Wrexham Rugby Football Club
Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham, LL13 9TY (UK)
CLUB NEWS 02-03
|Rugby 10th May 2003|
|Previews||Reports & news|
|Rugby 9th May 2003|
|Report for 26th April 2003|
|Preview 26th April 2003||Report for 19th April 2003|
|Preview 19th April 2003||Report for 12th April 2003|
|Preview 12th April 2003||Report for 5th April 2003|
|Preview 5th April 2003||Report for 29th March 2003|
|Preview 29th March 2003|
|Preview 22nd March 2003|
|Preview 15th March 2003||Report for 15th March 2003|
|Preview 9th March 2003||Report for 1st March 2003|
|Preview 1st March 2003|
|Rugby 22nd February 2003|
|Six Nations Preview 15th February 2003||Report for 8th February 2003|
|Preview for 8th February 2003||Report for 1st February 2003|
|Preview for 1st February 2003||Report for 25th January 2003|
|Preview for 25th January 2003||Report for 18th January 2003|
|Preview for 11th January 2003||Report for 4th January 2003|
|Preview for 4th January 2003||Report for 21st December 2002|
|Preview for 21st December 2002||Report for 14th December 2002|
|Preview for 14th December 2002||Report for 7th December 2002|
|Preview for 7th December 2002||Report for 30th November 2002|
|Preview for 30th November 2002|
|Preview for 23rd November 2002||Report for 16th November 2002|
|Preview for 16th November 2002||Report for 9th November 2002|
|Preview 9th November 2002||Reports for 1st & 2nd November 2002|
|Preview 1st & 2nd November 2002||Report for 26th October 2002|
|Preview 19th October 2002||Report for 12th October 2002|
|Preview 12th October 2002||Report for 5th October 2002|
|Preview for 5th October 2002||Report for 28th September 2002|
|Preview for 28th September 2002||Report for 21st September 2002|
|Preview for 7th September|
|31st August report 2002|
|Preview for 31st August 2002||24th August 2002|
|News 24th August 2002|
|News 8th August 2002|
Mike Ward claimed the top awards at Wrexham Rugby Club's Annual Dinner and Awards Presentation evening on Friday evening when he was presented with the Harry Hollywell Trophy , chosen by Club Coach Dave Cheesbrough as his choice of top player, and the prestigious Adrian Hill Players' Player of the Year
Trophy, selected by the players.
The former Youth Team flanker, who was voted the Most Improved Player last term, progressed to command a regular place in the back-row of the pack and missed only two games throughout a challenging season. His massive contribution to the side included scoring four tries and his presence was a major factor in the team's successful battle against relegation.
Austin Thomas, the Welsh Rugby Union Director of Rugby for North Wales, presented the trophies to Mike Ward after the awards part of the evening was opened by Vice-Chairman Stan Edwards using the beautifully crafted gavel donated to the club by Pat Harries in memory of her husband Gwyn who died last year.
Thomas, a former team-mate of much loved Wrexham policeman, player and rugby coach, paid tribute to Gwyn Harries and explained that the gavel would be a lasting memory to his good friend as it would be used at all future club dinners and other important events.
The Most Improved Player trophy went to Kerry Powell who emerged from the Youth Team ranks to claim a regular place at full-back and finished his first season as the team's top points scorer with a tally of 71 points including two tries. His tackling was also impressive and he should make an even bigger contribution to the success of the side next term.
The Bernard Malley Award, presented to the player making the most appearances in a season, was shared between Rob Pierce and Paul Mizzi who played in every game. Both received replica trophies and it was the third year in succession that Pierce's determination to maintain his fitness levels and overcome injuries had enabled him to win the prestigious award.
A mixture of fresh blood and consistency in selection led to seven players being awarded much coveted 'colours' ties this season. Simon Sullivan, Paul Mizzi, Gareth Perrin, Jason Griffiths, Hywel Raymond, Dean Griffiths and Kerry Powell played in over 75% of senior team games for the first time in their career and were presented with the coveted ties by Austin Thomas.
The Delwyn Griffiths Award for outstanding service to the club, off the field of play, was presented to Kevin Davies who maintained a very effective link between players and committee members to ensure that the whole operation of fielding four teams each week worked smoothly.
The Frank Chapman Award for hard work and personality was placed in the hands of Fixture Secretary Paul Roberts for the second year in succession. His handsome contribution to the season also involved liaising with referees, checking pitches and helping to prepare after-match meals for hungry players and officials.
The Pat's Coaches Second Team Player of the Year Trophy went to centre John Darlington who was a regular try scorer and was hugely influential in his team's success in retaining the North East Wales Division One Championship for the second season in succession.
The magnificent John Bowen Memorial Trophy was presented by Austin Thomas to Peter Blakemore who was chosen as the most promising Under 19 player. He will remain a Youth Team player next season but will be eligible to play for the senior sides when available as part of his rugby career development.
Mr. Thomas then presentations to the club sides with Chris Phillips picking up the Second XV Players' Player of the Year Award and Darrell Hughes collecting the Personality Award for the third year in succession.
In the Youth Team, Jerome Bentley was voted Coach's Player of the Year and John Ireland scooped the Players' Award. Ties were presented by Austin Thomas presented team ties to Anthony Medcalf, Mike Blackwell, Matthew Sawin, Jerome Bentley, Luke Pemberton and Gareth Owen.
James Bellis walked away with the Third XV Captain's Player Award and the Players' Player Award following a very successful season during which he notched a try in nearly every game. The popular goal kicking prop forward Ian Bostock claimed the Third Team Personality Award for the second time in succession.
Presentations of framed photographs of the First Team were then presented by Mr. Thomas to Club Captain John Roberts, Club Coach Dave Cheesbrough and Assistant Coach Marc Roberts in token of the club's gratitude for the enormous contribution which each of them put in this season. Club officials, led by Vice-Chairman Stan Edwards, arranged raffles at the dinner and managed to raise over £400 to pay for players equipment such as tackle bags, rugby balls and first aid equipment. The new format for the
Annual Dinner of making presentations early in the proceedings worked well and will be retained for next season.
Now that the rugby season has come to a close at Bryn Estyn Road, a 54 man Wrexham touring squad will depart for a ten day tour of South Africa from the clubhouse this afternoon (12.30pm). They will take with them shirts and other rugby gear, donated by local sponsors which include Hoya Lens and Tetra Pak, to be given to rugby clubs which cannot afford such equipment for their youth teams.
Ten of the current First Team squad, including skipper John Roberts and pack leader Gareth Noon, are included in the touring party and they will play games against Blakes RFC, Stand RVK and Retreat RFC. The toughest game will be against the Stand RVK from the Western Province Premier League A next Wednesday.
The tour has been superbly organised by Ian Gallagher, assisted by Darrell Hughes, and the tourists will complete their demanding schedule with a civic reception at Retreat on Saturday 24th May, followed by their final game and a Veterans match which will celebrate Retreat RFC's 105th anniversary. A good time will surely be enjoyed by all.
The line-up of teams in next season's Division Five North will be finalised this weekend after second from bottom Pwllheli have completed their play-off game against Division Six North runners up Colwyn Bay. Bottom club Bethesda have already been relegated and their place has been taken by Bala who have finally made the top flight after many seasons of trying.
This seasons old news
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 will dash from a prior engagement at Abergele to engage the diners with his witty anecdotes.
Club Coach Dave Cheesbrough and Chairman Gareth Lewis will present trophies to the award winners, Lewis bringing the meeting to order with the beautifully worked gavel which Pat Harries, the wife of former player and coach Gwyn, presented to the club a fortnight ago in memory of her late husband.
Prop Rob Pierce and centre Paul Mizzi played in every game this season and will deservedly share the Bernard Malley Award which is awarded to the player making the most First XV appearances. The winners of the other trophies and awards will be kept secret until the prize giving ceremony takes place.
The most prestigious award is the Harry Hollywell Award for the Player of the Year as judged by the Club Coach. It will be a hard decision for Dave Cheesbrough to make as Paul Mizzi displayed total dedication throughout the long campaign, the back-row trio of Mike Ward, Dean Griffiths and Gareth Noon also stood out, and the claims from lock Mike McLeod and hooker Danny Munro
are also impressive.
The players in the club will then vote for their choice as the Players Player of the Year, the winner receiving the coveted Adrian Hill Award. There should be no lack of candidates for the Most Improved Player award with full-back and top points scorer Kerry Powell appearing to be the outstanding prospect ahead of wingers Simon Sullivan and Hywel Raymond.
A mixture of fresh blood and consistency in selection has led to seven players being awarded much coveted 'colours' ties this season. Simon Sullivan, Paul Mizzi, Gareth Perrin, Jason Griffiths, Hywel Raymond, Dean Griffiths and Kerry Powell played in over 75% of senior team games for the first time in their career and will be presented with their ties at the dinner.
Second XV skipper Kevin Davies will have a difficult task to choose his Player of the Year as centre John Darlington, outside-half Carl Pugh, and number eight Carl Turner all played consistently well during a very successful season which culminated in the team retaining the North East Wales Division One Championship for the second year in succession.
Under skipper Sean Williams, Wrexham Thirds finished in fourth place in Division Two after making up for a poor start to their season. Centre James Bellis scored in nearly every game and while flanker Lee Barnes-Roberts made a big impression in the pack in company with veteran hooker Steve Jarvis.
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. Centre John Ireland, scrum-half Michael Powell and number eight Jason Tomlinson have all demonstrated that they are capable of acquitting themselves well when they play at a higher level.
Under Club Coach Ross Roberts, Wrexham Firsts started the season with an acclaimed 17-3 victory in a Welsh Cup game at Llanhilleth and then travelled to Pwllheli on the following Saturday to open their league campaign with a superb 24-5 success. Although they defeated Dolgellau by 40-27 in another Welsh Cup game, the rot set in after a 24-45 reverse at Caernarfon as
confidence sagged and fitness levels dropped.
