (4), Mike Platt (2), Martin Jones (2), James Gibney, Lee McBurney, Nathan Weeks, Eiron Edwards and Daniel Gibbons with conversions from Eiron Edwards (4), Jones (2), Einion
Edwards (2), Gibbons and Jonathon Davies. 23/03/02 Preview
Wrexham Firsts will enjoy a rest tomorrow as the Six Nations Championship reaches its climax for Wales with the visit of Scott Quinnell's improving side to Twickenham where they will take on an English side still smarting from a shock defeat in Paris (k.o.2.30pm).
With the threat of a player strike over the dispute between the Welsh Rugby Union and its leading clubs - Cardiff, Swansea, Llanelli, Pontypridd, Bridgend and Newport - now averted, Wales will take a full strength squad to London, including Wrexham and Swansea lock Andy Moore and Mold and Llanelli hooker Robin McBryde.
It will be rugby as usual for Wrexham Seconds who take on Rhyl Seconds in a North East Wales Division One Championship game at Bryn Estyn Road, looking for their 16th win of the season and hoping to complete a double over their old adversaries. They will kick off at 12.00pm so that they can complete their game and then watch the Twickenham international on the big television screen in the Wrexham clubhouse.
Wrexham Thirds visit The Waen for a Division Two game against Rhyl Seconds. Still catching up on weather postponed games before their North Wales Youth Division Two Championship season finishes on Saturday 30th March, Wrexham Youth visit Pwllheli for a rare Sunday game which kicks off at 2.30pm.
The mini rugby sides will be in action against Winnington Park at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning with all age groups expected to take part. Wrexham Under 16's will take on Denbigh at the same venue and are expected to give a good account of themselves.
Although Wrexham Firsts have performed wonders to rescue themselves from the relegation zone in Division Five North, their success has been tempered by the disappointment of having had a player sent off in each of the last three league games. Appeals have been lodged against two dismissals but, if all cases are upheld by the North Wales disciplinary committee, league points could be forfeited as a result and the club could be plunged into the relegation zone again.
Five more league games remain to be played before the end of the season and Robbie James and his buoyant squad will have to address the discipline problem, plug any gaps and win at least three more matches to ensure that they do not become embroiled in a play-off contest against Rhos or Bala to preserve their current status.
WREXHAM 46 MOLD 14
Outside-half Richard Lloyd completed a grand slam of points with a try, 5 conversions, a penalty and a dropped goal to help Wrexham claim an impressive victory that hauled them out of the relegation zone for the first time this season and ended Mold's slender Championship hopes.
On the same afternoon, Caernarfon lost their home league game against Rhyl after conceding a last minute try and replaced Wrexham in the relegation zone. It was Wrexham's fifth league win in succession, a feat last achieved in 1989 when they won the North Wales League and Cup double prior to their entry into the Heineken National League.
Wrexham started confidently with a breeze at their backs and Richard Lloyd dropped a goal in the 3rd minute to open their account. Astute kicking by the outside-half and some superb rampaging play by his half-back partner John Roberts gave the forwards plenty of ammunition and they repaid the favour by creating a 19th try for number eight Jason Munro after an excellent line-out catch by lock Mike McLeod.
Lloyd added the conversion from the touchline and then kicked a long distance penalty to give his side a useful 13-0 lead. Although the home forwards were in irresistible form, they didn't have it all their own way, Mold lock Phil Cottle stealing the line-out ball a couple of times and the rest of his pack scrapping hard for possession during some heated passages of play.
Wrexham needed another score before half-time and it arrived without warning when winger Simon Williams set off on a sparkling run to the mid-field and the Munro brothers Jason and Danny carried on the attack before releasing Mike Ward for his first ever senior try. He made sure that he touched down under the posts and Lloyd made no mistake with the conversion kick.
Mold went into a huddle at the break and swept back into the game with a superb back move that created an overlap for winger Mark Ewing to score between the uprights. Centre Richard Cochrane added the conversion but the home forwards countered by giving the visiting pack a solid pounding at the other end and scored when flanker Llyr Williams crashed over a for a deserved try, converted by Lloyd.
With prop Robbie Pierce showing up well on his return from injury and Iwan Roberts driving solidly after replacing leg injury victim McLeod, Wrexham maintained their stranglehold in the Mold half and appeared to put the issue beyond any doubt when winger James Plant was quick to follow up a charged down clearance kick and grabbed a try converted again by Lloyd.
Then controversy surrounded events when the Cardiff referee Steve Smith decided not to send off a visiting threequarter for a dangerous head tackle that laid out Wrexham's Simon Williams for several minutes, but then red carded home prop Richard Williams for what appeared to be a repeated technical offence.
Mold took immediate advantage by creating a smart back movement which led to a try and a quick conversion under the posts by scrum-half Mike Rodgers. Their hopes soared but were soon dashed again when Llyr Williams charged down a clearance kick and Lloyd kicked ahead and scored.
Deep into injury time, centre Paul Mizzi caught the ball on the Mold 22, feigned to pass and then embarked on a dazzling run past flailing defenders to score a long awaited first senior try under the posts. Lloyd's simple conversion increased his match tally to a majestic 21 points.
Having retained their North East Wales Division One Championship with a hard fought victory at Abergele on the previous Saturday, Wrexham Seconds elected to take a much needed rest and supported the Firsts instead. The Thirds visited Whitchurch Fourths and managed to come away with a 3-0 victory, thanks to a penalty by Jamie Jennings.
Wrexham Youth Team played well but lost their 'double-header' North Wales Youth Cup and League game at Bryn Estyn Road to league leaders Nant Conwy by 12-22. John Ireland and Tom Stevens claimed a try apiece and Kerry Powell landed a conversion but they were always struggling to gain the upper hand after conceding a 2nd minute try to the visitors.
In Junior Rugby, Wrexham Under 14's narrowly failed to defeat visitors Mold by 12-19. Dafydd Rowlands and Glen Bellamy grabbed a try apiece and outside-half Eiron Edwards slotted a conversion in a pulsating game during which the lead changed hands several times before Mold drew clear with only 3 minutes remaining.
A minute's silence was observed prior to the senior match at Bryn Estyn Road as a mark of respect over the recent loss of long time club member Ray Lea after a long illness. Ray was an ardent supporter and won the Frank Chapman Award in 1978 for outstanding services to the club.
He also advised on the purchase, and assisted with the maintenance, of a 53 seater coach which carried Wrexham teams far and wide in the early Eighties, broadening their horizon and advertising the success of the club. His funeral will take place at the Pentre Bychan Crematorium at 2.00pm this afternoon. 16/03/02 Preview
Prop Iwan Roberts returns to strengthen the Wrexham front row for tomorrow's
visit of Mold to Bryn Estyn Road for a local derby battle which has Division Five North championship and relegation issues at stake (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Mold trail league leaders Ruthin by five points but can still win the Championship if they can defeat Wrexham for the second time this season and other results go in their favour. Wrexham, on the other hand, are still embedded in the relegation zone, but can climb out tomorrow afternoon if they win and Caernarfon fail.
The Wrexham side looks to be near full strength and will include lock Mike McLeod who was sent off at Rhyl last week and will begin a suspension once his case has been heard by a disciplinary committee. McLeod has been in terrific form of late and it is a great disappointment for the player and the club that his season is nearly over.
Mold defeated Wrexham by 23-10 last November with a fine performance by their pack but the under strength visitors battled hard and scored the best try of the game when centre John Darlington danced his way through a solid wall of defenders.
Robbie James is expected to pass a late fitness test on a damaged hand to lead his vastly improved side against his old club tomorrow. With Paul Mizzi providing a cutting edge in the, scrum-half John Roberts back to his best and prop Richard Williams and lock Ian Sanger providing extra momentum in the home pack, Wrexham are looking forward to this return encounter and will be going all out to secure a record fifth consecutive victory.
Wrexham Seconds travel to Whitchurch to take on their second string in a cross border friendly and will be accompanied by Wrexham Thirds who have a game against Whitchurch Fourths.
Wrexham Youth Team enter a hectic period of North Wales Youth league games with a league and cup game against Division Two leaders Nant Conwy at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon and will then play Pwllheli under floodlights at the Queensway Sports Centre on Monday evening (k.o.7.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the mini rugby sides visit Denbigh, the Under 14's travel to Ellesmere Port and the Under 13's and 16's will train on Sunday morning at their Wrexham headquarters.
Llanelli rugby stars Stephen Jones, Wayne Proctor and Salesi Finau visited Wrexham Rugby Club last week and answered questions from an enthusiastic audience. Next day, they returned to Bryn Estyn Road to meet Under 11 players from schools in the Wrexham area and watch the Fourth Round of the Touch Rugby Commonwealth Games Competition, sponsored by Manweb.
This new competition has been set up to encourage rugby in schools in the Wrexham area and the 12 teams emerging from the early rounds will compete in two pools of six at Wrexham Rugby Club next Wednesday 20th March for the right to play in the final of the competition. This will be played at The Racecourse on Friday 5th April in front of a packed house prior to the kick-off of the Wales v. Scotland Six Nations Championship 'A' game.
North Wales Director of Rugby Austin Thomas wishes to remind rugby followers in the area that tickets for this prestigious game, which always attracts full support from the Region, are on sale at the ticket office at The Racecourse during normal office hours.
RHYL 15 WREXHAM 22
Wrexham's amazing recovery from the depths of the Division Five North Championship continued at Rhyl where they produced their fourth successive league victory to edge further towards the safety zone, avenging an early season defeat by the current title holders.
To achieve this important victory, they had to overcome a 0-15 half-time deficit without the services of their big North Wales lock Mike McLeod who was sent off in the 20th minute for throwing a punch when attempting to protect Man of the Match Llyr Williams from a flurry of blows at a line-out.
The loss of McLeod appeared to make the Wrexham side more determined than before to maintain their winning streak and they took the game by the scruff of the neck to overtake the Seasiders and claim the vital 3 points on offer.
Rhyl had dominated the early proceedings with a strong wind at their backs and snatched the opening score when scrum-half Steve Hargreaves dummied his way over in the 6th minute. Ace kicker Erik Lloyd supplied a neat conversion and soon increased Rhyl's advantage with a simple penalty.
Wrexham competed well against the elements and tried to retain possession as much as possible but the home forwards increased the pressure at the end of the first quarter and created the opening for full-back Llion Edwards to score an unconverted try. McLeod was shown the red card soon afterwards but his departure heralded a Wrexham resurgence and they reached the break in fairly confident mood, ready to take advantage of the strong wind.
John Roberts, replacing injured skipper Robbie James at scrum-half, became an inspiration to his hard working forwards in the second-half and outside-half Richard Lloyd dictated much of the play with his tactical kicking.
As the forwards pressed in the 45th minute, Roberts took a quick tap penalty and darted over the line for his side's first try of the game. The second score didn't take long to come, prop Richard Williams powering over from a tap penalty move with Lloyd adding a conversion.
More pressure on the home line stretched Champions' defence and lock Ian Sanger took advantage by rumbling over for a 60th minute try which gave Wrexham the lead. They never looked like losing after that score but, with only two points difference between the sides, there was always the possibility of Rhyl spoiling the party with a long distance penalty or a breakaway.
It was left to the irrepressible Llyr Williams to make the game safe for the visitors, crashing through 3 tackles in the 75th minute to crown his recall to the First XV with his first senior try of the season. Coach Ross Roberts was pleased with the performance of his players and added, "We are on a high right now and can't wait for the next game."
Wrexham Seconds retained their North East Wales Division One Championship with a hard earned 6-3 victory at Abergele. The wind and the boggy pitch resulted in a midfield slog, but the Division's top points scorer Ian Connell managed to put the visitors in front with a first-half penalty.
Abergele replied with a penalty to level the scores after the break but Wrexham had the last word when Kevin O'Toole was late tackled and Darrell Hughes slotted the winning conversion. Wrexham Thirds came unstuck by 6-10 in their Division Two home game against Abergele Seconds, despite two penalties by Jamie Jennings.
Wrexham Youth produced a stunning 62-7 victory over Bala in a North Wales Youth League Division Two game and now have a chance of promotion if they can win their remaining matches. Skipper Kerry Powell led the way with 17 points from a try and 6 conversions, Tom Stevens claimed a smart brace of tries and other scores came from John Ireland, James Jess, Danny Seabrook, Alastair Pearce, Luke Watts, John Gill and Adam Jones.
The mini rugby teams enjoyed training sessions on Sunday morning but the juniors were in action against Mold opposition at Bryn Estyn Road. Although the Under 16's lost their game by 0-15 in a hard physical game, they showed a marked improvement on recent performances.
The Under 13's were defeated by 10-22 after injuries disrupted their early progress. Leon Tarborelli and Huw Evans grabbed a try apiece and Dan Lloyd gave an excellent performance at full-back in only his second game for the side.
Having won their last three games, two of them against top of the table clubs, Wrexham travel to Rhyl tomorrow with fresh confidence and every intention of defeating the current Division Five North title holders (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Mike McLeod, whose fine form helped North Wales to defeat Carmarthenshire in a Welsh Counties Cup game on Monday, will resume in the second-row alongside Ian Sanger who has also helped Wrexham to recover from a dismal first half of the season and edge towards safely from relegation.
Paul Mizzi, the threequarter who had never been sent off or yellow-carded in his 20 year career but was dismissed for an adjudged foul tackle against Pwllheli a fortnight ago, continues in the centre until his appeal against dismissal, supported by his club, has been heard by a disciplinary committee.
Along with the return to form of McLeod, Mizzi's introduction to the senior side has helped to inspire the revival which is currently taking place at the club. His strong running in the centre nearly cracked the Pwllheli defence in the last league game and he could give Rhyl an uncomfortable afternoon at The Waen.
Skipper Robbie James faces a late fitness test to check whether or not a hand injury has mended sufficiently to allow him to take over from John Roberts at scrum-half. Winger Matthew Cox, a hamstring injury victim, will also be tested but number eight Dean Griffiths looks set to be out for several weeks after tearing his hamstring on a heavy ground. Flanker Mike Ward is a likely replacement with Jason Munro moving back to his old number eight position.
Match statistics show that Rhyl have beaten Wrexham at home and away by 33-12 and 33-24 in recent league games and the Seasiders must start as favourites to win on their home ground tomorrow. Weighed against their successes, however, is that fact that they have slipped down the table to 7th place and were hammered 51-19 by automatic relegation candidates Bangor a fortnight
The playing surface at The Waen is expected to be heavy and that could play into the hands of Wrexham's big pack. They need to play a tight controlled game and use their powerful forwards to open up the Rhyl defence in pursuit of their 10th victory of the season.
That would put Wrexham on level terms with Bethesda and Caernarfon, ready to strike the next blow that could take them out of the relegation zone for the first time this season. Recent victories against Championship leaders Llangefni and Pwllheli have helped Ruthin to move into second place in the table after their 17-11 victory over Newtown last Sunday.
Ruthin are second only on points difference to leaders Llangefni and, having played Wrexham twice already, may eventually return the favour by denting the ambitions of some of seven the clubs which are still due to play the Bryn Estyn Road based outfit
Wrexham Seconds, riding high as Champions and current leaders of North East Division One, visit fourth placed Abergele for what promises to be severe test of their credentials. Centre James Wrathall has scored 7 league tries this season and is the Division's third top scorer while hooker Mark Jones is one of their top performers and should give the Abergele pack a torrid time.
Wrexham Thirds, second in Division Two, have a home game against Abergele Seconds and can't afford to slip up as the Seasiders share the same number of points with them in the table. Lock Keith Roberts has rediscovered his scoring touch of late and full-back Mark Otter can be counted on to exploit any openings created in the Abergele defence (k.o.2.30pm).
Waterlogged pitches have prevented Wrexham Youth Team from playing for several weeks but there should be problems at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon when they line up against Bala in a North Wales Youth League Division Two match. Lock Alastair Pearce and utility threequarter Tom Stevens are expected to perform well in a fine young side.
The Wrexham mini rugby teams have training sessions on Sunday morning while the junior sides will face the tough assignment of taking on Mold in a series of games (k.o.10.30am).
With Wales playing Italy in the Six Nations Championship at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the Wrexham senior rugby teams enjoyed a rest from competitive rugby. Coach Ross Roberts organised an internal game prior to the start of the televised international game and over 40 players took part in what proved to be a very useful workout.
Wales claimed their first points in this season's championship and moved off the bottom of the table after defeating the Italians by 44-20 in an exciting game. Wrexham and Swansea lock Andy Moore gave solid performance in the pack and was effective in the line-out. Mold and Llanelli hooker Robin McBryde improved on his nightmare display against France, but his first throw into
the line-out was stolen by the Italians and his place in the side remains under threat.
In Sunday's mini and junior rugby games, Wrexham Under 13's travelled to Stockport and nearly defeated their hosts after trailing badly at half-time. Gareth Davies, Richard Spencer and Joseph Tilley grabbed a try apiece while Danny Lee added 2 conversions but Stockport held on to win by 24-19.
The mini rugby teams visited Ruthin and enjoyed a successful day overall, Wrexham Under 12's leading the way with a 26-5 victory over a strong home side. Tries came from Jack Evans (2), Kenny Simms and Owen Willington while Kieron Morris landed 3 conversions.
The Under 11's were in unstoppable form, winning by 11-1 on try count thanks to touchdowns from Ethan Bishop (3), Ashley Dawson (2), Shaun Strudwick (2), Philip Davies (2), Brian Davies and James Williams. The Ruthin try was scored by Wrexham player Dafydd Burrell who was loaned to the host side.