Ross Roberts departed after a 63-24 hammering at Hendy in a Welsh Cup match and former coach Dave Cheesbrough took over on a caretaker basis at the end of October. Results failed to improve initially but games became closer until Wrexham recorded their first home success when they defeated Newtown by 34-10 at the end of November.
Cheesbrough persevered with the original squad but introduced more organisation into their play. The players responded by increasing their fitness levels and the squad was then bolstered by the return of two former Youth Team players to the squad. Daniel Cheesbrough slotted in at scrum-half and Mike Jones demonstrated his versatility by playing in the back-row or at
They completed the double over Newtown in January and then played exceptionally well at Llandudno to pull off an outstanding 18-15 success. Although it remained a desperate struggle for them until the last weeks of April, Wrexham won 7 of their last 10 league matches and did superbly well to move up to 6th place in the table, avoiding what had looked at one time an
inevitable drop into Division Six North.
A relatively low number of 48 players, compared with the previous season's 61, represented the First XV during the season but success in only 11 of their 26 games resulted in a small drop in standards when compared with their results last term. A haul of 65 tries was low but the conversion rate of 63% from kickers like Kerry Powell and Huw Thomas was commendable.
Rob Pierce and Paul Mizzi overcame niggling injuries to appear in every game and they were closely followed by Dean Griffiths (25), Mike McLeod (24), Mike Ward (24), Jason Griffiths (24), Simon Sullivan (21), Danny Munro (21), Richard Lloyd (20), and Gareth Noon (20).
Wrexham Seconds retained the North East Wales Division One Championship for the second successive season, losing only one game at Flint. Skippered once again by Kevin Davies, they also whitewashed Wirral Thirds and Chester Thirds by 45-0 and 51-0 respectively in friendly cross border fixtures and defeated Whitchurch Thirds by 43-12 on their home midden.
Wrexham Thirds failed to perform as strongly as last season but were still in contention for the Division Two Championship in the last month of the season. They completed doubles over Mold, Rhyl and Afon Dee and whitewashed Whitchurch Fourths at Edgeley Park by 89-0 in a cross border friendly fixture.
Coached by Kevin Powell, Wrexham's Youth Team struggled to field a full side in the first half of their season in Division One of the Dragons Rugby Trust North Wales League, but they finished strongly with a 38-7 victory over strong contenders Denbigh and overcame Bala by 31-5 in a North Wales Youth Cup game last month before falling to the top North Wales side Mold.
WREXHAM 18 MOLD 15
A 40 metre drop goal by outside-half Richard Lloyd won the game for Wrexham deep into injury time in this typically robust derby encounter, but it took a performance of sheer guts and determination by the home side to overturn Mold's 15-0 half-time advantage.
Wrexham's victory, their sixth in eight games, elevated them to fifth place in the Division Five North table and rewarded them for all of the hard work put into the second half of the season. Defeat left Mold still facing the threat of relegation, but they can rescue themselves by winning one of their two remaining games.
Wrexham looked to be heading for relegation from as early as last November when coach Ross Roberts resigned following a string of bad results, but new coach Dave Cheesbrough gradually transformed the side and finally saw his efforts bear fruit in Saturday's battling performance.
A keen breeze influenced the pattern of play throughout with Mold having first use of it and opening the scoring in the 2nd minute when lock Paddy Hughes claimed the ball in a line-out and was driven over for an excellent try.
Wrexham had to defend furiously as the visiting pack won a stream of possession and former Wrexham outside-half Jon Aby and scrum-half Jamie Griffiths dictated play behind the scrum. Griffiths missed the early conversion but succeeded with a penalty to increase Mold's advantage to 8-0 in the second quarter.
Prop Rob Pierce did his best to stem the tide and winger Hywel Raymond threatened on the break for the hard pressed home side. However, the visitors went further ahead at the end of the first-half when the referee failed to spot Richard Lloyd getting a hand to a loose ball from a kick and chase and awarded a try to Jamie Griffiths who dived on it and added the simple conversion.
Unperturbed, Wrexham shifted into top gear with the wind at their backs after the break and soon reduced the arrears with a fine try by number eight Dean Griffiths who crashed over from a line-out. Full-back Kerry Powell missed the conversion but made no mistake when he converted a smart try by scrum-half Daniel Cheesbrough who broke three tackles to score his first senior try.
The game erupted as tempers frayed and the referee sent three players, two from Mold and Wrexham lock Mike McLeod, to cool off in the sin-bin. When they had all returned, coach Dave Cheesbrough piled on forward replacements in the form of Llyr Williams, Jason Griffiths and Gareth Perrin, and the defiant visitors were at last outgunned.
A penalty by Powell levelled the scores in the final quarter as Wrexham pummeled the home defence. When Lloyd failed with a drop goal attempt in injury time it looked as though a draw would be the likely result, but he tried again when the Wrexham forwards won a ruck on the Mold 10 metre line moments later and this time his long distance effort sailed between the posts to ignite the home celebrations.
The successful introduction of young players like Kerry Powell and Daniel Cheesbrough to the side indicates that the club can improve next season. Although several of the experienced forwards are approaching retirement, strong current Youth Team forwards like Phil Williams, Jason Tomlinson and Danny Seabrook will become eligible to gain experience in a limited number of First XV games next season and should bolster the squad in the following year.
Wrexham Seconds completed their Season with a visit to the Chester Veterans Tournament on Sunday and reached the semi-final of the plate competition where they were beaten 14-7 by Whitchurch. Andy Perrin grabbed a try and Darrell Hughes landed a conversion as they fought back from a 0-14 deficit, but they failed to make any further impression.
In the early group games, they defeated Old Anselmians by 17-0 and were then unlucky to lose to the powerful West Park Bramhope side by 0-3, a last minute penalty deciding the issue.
Wrexham Thirds rounded off their season in North East Wales Division Two with a thumping 92-5 victory over Mold Thirds at Bryn Estyn Road. Try scorers were James Bellis (3), Peter Dougan (2), Mark Otter (2), James Wrathall (2), Darren Evans, Dave Beckett, Gerry Darbyshire, Mark Lloyd and Kevin Davies. Ian Bostock landed 8 conversions and Beckett and Dougan added one apiece.
The Youth Team was knocked out of the North Wales Youth Cup at Mold where the Premier Division One side won by 42-0. The visitors came back strongly with an excellent second-half performance and good work from Adam Jones and Luke Pemberton, but were unable to break through a well organised defence.
Wrexham Under 15's represented North Wales at an invitation only international festival of rugby in Llanelli only to lose their season long unbeaten record to Newbridge College from Dublin on Saturday. The older Irish side triumphed by 24-0 but man of the match Chris Reece, Jonathan Davies and Joe Tiley played well and were well received by an enthusiastic crowd.
On Sunday, they performed well again but suffered narrow defeats against Blackwood, Burry Port and Trimsaran. Wrexham's player of the tournament was Glen Bellamy while Daniel Gibbons and Darren Jones were singled for fine performances and received commemorative trophies from the organisers.
The squad and their supporters behaved impeccably and made many new friends at this prestigious tournament. A special pen set from the Wrexham Mayor's Office was presented to representatives of the London Wasps club who have invited the Under 15's to play against them in London next season and then watch the Wasps English Premiership side in action.
The rugby season has now been completed for all Wrexham teams and they can now look forward the club's Annual Dinner and Presentation of Awards evening at Bryn Estyn Road on Friday 9th May at 7.00pm. The guest of honour will be the local businessman and after dinner speaker Alan Tudor who was a former First XV player at the club. 26/04/03 Preview
Wrexham's final game of the season against their local rivals Mold at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon will have extra spice added to it as Mold are facing the threat of relegation from Division Five North and will be desperate to secure a victory on a ground where they have not enjoyed much luck in recent years (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Following successive victories over Caernarfon, Bethesda and Pwllheli, Wrexham have finally managed to fend off a season-long relegation threat and are setting their sights on a top five finish in their division. With their South African Tour due to start in less than three weeks time, they are also keen to end their season on a high and winning note.
Flanker Mike Ward, unavailable last week, will be welcomed back to the squad by coach Dave Cheesbrough who should be able to name an unchanged pack for tomorrow's encounter. Winger Simon Sullivan hurt his arm in last week's game against Pwllheli and will have to pass a fitness test before he can play again, Chris Andrew taking over from him if required.
Mold won the previous encounter between the sides by 6-5 at Chester Road last December, Paul Mizzi failing to convert a late try by flanker Danny Munro and leaving his side without any reward after a promising performance. Centre Richie Cochrane kicked two second-half penalties for the home side and he will need no invitation to repeat his success tomorrow.
Wrexham claimed the previous encounter between the two clubs at Bryn Estyn Road with a record 46-14 victory last season. The forwards laid the foundation for that success and outside-half Richard Lloyd repaid them with a grand slam tally of 21 points from a try, 5 conversions, a penalty and a drop goal.
Former Wrexham stalwarts Rob Thatcher and Jon Aby, who is Mold's current Club Coach, will make life difficult for Wrexham skipper John Roberts and his strong finishing side, but the home side should be able to finish their season in style while Mold will still have two games in hand to rescue themselves from the dreaded prospect of relegation.
Wrexham Seconds will complete their season with a visit to the popular Chester Veterans Tournament at Vicars Cross on Sunday (k.o.12.00pm). Wrexham Thirds take on Mold Thirds in North East Wales Division Two game at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow while the Youth Team will travel in the opposite direction to play favourites Mold in a North Wales Youth Cup second round encounter (k.o.3.00pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the unbeaten Wrexham Under 15's squad and four players from the Under 14 side have been invited by Llanelli to represent North Wales at a festival of rugby which starts today and finishes on Sunday. Some of the other participating sides are Burry Port, Amman United, Blackwood, and Ystrad Rhondda but the highlight of the tour for Wrexham will be a full game against London Wasps.
The successful Under 15 squad is organised by coach Stuart Bellamy and team manager Gareth Jarvis who will be presenting the Wasps side with gifts from Wrexham Rugby Club and the Wrexham Mayor's Office in celebration of this prestigious game.
WREXHAM 13 PWLLHELI 8
Wrexham gave a strangely jittery performance and had to come from behind to win this hectic relegation battle, their 10th victory of the season being sufficient to guarantee their continued survival Division Five North Championship next season.
Try scorer Gareth Noon, centre Paul Mizzi and lock Mike McLeod were the pick of the bunch as Wrexham held off a late challenge from the visitors to remain in 6th place in the league table. Richard Lloyd also kicked astutely to relieve the pressure, Mike Jones cleaned up in the line-out and Kerry Powell gave another brave performance at full-back.
Wrexham made a nervous start against a side which has not traveled well this season and fell behind in the 4th minute when slack tackling let the Pwllheli forwards and backs create a flowing movement which resulted in an unconverted try in the left corner for winger Arwel Roberts.
Noon inspired Wrexham to counter with some adventurous play, but little headway was made due to handling mistakes. Powell was able to reduce the deficit with a well struck penalty in the 23rd minute but the home side was fully stretched in defence at times and had hooker Danny Munro and centre Paul Mizzi to thank for some determined tackles.
The sin-binning of two Pwllheli forwards and Wrexham's Dean Griffiths near the end of the first-half gave the home side numerical advantage and they exploited it with a fine try by Noon in the last minute of injury time. Operating as number eight in the absence of Griffiths, the big forward picked up from the base of a scrum and ran 20 metres through the defence to score.
The visitors came back strongly in the second-half and they were rewarded in the 54th minute when the visiting forwards won possession on the home 22 and outside-half Iwan Gwyn kicked a neat drop goal to level the scores and inspire his side.
Wrexham managed to find some cohesion, however, and pounded away in the Pwllheli 22 until they broke the deadlock ten minutes later with a sparkling try in the corner by winger Hywel Raymond. McLeod attacked from a scrum on the left hand side and fed replacement lock Jason Griffiths who popped the ball to Raymond as he stretched his legs down the wing.
The final quarter became a desperate struggle between two relegation threatened sides with Pwllheli attempting to break through in waves and Wrexham responding with crunching tackles and the occasional escape from the stranglehold. McLeod kept his composure and saved the day for the home side as he dispossessed Pwllheli in the line-outs and blocked their final efforts.
Wrexham Seconds visited the Wirral Peninsula and encountered stiff opposition in their friendly against a Caldy XV, losing by 24-38. They trailed by 0-31 at half-time but fought back gamely with tries from Carl Turner (2), Iwan Roberts and James Wrathall, James Plant adding two conversions.
Wrexham Thirds were defeated 33-7 by a strengthened Flint Second XV in their North East Wales Division Two game at Flint. Regular try scorer James Bellis notched a single score for the losers and Anthony Lang added a conversion. The Youth Team lost by 0-30 in their friendly at Widnes.
Wrexham can forget all about their relegation worries if they repeat their success of last season and defeat former Division Five North Champions Pwllheli at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon (kickoff at 2.30pm).
With only cuts and bruises suffered by his players during last week's conquest of Bethesda, coach Dave Cheesbrough is able to name an unchanged starting line-up with the addition on the bench of utility back Chris Andrew. Pack leader Gareth Noon faces a late fitness test to check a facial injury but is expected to keep his regular place in the back-row.
As the season rapidly draws to a close, it is amazing that all but the leading three clubs in the division can mathematically be relegated as only six points separate the nine lower clubs. Wrexham have pulled up to sixth place, just ahead of Pwllheli, after successive victories over Caernarfon and Bethesda, but they could fall into the danger zone again if they fail to win tomorrow's game.
When the two clubs met at Bryn Estyn Road in February last season, Wrexham performed well and gained a deserved 20-0 victory with tries from their big forwards Mike McLeod, Iwan Roberts and Jason Munro. Roberts is still recuperating after a knee injury, Munro has retired from rugby, but McLeod is still competing and will make his 140th appearance for the club tomorrow.
On his own admission, McLeod has had a low key season, but he has always relished a challenge and is now running into top form. Outside-half Richard Lloyd is enjoying his last season of senior rugby and is still pleasing his forwards with his assured touch kicking while young Kerry Powell is playing better with each game at full-back and represents the future of the club.
Although their record at home is good, Pwllheli have won only once on their travels this season, scrambling to a 36-35 last gasp victory at Newtown.
Wrexham defeated them by 24-5 in Pwllheli on the first day of the league championship and, although tomorrow's opponents possess useful backs in centre Gareth Hodgson and winger Gareth Wright, Wrexham should have enough firepower and determination to complete their second double of the season.
Wrexham Seconds are looking for a suitable friendly fixture from the local fixture pool after their scheduled opponents Runcorn pulled out. The Thirds visit Flint Seconds for a North East Wales Division Two league game and the Youth Team travel to Widnes for a return friendly against the Lancashire side (k.o.3.00pm).
BETHESDA 15 WREXHAM 22
For a second season in succession, Wrexham overcame Bethesda at their Gwynedd stronghold to boost their chances of avoiding relegation from Division Five North and push their bottom of the table opponents nearer to Division Six.
It all started differently for the home side who had to draft Chester prop Richard Moore into their ranks to overcome a shortage in the front-row. They opened strongly and grabbed the lead in the first minute when outside-half Matthew Parry kicked a penalty to punish an infringement at the opening maul.
Wrexham had worked hard in preparation for this crucial relegation game and soon countered with good inter passing between forwards and backs to force a line-out in the home 22. Lock Mike Jones took a clean catch and the rest of the pack drove prop Marc Roberts over the line for an excellent try in the 4th minute. Full-back Kerry Powell added a difficult conversion.
Then Bethesda charged back down the slope and were unlucky when Parry miscued a 7th minute penalty shot. The hectic action continued with Wrexham competing well and prop Rob Pierce, flanker Gareth Noon and winger Simon Sullivan testing the home defence before several promising attacks petered out due to handling and kicking errors.
Fierce pressure from Bethesda produced a score in the 27th minute when their forwards won a scrum in the Wrexham 22 and scrum-half Steven Ellis picked up the ball, feigned to pass outside and then just kept going to score wide-out. Parry failed with the conversion attempt but made up for it by linking well with the Western Australia centre Matt Harrington to contain the visitors.
Wrexham remained dominant in the forward exchanges and reclaimed the lead in the 44th minute when skipper John Roberts broke through in the centre and fed Noon who charged towards the home posts. Although Bethesda managed to halt the rampaging pack leader, the ball was recycled to the alert Powell who stole in at the left corner to put his side ahead.
Leading by 12-8 at the start of the second-half, Wrexham soaked up a barrage from the home side and quickly returned to the offensive. However, a possible try from a Wrexham forward drive was disallowed in the 51st minute, Powell missed a kickable penalty moments later and hooker Danny Munro was then sent to the sin-bin for a moment of petulance.
Depleted and forced into urgent defensive measures on their try line, the Wrexham forwards somehow managed to steal possession and swept downfield on a sudden counter. Centre Paul Mizzi broke clear and ran over 30 metres before he slipped the ball to John Roberts who was clearly delighted when he touched down under the uprights. Powell made no mistake with the conversion.
Wrexham came back for more and increased their lead with a neat drop goal by outside-half Lloyd who added some excellent touch kicks, but there was drama when Wrexham's replacement prop Geraint Davies was sent to the sin-bin in the 69th minute for not releasing and the referee forgot to recall Munro after he had completed his time in the bin.
Amidst howls of protest from the visiting supporters, 13 man Wrexham ran out of defenders and conceded a try to the flying Harrington with a fine conversion from Parry. The scene was set for a dramatic finale but, with Munro restored to the pack, Wrexham were able to contain a tiring home side which now looks set for relegation.
A brave challenge for the North East Wales Division Two Championship ended in disappointment for Wrexham Thirds at Llangollen on Saturday, the home side winning by 33-17 to keep themselves on track to claim the title. Peter Dougan, Rhodri Davies and man of the match Chris Phillips grabbed a try apiece and Mark Jones slotted a conversion in a dramatic second-half recovery by the visitors, but their rush of points came too late to save the match. 12/04/03 Preview
Wrexham's battle against relegation from Division Five North reaches a crucial stage tomorrow afternoon when they visit Bethesda for a showdown between two of the four clubs currently languishing in bottom place in the table. The others are Pwllheli and Rhyl who face each other at Pwllheli (k.o. 2.30pm).
Coach Dave Cheesbrough was satisfied with last week's record victory over Caernarfon and the hard work put in by his players. "We have been taking it game by game but this week's match at Bethesda is the one that we are after," he said after training this week.
Cheesbrough will name an unchanged side if centre Paul Mizzi, lock Mike McLeod and number eight Dean Griffiths pass late fitness tests. All of them picked up injuries in last week's game but are keen to play in the match which could ensure Wrexham's survival. Mizzi, who has suffered a hand injury, has not missed a game so far and has been running into top form of late.
When Wrexham visited Bethesda at the same time last season, the situation was exactly the same with both clubs facing demotion to Division Six North and working frantically to avoid the drop. The visitors somehow managed to win that nail biting encounter by 24-19, despite having a player sinbinned and one sent off for indiscretions in an 8 minute injury time period. Bethesda went on to secure their Division Five status by beating Ruthin in an end of season game.