Wrexham Under 10's played two games, winning the first one by 3-2 and tightening their defence o win the second game by 2-0. Try scorers were Dwayne Jones, Andy Hughes, Ashton Williams, Matthew Thomas and Jack Brawse.
The Under 9's fielded two sides and won the 'A' game by 7-1, thanks to a hat-trick of tries from Jack Challenor and single scores from Brython Edwards, Ieuan Keenan, Ryan Weeks and Jonathon Davies. The 'B' side competed well but were well beaten by 0-6. Wrexham Under 8's played well in their two games against older opponents but were defeated by 0-1 and 1-3. Ben Roberts
notched a deserved try for the visitors.
In Monday's opening game of the Welsh Counties Cup Competition, Wrexham First XV lock Mike McLeod claimed the first try of the game to set North Wales on their way to a tremendous 27-13 victory over Carmarthenshire at Llandovery. Following a prolonged lay-off from rugby, McLeod has regained much of his fitness in recent games and made a big difference to the North Wales pack. 02/03/02 Preview
Wales play Italy in the third game of their Six Nations Championship campaign
at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon and the local rugby programme will be greatly reduced as players and supporters flock to Cardiff to see how
much Wales can improve on their recent good performance against the French
(kick-off at 2.00pm).
Wrexham and Swansea's Andy Moore, who played well against France when returning to the National side a fortnight ago, has another chance to perform at the highest level while Mold and Llanelli's Robin McBryde, criticised for his performance as hooker, has managed to keep his place.
Chester have decided to withdraw from tomorrow's scheduled games against a Wrexham Senior XV and Wrexham Thirds and coach Ross Roberts has therefore asked his players to take part in an internal game kicking off at Bryn Estyn Road at 12.00pm. When they have concluded their session, they will take their places in front of the big television screen in the clubhouse for a live
showing of the big game from Cardiff.
The senior Wrexham players will have next week's league game at Rhyl on their minds and will be keen to maintain their fitness levels for what could prove to be their fourth successive victory if their rich vein of form continues. The last time that a Wrexham side produced 3 consecutive league wins was in 1996 against St. Joseph's, Mold and Croesyceiliog, and they went on to defeat
Abercarn in their fourth game before losing at Brynmawr.
Mike McLeod, the big second-row forward whose return to form after a spell away from the game has helped to inspire Wrexham's recent recovery from the depths of Division Five North, has been included in the North Wales squad which will play Carmarthenshire in the Welsh Counties Cup Competition at Llandovery on Monday evening (7.30pm).
Manager Kevin Whitehead and coach Mark Ferguson said that they were particularly impressed with McLeod's form in last week's game against Pwllheli and feel that he will strengthen the side for Monday's important task. "We have used the Provincial Championships to identify players with talent for the North Wales representative side and Mike has come through with flying colours while playing for the Rhinos squad," added Whitehead.
The mini and junior rugby team players and organisers will try to come down from last week's 'high' of the North Wales Under 10's and 11's Rugby Festival by resuming their normal fixture programme with games on Sunday morning for the minis at Ruthin and fixtures at Stockport and Leigh for the Under 13's to 16's.
WREXHAM 20 PWLLHELI 0
Wrexham Rugby Club enjoyed an amazing day of rugby despite poor weather last weekend, all of their teams winning their league games without conceding a single point. The Firsts worked very hard for their shock win over Division Five North Championship favourites Pwllheli, the Seconds simply blew away Mold Seconds in their record breaking 114-0 romp at Bryn Estyn Road and the
Thirds came home from Chester Road with a well worked 26-0 victory over Mold Thirds.
Wrexham Firsts continued their recent impressive run of form as they claimed their third league win in succession to haul themselves closer to the safety zone in their league table. Although Caernarfon, the side above them, whitewashed bottom club Welshpool, faltering Bethesda lost at home to Dolgellau and will soon be overtaken if Wrexham's good form continues to prosper.
Their victory was made more remarkable by the fact that they were forced to play for 50 minutes with only 14 of their players on the field, centre Paul Mizzi having been dismissed in the 30th minute by Cardiff referee Matthew Jones after a tackle on a Pwllheli threequarter. Mizzi's departure, his first sending off in a 20 year rugby career, seemed to galvanise the Wrexham forwards and they produced their best performance of the year to see off the visitors.
Skipper Robbie James was a surprise non-starter because of a damaged hand and John Roberts filled the breach to play superbly well in an unaccustomed scrum-half position. Elsewhere, lock Mike McLeod was in tremendous form, ripping the ball from the Pwllheli forwards and charging through their defence time after time.
The opening quarter was evenly contested with Mizzi making two penetrating runs and Pwllheli skipper Richard Hughes and full-back Ben Cowper returning the compliment. Then Mizzi was ordered off and number eight Dean Griffiths was forced to leave the field with a torn hamstring.
Instead of fading, the Wrexham forwards worked their way to the Pwllheli line, stole a scrum against the head in the 37th minute and created the chance for number eight Jason Munro to wriggle over for a superb try near the posts. Outside-half Richard Lloyd, back in the side following a brief period with Chester, slotted the conversion to give his side a 7-0 half-time lead.
McLeod livened up matters with a great drive through the Pwllheli ranks at the start of the second-half but referee Mr.Jones was in whistle happy mood and spotted mistakes which allowed Pwllheli to gain an attacking position at the other end. Good work by the home forwards denied the visitors again, however, and Lloyd turned the tables with excellent kicks upfield.
The home side should have scored with a 3 man overlapping move in the 51st minute, but poor back play let them down. It was therefore down to the forwards, and a minute later McLeod rose to the challenge and brushed aside opponents to score an unconverted try in the left corner.
The pressure on 14 man Wrexham eased in the 66th minute with a successful penalty by Lloyd but the Pwllheli backs still posed a significant threat and would probably have added a couple of scores if they hadn't dropped the ball in attacking situations. The final period belonged to Wrexham and they made sure of their excellent victory with a late try by prop Iwan Roberts who powered over from a maul.
Match referee Matthew Jones, who was being assessed by North Wales official Steve McCabe, was tight-lipped when interviewed afterwards about the sending-off of Paul Mizzi. McCabe hinted that foul play was involved and refused to elaborate, and club officials will now have to wait until the referee's report is submitted before deciding what action to take over the matter.
Wrexham Seconds were far too good for Mold Seconds in their North East Wales Division One clash at Bryn Estyn Road. Their 18 try haul in their 114-0 record victory included scores from Scott Davies (4), Ian Connell (2), Darrell Hughes (2), Mark Jones (2), James Wrathall (2), Nick Johnson, Jason Griffiths, Mark Lloyd, Alex Crewe, Geoff Lang and Gavin Brace. Connell, the Division's top points scorer, kicked 11 conversions and Hughes added one more.
Wrexham Thirds visited Mold's Chester Road ground and came away with a clear 26-0 victory to keep up the pressure on leaders Llangollen in Division Two. Keith Roberts maintained his recent good form by grabbing a brace of tries while Ian Morris and Paul Wilde crossed for single touchdowns with Kerry Powell slotting 3 conversions.
Sunday's Under 10's and 11's North Wales Rugby Festival at Bryn Estyn Road proved to be triumph for Wrexham Mini and Junior Section Chairman Gareth Lewis and his band of organisers, despite poor weather in the afternoon. 300 players from most of the clubs in the Region battled for a place in the competition finals, both of which were won by Mold.
Champions Mold and Llandudno, who were the losing finalists in the Under 10's, will go on to represent North Wales in the Mini Rugby National Finals to be played in South Wales later in the season.
Wrexham Under 10's played exceptionally well to reach the semi-finals of their age group where they were beaten 0-1 by a last minute Mold try. In their pool games, they lost to Llandudno by 1-3, defeated Denbigh by 3-0 and then overcame Caernarfon by 1-0 with Dwayne Jones notching 4 tries and Ashley Williams crossing for another score.
Jones grabbed a further try in his side's 1-0 quarter-final victory over Bangor but he was a marked player in the semi-final which Mold won by 1-0 to contest the final with Llandudno.
The finalists of the Under 11's tournament do not have the chance to represent North Wales in further competition but that did not have any effect on the keenness of the players to compete for a place in the final. Wrexham's superb effort enabled them to reach the final where Mold proved too strong for them and won by 3-1, Ethan Bishop claiming Wrexham's try.
In the pool games, the Under 11's defeated Denbigh by 5-0 and Bangor by 4-1 before defeating Caernarfon by 1-0 in the quarter-finals and Pwllheli by the same score in the semi-finals. Ethan Bishop (6), Nick Davies (2), Ashley Dawson, James Williams and Phillip Davies were the try scorers.
Wrexham Under 14's visited Ruthin and hit top form to whitewash their opponents by 39-0. Dafydd Rowlands notched a personal tally of 22 points with 3 tries, 2 conversions and a penalty while Mike Platt (2) and Glen Bellamy added further tries with Eirion Edwards slotting one more conversion.
Wrexham have a couple of injury worries but are still aiming to claim a rare third successive league win when they entertain Division Five North Championship contenders Pwllheli at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Winger Matthew Cox has suffered a damaged hand which will sideline him for a couple of weeks and prop Rob Pierce, who missed his team's last game at Welshpool, has learnt that a knee injury which he picked up in training will take at least a month to heal.
Luckily, John Roberts has returned from Chester and will claim Cox's place on the wing while assistant coach Matt Arnold is Pierce's likely replacement following a good performance at Welshpool. Iwan Roberts, preferred as a lock but also experienced in the front-row, has been named amongst the replacements and should feature in the proceedings in the second-half.
The selectors are faced with a difficult decision at outside-half, Carl Pugh having been an inspirational figure in Wrexham's recovery since a disastrous game against Caernarfon in January. However, former skipper Richard Lloyd has returned from Chester to continue his career at Wrexham and he was the outside-half who put Pwllheli to the sword a season ago when he notched a personal tally of 20 points as Wrexham chalked up a 25-23 home victory.
Lloyd's record of success is likely to gain him the winning vote for tomorrow's game with Pugh probably returning to the Second XV where his presence has been missed. Centre Paul Mizzi had a quiet game against Welshpool but is likely to rise to the challenge when faced with centre Charlton Kennedy, Pwllheli's latest Kiwi import.
Full-back Ben Cowper is another bit threat in the visitor's arsenal as is their free scoring centre Gareth Hodgson and their goal kicking outside-half Dylan Llyr. Wrexham could have the edge in the forward battle, however, lock Mike McLeod improving with every game after a long lay-off and flanker Jason Munro back in the try scoring groove following a barren patch.
Last October's league contest at Pwllheli resulted in a 39-0 whitewash victory for the former league champions but Wrexham squandered many chances early in the game and trailed by 0-5 at the break. Second-half injuries to back row men Llyr Williams and Dean Griffiths severely disrupted the visitors game plan and they faded badly at the end.
Much has changed since then and Dean Griffiths is now back in the side playing some of the best rugby of his career. Knowing that a win tomorrow will give them the springboard needed to fashion an escape from the relegation zone, Wrexham are expected to perform strongly and may cause a major upset if they can defeat the Championship favourites.
Wrexham Seconds, unbeaten in North East Wales Division One so far but facing still competition from Ruthin Seconds in second place, take on bottom side Mold Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road. Carl Pugh is expected to return from First XV duty to strengthen the back-line while lock Jason Griffiths will provide much of the power in a strong home pack (k.o.2.30pm).
Wrexham Thirds, currently holding on to second place in a hotly contested Division Two Championship, visit Mold Thirds for a game which is crucial to the ambitions of both sides. Wrexham won the previous encounter at Wrexham by 27-7 but, deprived of the services of their injured goal kicker Neil Route, will have to work very hard at Chester Road to complete a league double.
Wrexham Youth Team hope to complete their third double of the season when they visit Bethesda for a Dragons Rugby Trust North Wales Division Two game. They won the previous encounter at home by 12-10 and, boosted by their 36-7 victory over Harlech a fortnight ago, can start to challenge the league leaders Nant Conwy if they can succeed tomorrow.
The stage is set at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning for the staging on the North Wales Under 10's and 11's Rugby Festival. Teams from most of the clubs in the Region have been entered for this prestigious competition and the winners of the Under 10 competition will represent North Wales in the National Finals to be held in South Wales later in the season.
Chairman Gareth Lewis and his hard working team, who have attracted much needed sponsorship from many local companies, finalised arrangements during the week and have announced that the festival will start at 10.00am and finish by 6.00pm. It should be an action packed day of rugby and over 800 people are expected to attend.
Fixture Secretary Paul Roberts represented Wrexham at a meeting in Abergele on Monday evening where Welsh Rugby Union representative and former top referee Clive Norling presented the Sir Tasker Watkins Report to North Wales District 'J' representatives on the proposed restructuring of rugby in Wales.
The report proposes major changes in the way that rugby is run in Wales and its aim is to ensure that the success of the National side is paramount, even at the expense of the success of some top clubs which receive massive funding at the moment yet can field their international players in club games without due regard to the needs of the National squad.
All 239 member clubs of the WRU will be asked to vote on the report which is the key to any changes in the national game. To give the Wales side a chance in international rugby, all clubs have to stop the club-versus-country rows and pull in the right direction with the national cause coming first.
Three Wrexham teams were supposed to be in action last Saturday before Wales played France at the Millennium Stadium in the second game of their Six Nations Championship challenge. However, a change in the long standing kick-off time of the international game put paid to any local rugby and the squad members who had not travelled to Cardiff decided to have a practice match at Bryn Estyn Road instead.
Those who did travel to Cardiff were treated to a spectacle of running rugby which Wales lost by 31-35, having been denied a match winning try by a fourth official in the last minute. Apart from conceding the first penalty to France for apparently arguing with the referee, Wrexham and Swansea's Andy Moore played a major part in a vastly improved Welsh performance but Mold and Llanelli hooker Robin McBryde was widely criticised for his poor throwing in at the line-out and may be dropped for the next game against Italy.
On Sunday, The Wrexham mini and junior sides played a series of games against Shrewsbury opposition with the Under 14's delivering a top performance at Bryn Estyn Road to win by 57-0. Tries came from Dafydd Rowlands (4), Einion Edwards (3), Glen Bellamy and Steven Edwards while Einion Edwards landed 5 conversions and Jonathan Davies added one more.
The Under 13's suffered a 17-31 home defeat despite playing well and scoring tries through Huw Evans, Danny Lee and Andy O'Donald who also kicked a conversion.
Wrexham Under 12's whitewashed Shrewsbury by 56-0 on their
Shropshire ground, thanks to tries from Jack Evans (2), Gwyn Edwards (2), Kenny Simms, Kieron Morris, Daniel Sissons and Jed Denham with Morris
converting all 8 touchdowns.
Wrexham Under 11's enjoyed a good 14-0 away win, James Williams and Philip Davies claiming a try apiece and Davies adding 2 conversions.
The Under 10's also beat the home side by 10-0 on try count, thanks to scores from Dwayne
Jones (4), Jordan Davies (2), Ashton Williams, Lewis Jones, Andy Hughes and Mathew Thomas.
The Under 9's sent two teams to Shrewsbury, the 'A' side losing by 1-3 before the 'B' side evened things up with a 4-3 victory. Jonathan Davies claimed a hat-trick of tries for the 'B' side and Ryan Jones added one more touchdown while Andrew Gales was the scorer for the 'A' side. 16/02/02 Preview
Wales play France under their new National Coach Steve Hansen in Cardiff
tomorrow afternoon and will be hoping to make up for the terrible start which they made in the opening game of their 2002 Six Nations Championship campaign
when they lost to Ireland by 54 -10 in Dublin a fortnight ago.
Wrexham and Swansea lock Andy Moore has been recalled to the full squad for this crucial encounter, and his experience should prove to be very useful to new look Welsh side as he was one of the heroes of Wales's titanic 43-35 victory over the Frenchmen in Paris last year.
Many Wrexham players and supporters are visiting Cardiff to support their National team and enjoy a long weekend, leaving those players staying at home to slot into the three teams which are due to play early 2.00pm kick-off games against assorted opposition. The international match will then be shown live at 2.00pm on the big screen in the clubhouse at Bryn Estyn Road.
A Wrexham XV, made up of some First Team players and others from the lower sides will visit Oswestry and the Second XV will take on Llandudno Seconds in a friendly fixture at Bryn Estyn Road. Wrexham Thirds have a home game against Crewe and Nantwich Fourths and most of the Youth Team squad will enjoy a rest day.
Training is expected to be very concentrated on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in preparation for the visit of Pwllheli for an important Division Five North league game on Saturday 23rd February. Having already caused a shock in local rugby circles by defeating league leaders Llangefni, Wrexham hope to maintain their recent improvement in form and put the team in second place to the sword.
On Sunday, the mini and junior rugby teams will be in action with the minis visiting Shrewsbury, provided that recent flooding subsides. The junior sides will entertain Shrewsbury opponents at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.10.30am).
WELSHPOOL 5 WREXHAM 17
Top try scorer Jason Munro, scoreless for the last four weeks, rediscovered his touch by claiming a brace of tries to help Wrexham secure their first double of the season with a hard earned victory on a heavy Welshpool pitch.
It was Wrexham's first double success of the season and their first successive league win since December 2000 when they claimed the scalps of Newtown and Llandudno during a purple patch. If they can repeat that feat in April when the two mid table clubs visit Bryn Estyn Road, they should stand a good chance of avoiding relegation.
Wrexham's preparations for the Welshpool game were hampered when their ever-present prop Rob Pierce had to withdraw after hurting his knee in training. Assistant coach Matt Arnold filled the vacant place and must have wished he hadn't when the home side launched a ferocious onslaught from the kick-off.
Home winger Steve Beard almost crossed the line twice, but Wrexham's confidence was high after their previous victory over Division Five North league leaders Llangefni and they tackled as if their existence depended on it. Then skipper Robbie James and outside-half Carl Pugh used tactical kicking to get out of trouble and the Wrexham forwards swarmed underneath to contain their opponents.
Despite some excellent work by Munro, prop Richard Williams, centre Paul Mizzi and number eight Dean Griffiths, half-time arrived with the game still scoreless. Welshpool should have taken the lead with a penalty after the break but winger Daley Jones fired wide. Then Robbie James was off target with his penalty attempt before Munro came to the rescue with a looping move that ended with an unconverted try in the corner.
The visitors assumed control for a long period with substitute Iwan Roberts making an impression at prop and frustrating the home forwards in the line-out. Winger Simon Williams also threatened with incisive breaks but a
bout of fisticuffs broke out at the start of the final quarter and Roberts was selected to enter the sin-bin.
Welshpool tried hard to make their extra number count and battered away at the Wrexham line, spurning penalty kicks. Once again, however, Wrexham soaked up the pressure and soon replied in devastating fashion with a try in the right corner by lock Mike McLeod, the big man proving unstoppable. James
played a skipper's part by adding the conversion from the touchline. Winger John Roberts, newly returned form Chester, had only one real chance to show his paces but did so with bags of confidence before being held. Then Roberts returned with substitute flanker Mike Ward to the fray, Griffiths drove into the 22 superbly and off loaded the ball to Munro who charged over the line for his second try of the game. All that was left was for Welshpool to claim a deserved consolation try in the 4th minute of injury time when scrum-half Wayne Williams dived over in the corner.
Coach Ross Roberts and his match worn assistant Matt Arnold were proud men after this important win which has closed the gap on the sides above the relegation zone to only 3 points. "The pitch was a great leveller and we had gained confidence from our win against Llangefni. That pulled us through", added Roberts.
Wrexham Seconds led a crack Manchester Thirds side by 6-0, thanks to two Ian Connell penalties in a competitive first-half, but lost momentum later on to crash to a 6-40 defeat at Bryn Estyn Road. However, the Youth Team pulled off a sparkling 36-7 victory over visitors Harlech, Tom Stevens (4), Ben Cheesbrough and Alastair Pearce notching tries while John Gormley slotted two conversions and skipper Kerry Powell added one more.
Wrexham Thirds were also in action at Bryn Estyn Road where they slammed Flint Seconds by 34-12 in a rearranged North East Wales Division Two game. Owen Thomas came on as a second-half replacement to score a hat-trick of tries while Keith Roberts, Mark Otter and James Bellis grabbed one apiece. Jamie Jennings and Ian Bostock each supplied a conversion to round off a fine success.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham Under 16's were depleted by County calls and battled hard before going down by 5-57 at Wirralians, Luke Pemberton scoring their consolation try. The Under 14's avenged an earlier reverse by defeating Chester by 33-12 at Hare Lane, Dafydd Rowlands claiming a hat-trick of tries and Einion Edwards and James Gibney notching a try apiece. Edwards added 3 conversions and Jonathan Davies slotted one more.
Wrexham Under 13's were whitewashed by 0-44 at Chester following a close first-half encounter.
The Under 12's had better luck at Bryn Estyn Road,
overcoming Crewe by 42-21 thanks to tries by Gwyn Edwards (3), Jack Evans (2) and David Blackwell. Kieran Morris converted all 6 tries.
The Under 11's outpointed visitors Crewe by 31-14, Ethan Bishop (2), Shaun Strudwick (2) and Philip Davies crossing for tries while Nick Davies kicked 3 conversions.
Wrexham Under 10's played two physical games of rugby against
Crewe, losing the first game by 2-3 on try count and then storming back to claim a 4-2 victory. Dwayne Jones (3), Ashton Williams (2) and Andy Hughes
were the try scorers.
The Under 8's defeated visitors Crewe by 4-2, Aaron Davies and Charlotte Williams grabbing a brace of tries apiece. The Under 7's competed well against a good Crewe side but went down by 2-3.
Relegation threatened Wrexham can edge to within 3 points of the safety zone in Division Five North if they can complete their first double of the season by defeating bottom club Welshpool at Maesydre Recreation Ground tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Coach Ross Roberts has strengthened his squad with the inclusion of former Wrexham Northern Counties players Richard Lloyd and John Roberts who have returned to the club following a short engagement with Chester. Lock Iwan Roberts is set to return to the pack following a good try scoring performance for the Seconds last week.
Tomorrow's Wrexham side looks far stronger than the one which defeated Welshpool by 21-16 at Bryn Estyn Road last October. Mike McLeod's size and strength have made a difference in the pack, and Dean Griffiths has fought his way back from injury to display the sort of form which made him a first choice back-row player at the beginning of the season.
Paul Mizzi provides stability in the centre and the power to breach the gain line while Matthew Cox has pace on the wing and full-back Stuart Van Wyke provides a good attacking option. The player who has proved himself twice against Welshpool, however, is flanker Jason Munro who remains the club's top try scorer despite not having scored in the last four games.
Welshpool have no wish to be relegated to Division Six North and will view tomorrow's game as one that they must win at all costs. They thought that they were about to close the gap on Wrexham by winning their second game of the season at Bangor a fortnight ago, but the Gwynedd side fought back to win by 26-24, their first victory this term.
Winger Steve Beard and number eight Alan Hobson are Welshpool's danger men, but they also possess a strong front row and will prove worthy adversaries for Wrexham's competitive trio of Rob Pierce, Richard Williams and Danny Munro who celebrates his 60th senior appearance for Wrexham tomorrow.
The Maesydre Recreation Ground will be very boggy after the recent poor weather and a forward slog can be expected with Wrexham being the likely favourites to come out on top in those conditions. Their victory a fortnight ago over the current league leaders Llangefni should provide the boost necessary to conquer the Mid Walians, but they will have to work hard for it and cannot afford any slackness in defence or in the line-out.
The Youth Team will entertain Harlech in a Dragons Rugby Trust North Wales League game and will be strengthened by the return of skipper Kerry Powell. Wrexham Seconds entertain a powerful Manchester Thirds XV at Bryn Estyn Road and the Thirds have secured a friendly home fixture against Christleton (k.o.2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the mini rugby sides will be in action against teams from Crewe at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning and the junior sides will visit Chester. Development Officer Neil Sissons reports that preparations are well in hand for the staging on the North Wales Under 10's and 11's Tournament at Wrexham on Sunday 24th February 2002.
Nearly all of the clubs in North Wales have entered teams in this prestigious competition and it is heartening to see that Corwen, who started rugby in their town only last season, have entered teams in both age groups. The winners of the Under 10 competition will represent North Wales in a National Competition to be held in South Wales later in the season.
WREXHAM SECONDS 13 AFON DEE 10
While most of the First Team squad visited Dublin for Wales's opening game of the 2002 Six Nations Championship against Ireland, Wrexham Seconds took on Afon Dee in a top of the table North East Wales Division One game at Bryn Estyn Road and had to come from behind to snatch victory over the well drilled visitors.
Afon Dee made light of the sodden conditions and worked an excellent try in the fourth minute of the game when flanker Lance Collymore rounded off a surge down the left with a sparkling try in the corner. Wrexham came back with good tactical kicking by outside-half Carl Pugh and some good supportive work in the line-out by hooker Mark Jones.
Pugh crossed the visitors line in the 17th minute but he lost the ball in diving for the touchdown and the referee disallowed a score. Scrum-half Daniel Cheesbrough provided a reliable link between forwards and backs but the player who stood out most in the early stages was lock Jason Griffiths who unsettled Afon Dee with his powerful running and tackling.
Pleased to be leading by 5-0 at the break, the performers with the best defensive record in Division One were delighted when their right winger Gavin Woolgar picked up a ball dropped in a Wrexham attack and raced 60 metres to score a fine try in the opening minute of the second-half.
Wrexham's reply arrived soon afterwards, the pack driving hard in the Afon Dee 22 before they propelled lock Iwan Roberts over the line for an excellent try. Full-back Ian Connell, Division One's top points scorer, failed with his conversion kick when the ball struck an upright, but made amends at the start of the final quarter when he landed a penalty.
Afon Dee continued to defend their slim two point advantage but they rarely threatened and started to fade as Wrexham piled on replacements. Connell and winger Kevin O'Toole heralded Wrexham's final onslaught with a smart move down the left, but it was left to the forwards to put an end to Afon Dee's brave performance, number eight Dean Griffiths touching down a pushover try
with 8 minutes remaining.
The Division Two game between Afon Dee Seconds and Wrexham Thirds was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Shotton and the same problem forced the postponement of Wrexham Youth Team's home game against Nant Conwy.
Wind and rain put paid to most of the scheduled fixtures in North Wales but the well drained First Team pitch at Bryn Estyn Road survived narrowly, much to the approval of the Second XV whose victory over Afon Dee extended their lead in the Division One Championship to seven points over their nearest rivals Ruthin Seconds. 02/02/02 Preview
Wales play Ireland in Dublin on Sunday afternoon in their opening game of the 2002 Six Nations Championship and the game has attracted its' usual attendance of 30,000 visiting Welsh supporters, including a fair sprinkling from the Wrexham area.
Wrexham Firsts had planned to play a friendly game against a Rhos XV at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow but, as so many players from both clubs have elected to make their journey to Dublin today, the game at Wrexham has now been cancelled.
Instead, Wrexham Seconds aim to make home advantage count when they take on Afon Dee Firsts tomorrow afternoon in a North East Wales Division One game (k.o.2.30pm). Afon Dee pulled out of the higher league Division Six North last season because they were finding it difficult to cope with the demands on their resources, but they are no slouches and are only 6 points adrift of
leaders Wrexham in this season's Championship.
Wrexham full-back Ian Connell is the undisputed top scorer of Division One with a tally of 83 points while flanker Carl Turner is joint second top try scorer with 5 touchdowns to his credit. Kevin Davies's team are the current Champions and remain unbeaten at the top of this season's table.
The Thirds are level pegging with Llangollen at the head of Division Two with two games in hand and are looking forward to their visit to Afon Dee Seconds tomorrow afternoon where they hope to complete a league double over their opponents.
Wrexham Youth Team take on unbeaten Nant Conwy at Bryn Estyn Road in a Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League Division Two game against unbeaten leaders Nant Conwy. The clubs were involved in some controversy at Christmas when they were running neck and neck for the Championship and Nant failed to provide an officially appointed referee for their league game at Llanrwst. Wrexham agreed to play a friendly game instead of a league match with visiting coach Kevin Powell acting as a referee.
The visitors lost their skipper Kerry Powell due to an injury sustained early in the game and Nant overpowered them by 62-0. League officials ruled afterwards, however, that the result should stand as a league win for Nant due to an obscure precedent set in South Wales. Wrexham officials complained but the Competition Committee ruled against them this week.
Powell is missing from tomorrow's line-up because he has joined the army of Welsh fans travelling to Dublin for the big international game. Wrexham should still be strong enough, however, to give Nant a stiff test and maybe they can also break their unbeaten record.
Wrexham mini and junior rugby teams will be in action against several clubs on Sunday morning (k.o. 10.30am). All of the minis visit Abergele while the Under 13's visit Denbigh and the Under 14's and 16's will play games against Widnes opposition at Bryn Estyn Road.
Wrexham Rugby Club Chairman Peter Evans has announced that the club has signed a new sponsorship deal with Geraint Jones of GWJ Joinery who will be providing new furniture for the impressive function room at Bryn Estyn Road. Sponsorships play an important part in providing sport for young people in the area and Wrexham MP Ian Lucas was a very welcome supporter at last
Saturday's sponsored game against Llangefni.
WREXHAM 24 LLANGEFNI 19
Wild celebrations marked this significant victory by third from bottom Wrexham over the Division Five North league leaders Llangefni, who were prevented from playing the fast flowing game which had already gained them 11 league victories this season.
The lead changed hands four times, there was a 40 minute interruption to treat an injured Llangefni prop-forward and there was an interception move near the end which could have ruined Wrexham's day. It all ended happily, however, and the visitors weren't too disappointed after they heard that their arch rivals Pwllheli had also slipped up at Llandudno.
A big effort at the start by the home pack, with centre Paul Mizzi battering away in the middle, paid early dividends as scrum-half and skipper Robbie James kicked a penalty and then converted a try by lock Mike McLeod, who blasted over from a ruck.
Llangefni were clearly rattled and worked hard to provide the possession for their talented threequarters to run at Wrexham's porous defence. In a four minute spell at the start of the second-quarter they suddenly took control as centre Rhodri Gray worked a smart try for full-back Arwel Roberts and former Wrexham scrum-half Llyr Hughes then shook off several tackles to add another
score which ace goal kicker Vince Kieran converted to claim the lead.
Inspired by the old workhorse Carl Turner, the home side came back strongly but found it difficult to build momentum as they lost nearly every line-out throw and were shaky at the back where Stuart Van Wyke was trying to come to terms with his new full-back role.
Solid work by the forwards against a resolute defence finally earned a reward, however, the referee awarding them a penalty try, converted by James, when Llyr Hughes illegally tried to block a pushover move in the 6th minute of injury time.
Good tactical kicking by outside-half Carl Pugh made a difference to Wrexham as they faced a stiff breeze in the second-half. They should have notched a pushover try in the 50th minute but James nudged the ball forward while going for the touchdown and Llangefni were awarded the put-in at the next scrum.
The scrum collapsed, however, and the visiting prop Chris Williams suffered what looked like a worrying neck injury which needed his careful removal from the pitch by an ambulance crew. Happily, Williams made a complete recovery in hospital but, when the match resumed Wrexham had lost their momentum and soon went behind again.
Desperately guarding his line, Robbie James had an attempted clearance kick charged down by Gray in the 65th minute and the Llangefni centre quickly followed up to get his fingertips to the ball ahead of two home defenders. Kieran's sublime conversion from the touchline put his side in front but he made a rare mistake when trying to kick a penalty minutes later.
With the home forwards lasting the pace better than they had done for many games, Wrexham pressed hard in the closing minutes and scored through McLeod after Pugh had given them a foothold in the Llangefni 22 with a fine kick. James added the conversion but, just as the game appeared safe in Wrexham hands, Arwel Roberts intercepted Pugh's attacking pass.
Racing downfield and heading straight for the posts, Roberts failed to spot an electrifying sprint across the sodden mire by winger Matthew Cox and was hauled to the ground just outside the home 22. It was a great let-off for James and his valiant side but they richly deserved their victory and know that more days of jubilation will lie ahead if they can repeat this type of performance.
Wrexham Seconds maintained their stranglehold on the North East Wales Division one Championship with a 17-12 victory at Flint, their main rivals. Scott Davies and Kevin O'Toole claimed first-half tries but Flint surged to a 12-10 lead after the break before Rhodri Davies won the game with a crafty try from a drop-out.
The Thirds were left kicking their heels after Flint Seconds were unable to raise a team to play them in a Division Two game, but their chief rivals Llangollen were beaten on Saturday afternoon, leaving the Championship wide open. Wrexham Youth Team led Widnes by 10-8 at half-time in their friendly, but lost momentum after the break and went down by 10-14. Alastair Pearce and
Oliver Nightingale grabbed a try apiece.
If Wrexham can upset the form book and produce enough firepower to defeat Division Five North league leaders Llangefni at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon, the Championship could be thrown wide open with Ruthin and Pwllheli set to take over at the top (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Locks Iwan Roberts and Mike McLeod are expected to return from illness and unavailability to strengthen the Wrexham pack while Paul Mizzi will continue in the centre where his solid tackling helped to stem Ruthin's attacks in last week's game.
Although Llangefni overcame a patched up Wrexham side by a clear 41-14 margin in Anglesey last September, the North East Wales outfit picked up enough tips on their opponents' style of play to limit their ambitions tomorrow. Llangefni possess a moderate pack with a mobile back-row and rely on close linking and passing in their threequarters to confuse and open up defenses.
Bethesda and Newtown showed at Llangefni in recent games that stifling the home threequarters dramatically upset their pattern of play, but the visitors still failed narrowly because they conceded penalties in doing so and were duly punished by Llangefni's ace goal kicker Vince Kieran.
Skipper and centre Dylan Jones and winger Arwel Roberts are strong runners for tomorrow's visitors and need to be shepherded by Mizzi and his Wrexham defenders. Good support work by the forwards and the avoidance of conceding penalties will then be the key to winning the game, and Wrexham can achieve a keenly desired success if mobile players like Mike Ward and Richard Williams can play to their full potential.
Wrexham Seconds visit Flint for a top of the table clash in North East Wales Division One where Wrexham are defending Champions and current league leaders. Wrexham Thirds entertain Flint Seconds and can draw level in the table with Division Two leaders Llangollen if tomorrow's results go their way (k.o.2.30pm).
The Youth Team have a warm-up against Widnes at Bryn Estyn Lane in preparation for next week's North Wales Youth League game against Division Two leaders Nant Conwy while the Minis and Juniors will have a short break from fixtures to train at the club on Sunday morning.
RUTHIN 30 WREXHAM 5
Ruthin completed their second double in successive seasons over their old rivals Wrexham in a scrappy derby game which was dominated by the superior power of the home pack and the occasional flair of their threequarters.
Wrexham couldn't have had a worse start, both of their second-row forwards Iwan Roberts and Mike McLeod withdrawing before the game due to influenza or work commitments. Top try scorer Jason Munro was also sidelined with a damaged hand, leaving his side with only a couple of strong ball carriers in the pack.