Bethesda gained a surprise 39-19 victory at Rhyl last Saturday with two of their six tries coming from their Western Australia centre Matt Harrington who played against the British Lions on their last tour to Australia. Rumours abound that the Gwynedd club have just brought in a couple of top class players on permit to strengthen their cause and Wrexham will have to be wary of Harrington and his improved back line.
John Roberts has captained his Wrexham side to four league victories on their travels this season and is keen to make tomorrow's last away game a successful one. Win or lose, he still has home games against Pwllheli and Mold to play in the next two weeks and, courtesy of his side's eight try haul from their Caernarfon game, has a healthy try scoring advantage over his closest rivals.
Wrexham Seconds take on Manchester Veterans in a friendly at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow while the Thirds travel to Llangollen for a North East Wales Division Two game that could decide the destination of this season's Championship. Llangollen, boosted by 15 tries from Wrexham Youth Team player Tom Stevens, are in pole position but will have to work hard to foil a late charge from the former champions (k.o. 2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 8's and 10's face Warrington at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning while the junior teams will visit Crewe for a series of games (k.o.10.30am).
WREXHAM 57 CAERNARFON 8
With only one home victory to their credit this season and needing a win to stave off relegation, Wrexham tore the visitors apart with an eight try blitz that earned them a record winning margin in Division Five North. Safety is still a distance away, however, as they are one of four clubs tied on 19 points at the bottom of the table.
Skipper John Roberts and flanker Mike Ward grabbed a smart brace of tries apiece while full-back Kerry Powell supplied 7 conversions and added a penalty to claim a personal tally of 17 points which took him past outside-half Richard Lloyd as this season's top points scorer.
Caernarfon opened brightly and missed a penalty before lock Mike McLeod dominated the line-out and spurred on his Wrexham side with several dynamic breaks. Centre Paul Mizzi soon found his form and opened the scoring in the 10th minute when he supported McLeod in a surge into the visitors 22 and
touched down close enough to the posts for full-back Kerry Powell to add the conversion.
More pressure produced a deserved try for McLeod, his first of the season, with Powell landing another conversion. Caernarfon hit back in the 18th minute with a penalty as a home forward handled in a ruck and the game looked to be in the balance until deep in the second quarter when Wrexham skipper John Roberts raced in for a brace of tries.
Powell, who had set up one of those tries for Roberts, kicked both conversions and added a penalty to give his side a commanding 31-3 lead at the break. Caernarfon countered strongly after the break but Wrexham weathered the storm and replied with a spectacular try by flanker Mike Ward who pirouetted outside the visitors 22 and ran away unopposed to score under the posts.
Powell supplied the simple conversion and then backed up the home forwards as they went into overdrive with flanker Gareth Noon leading by example and lock Mike Jones taking over where the injured McLeod left off in the line-out. Wrexham went in search of tries in the final quarter and stretched their lead with scores by wingers Hywel Raymond and Simon Sullivan plus a second touchdown for Ward.
Powell added two conversions, including a superb effort from the touchline, before Caernarfon gained some consolation for their solid endeavour with a late interception try by full-back Paul Lloyd-Williams.
Wrexham Seconds had to come from behind to retain the North East Wales Division One Championship for the second successive season with a hard earned 24-10 home victory over Denbigh Seconds. Tries came from John Darlington, Ross Roberts, Andy Perrin and Alex Crewe while James Plant kicked two conversions for good measure.
The Thirds kept themselves in the hunt for the Division Two Championship by defeating title contenders Rhos Seconds 36-20 in a hotly contested local derby at Bryn Estyn Road. Wrexham's scores came from Gareth Bostock (3), Jamie Jennings and Lee Barnes-Roberts with 4 conversions and a penalty from Ian Connell, while the Rhos scorers were Karl Hughes, Rhys Taylor and Alan Andrews who also kicked a conversion and a penalty.
Wrexham Youth Team completed a hat-trick of victories over Bala this season by defeating them 31-5 in a North Wales Youth Cup first round game at Wrexham. Skipper Michael Powell and Mark Gasson grabbed a brace of tries apiece, Peter Blakemore supplied another touchdown and John Gormley landed 3 conversions. 05/04/03 Preview
Only a victory over Caernarfon at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow will be sufficient to keep Wrexham on course in their desperate battle to avoid relegation to Division Six North by the end of the season (kick-off at 2.30pm).
The home challenge will be boosted by the return to full fitness of prop Iwan Roberts who has been trying to overcome a troublesome knee injury and managed to pass a fitness test this week. Winger Simon Sullivan and hooker Danny Munro, who both missed Wrexham's last game against Champions Llangefni three weeks ago due to illness, return to bolster the squad.
Hywel Raymond, whose skiing holiday forced him to miss the defeat by Llangefni, returns to the centre alongside the powerful Paul Mizzi. Both scored for the Wrexham and Powys Rhinos in their recent midweek victory over the Gwynedd Eagles and are reported to be in fine form.
Caernarfon defeated Wrexham on three occasions in cup and league competition last season and followed this up with an emphatic 45-24 victory over them last September. The Gwynedd side made a determined challenge for the Divison Five North Championship in the first part of the season but fell away when
they hit a patch of poor form around Christmas.
They currently occupy a safe fourth place in the table but are still on the slide, having been defeated 45-24 at home by Rhyl in their last league game. Wrexham must try to exploit any lack of confidence or deficiency in the Caernarfon camp and turn it to their own advantage.
The psychological problem which John Roberts' side must overcome is bound up in their inability to win on their own ground. The 34-10 defeat of Newtown in November has been their sole home victory this season, although they have won away on six occasions in league and cup competition.
A morale boosting defeat of Caernarfon would inspire them for next week's visit to bottom club Bethesda and the final home games against Pwllheli and Mold. A reverse against the Gwynedd would be too painful to contemplate as it could leave them stranded at the bottom of the division.
Wrexham Seconds can overtake Flint Firsts and retain the North East Wales Division One Championship if they can win or draw against Denbigh Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon. They will miss the unavailable number eight Carl Turner and hooker Dave Green but should still have enough petrol in the tank to go the distance and overcome the visitors (k.o. 2.30pm).
The Division Two Championship is still very open with four clubs still in contention for the title. Two of those clubs, Rhos Seconds and Wrexham Thirds, meet at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow in what promises to be a keenly contested game, the loser of which will be unable to catch current leaders Llangollen.
Wrexham Youth are also in action at Bryn Estyn Road where they take on Bala in a North Wales Youth Cup first round game. Michael Powell's side has already defeated Bala in two friendly games this season and will probably fancy their chances of starting a good cup run after a recent 38-7 success against Denbigh in the league.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, Greystones, the Irish club which used to make an annual pilgrimage to Wrexham to take part in the prestigious International Sevens Tournament, will visit Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow to take on home teams at Under 9, 10 and 12 level (k.o.3.00pm).
On Sunday morning, the Wrexham Mini and Junior Rugby Section will host an inter district game between North Wales and Afan Nedd at Under 12, 13, 14 and 16 levels. Over 100 visiting players from the Neath and Port Talbot area will participate in this eagerly awaited event (k.o. 11.00am). Wrexham mini rugby teams will visit Mold for a series of challenging games on the same morning.
Former Wrexham winger Iolo ap Dafydd, who scored 23 tries for the club in the 1987/88 season, has been working for BBC Wales in Kuwait and Southern Iraq during the current Gulf War. He is their overseas news correspondent and has reported on the progress of the Queen's Dragoon Guards, better known as the Welsh Cavalry, who include soldiers from the Wrexham area.
Wales collected their first wooden spoon in eight years following a 33-5 defeat by France in Paris. It started brightly enough with Wales dominating the first 15 minutes and delivering a courageous display that earned them a try by winger Gareth Thomas after only five minutes had elapsed.
Minutes later, the Cardiff wing Craig Morgan raced on to a lengthy punt from outside-half Stephen Jones and showed France's Aurelien Rougerie a clean pair of heels in pursuit of the bouncing ball. Morgan won that chase but, in attempting to ground the ball, he clearly knocked on and the video referee signalled no try.
When France roused themselves soon afterwards, however, that old thorn in the side Thomas Castaignede stole a try and Wales were forced to defend thereafter. Coach Steve Hansen was obviously disappointed with the result but admitted that his initial depression had given way to hope and expectation. " I think we are making progress and I honestly believe that, within a couple of years, we might be there," he added.
Wrexham Firsts didn't play on Saturday, but the Seconds enjoyed a victorious trip to Vicars Cross where they whitewashed Chester Thirds by 51-0. Their backs were in excellent form and they maintained their discipline to lead by 22-0 at half-time before they opened up again after the break to score a total of nine tries.
James Wrathall grabbed a hat-trick from the full-back position, Peter Dougan and John Roberts notched a brace of scores apiece while Andy Perrin and Dean Griffiths weighed in with a try apiece. Conversions were shared between Carl Pugh (2) and skipper Kevin Davies.
Wrexham Thirds found the going tougher against Chester Veterans at the same venue and eventually succumbed to a 14-28 defeat. Anthony Lang touched down for the visitors' first try and James Bellis maintained his superb scoring form with a single try in the second-half. Lang slotted both conversions.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 13's powered to an outstanding 29-7 victory over a well drilled Wirral side at Bryn Estyn Road. Jake Edwards claimed a hat-trick of tries, Gwyn Edwards followed up with a smart brace of scores and Kieron Morris added two conversions29/03/03 Preview
Wrexham Firsts will enjoy another break from fixtures tomorrow to watch Wales play their final game in the 2003 Six Nations Championship against France at the Stade de France in Paris (kick-off at 1.00pm).
Wales have emerged as winners in each of their previous visits to the new stadium and will start tomorrow's game with confidence following their improved showing against the Grand Slam chasing Irish at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last Saturday. Only an injury-time drop goal by the Munster outside-half Ronan O'Gara rescued Ireland from their first defeat in the capital for 18 years.