Despite the heavy pitch, Ruthin winger Gerwyn Wilson made light of the conditions as he raced away in the 5th minute to score near the corner. More pressure by the home pack, which was inspired by a solid performance from former Wrexham lock Paul Threlfall, soon led to another unconverted try by flanker Tony Cole whose strength and determination took him over the line.
Wrexham stuck to their task with Jason Parry competing well in the second-row and Carl Turner, a back-row legend with over 200 appearances to his credit, making a rare appearance on the flank. Newcomer Paul Mizzi held firm in the centre and Stuart Van Wyke threatened on the wing.
Ruthin made many mistakes on the slippery surface but did just enough in the pack to keep Wrexham in check before launching former Wrexham Northern Counties scrum-half Rhys Hughes over the line for their third try in the 31st minute. Wilson failed with the conversion attempt but made amends with a well struck penalty just before the break.
Damage limitation became Wrexham's objective in the second-half and they had to work hard to keep the flying Wilson under control. However, pressure eventually told in the 52nd minute when Cole powered through several tackles to claim his second try of the game, the referee failing to spot a double movement near the line where Cole had been held by flanker Mike Ward.
John Darlington, Llyr Williams and Matt Arnold came on as substitutes in the final quarter to aid Wrexham's cause, but they were unable to stop former Wrexham full-back Jim Salisbury from adding Ruthin's final try, converted by outside-half Jon Tudor.
Wrexham's never-say-die attitude prevailed, however, and Ruthin were prevented from claiming a whitewash when the visiting forwards won the ball near the halfway line and outside-half Carl Pugh delivered a precise pass to Van Wyke who ran straight and true for 45 metres to score a superb consolation try. Robbie James missed the conversion but honour had been restored.
Coach Ross Roberts was disappointed to suffer yet another defeat but was keen to stress the positive side when he said, "I think we did very well with the team that we put on the field. The backs' defence was excellent." The former Wales, Wrexham and Newport forward Bill Morris and his brother Eric, a major Wrexham sponsor and a former top player, were welcome supporters at the game.
Wrexham Seconds, shorn of big forwards due to late First Team calls, went down to their first defeat of the season at Manchester Wanderers who claimed a 41-21 victory. The visitors led by 7-3 just before the break but fell away towards the end when Manchester piled on substitutes.
Tries came from Andy Perrin, Scott Davies and Mark Lloyd while marksman Ian Connell gave a faultless performance by kicking all three conversions. Scrum-half Huw Thomas, one of Wrexham's best young prospects for several years, signed off in style for the Seconds before returning to complete a year in New Zealand.
Wrexham Thirds defeated Christleton by 32-12 in a friendly at Bryn Estyn Road, their tries coming from Jason Griffiths (2), Jamie Jennings (2), Wyn Jenkins and Neil Route who added one conversion.
A waterlogged pitch at Llangefni forced the postponement of the Youth Team game. It was incorrectly stated in last week's report that Kerry Powell scored a try in the Youth Team's 12-17 defeat at Colwyn Bay. The scorer was in fact second-row forward Alastair Pearce who notched 2 tries against the Seasiders in an early season game.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham Under 14's led the way with a sparkling 46-5 victory over Winnington Park at Bryn Estyn Road with tries from Eiron Davies (2), Ceri Dawson, James Gibney, Dafydd Rowlands, Daniel Gibbons and Glen Bellamy. Einion Edwards added 2 conversions.
The Under 13's visited West Park St. Helens and, despite good work from scrum-half Phil Lynch, were whitewashed by 74-0. All of the mini rugby sides enjoyed home games against Whitchurch opposition and the Under 12's pulled off a 37-7 success with tries from Jack Evans (2), Gwyn Edwards (2) and Robert Moore as well as 5 conversions from Kieron Morris.
The Under 11's won their game by 28-5 with an improved performance, Ashley Dawson (2), Brett Evans and James Williams notching tries with Philip Davies adding 4 conversions. Wrexham Under 10's pulled off a 5-2 success on tries, Dwayne Jones grabbing a hat-trick and Declan Simms and Jack Griffiths touching down for a try apiece.
Wrexham Under 9's 'A' Team lost their first game against Whitchurch by 1-12 but bounced back to win the second encounter by 10-1. Jack Challenor (5), Andrew Gale (2), Ryan McEroy-Jones (2) James Price and Matthew Evans claimed their tries. The 'B'Team won their first game by 9-0 and then lost their second match by 0-2 with scores from Ieuan Keenan (4), Tyler Edwards (2),
Ross Lloyd, Ryan Weeks and Adam Williams.
The Under 8's tried hard but lost their games by 3-5 and 1-2, Russell Jones, Ben Tudor, Ashley Salisbury and Aaron Davies scoring a try apiece
WREXHAM 10 CAERNARFON 15
Caernarfon rescued themselves from the threat of relegation with their third victory this season over a poorly performing Wrexham, and in doing so left their hosts stranded near the bottom of Division Five North with the prospect of demotion staring them in the face.
Wrexham are nine points adrift of the rest of the Division with Welshpool and Bangor below them occupying the two automatic relegation places. Their only hope of preserving their status in the top flight of rugby in North Wales is to win a play-off game against either Bala or Nant Conwy from Division Six North at the end of the season.
Caernarfon should have been defeated convincingly at Bryn Estyn Road after Wrexham had worked hard to trail by only 7-10 at half-time, having played into a bitter wind. The visitors used the elements to make a good start, were rewarded with an 8th minute penalty by outside-half Kelvin Morris but failed to make any further impression as their backs dropped passes.
Winger Steffan Van Wyke and full-back Matthew Cox stirred Wrexham by breaking into the Caernarfon half by the 15th minute, and they stayed there for the next 20 minutes as the big home forwards took control. Three times they crossed the visitors' line through locks Iwan Roberts and Mike McLeod but each time referee Ian Morris denied them a try, Roberts losing control of the ball on one occasion and Caernarfon defenders holding them up on the other occasions.
Pressure eventually told in the 33rd minute when outside-half Huw Thomas and prop Richard Williams combined in open play to send Williams over near the corner, an almost identical repeat of his score against the same opponents last December. Thomas added the conversion from near the touchline and Wrexham seemed to be firmly in control of the game.
Caernarfon had other ideas, however, and gained a solid foothold in the Wrexham 22 when play restarted. A simple penalty kick was spurned in favour of a line-out near the home line and the lighter visiting pack soon claimed a pushover try by flanker Wyn Jones because too many home forwards were absent from the maul. Morris added a neat conversion for a 10-7 lead at the break.
Former London bobby Paul Mizzi made his debut in the centre at the start of the second-half and found that his first task was to act as an extra forward, stealing the ball from a visiting flanker with style. But, despite the attentions of the excellent Wrexham flanker Mike Ward, Caernarfon were in determined mood and bottled up Wrexham's attack for the first ten minutes.
When Wrexham did force their way into the visitors 22 and were awarded a kickable penalty at the end of the third quarter, skipper Robbie James made a poor decision and decided to kick for touch instead of taking the points which would have drawn the sides level. Caernarfon breathed a sigh of relief, countered Wrexham's line-out and surged upfield in the final quarter to increase their advantage with a pushover try by veteran lock John Williams.
When the home side recovered in the closing minutes, Huw Thomas was allowed to kick a penalty which gave his side a chance of turning the tables. A dramatic final period followed during which the Wrexham forwards were awarded 3 penalties and 5 scrums near to the Caernarfon line.
Try scoring attempts by Iwan Roberts and number eight Jason Munro were disallowed, however, and Wrexham were forced to leave the field in dejection as Caernarfon and their supporters celebrated wildly.
Wrexham Seconds continued their imperious march as Champions of North East Wales Division One with a 58-0 demolition of Denbigh Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road. Jason Parry (3), Kevin O'Toole (2), Darrell Hughes, James Plant, Dave Green, Gareth Partington and Alex Crewe were the try scorers while Ian Connell added 4 conversions.
Wrexham Thirds improved their Division Two Championship chances with a 14-13 victory over leaders Llangollen at Dinas Bran. Neil Route and Andrew Lee grabbed a try apiece and Jean Blanc notched 2 conversions before Llangollen fought back to almost snatch victory.
The Youth Team lost their friendly at Colwyn Bay by 12-17 after a home forward snatched a late try from a mistake in Wrexham's line-out. It was a good performance by the visitors, however, Adam Jones and Kerry Powell crossing for tries and John Gormley adding a conversion.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham Under 14's were defeated by 24-5 at Crewe where James Gibney claimed a consolation try. Gibney also notched a try for the Under 13's who drew 5-5 at Crewe in an earlier game.
The mini rugby sides had home games against opposition from Widnes and Abergele, the Under 12's leading the way with a 21-5 success over Widnes, Gawain Rogers (2) and Gwyn Edwards grabbing tries with Kieran Morris converting all three. The under 11's lost to Abergele by 7-17, despite a converted try by Philip Davies, and succumbed to Widnes by 12-38, Ashley Dawson claiming 2 tries and Philip Davies adding a conversion.
The Under 10's were beaten by 2-10 on try count by a strong Widnes side, Ashton Williams and Dwayne Jones touching down for a try apiece. They then went on to defeat Abergele by 5-2 thanks to tries by Jack Griffiths (2), Tom Humphrys, Dwayne Jones and Jordan Davies.
The Under 9's had a disappointing morning, their 'A' team losing to Widnes by 0-6 and the 'B' team losing to the same opponents by 0-4. Ashley Salisbury grabbed a consolation try for Wrexham in the Under 8's 1-3 reverse against Widnes and the Under 7's enjoyed themselves but were beaten 0-4 by a good Widnes team.
Saturday's gradual thaw arrived too late to save Wrexham's entire weekend rugby programme, the Bryn Estyn Road pitch being adjudged too dangerous for play and Ruthin's Cae Ddol surface, where the Seconds were due to play a North East Wales Division One league game, being in a similar state.
One of the biggest disappointments was the postponement of the Youth Team
home game against Pwllheli due to the Gwynedd club's failure to raise a full side following a spate of injuries. Local rugby fans were denied the
opportunity to watch their rising star John Meldrum in action before he returned to college this week.
The Mini and Junior Rugby Section games, scheduled to be played on Sunday morning, were also cancelled due to the adverse conditions. It was the first
time this season that poor weather had forced the postponement or cancellation of games and all planned senior league fixtures will be rearranged and played by the end of April.
Neil Sissons, who manages the Wrexham Rugby Club website and has been the Development Officer with the Mini and Junior Rugby Section for several years, has now joined the main rugby committee, providing a valuable link between all groups at the Bryn Estyn Road site. Anyone interested in examining the website can do so on www.wrufc.org.
Wrexham take on Denbigh, a leading Division Six North side, at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon in a friendly fixture which should provide them with some good match practice before they resume their struggle against relegation with an important home game against Caernarfon in a week's time (kick-off 2.30pm).
Skipper Robbie James missed last week's game against Bangor because his car was held up in traffic caused by an accident on the M56, but at least the inconvenience gave him extra time to recover from a troublesome arm injury. He returns to the squad tomorrow along with centre Simon Williams, prop Adey Lee and flanker Ringo Wu. Wrexham have reached the halfway stage of their league programme in Division Five North and are hoping that the local fixture pool will provide them with a good practice game tomorrow before they resume their struggle against relegation with an important home game against Caernarfon in a week's time.
Of the 12 games which remain in this season's Championship, Wrexham have a chance of completing doubles over Welshpool and Bangor as well as defeating Newtown, Mold, Llandudno and Caernarfon. Only a dramatic improvement in form and commitment, however, will lead to victories over leading clubs like Pwllheli and Ruthin.
Scrum-half Huw Thomas, who scored 18 points in Wrexham's victory over Bangor last Saturday, will be available to play several more games before he returns to New Zealand towards the end of the month. This Saturday, however, he will appear for the Youth Team in their top of the table home game against Pwllheli and will be partnered by hooker John Meldrum who scored 6 tries in the season opener against Rhyl and has just been named in the American Eagles Under 19 squad.
Wrexham Seconds resume their rugby season after a 3 week Christmas layoff by taking on Ruthin Seconds in a tough game at Cae Ddol. They defeated Ruthin by 33-12 at Bryn Estyn Road in a league game at the beginning of the season but will face a much tougher task tomorrow afternoon.
The Thirds have home advantage against Ruthin Thirds and will be keen to make up for the shock 0-52 drubbing which they received at Ruthin last September. Their new man in the centre, Londoner Paul Mizzi, could make a big impact after showing his paces against Whitchurch last week and scoring two excellent tries in the process (k.o. 2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 13's and 14's will play Altrincham at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning while most of the squads will train in preparation for the following week's games against Crewe and Widnes (k.o. 10.30am).
Club officials are appealing for the return of nine Welsh, Scottish and French rugby jerseys which belonged to current Welsh international lock Andy Moore and his brother Steve and were stolen from a display case in Wrexham Rugby Club over the Christmas period. They have great sentimental value as they were worn or exchanged in top international matches over the last ten years and have little value to others outside the club.
Anyone wishing to return the jerseys should contact club officials on 01978 261215 or leave a message with Steve Cook, the House and Grounds Officer, on 079685 82231.
WREXHAM 36 BANGOR 17
Wrexham had to defeat bottom club Bangor to have any chance of escaping the relegation zone in Division Five North, and they duly obliged with a committed performance which produced their first league victory since early October.
The return of University student Ian Blackburn provided Wrexham with a
cutting edge in the centre, Youth Team scrum-half Huw Thomas tidied up well behind the scrum and kicked superbly while prop Richard Williams unsettled
the Bangor defence with a several powerful thrusts. Lock Iwan Roberts had a quiet game on his return from suspension but will get better as he regains
A scrappy opening ten minute sequence improved when Thomas scored in the right corner following an initial break by number eight Dean Griffiths who was making a welcome return from injury. Thomas converted from the touchline and then added the extra points after winger Scott Davies touched down following a jinking run by Blackburn.
Bangor's danger man Will Cobley nearly replied with a score after he sliced through a slack defence but Wrexham soon continued their offensive and extended their lead with a 30th minute try by full-back Matthew Cox from a break by Richard Williams. Thomas added the conversion to give his side additional comfort.
Bangor looked bedraggled in the forward exchanges, despite the inclusion in their side of former Wrexham Northern Counties flanker Dylan Dobson-Jones. Their backs were a different proposition in attack, however, and made their presence felt in the 34th minute when their Zulu left wing Siya Sibiya, on loan from Natal Sharks, used his pace to score in the corner.
As confidence surged through the visiting camp, Bangor came back for more and exposed Wrexham's defensive frailties with a swift threequarter move which produced a try by the posts for Cobley. Outside-half Gareth Roberts added the conversion which narrowed the gap to only 9 points on the stroke of half-time.
A stern team talk at the break by coach Ross Roberts seemed to have positive results because Wrexham started to take control in the second-half and replacement flanker Mike Ward made a telling difference in the line-out. Pressure by the home forwards produced a penalty in the 50th minute and Thomas made no mistake with his simple kick in front of the posts.
The visitors resolve crumpled at that setback and Wrexham took immediate advantage when Roberts chipped over the visitors defense and Cox darted through to collect the bouncing ball and score in the corner. Thomas failed with his conversion attempt from the touchline but made amends at the start of the final quarter when he improved Blackburn's excellent try under the posts.
Bangor maintained a dogged resistance for the rest of the game and were rewarded with a second try by Sibiya in the dying moments but Wrexham ran out worthy winners and can now plan for an improved campaign in the New Year. A delighted Ross Roberts said, "We needed to win it and we did just that. Now we must go one better and beat Caernarfon in our next league game."
Wrexham Seconds didn't have a game but the Thirds hit top form as they whitewashed Whitchurch Fourths by 56-0 at Bryn Estyn Road. Alan Williams, Paul Mizzi and James Bellis grabbed a brace of tries apiece while Jason Parry, Paul Parbury, Andrew Lee and Neil Route added single scores. The conversions were shared between Route (2) and Gerry Darbyshire
Wrexham, originally scheduled to play close neighbours Rhos in a pre-season friendly fixture tomorrow afternoon, are searching for a replacement game from the local fixture pool after Rhos were directed to play a league fixture against Denbigh instead.
The main aim of the Wrexham squad, however, is to prepare for next week's Division Five North bottom of the table crunch game at Bryn Estyn Road against luckless Bangor who have yet to win a league game. Wrexham need to make sure that Bangor's losing sequence continues and that a home victory is used as a springboard for further success in the New Year.
It seems unthinkable that two of the three clubs which applied for and took part in a selection process to become the flagship side of North Wales, fastracked into Division Two of the National Leagues, should now be in such a perilous position and looking set for relegation to Division Six North by the end of the season.
Next week they are forced to fight it out to win the vital points on offer which might start to bridge the gap between themselves and the other struggling clubs like Llandudno and Bethesda which have managed to scramble on to a safety net in recent weeks.
The good news for Wrexham is that lock Iwan Roberts returns from a 3 month suspension to bolster the pack which has already been strengthened in recent weeks by the inclusion of the experienced lock Mike McLeod. Skipper Robbie James also confirmed his successful recovery from injury by playing for the Rhinos in the North Wales Provincial Championship on Wednesday evening.
Lock Ian Sanger will miss both of the Christmas games with a knee injury and flanker Ringo Wu will be away for the same period. Most of the regulars will be on duty, however, and students Matthew Cox and Simon Williams have confirmed that they will return from vacation to play in the league game against Bangor if required.
Former Wrexham Northern Counties flanker Dylan Dobson-Jones is still a leading player in the Bangor pack and centre Will Cobley poses a great threat to Wrexham in the threequarters, his hat-trick of tries having made all the difference in Bangor's narrow home success over Wrexham last December.
While Wrexham have shown improved form in some recent games before losing their rhythm, Bangor have struggled to find any consistency and should fall to another defeat if their opponents can maintain pressure in the pack. Top try scorer Jason Munro has the key to unlock the visitors' fragile defence and transport his side into the New Year on a high note.
While the First XV have endured a losing sequence in league competition, results could hardly have been better for the lower teams. Wrexham Seconds continue to lead North East Wales Division One as Champions, the Thirds have forced their way up the table in recent weeks to lead the Division Two Championship and the Under 19's look set to finish the year in second place in the Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League with some excellent young players ready to reinforce the senior side in a couple of years time.
Wrexham Seconds are also looking for a fixture to fill a blank date tomorrow, the Thirds have a home game against a Chester XV and the Youth Team travels to Llanrwst to play Nant Conwy in a Dragons Trust league game which could have an important bearing on the outcome of the North Wales Division Two Championship (k.0.2.30pm).
On Saturday 29th December, the Firsts take on Bangor at Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham Thirds are scheduled to visit Rhos Seconds for a Christmas friendly fixture while the Seconds and the Youth XV will continue to enjoy the seasonal festivities (k.o. 2,30pm).
LLANDUDNO 45 WREXHAM 24
Llandudno eased their relegation worries at their visitors expense in a ten try thriller at Maesdu Road, opening up a gap sufficient to cast Wrexham adrift with Bangor and Welshpool at the bottom of Division Five North.
Number eight Jason Munro notched tries which gave Wrexham the lead on two occasions but it all counted for nought as the Seahorses mounted a second-half onslaught which produced four sparkling scores as the visitors tired after their exhausting opening performance.
Early pressure forced former Wrexham full-back Paul Algieri to lose control of the ball near goal line and prop Richard Williams took full advantage with a run to the corner before setting up a 5th minute opening try for Munro.
Llandudno then countered with bags of pressure which forced the visiting backs to concede a string of penalties. Algieri failed with his first attempt but found the target with two later shots to put his side in front.
The Wrexham forwards decided that they were having none of that and replied with a series of power drives with Richard Williams leading by example again. A tap penalty was taken quickly and centre Simon Williams popped up to score a well worked try which skipper Huw Thomas converted to give his side a 6 point lead.
The visitors should have built on that lead but weak tackling allowed lock Richard Pyke to run straight through a packed defense to score under the posts. Algieri added the conversion that regained the lead for his side, only to see his work undone when lock Ian Sanger powered through the home defense to set up another try for the poacher Munro, converted by Thomas.
By half-time, however, the Seahorses were back in front again, this time hooker Dave Davies squeezing his way through for a try converted by Algieri. Wrexham's Simon Williams had a try disallowed because the referee was not correctly positioned to witness the score but there was no confusion shortly after the break when centre Johnny Evans snapped up a home try, converted yet
again by Algieri who then added a penalty.
From the restart, however, outside-half Ross Roberts kicked into the 22 and the unbroken Sanger steamed up in support to score near the corner. It was too far out for Thomas to land a successful conversion but Wrexham were only one goal behind until Llandudno piled on the pressure in the final quarter.
Winger Ben Evans grabbed a smart try in the 60th minute and prop Carlo Gallotti added another unconverted score before Johnny Evans added his second touchdown in injury time. Wrexham's poor fitness cost them the game and they will have to make a massive effort in the New Year if they are play to their undoubted potential.
Wrexham Seconds defeated Bala Seconds by 21-13 in a friendly fixture at Bryn Estyn Road, Kevin O'Toole, Jason Parry and Carl Turner notching tries with Darrell Hughes and Carl Pugh landing a penalty apiece. Wrexham Thirds had their visit to Denbigh called off by their hosts.
Wrexham Youth Team completed their first double of the season and moved into second place in the Dragons Trust National Youth League Division Two with a 56-0 demolition of visitors Rhyl. Tries came from John Ireland (3), Tom Stevens, Kerry Powell, Ben Cheesbrough, Pete Blakemore and Jason Tomlinson, while goal kicker John Gormley gave a faultless performance by converting all eight tries.
WREXHAM 14 BETHESDA 35 - SATURDAY
Wrexham ran out in their brand new playing kit, generously supplied by sponsors Floor Sealants of Wrexham, but they then delivered a curiously inept performance against their fellow Division Five North relegation strugglers Bethesda and were duly despatched by the relieved visitors.
Winger Simon Williams presented the Gwynedd side with an unexpected score in the 3rd minute when he froze under the pressure of a speculative kick-ahead by the visiting backs and allowed outside-half Gareth Wynn to escape for a try which he failed to convert.
Wrexham attempted to get back on terms and had their hopes boosted by the good performance of their set scrum, prop Richard Williams and newly returned lock Mike McLeod giving it extra zest. They were also well served by Huw Thomas at scrum-half, deputising for injured skipper Robbie James.
Without any direction or proper control to their game, however, they failed to make any impression until the start of the second quarter when outside-half Ross Roberts used a slick pass from Thomas to kick downfield. As the Bethesda full-back Steven Ellis moved to cover the attack, Wrexham's Matthew Cox appeared at pace, plucked the ball from the air and ran on to score a superb try, neatly converted by Thomas.
Unfortunately the joy of leading lasted only four minutes, and it was the embarrassed Ellis who got his own back by supporting a swift break through the Wrexham centre to touch down for an unconverted try in the left corner. Former Western Australia centre Matt Harrington, who played against the British Lions in the summer, notched Bethesda's third try, converted this time by Gareth Wynn.
Trailing by 7-17 at the break, the home side looked down and out of the contest, but they rallied and stormed back four minutes after the restart with a classic try from a tap penalty by Mike McLeod, Thomas supplying a simple conversion to narrow the gap to three points.
Sensing the danger, Bethesda decided to avoid the clutches of the Wrexham pack as much as possible and used the wily Harrington and his threequarters to cut through a back pedalling home defence. When Harrington was stopped just short of the Wrexham posts, flanker Michael Oliver popped up to take a scoring pass which restored Bethesda's healthy advantage.
Although Thomas and number eight Jason Munro combined with a couple of storming runs to win a scrum near the visitors try line in the 59th minute, the home backs spilled the resultant possession and that was effectively the end of their challenge. Two late penalties by Wynn, who converted hooker Bill Huaki's even later try, added gloss to Bethesda's deserved victory.
Wrexham Seconds, proud Champions of North East Wales Division One, continued their unbeaten title defence with a 47-10 success at The Waen against Rhyl Seconds. Deposed First XV full-back James Plant heralded his return to form with a smart brace of tries and top points scorer Ian Connell grabbed a personal tally of 17 points with a try and 6 conversions.
Other tries came from Anthony Lang, Jason Griffiths, Darrell Hughes and James Wrathall who claimed his try by racing in unseen to ground the ball after a wayward penalty attempt by Connell. Rhyl Thirds called off their Division Two match at Bryn Estyn Lane due to a shortage of players, but forgot to tell Wrexham Fixture Secretary Paul Roberts and the waiting referee!
The Youth Team pulled off an excellent 26-15 victory at Bala, who were level pegging with them in the mid table of the North Wales Youth League before the match. Jason Tomlinson, Alastair Pearce, Oliver Nightingale and Tom Stevens claimed a try apiece, Stevens running nearly the full length of the pitch to complete his score. John Gormley added 3 conversions.
NEWTOWN 13 WREXHAM 12
Wrexham's hopes of staging a long awaited revival by claiming their second victory in this season's Division Five North Championship were dashed by a refereeing error and then by a late try in this hotly contested game at Newtown.
Despite the disappointment of failing so narrowly after leading by 12-3 at the turnaround, it was a much better performance by a determined Wrexham side which was captained for the day by Llyr Williams, making his 100th appearance for the club.
Prop Richard Williams, freshly returned from his travels in Canada, made a big difference in the front row, newly signed winger Stuart Van Wyke
impressed on his league debut and flanker Ringo Wu created havoc in the Newtown ranks with his amazing pace to the breakdown.
The visitors opened strongly and claimed the lead in the 19th minute when full-back Matthew Cox slotted a delicately chipped ball through the home
defence and Van Wyke raced through to touch down deep in the corner. More pressure by the visitors created attacking options for centre John Darlington
and outside-half Ross Roberts, but they were stifled by Newtown's solid defence.
After Newtown wing Lee Davies had missed a penalty chance in the 27th minute, Wrexham responded by using their pack to gain a foothold in the home 22. When they won a line-out, number eight Jason Munro stole through on the blind side to snatch a superb try which scrum-half Robbie James converted to stretch their lead to 12-0.
Although Lee Davies narrowed the gap with a penalty just before the break, Wrexham started the second-half confidently and proceeded to apply the
tactics which had been so successful in the earlier period.
The turning point of the game came at the start of the final quarter when the referee allowed former Wrexham Northern Counties scrum-half Tim Jones to have two attempts at taking a quick tap penalty, only one being allowed under the current laws. Jones scrambled over at his second-attempt and the try was awarded, much to the visitors' consternation.
Although Wrexham returned to the offensive and went close to scoring on several occasions, Newtown's resolve had been strengthened by Jones' try
and, with only nine minutes remaining, they created an overlap in the threequarters to edge in front with a try by winger Mark Saunders.
Despite further good work from Williams and his hard working side, the home side managed to hold on to claim their fourth win of the season and eased
their relegation worries at Wrexham's expense.
Wrexham Seconds maintained their grip on the North East Wales Division One Championship when they defeated close rivals Flint by 25-12 at Bryn Estyn
Road. Tries came from Carl Pugh, Mike McLeod and James Wrathall while Ian Connell supplied two penalties and a conversion with James Plant landing one
Wrexham Thirds lost their friendly game against a strengthened Afon Dee XV by 3-22 at Shotton despite taking an early lead with a Jamie Jennings penalty.
The Youth Team struggled to overcome injury handicaps and lost at home to Denbigh by 3-51, John Gormley claiming their only score with a drop goal.
The mini rugby sides visited Chester on Sunday morning for games at all levels while the Under 13's and 14's took on Chester sides at Bryn Estyn
Road. Glen Bellamy grabbed a hat-trick of tries and Einion Edwards kicked a conversion for the Under 14's but they still went down by 17-26.
Danny Lee grabbed a try for the Under 13's who were unlucky to lose by a 5-34 margin. Chester proved to be very strong at Under 12 level, whitewashing
Wrexham by 42-0 and 21-0, while their Under 11's also completed an unblemished performance with 21-0 and 35-0 successes.
Wrexham Under 10's suffered a 0-4 whitewash against Chester 'A' but came back strongly against Chester 'B' to win by 6-3 with tries by Dwayne Jones (3), Jordan Davies (2) and Ben Harrison. At Under 9 level, Wrexham 'A' lost to Chester by 1-3 in their first game but powered to a 2-1 victory in the second
encounter. Tries were claimed by Ryan Jones (2), Ieuan Keenan and Jack Chalenor.
Also at Under 9 level, Wrexham 'B' lost to their Chester hosts by 3-4 in their first game and then whitewashed their opponents by 8-0 in a sparkling
second encounter. Jonathon Davies was the outstanding performer with 8 tries to his credit, supported by further scores from Cameron Burton and Andrew
Wrexham Under 8's lost by 1-7 and 3-8 but maintained their steady progress and were rewarded with tries by Ashley Salisbury (3) and Charlotte Williams.
PREVIEW FOR SATURDAY
1ST DECEMBER 2001
Flanker Llyr Williams is set to make his 100th senior appearance for Wrexham tomorrow when they visit Newtown for a Division Five North Championship game that they must win if they are to take their first step in the recovery process from the downward spiral that has forced them into the relegation zone (kick-off at 2.30pm).
With one third of their league programme completed, most games having been against the top sides in North Wales, Wrexham know that wins against fellow strugglers Newtown, Bethesda, Llandudno and Bangor are needed in the coming weeks before they face the stronger sides again in the New Year. Leaving their challenge until they reach the halfway mark in their programme will not provide them with enough time to avoid relegation or a play-off.
Prop Richard Williams, recently returned from a long spell in Canada with the Toronto Lions, has had time to recover from any jet lag and will bolster the front row where his absence has been acutely felt. He has brought three Canadians with him, two props and a hooker, and they will be assessed by coach Ross Roberts and his assistants before being tested at First XV level.
After making a poor start to this season's campaign, Newtown have notched useful wins against struggling sides and have worked their way into the mid table. They will be formidable opponents on their home ground and Wrexham will have to raise their standard of play to produce a victory.
As they demonstrated in last week's game at Rhos, Wrexham have improved their forward play as well as their ball retention skills over recent weeks. If they can maintain that impetus tomorrow and bring centre Doogan and the refreshed Llyr Williams into play, they can claim the match points and then advance further on the following Saturday when they are strongly tipped to defeat ailing Bethesda at Bryn Estyn Road.
Wrexham Seconds are looking for a game from the local fixture pool tomorrow while the Thirds have a home game in North East Wales Division Two against Colwyn Bay. The Youth Team are also in action at Bryn Estyn Road, taking on Denbigh in a friendly encounter (k.o.2.30pm). In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham play Chester across the board on Sunday morning.
Wednesday evening's North Wales Cup first round game against Caernarfon will be played for the first time ever at the Queensway Centre instead of Wrexham Rugby Club. The switch of venue was approved by club officials because the main floodlights at Bryn Estyn Road are in poor condition, but the Queensway Centre has the potential to attract a sizeable crowd and could become a regular venue for future evening matches (k.0. 7.30pm).
REPORT OF GAMES ON SATURDAY 24TH NOVEMBER 2001
RHOS 6 WREXHAM 29
Wrexham triumphed by a surprisingly wide margin in this friendly at Rhos, their forwards showing a marked improvement on recent performances and their backs confirming their true potential by scoring three of the visitors' four tries.
Rhos conceded a penalty under pressure in the first minute and Wrexham skipper Robbie James made no mistake with his kick to put his side in front. Good work by the forwards increased their advantage soon afterwards, prop Rob Pierce driving downfield, outside-half Ross Roberts kicking ahead and winger Scott Davies winning the race to score his first senior try in the corner.
Five minutes later, centre John Darlington made a telling break, number eight Jason Munro opened up the home defence and debut winger Stuart Van Wyke finished off the move with a sparkling try, converted by Robbie James.
With lock Carl Zolman and Mark Davies pulling out all the stops against their former Wrexham team mates, Rhos made an impression in the second quarter and narrowed the gap between the sides with a penalty five minutes before the break. They reduced it further in the 43rd minute with a smart drop goal and appeared to have opened up the game at last.
The forwards slogged it out in the middle of the pitch for over ten minutes before Wrexham won possession on halfway and centre Peter Doogan took charge with a devastating run before handing over to Van Wyke who touched down to score his second try of the game. James added the conversion as the visitors stepped up the pressure again.
A side-stepping run down the touchline by Pierce, still full of spirit after his game for North Wales against the touring New Zealand Under 21's on the previous evening, was eventually halted by determined home defenders. It wasn't long, however, before hooker Danny Munro fed the ball to his brother Jason near the Rhos line and the big man crashed over to score Wrexham's final try, converted again by James.
It was a pleasing win for a rejuvenated Wrexham side and a suitable moment for club physiotherapist George Showell to choose to hang up his boots after a distinguished soccer career with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wrexham, followed by his ten year spell at Bryn Estyn Road looking after the town's leading rugby players. He also acted in the same capacity for the North Wales senior rugby squad.
George was a regular traveller on the bus which carried Wrexham players to venues in South Wales every fortnight until they chose to return to North Wales rugby last season. He was also a key part of the player management team in 1995 when Phil Kingsley Jones brought international star Jonah Lomu to Wrexham to play for the club in front of 4,500 people, the biggest crowd ever to watch a non international rugby game in North Wales.
The outstanding services and personality of George Showell will be missed by all at Wrexham Rugby Club but it is not the end of the story as he is likely to retain his links with the club as he enjoys a long awaited rest in retirement.
Wrexham Seconds continued their unbeaten run as Champions of North East Wales Division One with a 25-23 home victory over Abergele Firsts. They had to do it the hard way after trailing by 10-23 in the second-half, Ian Connell starting the recovery process by sprinting half the length of the pitch to beat the Abergele full-back to the touch down from a speculative kick by Carl Pugh.
Connell added two conversions and two penalties to claim a personal match tally of 15 points and the other tries came from Pugh and Carl Turner. In another tight game in Division Two, Wrexham Thirds defeated the current champions Abergele Seconds by 13-12 at their seaside stronghold, James Bellis notching the winning try with five minutes remaining after a try by Gerry Darbyshire and a penalty by Jamie Jennings.
On Friday evening, Rob Pierce, Simon Williams and Ringo Wu played for the North Wales Under 23's against a touring New Zealand Under 21's side at Bangor. The All Blacks eventually powered to an emphatic 59-10 success but it proved to be a useful experience for Wrexham's talented youngsters who are key players in the First Team squad.
PREVIEW FOR SATURDAY
24TH NOVEMBER 2001
Wrexham will take a short break from their hectic Division Five North Championship schedule tomorrow afternoon and will make the short journey to Rhos to play the improving village side in a friendly fixture (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Flanker Llyr Williams will enjoy a well earned rest following a bruising series of league appearances but prop Richard Williams, who stayed on to play for the Toronto Lions after Wrexham's successful summer tour of Canada, returned home this week and is expected to bolster the front row tomorrow.