France demolished Italy by 53-27, a record score for a championship game, at the Stadio Flaminio on Sunday afternoon and will be keen to make up for defeats by Ireland and England to finish in third place in this year's competition. Wales have lost all of their games so far and will be going all out to secure a victory that will enable them to avoid the wooden spoon.
Although the French will field a formidable side on what is becoming a successful ground for them, Wales have grown stronger and stronger with every game and should meet their hosts on fairly level terms. The visitors will also wish to finish the competition on a high note in preparation for their 2003 World Cup challenge in Australia later this year.
Wrexham Seconds and Thirds expect to watch the televised game at Chester Rugby Club before they take the field at Vicars Cross to play friendly cross-border games against Chester Thirds and Fourths (k.o. 3.00pm). The Firsts may train at Bryn Estyn Road to maintain their level of fitness before the final part of their season commences with a home game against Caernarfon next week.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the mini rugby sides will train with the Under 13's and 15's at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning while the Under 14's take on Oswestry at the same venue (k.o.10.30am).
Once the Six Nations Rugby Championship has been completed, Wrexham Firsts will be able to concentrate without any interruption on completing their Division Five North Championship campaign and avoiding the threat of relegation which has been constant since Christmas.
Next Saturday's home game will be followed by a visit to bottom club Bethesda and then further home games against relegation candidates Pwllheli and local rivals Mold. There is no doubt that each game will be hotly contested and that Wrexham will have to play with the utmost passion and skill to come out on top.
The latest news from the Wrexham camp is that skipper John Roberts is suffering from an arm injury which he sustained in the recent game against Llangefni and then aggravated whilst playing for the Rhinos XV in the North Wales Provincial Championship. This week's rest should help him to recover but he will have to pass a fitness test before he can lead his side against Caernarfon next week.
Several other players represented the Wrexham and Powys Rhinos in their 36-20 victory over the Gwynedd Eagles at Welshpool last week, including centres Paul Mizzi and Hywel Raymond who grabbed a try apiece. It was a very competitive game but all of the Wrexham players, other than John Roberts, came through unscathed and raring to resume their league programme.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 13's travelled to Waterloo on Merseyside and stormed into a 14-5 lead before the home side piled on replacements in the warm conditions and, despite dogged resistance by the hard working visitors, turned the tables to win by 50-19. Gwyn Edwards claimed a superb hat-trick of tries and Jamie Morris landed two conversions.
There was a fear last week that the mini and junior programme throughout North Wales would have to be cancelled because clubs were unable to supply qualified referees for these games and therefore would not be insured by the Welsh Rugby Union. However, a compromise agreement has been reached between the Welsh Rugby Union and the referees organisation allowing the programme of games to proceed until the end of this season.
Provided that games are refereed by persons who have regular experience of refereeing matches at this level and the names of these people are supplied to Austin Thomas, the WRU Director of Rugby for North Wales, the WRU and their insurers will insure the named persons until the end of this season even though they are not officially qualified.
For next season all referees will have to be qualified by examination. A plan is being put together by Austin Thomas whereby the six WRU County Development Officers operating in North Wales will hold the names of mini and junior referees on their databases and will appoint qualified referees to officiate at specific games.
The next referees level 1 course will be held at Colwyn Bay on Sunday 27th April between 9.00am and 4.00pm and attendance is expected to be very high bearing in mind the latest developments regarding insurance cover for referees. Further courses are planned in May and throughout the summer.
The date for Wrexham Rugby Club's Annual Dinner and Presentation of Awards evening has been set for Friday 9th May 2003 at Bryn Estyn Road. 22/03/03 Preview
The stop-start phase of the rugby season continues tomorrow with all eyes
focused on the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff where Wales take on a confident Irish side which is aiming for a Six Nations Grand Slam decider against
England in Dublin on Sunday 30th March.
Wrexham Firsts will join all of the other Division Five North clubs in taking a rest from the rigours of playing rugby to concentrate on supporting Wales from the comfort of their armchairs or travelling to Cardiff to cheer for their hard pressed heroes (kick-off at 2.00pm).
Wales performed well on their summer tour to South Africa and their autumn internationals against Romania, Fiji, Canada and New Zealand, but they have lost all of their Six Nations Championship games and face a wooden spoon whitewash unless they can win their remaining games against Ireland and France.
Ireland have not lost in Cardiff since 1983 and the professionalism and self belief in Brian O'Driscoll's side should see them extending their unbeaten run in the Welsh capital to 18 years. They showed how fiercely motivated they are in defeating the French by 15-12 in Dublin a fortnight ago and admit that Cardiff holds no real fears for them.
Wales lost to Scotland by 22-30 in Edinburgh where they created enough opportunities to win but lacked the composure to take them and impose themselves on the spluttering Scots. They missed their injured skipper Jonathan Humphreys who is a steadying influence and is expected to return at hooker against Ireland.
Tomorrow, Wales will have to come out of their blocks quicker than they did at Murrayfield and will have to play with a commitment and a passion that tells the crowd they are honoured to be representing them. The Irish, however, are overwhelming favourites to win and should have enough in reserve to keep on course for their first Grand Slam since 1948.
Wrexham Seconds and the Under 19's will enjoy a rest day tomorrow but the Thirds will be in action at Bryn Estyn Road against Mold Thirds in a North East Wales Division Two game (k.o.12.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby on Sunday morning, the mini rugby teams will train at their headquarters in Bryn Estyn Road while the Under 13's, 14's and the unbeaten Under 15's will travel to Shrewsbury for what should be a series of keenly contested cross-border games (k.o. 10.30am).
WREXHAM 10 LLANGEFNI 38
Llangefni, Champions of Division Five North, kept up the pressure on current leaders Nant Conwy with a comprehensive defeat of a weakened but plucky Wrexham side on a fast running pitch at Bryn Estyn Road.
Unlike last season, when Wrexham recorded a shock victory over the Islanders with a top performance by their pack, the forward battle had been lost by the end of the first-half when the scores were level at 10-10, and the visiting backs feasted on a wealth of possession to put the issue beyond doubt with four tries after the break.
Mike McLeod passed a late fitness test to take his place in the second-row, but the late withdrawal due to sickness of hooker Danny Munro and winger Simon Sullivan plus the unavailability of centre Hywel Raymond left Wrexham looking disjointed and with a mountain to climb.
Using the wind at their backs in the first-half, however, the home side opened their account in the 6th minute when outside-half Richard Lloyd chipped over the defence from half-way and collected the loose ball to score to the right of the uprights. Full-back Kerry Powell slotted the conversion and hopes quickly soared that Wrexham could repeat their success of last season.
Five minutes later, Llangefni attacked down the right hand side and a Wrexham player conceded a needless penalty. The confident visitors spurned the chance to kick and opted for a tap penalty which proved successful as their powerful lock Alex Morrison drove through several weak tackles to score in the corner.
The Champions soon edged in front with a superb try by winger Iwan Davies from a swift threequarter movement. Wrexham stirred themselves and stretched the visitors with some good passing by scrum-half Daniel Cheesbrough and pressure play by the forwards in the Llangefni 22, but mistakes cost them dear and they had to be content with a Powell penalty that tied the scores.
Wrexham pressed at the start of the second-half and went close with efforts from centre Chris Andrew and flanker Mike Ward. They were still attacking in the 45th minute when Llangefni flanker Will Bown won a line-out in his own half and broke away to hand off tacklers and score under the posts, outside-half Vince Kiernan adding the extra points.
Kiernan soon followed this up with two penalties to put his side in the driving seat and, despite some keen defensive work by flanker Mike Jones and a brave counter-attacking performance by Powell, the tries soon flowed from winger Ioan Davies, scrum-half Arwel Roberts and the impressive Bown who notched his second touchdown of the game.
Pwllheli and Rhyl, two of the four clubs which had shared bottom place before Saturday won their contests, leaving Wrexham to share bottom place with luckless Bethesda. Dave Cheesbrough's side can still escape relegation if they win at least two of their remaining four league games.
Wrexham Youth Team defeated Denbigh by 38-7 at Bryn Estyn Road to claim their first league victory in North Wales Youth Division One. John Ireland and Scott Davies managed a brace of tries apiece, Mark Gasson and Jason Tomlinson grabbed further scores and John Gormley kicked four conversions.
Wrexham Seconds didn't manage to find a replacement game after Ellesmere Port Seconds withdrew from their scheduled fixture on the Wirral, but the Thirds visited Whitchurch Fourths for a cross-border friendly and pulled off an inspired 89-0 success.
Man of the Match Lee Barnes-Roberts notched a personal tally of 33 points with five tries and four conversions while the ever reliable James Bellis touched down four times. The rest of the tries came from Ross Roberts (2), Mark Lloyd (2) Steve Jarvis and Dave Leadbitter while Jarvis, Lloyd and skipper Sean Williams landed a conversion apiece.
Wrexham are at near full strength for tomorrow's vital home game against the Division Five North champions Llangefni, the result of which could have a bearing on who wins this year's Championship and who is relegated to Division Six (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Llangefni will arrive at Bryn Estyn Road with every intention of securing a win to overtake current leaders Nant Conwy as the competition reaches its climax. Wrexham, who occupy bottom place with Rhyl, Bethesda and Pwllheli, need to win to pull clear of the drop zone.
Centre Chris Andrew, who overcame a career threatening injury to return to the side this season, is set to make his 60th senior appearance, and Geraint Davies has been selected to prop up the front row in the continuing absence of Iwan Roberts who is suffering from a knee injury.