Prop Rob Pierce and centre Simon Williams, members of the North Wales squad which will tackle the crack New Zealand Under 21 touring side at Bangor this evening, will play at Rhos if sufficiently recovered from their endeavours. Former Wrexham forwards Carl Zolman and Mark Davies will add some sparkle in the home pack.
Any Wrexham versus Rhos game is a highly charged derby affair and tomorrow's encounter will be no exception. Added interest will be provided by the situation of the clubs in their respective leagues, Wrexham being in the relegation zone in Division Five while their opponents are flying high in Division Six and looking strong enough to secure a promotion play-off place by the end of the season.
Unbeaten Wrexham Seconds will defend their North East Wales Championship at Abergele who are looking secure in fourth place in the table with three wins out of five games so far. The Thirds entertain Abergele Seconds who are the current Division Two Champions and are pushing new leaders Llangollen very hard at the top of this season's Championship (k.o.2.30pm).
The mini and junior rugby teams will train at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning and will resume their programme of games against local clubs when they take on Chester at all levels in a week's time.
Many of those rugby fans who have not travelled to Cardiff to support Wales playing World Champions Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday afternoon will watch the match on the big television screen at Wrexham Rugby Club. Former Wrexham player Andy Moore is a key forward in the Welsh side alongside former Mold hooker Robin McBryde who is also on duty against the Wallabies (k.o.3.00pm).
New training lights were installed at Bryn Estyn Road this week with the help of local firms Lockwell Electrics and M&J Services, assisted by club members. House and Grounds Officer Steve Cook supervised some of the work and appealed for sponsorships from local firms to help to repair the 500 seat stand which has been closed since the start of the season, mainly as a result of vandalism.
REPORT OF MATCH ON SATURDAY 17TH NOVEMBER 2001
WREXHAM 10 DOLGELLAU 42
Wrexham were expected to compete strongly against the Division Five North title challengers at Bryn Estyn Road, but someone forgot to tell them and Dolgellau brushed them aside with ease.
Apart from some woeful tackling in the centre, the home backs performed well and threatened from time to time, but the forwards were completely out of tune throughout and looked as though they had forgotten most of lessons that they had learnt on the training field.
Pressing hard from the outset, Dolgellau took the lead with a penalty by full-back Danny McCormick in the 8th minute but fell behind soon afterwards when the Wrexham threequarters attacked down the left and full-back James Plant joined the line at pace to score a sparkling try near the corner. Plant is good at kicking touchline conversions but his luck deserted him on this occasion.
The visitors turned the tables in the second quarter when prop Geraint Jones took advantage of a nervous scramble in the Wrexham defence to power his way over or an unconverted try. Moments later, winger Owain Thomas outstripped the cover to add a try in the left corner and McCormick increased his side's lead to 16-5 at the break with an injury time penalty.
The home side enjoyed a 40 metre run by winger Scott Davies, who was put into space by outside-half Ross Roberts, and a valiant charge by lock Ian Sanger. With the set scrum and line-out under severe pressure, however, there was little to savour on a gloomy afternoon.
Roberts kicked well to apply pressure against the visitors in the second-half, but Dolgellau looked very sharp in defence and attack and added to their tally after only 9 minutes when former Wrexham Northern Counties prop Dai Arthur Owen ploughed through from a line-out and McCormick added a conversion.
Despite the constant attentions of Wrexham's hard working Llyr Williams, the tries flowed for the visitors as flanker Led Evans, winger Jonathan Lloyd and Owain Thomas tore through a flailing defence. McCormick added two conversions before Wrexham restored some battered pride by snatching a consolation try in injury time when centre Simon Williams hacked on from a ruck to touch down in the corner.
Unbeaten Wrexham Seconds easily defeated visitors Oswestry Seconds by 52-7 with Darrell Hughes celebrating his first ever hat-trick of tries for the club. Other tries came from Ian Connell (2) , Geoff Lang (2) and Anthony Lang, while Connell increased his personal tally to 22 points by slotting 6 conversions.
Wrexham Under 19's pulled off a superb 12-10 home victory over a powerful Bethesda side in a Dragons Trust North Wales League game, David Anderson grabbing the winning try in the final quarter. Jason Tomlinson scored Wrexham's first try and John Gormley added the conversion.
Wrexham Thirds came unstuck in Cheshire against Crewe and Nantwich Seconds, Neil Route contributing their only points with a penalty as they crashed to a 3-59 defeat.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham played Sandbach at all levels on Sunday, the Under 16's suffering a shock 5-67 away defeat with Luke Pemberton grabbing a consolation try as injuries took their toll. The Under 14's crashed to a 17-41 reverse at the same venue despite a hat-trick of tries by Glen Bellamy and a conversion by Einion Edwards.
At Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham Under 13's were 17-55 losers, Huw Evans, Matthew Burgess and Danny Lee claiming tries and Lee adding a conversion. Tries by Kieron Morris, Jack Evans, Wen Willington and Gwyn Edwards produced a 20-5 home victory over Sandbach for the Under 12's.
The Under 11's played two games against Sandbach visitors, losing the first game by 0-21 and then bouncing back to claim victory in the second encounter by 38-5. Wrexham Under 10's defeated the Cheshire side by 5-3 and 6-3 with tries from Dwayne Jones (5), Matthew Thomas (2) Ashton Williams (2), Matthew Gale and Ben Harrison.
At Under 9 level, Ieuan Keenan's try gave the Wrexham 'A' team a 1-0 victory and Sam Roberts (2) and Daniel Jones supplied the scores in the 'B' team's 3-0 victory. The Under 8's lost to Sandbach by 1-3 in their first match but came back to level the scores at 2-2 in the second game. Wen Davies (2) and Charlotte Williams were the try scorers.
The new Under 7's team lost their home games by 4-7 and 0-1 but gave a vastly improved display with Cerys Davies, Thomas Edwards, Lewis Evans and Harry Cartwright crossing for their first tries. 17/11/01 PREVIEW
For the fourth week in succession, Wrexham face one of the fancied sides in the Division Five North Championship and will have to raise their standard of play if they are to have any hope of defeating Dolgellau who visit Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Number eight Gareth Noon is unavailable but forwards Chris Phillips, Jason Parry and Ian Sanger return to the squad following their excursion to Cardiff last weekend. Ross Roberts continues at outside-half and the rest of the back line is expected to remain intact after a good defensive performance against Mold last Saturday.
Wingers Matthew Cox and Kevin O'Toole, both broken nose victims over recent weeks, are on the mend and may return to the squad if they pass fitness tests. Lock Paul Hughes, who picked up an injury on his return to the side last week, is another player whose fitness will be checked by Roberts and his assistant coaches.
Dolgellau were unable to visit Bryn Estyn Road last season due to foot and mouth restrictions in their area, but Wrexham managed to visit their Gwynedd stronghold before the outbreak and were a shade unlucky to suffer a 20-29 defeat.
The big difference between the teams on that day was a certain RAF instructor called Neil Martin who used his long legs to stretch down the right touchline to grab four tries. Wrexham countered with tries from brothers Danny and Jason Munro, but mistakes littered Wrexham's pattern of play and prevented them from mounting a serious threat to a comfortable home side.
Dolgellau could have won the Championship last season but for the foot and mouth outbreak. They are determined to do so this term and have lost only one of their five games so far as they challenge Pwllheli, Llangefni, Rhyl, Mold and Ruthin for the top spot in Division Five.
Second from bottom Wrexham are improving slowly after a poor start and are now attracting sufficient numbers to their training sessions to enable the squad players to concentrate on strengthening their scrummage and refining their threequarter moves. They may not be good enough yet to stop the flying Martin and his colleagues, but they should compete well tomorrow and will soon claim their second league victory of the season.
Wrexham Seconds take on Oswestry Seconds in a friendly at Bryn Estyn Road while the Thirds visit Crewe and Nantwich to take on their second string. In Youth Rugby, Wrexham Under 19's entertain Bethesda at Bryn Estyn Road in a Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League game (k.o.2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the mini rugby sides and the Under 13's entertain Sandbach on Sunday morning while the Under 14's, 15's and 16's travel to Cheshire to play similar opposition (k.o.10.30am).
The famous Chicago rhythm and blues band, B.B.and the Blues Shacks, featuring the legendary R.J.Mischo, will provide the main entertainment at the Hooker Blues Club at Wrexham Rugby Club tomorrow evening (8.00pm).
MOLD 23 WREXHAM 10
Mold finished as the deserved winners of the first of this season's two derby battles against their old rivals Wrexham, but the visitors drew some comfort from a battling performance which confirmed their recent overall improvement in form.
The game was mainly a battle between the two packs with Mold oozing confidence from the start after a series of high scoring victories in Division Five North. They were lighter but far better drilled than their counterparts and gave Wrexham number eight Gareth Noon a severe roasting as they shunted the visiting pack backwards time and time again.
However, Wrexham defended resolutely, with hooker Danny Munro dumping Mold's ex Chester lock Phil Cottle without ceremony, and forced their way upfield to take the lead with a penalty by full-back James Plant. The home side countered with more pressure, but failed to gain any reward when scrum-half Jamie Griffiths missed two kickable penalties.
Then Mold won a heel against the head in the 19th minute and released centre Richie Cochrane on a diagonal run through several flailing tackles before he touched down in the right corner. Griffiths mis-kicked his conversion attempt once again but the home forwards soon put pressure on the Wrexham scrum and engineered a pushover try for number eight Ian Knott.
Jason Munro, celebrating his 50th appearance for Wrexham, heralded a fight back by the visitors with a powerful surge towards the Mold line, but Plant missed an easy penalty before Griffiths finally managed to kick a late penalty to increase the home side's lead to 13-3 at half-time.
The tactical kicking of outside-half Ross Roberts and the powerful forward work of flanker Llyr Williams helped to keep Mold in check until the 53rd minute when Griffiths landed a penalty in front of the posts for a dubious offside offence.
Mold continued to pound away on the Wrexham 22 but sterling defensive work by the whole of the Wrexham side, led by the rejuvenated Noon, Danny Munro, and winger Scott Davies, ensured that Mold's ambitions were limited. Their task was made more difficult, however, when Jason Munro was sin-binned in the 69th minute for alleged persistent obstruction.
Tempers flared and in the charged derby atmosphere referee Richard Hughes forgot to recall Munro after his 10 minutes in the sin-bin with the result that Phil Cottle exploited Wrexham's deficiency to break from a scrum and score a try by the posts which Griffiths converted.
When the Wrexham side was finally restored to its full complement, the forwards surged into the Mold 22 deep into injury time and won possession at a ruck. Centre John Darlington raced onto a pass in mid field, switched direction and handed off four defenders before touching to claim a marvellous try. Skipper Robbie James slotted the conversion to put his side into double figures with the realisation that only hard work on the training field will save them from relegation.
The Seconds didn't play their scheduled friendly at Llandudno because the hosts called off the fixture at short notice. At Bryn Estyn Road, however, the Thirds sparkled in their 25-5 victory over Corwen in a North East Wales Division Two game, James Wrathall, Stan Hughes, Jamie Jennings and Mark Owens touching down for tries with Jennings adding a conversion and Neil Route slotting a penalty.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the main match of the day at Bryn Estyn Road was the Under 16's game against Mold, the visitors winning out in the end by 29-10. Danny Seabrook and Joe Blackburn claimed a try each for the valiant losers.
The Under 14's succumbed to an enormous Orrell side by 5-51, Gareth Taggart grabbing Wrexham's try.
The under 15's and 13's didn't have a game but the Under
12's took on Whitchurch at home, losing the first encounter by 5-28 but recovering strongly to win the second game by 27-0. Robert Moore (2), Kenny Simms, David
Blackwell, Jack Evans and Sam Short supplied the tries while Simms added a conversion.
The Under 11's whitewashed Whitchurch by 4-0 on tries in their first game but were held to a 3-3 draw in their second match. Tries were scored by Richard Platt (2), Philip Davies (2) Ethan Bishop, Ashley Dawson and Shaun Strudwick. Wrexham Under 10's defeated Whitchurch opponents by 5-2 and 2-0, Andy Hughes (2), Dwayne Jones, Ashton Williams, Matthew Thomas and Jack Griffiths touching down for tries.
The Under 9 'A' Team was defeated 2-3 by Whitchurch, but the 'B' side performed much better as they ran out 5-1 winners. Jonathan Davies (3), Jack Challenor (2), Sam Roberts and Ryan Jones grabbed tries while Ryan Weeks tackled superbly. The Under 8's crashed to a 0-3 defeat at the hands of Whitchurch and the new
Under 7's team lost to their cross-border opponents by 0-2 despite a fine effort by skipper Cerys Davies.
WREXHAM 1ST XV 12 RHYL 1ST XV 33
Wrexham battled well in the first-half and led for 22 minutes, thanks to a try by lock Adey Lee. They trailed by 5-13 at the break and looked good for a comeback with the slope in their favour.
Again they started gamely, but a certain Rhyl centre with the famous name of Jonathan Davies ran 30 metres through a slack defence to score under the posts in the 6th minute and that was pretty much the end for Wrexham as they still created opportunities but faded badly in support. John Davenport's try, and Robbie James's conversion, came too late to make any difference.
MOLD 2NDS 3 WREXHAM 2NDS 49
A fine team display against a poor Mold outfit with Wrexham remaining unbeaten as Champions in North East Wales Division One. Tries came from James Wrathall (2), Dave Green, Nick Johnson, Ian Connell, Mark Lloyd, Anthony Lang and Carl Turner with 3 conversions from Connell and an amazing drop goal from Sid Hughes.
WREXHAM 3RDS 27 MOLD 3RDS 7
A good win in Division Two for Dave Beckett and his stalwarts while skipper Sean Williams sunned himself in Portugal. Tries were scored by Stuart Pomproy, Dale Peters, Stan Hughes, Mark Otter and Mark Jones. Ian Bostock slotted one conversion as the old guard of Gerry Darbyshire and Stan Hughes guided their team to victory. 30/10/01 preview.
WREXHAM V. RHYL ON SATURDAY 3RD NOVEMBER 2001
Wrexham will have to pull out all the stops at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon if they are to have any chance of defeating visitors Rhyl, currently riding high amongst the leaders in this season's Division Five North Championship (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Last week's whitewash defeat at Pwllheli, their fourth league defeat in five games, has deposited Wrexham near the bottom of the table with few signs of the revival which is urgently needed to restore their fortunes and guarantee their survival in Division Five.
The return of coach Ross Roberts to the playing arena will provide stability where it is needed urgently, and the recall of centre Peter Doogan, unavailable last week, will provide extra options in defence and attack. However, the unlucky flanker Dean Griffiths is likely to be out of contention for several weeks as he recovers from a knee ligament injury and Llyr Williams is also ruled out tomorrow with a hip injury.
Home supporters will have the long awaited opportunity to assess the talents of the NEWI college flanker Ringo Wu who will pack down in the back-row alongside Jason Munro, the scorer of a brace of tries against Rhyl when the sides last met at Wrexham in February.
Wrexham won that encounter by 33-20 but had to fight all of the way to do so against a determined Rhyl outfit which was always dangerous on the counter. Erik Lloyd, Rhyl's high scoring full-back on that day, has been replaced by Llion Edwards but he appears to be as equally efficient as the long serving Lloyd and will kick any penalties if given the opportunity.
Rhyl are the form side in tomorrow's encounter but, with Ross Roberts at outside-half and James Plant now fully recovered form his recent hand injury at full-back, Wrexham may be able to use home advantage to give them the vital edge which is required to claim their second league win of the season. Success would provide them with a little breathing space over fellow strugglers Bethesda, Welshpool, Bangor and Newtown.
Wrexham Seconds visit improved Mold for a North East Wales Division One game while the Thirds will entertain Mold Thirds at Bryn Estyn Road in a Division Two encounter. The Youth Team is due to visit Widnes for a friendly fixture but may have to cancel the game due to County calls (k.o.2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis have home games on Sunday morning against opposition from Shrewsbury and Ruthin while the Under 13's and 14's visit Ruthin and the Under 15's travel to Hoylake (k.o.10.30am).
On Sunday evening, Wrexham Rugby Club will stage their ever popular Grand Bonfire and Fireworks evening at their Bryn Estyn Road site. The gate opens at 6.00pm, the bonfire will be lit at 6.45pm and the highly rated 30 minute fireworks display will commence at 7.00pm. The price of admission is £5 per family car, and hamburgers and other refreshments will be on sale alongside a children's funfair located on a dry surface.
REPORT - PWLLHELI 39 WREXHAM 0 - 27TH OCTOBER 2001
Wrexham's poor finishing was cruelly exposed at Pwllheli where they dominated much of the first-half without scoring a point and were then trounced as the home backs cut loose with the wind at their backs.
There were sparkling performances from winger Scott Davies and replacement lock Jason Parry, but the visitors' challenge was never the same after injuries forced the big forwards Llyr Williams and Dean Griffiths to leave the fray early in the second-half.
Wrexham should have been well in control by the end of the first quarter, Simon Williams breaking superbly in the 10th minute but the final pass to winger Kevin O'Toole going astray, and then outside-half James Plant being awarded two penalty kicks which unaccountably drifted wide of their target. The forwards had their chance when they drove to the home line in search of a deserved try, but they were sadly denied by a careless knock-on.
Pwllheli soaked up the pressure and contained several threatening runs by full-back Matthew Cox before they broke through a weak tackle in the 25th minute to create the opportunity for centre Gareth Hodgson to score wide-out.