There is some doubt over the fitness of lock Mike McLeod and he will have to pass a late test to make sure that his back can stand up to the rigours of a highly competitive match. Coach Dave Cheesbrough is keen to rotate his players within the squad and Gareth Noon could deputise for McLeod if needed with Mike Jones returning to the back-row.
Wrexham created a minor shock when they defeated Llangefni by 24-19 in the corresponding game at Bryn Estyn Road last season, although the Islanders eventually went on to win the Championship. The win proved to be a turning point for relegation threatened Wrexham and they saved themselves by following up their outstanding success with a string of victories.
Mike McLeod was a two try hero in that hectic game, during which the lead changed hands four times. Llangefni could have won it at the death following an interception, but the ball carrier thought that he was in the clear and failed to appreciate the closing pace of Wrexham winger Matthew Cox who caught him just short of the home line.
Wrexham won that game because they dominated the forward battle for most of the 80 minutes and prevented the dangerous Llangefni backs from playing to their usual pattern. The same approach will have to be used in tomorrow's encounter as the visiting backs have been scoring freely again this season and are brimming with confidence.
Winger Ioan Davies has bags of pace and has built up an impressive try tally this term. Iwan Davies on the other wing is not far behind him and centre Rhodri Gray has also troubled defences on a regular basis. They warmed up for tomorrow's game with a comprehensive 27-0 victory over Mold, all of their points coming from their threequarters.
Coach Dave Cheesbrough was satisfied with his team's last performance at Rhyl a fortnight ago where they claimed a last gasp 21-20 victory, thanks to a try by replacement centre Hywel Raymond. Rhyl threw everything at them for most of the second-half but the visitors defended well and gave away very few penalties before coming back at the end in atrocious conditions.
The spirit is high in the Wrexham camp and they trained well this week. They know that that the stakes are high in tomorrow's game and that it will take a special performance to upset the champions in their quest to retain their title.
Winning the forward battle and a solid defensive performance will be the key to a Wrexham success tomorrow but the pace of players like winger Simon Sullivan and centre Hywel Raymond added to the try scoring ability of skipper John Roberts could lead to some long awaited celebrations at Bryn Estyn Road.
Wrexham Seconds visit Ellesmere Port Seconds for a friendly fixture while the Thirds will also cross the border for a game against Whitchurch Fourths. Wrexham Youth Team resume their league programme with a North Wales Youth Division One encounter against Denbigh at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o. 2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis will visit Ruthin for games at all levels against their traditional rivals on Sunday morning. The Under 13's will train at Bryn Estyn Road while the impressive Under 14's and 15's will travel to Oswestry (k.o.10.30am).
With the attention of players and supporters focused on the Six Nations Championship game between Wales and Scotland in Edinburgh, very few games were played in North Wales at the weekend. It was the same story at Wrexham but the players who didn't travel to Scotland trained hard at Bryn Estyn Road in preparation for tomorrow's top drawer game against Llangefni.
Wales matched Scotland on try count in Edinburgh but failed to finish off some of their best moves and suffered a 30-22 defeat. A nasty looking ligament injury to full-back Kevin Morgan didn't help and Wales, who are unlikely to beat Grand Slam chasing Ireland at the Millennium Stadium next week, are now favourites to pick up the wooden spoon at the end of the competition.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 14's suffered a 17-34 defeat at Bryn Estyn Road against a strong Denbigh side but the reshuffled home side deserved credit for their much improved performance with Hugh Evans claiming the man of the match award. Tries came from Paul Hughes (2) and Dan Roth
while Luke Kavanagh kicked a conversion.
Wrexham are left without a fixture tomorrow afternoon on a very important day in the Welsh sporting calendar when Wales visit Edinburgh to play Scotland in the third round of the 2003 Six Nations Rugby Championship (kick-off at 4.00pm).
Both countries have lost their opening two encounters and Wales must beat a poor Scotland side tomorrow or face the prospect of picking up the wooden spoon by the end of the competition. Wales defied the critics to turn in a gutsy performance at the Millennium Stadium a fortnight ago before losing by 9-26 and, with the return of ace kicker Stephen Jones at outside-half, can progress a step further at Murrayfield.
Following the determined performance which produced a last gasp 21-20 victory at Rhyl last Saturday, Wrexham have reported only minor injuries in the squad and have been training hard since for their big home game next week against Division Five North Championship contenders Llangefni.
The situation in the lower half of the division is very tight at the moment with four clubs sharing bottom place on 16 points apiece, and four other clubs set to enter the danger zone if they falter in their next games. Newtown, Mold, Dolgellau and Llandudno had all looked relatively safe last month but the resurgence of Wrexham and Pwllheli, allied to winning performances from the top clubs, has created an intriguing situation with only five games left.
Wrexham have won three out of their last five league games, all of them away, and should now hold an advantage in playing four of their remaining games at home. They defeated Llangefni at Bryn Estyn Road when they found themselves in a similar situation last season and can do so again if they can play well and contain Llangefni's free scoring threequarters.
They have ability to win their other homes games against Caernarfon, Pwllheli and Mold but will have to play out of their skins to do so. Sandwiched between these games is the difficult challenge of defeating Bethesda at their mountain stronghold where the Gwynedd side has a good record and a vociferous local following.
In this season's competition, the bottom club will be relegated to Division Six North automatically and the second from bottom club will enter a play-off for a place in Division Five against the runners up in DivisionSix. In many ways, the future is in the players hands and that is why skipper John Roberts and his comrades will be working very hard in training this week to top up the level of improvement which they have displayed since early January.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 14's will visit Newtown for a game on Sunday morning while all of the other sides will train at Bryn Estyn Road (k.o. 10.30am).
RHYL 20 WREXHAM 21
Centre Hywel Raymond rescued Wrexham with a dramatic injury time try in a downpour at Rhyl and helped them to a deserved victory that puts them level with Bethesda, Pwllheli and Rhyl on 16 points apiece at the bottom of the Division Five North table.
Having led by 16-3 just after the start of the second-half, Wrexham looked in control until prop Rob Pierce was sin-binned for 'killing the ball' and then his replacement Danny Munro joined him briefly on the sidelines
for committing a similar offence. Rhyl took advantage and overtook the visitors with only minutes remaining but a last desperate comeback resulted in Raymond's match winning score.
Before the arrival of a belt of torrential rain, Wrexham made a determined start to the game and eased into a 6th minute lead when winger Simon Sullivan broke and jinked from the half-way line before handing over to
number eight Dean Griffiths who set up a neat try near the posts for skipper John Roberts. Full-back Kerry Powell added the extra points with a fine conversion.
Rhyl countered with the power in their forwards and pace in their threequarters that stretched the visitors fully and it took some resolute defending by the whole side to prevent a home try. A penalty by outside-half
Matt Anwyl brought Rhyl some reward for their best efforts but it was soon cancelled out by a brace from Powell as Wrexham forced the pace again.
Lock Mike McLeod, his hair a bright shade of yellow, stood out for his excellent work in the line-out and his rampaging drives in the loose. Pierce also showed up well in the close exchanges and outside-half
Richard Lloyd gave a master class with his superb tactical kicking.
Leading by 13-3 at the break, the visitors went further ahead with another Powell penalty in the 41st minute. Then it became 'all hands to the pumps' as Sullivan had a relieving kick charged down, Powell rescued but
Rhyl camped in the Wrexham 22.
When Pierce was sent to the sin-bin in the 47th minute, Anwyl kicked an easy penalty and Rhyl applied constant pressure. Lloyd relieved some of the pressure with accurate line kicks but Munro was then yellow
carded and the home side capitalised with an unstoppable try by replacement lock Andy Symmonds-Roberts under the posts. Anwyl quickly slotted the conversion.
Rhyl seemed to revel in the quagmire and pounded away until the referee, unsighted at the time, awarded them a pushover try credited to hooker Chris Badhams in the 78th minute. What the official failed to spot was
Badhams dropping the ball before it could be grounded, but it mattered little to Wrexham as Anwyl kicked well to add a conversion that put Rhyl four points ahead.
In a last desperate throw, McLeod and his forwards charged upfield in injury time and were awarded a penalty as the home forwards obstructed. More than three points were needed so the ball was quickly swept out from
left to right with Powell flighting a long pass to Raymond who made light of the conditions to stretch his legs and score in the corner.
Four minutes of injury followed but Wrexham were in no mood to concede a hard won victory and celebrated a marvellous success by diving into the pools of rainwater which surrounded the Rhyl pitch.
Wrexham Seconds took over the Third Team fixture at Eagle near Warrington and pulled off an excellent 28-10 victory to avenge an early season defeat. James Wrathall, Carl Turner, skipper Kevin Davies and Mark Jones grabbed a try apiece with Ian Connell adding four conversions.
Wrexham Youth team looked to be heading for their first league victory in the North Wales Youth League Division One at Colwyn Bay but conceded an injury time penalty and lost by 7-8. Jason Tomlinson claimed their try and man of the match Michael Powell added a conversion.01/03/03 Preview
Wrexham's game at Rhyl tomorrow promises to be a titanic struggle with the visitors trying to climb out of the Division Five North relegation zone and Rhyl aiming to halt their recent plunge towards the basement (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Coach Dave Cheesbrough is able to name a strong squad, weakened only by the loss of his top try scoring prop Iwan Roberts who is suffering from a knee injury. Hooker Gareth Perrin is set to take over from Roberts with Danny Munro slotting into Perrin's berth.
The threequarter line looks impressive with Daniel Cheesbrough and Richard Lloyd working together at half-back for the third successive game and Hywel Raymond and Paul Mizzi claiming the centre spots. Kerry Powell continues to gain experience at full-back while Simon Sullivan will add pace down the left
wing with skipper John Roberts applying power down the other.