Although the scoreline remained at 5-0 at half-time, the home side used the wind at their backs to maintain a presence in Wrexham territory and they soon unsettled the visitors by wearing down their forwards. Prop Adey Lee and Llyr Williams were replaced in the 50th minute before Dean Griffiths limped off shortly afterwards to join the hard tackling Ringo Wu on the sidelines.
Pwllheli increased the pressure and piled on the points as they grabbed five more tries, outside-half Dylan Llyr rubbing salt in Wrexham's wounds by adding 3 conversions and a penalty. A disappointed coach Ross Roberts said afterwards, "It was a classic game of two halves; we had plenty of possession in the first period but we couldn't use it and didn't turn pressure into points."
All of the other Wrexham sides produced excellent victories on a clear day which suited running rugby. The Seconds led the way with a 28-20 success at Afon Dee as they continued the defence of their North East Wales Division One Championship. Carl Turner, Russell Penrhyn-Jones and Mark Lloyd were the try scorers while Ian Connell added 2 conversions and 3 penalties.
Wrexham Thirds overcame Afon Dee Seconds by 41-12 in a Division Two game at Bryn Estyn Road, Neil Route grabbing a personal tally of 18 points by scoring 2 tries, a conversion and 2 penalties. Other tries came from Paul Wilde, Andrew Lee and Dai Griffiths with Ian Bostock landing 3 conversions and Lee slotting a final effort.
Wrexham Under 19's were overjoyed with their sparkling 24-0 success at Harlech in a BT Dragons Trust North Wales Youth Championship game. John Gill, Tom Stevens, Tim Johnson and Alan Edwards crossed for a try apiece while John Gormley added 2 conversions. Gormley and Luke Watts have been included in the North Wales Under 18 squad to play Gwent in the Welsh Youth Cup Competition at Brynmawr on Sunday. 27/10/01
PREVIEW FOR SATURDAY
Wrexham's difficult start to the Division Five North Championship continues with a visit to former Champions Pwllheli who are already riding high in this season's title chase (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Flanker Llyr Williams was rested last week with tomorrow's big match in mind and his return will inject some much needed power and defensive capability into the pack. Adey Lee has returned from holiday to strengthen the front-row alongside top try scorer Rob Pierce, and James Plant is back at his best in the full-back position.
With home advantage, backed up by excellent links with touring New Zealand and American players and a long standing record of success, Pwllheli are clear favourites to win tomorrow's encounter. Wrexham have enjoyed a good run of success in cup competition this term and can give a good account of themselves in the right mood.
There have been no easy games for Wrexham so far and the unavailability of key players, injuries and poor attendances at training have conspired against their cause. Better times appear to lie ahead, however, following recent meetings between players and club officials.
The players have pledged to appear more regularly at the Tuesday training sessions so that match ploys can be developed and team skills improved. Rhos Rugby Club have also been invited to train their players alongside the Wrexham ones so that joint skills can be enhanced in situations where large numbers of players need to be present.
There is also welcome news from South Africa where the Natal Sharks are due to send two of their Under 21 Zulu players to Wrexham in mid November under a new exchange system pioneered by South African and Welsh Rugby Unions. Efforts are being made to find local employment and accommodation for the visitors who will strengthen the First XV at full-back and outside-half.
All of the other Wrexham teams will be involved in league competition tomorrow, the Seconds defending their North East Wales Division One Championship at Afon Dee and the Thirds taking on Afon Dee Seconds in a Division Two game at Bryn Estyn Road. Meanwhile the Youth Team will travel to Harlech with high hopes of achieving a win in the BT Dragons Trust National Youth League (k.o.2.30pm).
WREXHAM 1ST XV 22 MANCHESTER 13 SATURDAY 20/10/01
Wrexham Seconds had to borrow a player from Chester after a car containing several of their players failed to arrive at Hare Lane because it had been involved in a minor accident. Fielding only 14 players when they took on a full strength Chester Veterans XV, it was touch and go for most of the game until the home side eventually won by 19-12, Wrexham's points coming a try by Mark Lloyd, a touchdown by their Chester player and a conversion by Darrell Hughes.
Wrexham Thirds had to agree to change their scheduled league game at Flint Seconds into a friendly one when the appointed referee failed to appear. A local referee was provided and Wrexham scored an identical 29 points in each half to race to a 58-5 victory. Nick Clare (3), Andy Goodwin (2), Ian Sanger, Ashley Wrathall, Keith Roberts, Mark Jones and Gerry Darbyhire were the try scorers.
The Wrexham Youth Team came up against an older Llangefni outfit at Bryn Estyn Road and were unlucky to lose by 0-25. Due to a shortage of North Wales referees on the day, the plucky but near exhausted match official Alan Thomas agreed to referee the Youth game after previously controlling the Wrexham v Manchester game.
In Junior Rugby, the work of the Under 16's Team Manager Gareth Jarvis, coach Ian Gormley and WRU Rugby Development Officer Marc Roberts paid off when 28 new players arrived for training at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning accompanied by their parents. This followed a special game arranged during the week
between Darland and Morgan Llwyd players to select talented players for the North Wales squad trials.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 16's whitewashed Stafford by 17-0 at Bryn Estyn Road while the Under 13's emerged victorious from their home game against Stockport by 33-26.
At Mold, Wrexham Under 12's lost to the home side by 3 goals in a 0-21 defeat. The Under 11's fared worse against a very good Mold side, losing by 0-10 and then 0-13 on tries in their two games. Wrexham Under 10's were outclassed by 1-11 in their first game but showed that they were quick learners by levelling the second match by 5-5. Dwayne Jones (4) and Ashton Williams (2) were the visiting try scorers.
Wrexham Under 9's drew with Mold by 1-1 thanks to a great try by Andrew Gale and would have won the match if Jack Challenor had not been forced over the dead ball line. The Under 9's second string had a fruitless morning, losing by 0-4 despite good work by Jonathan Davies. At Under 8 level, Wrexham lost by 2-6 and then 0-3 in their two games against Mold, Benjamin Jones and Ashley Williams claiming touchdowns.
Coach Ross Roberts made a comeback at outside-half to guide his side to their first victory in Division Five North and move them off the bottom of the table.
It all looked gloomy in the first quarter when Wrexham wasted chances with poor passing and the visitors snatched the lead with a penalty by centre Franks John followed by an interception try for left wing Steve Beard who ran 60 metres to score.
Robbie James missed a penalty for the home side at the start of the second-quarter but they were soon rewarded for some excellent work by forwards and backs when Jason Munro forced his way over in the corner for a try which James converted from the touchline.
Smart work by Peter Doogan in the centre helped to set up a second try for Murno in the 29th minute, his forwards driving him over the line on the right. James added the conversion to give his side a slender 14-8 half-time lead with the prospect of playing against a strong breeze in the second-half.
A determined performance at the start of the second-half put Wrexham in the driving seat again with Roberts ensuring that his players kept the ball in hand to deny Welshpool the chance to kick downfield. When the visitors did manage to counter-attack there was the reliable Mike Andrew at the back to catch the ball and return it with venom.
When the Wrexham pack won a scrum in the 53rd minute, James passed to Roberts who confused the Welshpool defence with a false call before jinking 20 metres to score by the posts. James added the conversion as the home side found some breathing space at last.
They continued to dominate with Ian Sanger showing up well on the flank and winning several turnovers while Gareth Hughes did a marvellous job in the unaccustomed position of loose-head prop. Several chances were squandered due to poor handling before Welshpool perked up with fresh replacements in the final quarter and narrowed the gap with a Johns penalty.
A sin binning for their scrum-half who argued with the referee didn't help the visitors cause, but when Johns put them within 5 metres of the home line with a penalty kick, Beard popped up again on the left wing to score an
unconverted try which opened up the game completely.
Wrexham were in no mood to be denied, however, and Doogan took play up to the visitors 22 again with a run and chip ahead before centre Simon Williams was nearly driven over the line by his forwards. All the time, veteran lock Dennis Weston inspired the forwards and they responded by pummelling their counterparts to the final whistle.
Wrexham were the only home side to win in Division Five North, Pwllheli, Rhyl and Mold all having away victories. Llangefni were beaten at home in the Welsh Cup by Pentyrch.
Wrexham Seconds represented North East Wales Districts in the Howells Cup competition at Wrexham but came up against a very powerful Newport and Districts outfit which included 4 Welsh Districts national players and lost by 8-48, Carl Turner grabbing their try and Darrell Hughes adding a penalty.
Wrexham slumped to the bottom of the table in the Division Five North
Championship as they failed to cope with the pace and organisation of the Llangefni backs and suffered their third league defeat of the season.
Fielding a patched up side, however, they refused to give up even when they trailed by 0-41 with most of the second-half remaining. Their true potential showed when they managed to turn the Llangefni tide and responded with a sparkling touchdown by winger Matthew Cox followed by a penalty try in a dramatic final quarter.
Honours were evenly shared in the forward battle but Llangefni moved the ball at every opportunity away from the big men and used a well practised technique of short passing and looping in the threequarters to leave Wrexham defenders grabbing at thin air. Some of it was illegal, the ball carrier being shielded by players in front of him, but it was very effective and produced quick dividends.
Outside-half Vince Kieran opened the scoring for the home side with a wind assisted penalty in the 2nd minute, and then centre Dylan Jones, full-back Arwel Roberts and centre Ioan Davies breezed in for tries which were all converted by Kieran who added another penalty for a 27-0 half-time advantage.
Wrexham competed well at times in the opening period and tested Llangefni when they unleashed the dangerous Cox on three occasions. Centre Peter Dougan and scrum-half Robbie James also showed good form as they tried to forge an opening, but they came up against a mobile back-row, lacked support in the tackle and were quickly shackled.
With the wind their backs, the visitors made a promising start to the second-half and gained a foothold in the home 22. Once again, however, the Llangefni backs employed their short passing tactics and broke out to score tries by former Wrexham scrum-half Llyr Hughes and Ioan Davies with Kieran adding the extra points as the whitewash continued.
Then Cox came to the rescue and did what his colleagues had failed to do by kicking downfield into space. As the home defenders back-pedalled, the Wrexham forwards drove through and number eight Jason Munro charged for the
line. When stopped, he released the ball to the backs where his brother Danny chipped for the left corner and the flying Cox finished it off by scoring close enough to the posts for James to add the conversion.
The Wrexham pack, suddenly rampant, camped in the home 22 and applied enormous pressure as their Llangefni counterparts started to panic. Flanker Ian Sanger, Dougan and Jason Munro were inches away from scoring before the
referee grew tired of warning the home forwards for blatant obstruction and sin-binned lock Andy Jeffries as he awarded the visitors a deserved penalty try.
James added a neat conversion as Wrexham ended on a high note but they were left to wonder why they left their effort so late and why their support work and tackling let them down, particularly in the early stages.
Wrexham Seconds continued the defence of their North East Wales Division One title with an emphatic 31-12 victory over Denbigh Seconds at Craig Road. Ian Connell, Anthony Lang, Russell Penrhyn-Jones, Chris Phillips and Carl Pugh
grabbed tries and Geoff Lang added 3 conversions.
The Thirds performed well to outpoint Llangollen by 15-5 in a Division Two game at Bryn Estyn Road. Dale Peters crowned his debut with a brace of tries and Jamie Jennings added another. It was a poor day for the Youth Team,
however, as they had to call off their visit to Pwllheli at the last minute due to late withdrawals from the side.
Principality cup: Old Penarthians v Wrexham 1st XV
15 James Plant Replaced by Darrell Hughes
14 Matthew Cox
13 Simon Williams
12 Ross Roberts
11 Scott Davies Replaced by Peter Doogan
10 Kerry Powell
9 Robbie James
1 Rob Pierce
2 Gareth Perrin
3 Ady Lee Replaced by Gareth Hughes
4 Ian Sanger
5 Alex Crewe
6 Mike Ward
8 Dean Griffiths
7 Llyr Williams Replaced by Gareth Noon
Old Penarthians 16 v Wrexham 17
Wrexham made two late changes to the side with young Kerry Powell coming outside half for his first start in the First XV & the old veteran Ross Roberts replacing Danny Munro in the centre. Wrexham started the game well inserting pressure on the Old Penarthian forwards in both the tight & the loose & were unlucky not to score after a neat backs move resulting in winger Scott Davies dropping the ball with the line at his mercy, this was to become a regular occurrence in perfect Rugby conditions.
Wrexham continued to pressurise the home defense but where continually thwarted by unforced errors. Old Penarthians steadily came back into the game with the there outside half relieving the pressure with a stream of long kicks & Wrexham failing to control the ball in area of the field, One of the outside half's long kicks caused confusion between full back Plant & Winger Davies which resulted in a three man collision, which Penarthians retained the ball with The full back scampering down the line for an unconverted try. Unfortunately Full back James Plant was injured in the collision & had to depart from the field with two dislocated fingers! He was replaced by the evergreen Darrell Hughes.
Old Pen 5 Wrexham 0
Wrexham continued to pressurise the home side but with the final pass not going to hand, & loss of ball in the tackle becoming all to frequent, Old Penarthians continued to relieve the pressure through the left boot of the outside half. Wrexham's strong lineout started to malfunction & from a knock on at the lineout, Old Penarthians no 8 attacked the blind side from the resulting scrum & caught Wrexham back row asleep he carried the ball until stopped by full back Hughes - but off loaded to the supporting scrum half who scored in the corner. The try was unconverted.
Old Pen 10 Wrexham 0
Old Penarthians now had there spirits up & there large inside centre started to make incisions into the Wrexham midfield, this resulted in Wrexham conceding two quick penalties in front of Goal & both where converted by the Old Penarthians #10.
Old Pen 13 Wrexham 0
Old Pen 16 Wrexham 0
Wrexham where now fired up by a roasting from player coach Roberts, & produced there best spell of the match to date, & continued to hammer away at the Penarthians line, unfortunately they continued to make mistakes in scoring positions. It looked like it was going to be one of those days.
Half time Old Pen 16 Wrexham 0
Wrexham started to control the game up front with props Rob Pierce & Ady Lee doing damage in the scrum & loose. Wrexham continued to move the ball wide at every opportunity with winger Matthew Cox making massive inroads into the Old Penarthians only to be thwarted by the home teams scrambling defense. Wrexham where camped into the opponents half for the over 25 minutes of the second half without scoring, there driving lineout now causing untold damage in the home ranks but again the control was missing in scoring opportunities. Wrexham made three quick replacements with Gareth's Hughes, Noon & Peter Doogan replacing Llyr Williams, Ady Lee & Scott Davies. This may have been a stroke of luck but Wrexham scored immediately with the forward battering there way into the Old Penarthians 22, this produced quick ball which was not wasted and centre Simon Williams was stopped a yard short of the line, but the forwards recycled quick ball for prop Rob Pierce to power his way over the try line for Wrexham's 1st score. Darrell Hughes obliged with the conversion.
Old Pen 16 Wrexham 7
Now Wrexham had the bit between the teeth, Old Penarthians knocked on with there only venture just into the Wrexham half, Wrexham wheeled the scrum & no 8 Dean Griffiths nicely time pass to powerful winger Doogan to leave his winger grabbing at thin air, this left Doogan with 50 yards to the goal line & the full back to beat, which he did with a lovely step & scored a fine individual try 10 yards in from touch, again Hughes made no mistake with the conversion.
Old Pen 16 Wrexham 14.
With only 5 minutes left Wrexham winger Cox made a telling break into the Penarthians 22 only to be pulled down, The Penarth forward where penalised for killing the ball at the resulting ruck, leaving the prolific Hughes with a straight forward kick at goal, again he placed the ball through the middle to seal Wrexham's deserved win.
Old Pen 16 Wrexham 17
Wrexham had two outstanding players in the consistent form of prop Rob Pierce, but on hindsight winger Matthew Cox caused the home team no end of problems with his pace & was duly Wrexham's man of the match.
Following the nightmares of last week when skipper Richard Lloyd left
suddenly and coach Ross Roberts had to work desperately hard to scrape a team together, Wrexham should be at near full strength for the visit of old rivals
Ruthin to Bryn Estyn Road for a Division Five North Championship contest (k.o.2.30pm).
Full-back Mike Andrew is still unavailable but forwards Llyr Williams, Jason Munro, Rob Pierce, Gareth Perrin and Mike Ward are all expected to return to the pack. Lock Iwan Roberts, sent off at Caernarfon last week, has been suspended by the club pending the outcome of a North Wales disciplinary hearing.
Outside-half Owen Thomas, who had to receive hospital treatment for chest injuries after being stamped on at Caernarfon, has made a swift recovery and trained with the rest of the senior squad this week. The selectors will give him a late fitness test to decide whether he is able to resume alongside scrum-half Robbie James tomorrow.
On their own admission, Ruthin were slightly amazed to complete a remarkable double over Wrexham last season after being under the cosh for most of the time in both games. Resolute defensive work and the ability to counterattack when their opponents were tired produced memorable last gasp victories for the Clwyd Valley men.
Wrexham will have to discover a way through Ruthin's solid wall tomorrow by finding the extra pace to outwit their opponents. They nearly achieved it at Cae Ddol last September when full-back Jon Oldfield scorched down the left wing to grab a superb try and winger Matthew Cox went close on two occasions.
Cox's return to the side tomorrow, allied to the attacking qualities of current full-back James Plant, could provide the key to unlock the Ruthin defense. First of all though, the pack will have to win the forward battle
and improve on their past performances against their old rivals by winning a major share of the line-out possession.
Ruthin scored four tries in defeating Bangor by 27-10 at Cae Ddol last week and can split the table topping Western Alliance of Llangefni, Caernarfon Bethesda and Pwllheli if they can produce a convincing victory tomorrow. For Wrexham, a home defeat and its consequences is surely out of the question and they must pull out all the stops to claim their first league win of the season.