Wrexham currently lie in second from bottom place in the division, equal on match points to bottom club Pwllheli but ahead of them thanks to a better try count of two precious scores. A Pwllheli success tomorrow and a reverse for John Roberts' side at Rhyl would result in Wrexham hitting rock bottom but success at The Waen could see Wrexham pulling up two places in the table with the prospect of four home games to come.
Rhyl won the corresponding encounter at Bryn Estyn Road by 28-22 last October after the home side wasted numerous chances and eventually ran out of steam. Their final piece of bad luck came when Iwan Roberts dropped the ball as he dived over by the posts to score what could have been the match winner. It proved to be the last straw for coach Ross Roberts who announced his retirement immediately after the game.
Fortunes have gradually improved since then as players have trained on a more regular basis and new coach Dave Cheesbrough has introduced enough stability to halt a succession of defeats. Wrexham have lost only one of their last four league games and their two victories have been achieved away from home.
They were in a similar position last season after losing their home game against Rhyl and then battling to avoid relegation to Division Six North. They travelled to Rhyl at the beginning of March, conceded 15 points without reply in the first-half but powered back to secure a 22-15victory that eventually helped them to preserve their status in the topflight of rugby in North Wales.
As the start of the Six Nations Rugby Championship has disrupted the rugby programme throughout North Wales, and Wrexham haven't played for two weeks, Dave Cheesbrough took his side to Ruthin for a Thursday evening work-out and was pleased with the result. No injuries were reported, several up and coming players were tried and the squad gained valuable match practice against one of the top three clubs in the Region.
Tomorrow, Wrexham should have enough power in their pack to contain a strong Rhyl eight but they will have to defend well against home backs like centre Tim Wasdell and winger Mark Holt who can fashion tries out of nothing. It is a game which the visitors must win, and bags of passion and a little pace from players like winger Simon Sullivan should earn them a precious victory.
Wrexham Seconds are looking for a suitable friendly game from the local fixture pool to fill a blank date while the Thirds visit Eagle Seconds hoping to make up for the 41-17 pasting which they received in the corresponding fixture at Wrexham last November.
Wrexham Youth Team visit Colwyn Bay with high hopes of claiming their first victory of the season in the North Wales Youth League Division One. Wrexham lost at Bryn Estyn Road by 33-40 a few weeks ago after running out of steam, but they have won twice in friendly matches since then and should give a much improved performance this time (k.o. 2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis travel to Denbigh for games at all levels against stiff competition, while the junior rugby sides will enjoy home advantage in their games against the same club on Sunday morning (k.o. 10.30am).
Wrexham Thirds were the only side in action last weekend and they made the best of it as they cruised to a 55-10 victory over Mold Thirds in a North East Wales Division Two game at Chester Road. This latest success enabled them to close on the leading duo of Llangollen and Corwen and there is still a chance that they may win the Championship for the first time in four years.
James Bellis notched a hat-trick of tries, Paul Hughes claimed a smart brace and Gareth Perrin, Steve Jarvis, Rhodri Davies and Kerry Powell grabbed a try apiece. Powell added 4 conversions, Dave Beckett slotted one and skipper Sean Williams praised newcomer James Evans who made an impressive debut at hooker when he replaced Jarvis in the second-half.
The game was watched by Stuart Pomeroy, the prop forward whose leg injury led to the abandonment of the original game when it was played last November. Pomeroy is making steady progress, can now walk without crutches and was the guest of honour at a players get together after the game.
Wrexham players and supporters will join a multitude of rugby followers from North Wales traveling to Cardiff for tomorrow's Six Nations Championship game between Wales and England, the highlight of the rugby calendar in Wales (kick-off at 5.30pm).
Wales under performed in their shock 30-22 defeat by Italy at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome last Saturday but, with their backs to the wall in their Millennium Stadium home and featuring several key changes in the side, are expected to raise the level of their game against the 'old enemy'.
The remnants of the Wrexham squad left at home will either train or play an inter-club game at Bryn Estyn Road prior to the late start of the international match. They are keen to maintain their match fitness because they need to resume their league campaign with a win at Rhyl next week if they are to have any chance of pulling away from the relegation zone in Division Five North.
One player who will not be joining in the training session is top try scorer Iwan Roberts who damaged knee ligaments at Llandudno a fortnight ago and has been forced to rest. The damage to his knee is not as bad as originally feared, however, and Roberts should be able to return in a month's time to finish the season and to try to hold on to his top scoring title.
Replacing the experienced prop has been a difficult task for coach Dave Cheesbrough as the natural choice Robbie Jones has been required by the Army for the last two months and Geraint Davies is still banned from playing after being sent off at the beginning of the season. The emerging prop Nick Perrin, who has played two games for the senior side this season, may receive a call-up from the Seconds.
Winger Simon Sullivan has been keeping himself in top condition during the international layoff by playing in two friendlies for the lower sides. He maintained his scoring touch by grabbing a try for the Seconds in their demolition of Wirral Thirds and should prove to be a useful weapon in Cheesbrough's armory when the First XV visit Rhyl.
Wrexham Youth Team visit Llanrwst tomorrow to play Nant Conwy in a Dragons Trust North Wales Youth League game that they can win if they perform as well as they have done in recent weeks. Adam Jones retains the outside-half berth while Phil Williams will provide the driving power in the second-row of the pack (k.o. 2.00pm).
Wrexham Thirds visit Mold Thirds to play a rearranged North East Wales Division Two league game that was abandoned last November when Wrexham prop Stuart Pomeroy suffered a broken leg and had to be taken to hospital. The Mold team is also organising a function prior to the Wales v. England international match with Pomeroy invited as guest of honour.
All of the mini and junior rugby teams will train at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning as they enjoy a brief respite from a packed fixture programme. Their thoughts will be concentrated on next week's games against Denbigh who are very competitive at this level of the game (k.o. 10.30am).
Wrexham Youth Team overcame Deri Under 17's by 19-5 in a well contested game at Bryn Estyn Road last Saturday. The tourists from the Rhymney Valley in South Wales went behind to an early try by number eight Jason Tomlinson and a conversion by full-back John Gormley but were desperately unlucky not to score from several flowing back moves in the second quarter.
The home side soaked up the pressure and bounced back with fierce forward drives by prop Danny Seabrook and the in-form Tomlinson before Gormley jinked and ran 30 metres to notch an unconverted try which stretched Wrexham's lead to 12-0 at the break.
Deri came storming back at the start of the second-half but mistakes ruined their best efforts and outside-half Adam Jones and Gormley combined to get Wrexham out of trouble with some relieving touch finding kicks. Gormley added a converted try in the third quarter but Deri had the final word as centre Kier Ennis finished off an electrifying break with a consolation try in the corner.
The Seconds romped to a 45-0 home victory over Wirral Thirds with Dave Green grabbing a rare brace of tries. Gareth Noon, Simon Sullivan, John Darlington and Carl Gatrell were the other try scorers while Ian Connell converted a penalty try and added four more conversions. There was a welcome appearance
at number eight in the pack by former coach Graham Williams.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Under 12's lost a keenly contested match against Afon Dee by 5-8 on try count at Bryn Estyn Road. Matthew Bates claimed a hat-trick of tries with single scores coming from Shaun Strudwick and Ethan Bishop. The Under 11's pulled off a stirring 47-5 victory at Crewe.
The Under 10's were beaten by 2-1 in a very close game but the Under 9's won by 7-4 at Crewe, Nia Williams grabbing a superb hat-trick of tries. They also defeated Afon Dee by 6-3 with scores from Ashley Salisbury (2), Nia Williams (2) Shaun Ferrari and Tom Lloyd-Jones. The Under 8's pulled off a 5-2 victory thanks to 4 touchdowns from man of the match Edward Evans.
Arrangements for the Wrexham Rugby Club playing tour to South Africa in May are well advanced and a Quiz Night will be held at the club tonight to raise funds so that the tourists can present gifts of playing strip and equipment to young emerging black players. The evening commences at 8.00pm and there will be a cash prize for the quiz winners.
Sponsorship Co-ordinator Darrell Hughes has also organised a raffle for tickets to watch the forthcoming Sale Sharks v. Leeds Tykes Premiership game at Sale.
Matches for the tourists have been arranged against Blades Rugby Club and Retreat Rugby Club in the Cape Town area, and specialist training sessions will also be given to the young players at these emerging clubs to encourage the development of the game in disadvantaged areas
15/02/03 Six Nations
Wrexham will have a two week break from their relegation worries while they concentrate on supporting Wales in the 2003 Six Nations Rugby Championship, the opening game being staged tomorrow afternoon at Rome's Stadio Flaminio where Wales take on Italy (k.o.1.30pm).
As many players and supporters will travel to Cardiff next weekend for the big game at the Millennium Stadium against England, Wrexham's next league game will not take place until Saturday 1st March when they visit Rhyl for a relegation battle that both clubs can't afford to lose.
Wrexham's failure last week to conquer a faltering Dolgellau side has enabled bottom club Pwllheli to catch them up in the league table so that the clubs now have 13 league points apiece with Wrexham occupying the second from bottom berth, courtesy of a better try scoring record. Rhyl and Bethesda lie immediately above with a 3 point advantage over the bottom clubs.
The task of avoiding relegation to Division Six North is not insurmountable with Wrexham enjoying home advantage in their six remaining league games, but they are still playing within themselves and are not displaying the passion and confidence that is needed to stage a late winning run and which arch
rivals Pwllheli look close to achieving.
Welshpool, relegated from Division Five North with Bangor last term, have adjusted well after recovering from the disappointment of being demoted and are challenging with Bala and Denbigh for promotion to the top flight in North Wales. Wrexham could do the same if relegated and would find easy pickings to restore their confidence against clubs like Bro Ffestiniog, Llanidloes and Bangor University, balanced by challenging contests against Rhos and Colwyn Bay.