Wrexham Seconds, who started the season in fine form with a victory over Ruthin Seconds last week, are looking for a game from the local fixture pool to fill a blank date. The Thirds have home advantage against Rhos Seconds in a North East Wales Division Two game and the Youth Team will take on Colwyn
Bay in a friendly at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o.3.00pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 8 to Under 16 teams will participate in a second week of training at their Bryn Estyn Road headquarters. Next week they commence their new rugby programme with a full sequence of games against Northwich and Crewe and Nantwich.
Wrexham club officials have written to Caernarfon Rugby Club to ask their officials to conduct an internal inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the off-the-ball incident which resulted in Wrexham outside-half Owen Thomas receiving hospital treatment last Saturday. Feelings ran high after the incident and Caernarfon supporters were as disgusted as Wrexham rugby followers at the treatment meted out to the visiting player.
CAERNARFON 61 WREXHAM 0
The unexpected departure of their captain Richard Lloyd to Chester Rugby Club, coupled with unavailability of over half of their pack and the early dismissal of top try scorer Iwan Roberts for an alleged stamping offence,
proved to be too much for a makeshift Wrexham side and they were duly whitewashed by a confident young Caernarfon outfit.
It wasn't the heaviest defeat that Wrexham have suffered but it was a tremendous blow to coach Ross Roberts and his squad after starting the season on a high note with a convincing win in the Principality Cup against
Lloyd's decision to leave remains a mystery to most people involved with the club as he was a player who actively campaigned to have Roberts installed as Coach and was set to launch a new coaching career of his own in North Wales Rugby. It is rumoured, however, that the offer of a lucrative contract influenced Lloyd's decision to rejoin the part-professional scene.
Roberts plugged the gaps left in his side as well as he could and they performed well during the opening quarter, gaining the upper hand in the scrums with hooker Richard Jones, prop Nick Stott and flanker Gary Roberts showing up well on their debut appearances. They couldn't score, however, and started to lose their momentum when scrum-half Kelvin Morris kicked a 16th penalty to put the home side in front.
New outside-half Owen Thomas was then pole axed by an opponent in an ugly off-the-ball incident not spotted by the referee, and shortly afterwards lock Iwan Roberts was penalised and shown the red card for an alleged stamping offence. Morris added another penalty and then converted centre Carl Wright's try to give the Gwynedd side a 13-0 half-time lead.
Thomas soldiered on until the break when his chest injury forced him to give way to the Youth Team skipper Kerry Powell who made an impressive debut at full-back. Assistant coach Graham Williams had to foresake his track suit and join in the action as the pack was reorganised to cover the loss of Iwan Roberts.
14 man Wrexham tried to hold on in the second-half but it was too big a mountain for them to climb and the home side quickly made their advantage tell to score 9 further tries with Wright completing his hat-trick. As time ran out, Neil Route made a useful debut in the centre when Simon Williams twisted his ankle and had to leave the field.
Wrexham Seconds were depleted due to First XV calls on their resources but turned in a superb performance to defeat visitors Ruthin Seconds by 33-12 in the opening game of the North East Wales Division One Championship. Carl Turner and James Wrathall grabbed a brace of tries apiece and Geoff Lang added a further score with Ian Connell landing a conversion and two penalties.
Wrexham Thirds found Ruthin Thirds a completely different proposition at Cae Ddol in their Division Two game and were soundly whitewashed by 52-0. Nant Conwy called off their scheduled visit to Bryn Estyn Road for a Dragons Trust Youth League game because of player withdrawals due to a wedding in Llanrwst.
Wrexham hope to follow up last week's outstanding victory over Kidwelly in
the Principality Cup by opening their Division Five North league campaign with a win at Caernarfon tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Owain Thomas is handed the key outside-half position in a much changed team to take on a side which narrowly avoided relegation last year and then started this season with a thumping 68-5 victory over Bangor Normal College in the Welsh Cup last week.
College winger Matthew Cox is expected to return from his sojourn in Canada to add pace to the Wrexham threequarter line and former Castell Alun threequarter John Darlington is included in the squad along with winger Peter Dougan. However, over half of last week's victorious pack has withdrawn due to holidays and unavailability, and Roberts is experiencing problems in replacing them.
Prop Rob Pierce and hooker Gareth Perrin and flanker Mike Ward are on holiday whilst flanker Llyr Williams and number eight Jason Munro are attending a wedding. Iwan Roberts, a double try scoring hero last Saturday, comes into the pack along with Nick Stott and Gareth Partington, but who fills the vacant hooker and open-side flanker berths is still unclear.
Wrexham had to work very hard to defeat Caernarfon by 24-10 at Bryn Estyn Road at the start of last season and face a tougher task tomorrow against a young side which is likely to include the Welsh Youth international lock Mark Jones. Success can be achieved, however, if they can tackle as well as they did last Saturday and eliminate the unforced errors which have prevented their game from flowing so far.
Wrexham Seconds open their North East Wales Division One campaign as League Champions with a local derby game against Ruthin Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road while the Thirds visit Cae Ddol for a Division Two game against Ruthin Thirds (k.o. 3.00pm). The exciting new Under 19 Team is in action against Nant Conwy
at Bryn Estyn Road in a Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League game (k.o.2.30pm).
Mini and Junior Rugby training, for youngsters in the Under 8 to Under 16 age groups, starts at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning at 10.00am. All prospective players and their parents are welcome.
The new North Wales Provincial Championship was launched by the North's Director Austin Thomas at a meeting in Abergele on Tuesday. Leading players from Wrexham and Powys will join to play for the East One squad called the Rhinos and they will compete against the Bulls, Sharks and Eagles from the other regions in a mid-week floodlit championship.
The aim is to improve North Wales rugby by introducing stiffer competition and identify players worthy of inclusion in the North Wales representative side which plays in a National Tournament. The Rhinos will take on the Bulls from Denbighshire and Flintshire in the opening game at Welshpool on Wednesday 26th September.
WREXHAM 15 KIDWELLY 9
There is nothing like a good start to the season and Wrexham enjoyed an early celebration when they rewarded new coach Ross Roberts with a dramatic victory over a higher division club to earn a place in the second round of the Principality Welsh Cup at Old Penarthians in a fortnight's time.
They were trailing by 3-9 with only 10 minutes of normal time remaining when replacement prop Iwan Roberts powered over for great try which outside-half Richard Lloyd converted. Kidwelly stormed back to earn two kickable penalties but their outside-half Leighton Walters failed to hold his nerve and Roberts settled the issue with a second try in the dying minutes.
It was a match which witnessed the return of old favourite Adey Lee in the unaccustomed position of prop forward. Lee, a star of the Eighties who is enjoying his second coming since emerging from retirement to tour with a Wrexham XV in Canada during the Spring, put in a fine performance to help overcome a lively visiting pack.
Lloyd kicked a penalty to give Wrexham the lead in the 4th minute of the first-half after effective work by the home forwards who were inspired by several early thrusts from number eight Jason Munro, flanker Llyr Williams and prop Rob Pierce.
It wasn't long, however, before Kidwelly levelled the scores with a penalty by outside-half Leighton Walters and started to control the game by applying concerted pressure. Sound tackling, particularly by Wrexham centres Danny Munro and Simon Williams, repulsed a string of attacks before Walters edged the visitors in front with another penalty.
Wrexham played with a fine competitive spirit and succeeded with a few well rehearsed moves but they were let down by poor handling and persistent ball-killing infringements which incurred the wrath of the referee. They were lucky that Walters had an off-day with his kicking, succeeding with only 3 attempts out of 7.
Trailing by 3-6 at half-time, Wrexham scented victory if they could eliminate their mistakes and retain as much possession as possible. The visitors, however, had other ideas and started to use their backs to open up the game, soon earning another penalty converted by Walters to extend their lead to 6 points.
Once again, Wrexham soaked up the pressure by tackling effectively and Llyr Williams heralded the start of the final quarter by stealing a line-out ball to instigate a 50 metre sweeping movement with Jason Munro and Pierce which caused near panic in the Kidwelly defense.
Despite suffering several setbacks, Wrexham looked for the breakthrough and found it after Danny Munro had dumped an opponent on the ground with a solid tackle. The forwards set off for the Kidwelly line with a fine interpassing movement between Jason Munro, Iwan Roberts and lock Ian Sanger before Roberts was driven over with help from the unsung back-row hero Dean Griffiths.
There was still plenty of time for the visitors to avenge their 1987 cup defeat at the same ground, but panic crept in when Walters missed two pots at goal and one of the Kidwelly backs dropped a pass in his 22. It was left to the mighty Roberts to finish them off as he was driven over near the corner by the rest of his victorious pack.
Coach Ross Roberts was delighted with this first victory of his new career and commented, it's a superb start for us. They lived off our mistakes and we had to rely on our new team spirit in the second-half when things were close. But once we kept possession instead of kicking, I thought that we were always going to win.
The Under 19 Youth Team launched their new season in the Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League with a splendid 78-0 victory over a full-strength Rhyl side at The Waen. Flanker John Meldrum grabbed 6 of his sideâ€™s 14 tries, number eight Kerry Powell managed a smart brace and Man of the Match John Gormley, playing at outside-half, slotted 4 conversions.
A mixture of Wrexham Seconds and Thirds visited Oswestry to play several practice games with outside-half Neil Route giving an outstanding performance.
Wrexham's credentials for the new rugby season will be fully tested tomorrow
afternoon when Kidwelly visit Bryn Estyn Road for a preliminary round game in the prestigious Welsh Rugby Union Cup Competition (kick-off at 2.30pm).
The Carmarthenshire side play in Division Four West of the Welsh National Leagues against familiar sounding clubs like Tumble, Pontyberem, Aberystwyth and Haverfordwest and have expressed that they are keen to make a winning start to this season and avenge a 19-10 cup defeat which they suffered at Wrexham in 1987.
Wrexham possess a rich Welsh Cup history and are still the only North Wales club to have reached the last 16 of the competition, losing to Newport at Rodney Parade in 1986. They have played memorable matches against the best clubs in Wales including Cardiff, Neath (3 times), Swansea and Ebbw Vale.
The North Walians enjoyed a good cup run in 1997 when they reached the fourth round after defeating Caldicot, BP Llandarcy and Tonmawr, but last year's 6-23 preliminary round mauling at lowly Pontarddulais is a game which most players would prefer to forget.
Club Coach Ross Roberts, a veteran of many cup battles in the past and a key member of the Wrexham threequarter line in that memorable match against Newport, is confident that his new side has the strength of character to compete successfully against the highly rated Kidwelly outfit.
Alex Crewe and Iwan Roberts will form a formidable second-row pairing and the back-row should be strong and mobile with Dean Griffiths and Llyr Williams looking to be the men in form so far this season. Rob Pierce is expected to be his usual tower of strength in the front row of the pack alongside his old Youth Team colleague Gareth Perrin, who will have the crucial responsibility of providing an accurate throw-in for the line-out jumpers.
The backs will miss their outstanding college winger Matthew Cox, who is not available until the start of the league season next week, but will be boosted at full-back by the return from Canada of James Plant who is fully match-fit after playing for the Toronto Lions during the summer.
Robbie James is expected to partner Richard Lloyd at outside-half while the experienced John Roberts will strengthen the centre with Peter Dougan returning to the club to add pace on the left wing. Lloyd will be handed the goal kicking responsibilities with Plant waiting in the wings to take over if necessary.
On last season's form, Kidwelly should have the extra power and pace to secure a comfortable victory. However, the arrival of Ross Roberts as Club Coach, with two very useful assistants in Graham Williams and Matt Arnold, has altered the approach of the players to rugby at Bryn Estyn Road and the change could be enough to give Wrexham the winning edge.
A mixture of Seconds and Thirds will travel to Oswestry to open the season with a friendly fixture (k.o. 2.30pm) while the Under 19 Youth Team will launch their new challenge in the Dragons Trust National Youth League with a visit to Rhyl tomorrow afternoon (k.o.3.00pm).
They won the corresponding game last season by 33-15 and have high hopes of repeating that success tomorrow. Alastair Pearce, Ben Cheesbrough and James Jess, several of the leading players in last season' s squad will be on duty at Rhyl but the majority of the side will be made up of players from last year's successful Under 16 side, coached by Kevin Powell.
Powell has decided to carry on his good work by becoming assistant coach to Youth Coach John Thomas this season and the pair have already outlined their plans to win one of the two promotion places available in Division Two of their league this season.
Because there is a constant change in personnel as young players make the transition from junior to senior rugby over a short period of time, there is a high level of unpredictability surrounding the success of youth teams from one year to another. This season's Wrexham Youth Team looks set to improve on the foundations laid last year and could be a force to be reckoned with in the following season.
Wrexham Firsts were outclassed in the first session of their trial game against Whitchurch at Bryn Estyn Road last week but came back strongly against powerful opponents to win the final session with a late try scored by
prop Rob Pierce.
Missing several key members who were suffering from the after-effects of full-back Darrell Hughes' wedding party held on the previous evening, Wrexham lacked the resources to make any improvement in their line-out work but performed strongly in the scrums and shook the visitors when Jason Munro returned from his recently announced retirement to make a big impression in the home back line.
Coach Ross Roberts was pleased with his squad's overall performance and said, " We were badly beaten in the early stages but the performance in the final session was the best I have seen from a Wrexham side for a long time" . " Whitchurch were a very confident and committed side and gave us just the sort of test we needed before Saturday's big cup game" , he added.
The recent rugby summer school, organised by North Wales Rugby Union Development Officer Marc Roberts, was an outstanding success with over fifty young enthusiasts from local schools attending the event which was held over two days at Bryn Estyn Road. Several junior rugby coaches assisted Marc Roberts and their work is expected to generate a surge in interest in the game of rugby in this area.
The Wrexham and Junior and Mini Rugby Section, which provides rugby for youngsters of all abilities in the Under 8 to Under 16 age groups, has announced that pre-season training will start on Sunday 9th September at their Bryn Estyn Road headquarters at 10.00am. All new players and their parents will be made very welcome.
After a constant battle to find new players in the Wrexham area to maintain a competitive side, the Wrexham Ladies Rugby Team has decided to leave Bryn Estyn Road and combine with players from Llanrwst and Rhyl to form a new team at Mold Rugby Club. Captain Elaine Roberts explained, "The decision was made
with some reluctance but Mold was considered the best mid point for all players to reach and we now have enough players to compete strongly as Mold Ladies in the North Wales Women's Rugby Championship". 21/08/01
Local rugby supporters will be given their first opportunity to watch the
new-look Wrexham side in action when the Welshmen take on Whitchurch in a cross-border practice encounter at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon
(kick-off at 3.00pm).
Lock Iwan Roberts, a late withdrawal from last week's practice match at Lymm due to work commitments, comes in to strengthen the pack against a top-notch Whitchurch side which is used to taking on strong clubs like New Brighton and Aspatria in Division Three North of the English National Leagues.
Centre John Roberts is in splendid form after working hard to improve his fitness during the summer and will be a key player in the Wrexham backline against a talented Whitchurch unit. Last seasonâ€™s skipper Richard Lloyd returns from holiday to challenge Owain Thomas for the outside-half berth and tall centre James Bellis will be given another chance to show his strength in
Club Coach Ross Roberts was impressed with his team's performance in their first practice game at Lymm last Saturday and worked hard again in training this week to improve areas of play which showed some deficiency, such as the line-out and close quarter support work.
He is set to introduce several newcomers in tomorrow's game and is confident that several of his players who stayed on in Canada following their May tour of Toronto will return in time to play against Whitchurch tomorrow afternoon. One player not participating in tomorrow's encounter will be full-back Darrell Hughes who is getting married in Holt to-day.
All thoughts are being directed towards next week's season opener at Bryn Estyn Road when Kidwelly will provide formidable opposition in a Welsh Cup preliminary round game which could launch the North Walians on a successful title challenge in the ensuing Division Five North Championship.
The practice game at Lymm last week turned out to be far more successful than anticipated for the Wrexham squad which lacked a number of top players due to holidays and work commitments. The game, split into four sessions, ended up all square after both sides had won two sessions and scored the same number of tries.
Wrexham took time to settle in the first quarter and conceded two scores as the talented home backs cut through a slack defense. It all changed in the second quarter when Roberts encouraged his side to play a tight game and prop Rob Pierce and number eight Dean Griffiths drove into the Lymm forwards after smart work by scrum-half Robbie James.
Tries by centre John Roberts and flanker Ian Sanger followed and Wrexham were soon in control in the third session as Owain Thomas orchestrated play at outside-half and grabbed an excellent try. Pierce crashed over for another score before Roberts rounded off the session with his second try of the match.
The original plan communicated to Ross Roberts was to play three sessions only, but such was the disappointment in the Lymm camp at not securing an expected overall victory that they asked for another session to be played. Fresh players then made the difference for the Cheshire side and they
snatched a 3-0 victory which leveled the match.
Roberts and his assistant coaches Graham Williams and Matthew Arnold drew plenty of satisfaction from their squad's performance in this first practice game and were particularly with the displays by Dean Griffiths and John Roberts. There were also good performances by First XV newcomer James Bellis in the centre, Nick Perrin at prop and Owain Thomas at outside-half.
Training continues every Tuesday and Thursday evening for all of the senior teams and the Under 19 Youth Team Squad trains every Thursday at 7.00pm. Coach John Thomas is keen to build a strong side this season and welcomes new players between the ages of 16 and 18 to join his regular training sessions.
OLD NEWS : 2000 - 2001
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