For the moment, however, coach Dave Cheesbrough will continue to seek improvements in the style of play that will enable his players to unlock the massed defences that prevail these days. Pace is the key and pace helped winger Simon Sullivan, full-back Kerry Powell, centre Hywel Raymond and number eight Dean Griffiths to claim tries in recent games. All that is needed in addition is more passion and faster support work.
Wrexham Seconds are scheduled to take on Wirral Thirds at Bryn Estyn Road in an early kick-off game tomorrow afternoon, but the game is likely to be cancelled as Wirral will probably choose to watch the televised England v. France game from Twickenham instead.
Wrexham Thirds will visit Mold Thirds to play a rearranged North East Wales Division Two league game that was abandoned last November when Wrexham prop Stuart Pomeroy suffered a broken leg and had to be taken to hospital. The Mold team is also organising a function prior to the Italy v. Wales international match with Pomeroy invited as guest of honour.
Marc Roberts, the WRU Development Officer for Wrexham, is running a Preliminary Coaching course at Wrexham Rugby Club on Sunday morning for anyone interested in starting a rugby coaching course at any level. Marc. can be contacted on 01978 317689.
WREXHAM 15 DOLGELLAU 15
Wrexham failed to produce the exciting form which gave them an outstanding success in their previous game at Llandudno and were left to play catch-up rugby after allowing Dolgellau to dominate the opening quarter of the game during which the visitors took their chances and built up a 10-0 advantage.
Despite dominating most of the match territorially, the home side were still trailing by 5 points deep into injury time at the end of the second-half when replacement winger Simon Sullivan broke through a couple of tackles with his pace down the left wing and scored in the corner to level the scores. Full-back Kerry Powell had the chance to win the game with the conversion attempt, but it was a difficult shot and a gusting wind blew it off target.
Outside-half Richard Lloyd had to use all of his tactical kicking skills to keep out a rampant visiting side in the opening minutes of the game, but pressure told by the 6th minute when number eight Dylan Llewellyn scythed
through from a line-out to open the scoring for the Gwynedd side. Their outside-half Tim Redman added the conversion and soon followed this up with a penalty.
Wrexham started to show signs of interest in the contest when centre Paul Mizzi drove through the Dolgellau defense with a 30 metre run in the 10th minute. Good handling by scrum-half Daniel Cheesbrough gave the home side some momentum but the pack was clearly under pressure without the injured prop Iwan Roberts.
Two kickable penalties were spurned in favour of kicks to the corner which produced nothing before skipper John Roberts twice attacked towards the right and Dolgellau conceded a penalty in front of their posts when a player refused to release the ball in a tackle. Full-back Kerry Powell appeared to strike the ball well but it flew to the left in the wind and a golden chance was lost.
Dolgellau remained under the cosh for all of the second quarter of the game but Wrexham couldn't construct a score. Lloyd narrowly missed with a drop goal attempt at the start of the second-half before thrusts from Rob Pierce and John Roberts stretched the visitors and created the space for centre Hywel Raymond to beat two defenders and score near the left corner.
Powell added an excellent conversion from wide-out and Wrexham saw a glimpse of daylight at last. Dolgellau countered aggressively, however, and seemed to have clinched it in the 68th minute when former Wrexham Northern Counties prop Dai Arthur Owen drove through the Wrexham defence and set up a try for scrum-half Rob Atherton.
Redman failed to convert and the home pack pounded away at the Dolgellau line to earn a penalty which Powell kicked to cut the arrears. Wrexham still continued to play within themselves and looked as though they would lose out until replacement winger Simon Sullivan stretched his legs down the left wing in the last movement of the game and produced that stunning leveller.
One point was not enough, however, on a day when bottom club Pwllheli won again at home to share bottom place with Wrexham. Relegation threatened Llandudno eased their worries with a victory at Caernarfon but Rhyl and Bethesda both lost to confirm their entry into the relegation battle.
Wrexham Seconds moved one step closer to retaining the North East Wales Division One Championship with a 35-5 victory over Mold Seconds at Chester Road. Nick Stott, Alex Crewe, Mike Andrew, Ross Roberts and skipper Kevin Davies notched a try apiece while Darrell Hughes landed two penalties and Ian Connell and Dave Morris slotted one conversion apiece.
Wrexham Youth Team completed their first double of the season by producing a creditable 22-15 victory at Bala. Tries came from Adam Jones, Danny Seabrook and Mike Blackwell with two conversions and a penalty from John Gormley.
The Thirds defeated Mold Thirds by 42-0 in a friendly at Bryn Estyn Road, thanks to four tries from James Bellis, a hat-trick of scores from Anthony Lang and a single touchdown from the irrepressible Lee Barnes-Roberts. Nick Clare added the only conversion. 08/02/03 Preview
Wrexham should have a good opportunity to ease their relegation worries with a home victory over visitors Dolgellau at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon, provided that they can maintain their recent improvement and remain aware that the Gwynedd side upset the form book when they won by 42-10 at the same venue last season (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Richard Lloyd, whose tactical kicking was a telling factor in Wrexham's hard earned victory at Llandudno last week, is retained at outside-half and flanker Dave Morris may be given a recall to the pack having been unavailable to play last Saturday.
Prop Iwan Roberts has been receiving treatment for a knee strain this week and will have to pass a late fitness test before he can be declared fit to play. The squad received good news this week when it was confirmed that utility threequarter James Plant and flanker Llyr Williams are back in contention after both completed a comeback game for the Seconds following long term injury.
Wrexham were in poor shape when Dolgellau visited Bryn Estyn Road in November last season, but they were expected to win against a club that was slipping down the league table. Six tries from a spirited visiting side cut the home side to pieces as they paid the price for complacency.
This season, the East Walians restored their pride by knocking Dolgellau out of the Principality Welsh Cup Competition with a 40-27 away victory in September, but they went back in October with high hopes of repeating their success, only to be beaten by 20-3.
Tomorrow afternoon, local rugby supporters will be keen to see their side display the exciting style which gave them an 18-0 lead after only 16 minutes of play at Llandudno. Some of the players did run out of steam after that action packed opening, but they showed plenty of steel during a hectic period when they were on the defensive and came back strongly at the end.
A victory would allow Wrexham to leapfrog Llandudno into a more secure third from bottom place provided that the Seahorses fail in their league game. There is, however, a desperate scramble to escape relegation which also involves Rhyl and Bethesda, and Wrexham can't afford to slacken their resolve in these final crucial months of the season.
Wrexham Seconds, the current North East Wales Division One Champions, will be tested thoroughly by third placed Mold Seconds in tomorrow's league contest at Chester Road. The Thirds entertain Mold Thirds at Bryn Estyn Road and will be trying to maintain the pressure on the Division Two leaders Llangollen and Corwen.
The Youth Team will visit Bala tomorrow with high hopes of completing their first double of the season, and on Sunday morning all of the mini and junior rugby sides will be in action at their Wrexham headquarters against teams from Afon Dee (k.o. 10.30am).
LLANDUDNO 15 WREXHAM 18
A stirring opening by Wrexham, during which they scored all of their points in 16 minutes of sustained and classy play, was followed by an impressive rearguard action and eventual victory over an aggressive Llandudno side.
Mold did them a favour by defeating Pwllheli on the same afternoon, enabling Wrexham to escape from the bottom of Division Five North with the prospect of improving their position in the five home games to come in the run-in to the end of the season.
The return of Richard Lloyd at outside-half and a stiff breeze at their backs stirred the visitors from the kick-off and they stunned Llandudno by taking the lead in the fourth minute with a fine debut try by Kevin Powell, the young full-back storming into the line to latch on to a slick pass from scrum-half Daniel Cheesbrough.
They maintained the pressure after the restart and went further in front when lock Gareth Noon put the home defence under pressure with a high overhead kick and Powell coolly kicked a penalty to punish an infringement as Llandudno tried desperately to stem the red and green tide.
More good work, with flankers Mike Ward and Mike Jones dominating the line-out, resulted in a 13th minute try for number eight Dean Griffiths who finished off a well rehearsed move. Powell added the conversion and kicked his second penalty only three minutes later when the Llandudno forwards fell offside.
Inevitably, the momentum slowed as the second quarter of the game approached, however, and the home side countered by winning a stream of possession which they used to unleash their fast running backs. But mistakes littered their approach work and Llandudno abandoned their fast game plan to concentrate on
a forward slog instead.
Wrexham resisted well until the home pack won a scrum near the visitors line in the 36th minute and drove forward in search of a pushover try. They didn't manage to cross the line but were awarded a penalty try, converted by full-back Paul Algieri, because the referee ruled that a Wrexham prop had bored in illegally to prevent a touchdown.
Llandudno turned around at the break with the wind at their backs, confident that they could soon overcome Wrexham's 11 point advantage. They opened powerfully and scored after only four minutes when their outstanding number eight John Davies brushed off a couple of poor tackles and touched down wide-out on the right.
The former Wrexham kicker Algieri missed the conversion kick but made amends with a 61st minute penalty to cut the deficit to only three points. Wrexham managed to hang on grimly with Dean Griffiths doing the work of 3 men in the loose and Mike Ward working tirelessly, but it seemed to be only a matter of time before Llandudno would break through to win the game.
When the Seahorses made the mistake of replacing several key players and Wrexham moved the powerful John Roberts from the centre to scrum-half, however, the visitors finally saw some daylight and countered with attacks from Roberts, centre Paul Mizzi and winger Simon Sullivan.
It was just enough to unsettle the home side who proceeded to concede penalties and drop passes before the final whistle sounded to delight a very relieved but deserving Wrexham side.
Wrexham Seconds continued their domination of North East Wales Division One with a 21-3 home victory over Abergele. Mike McLeod made his presence felt with a brace of tries, John Darlington maintained his excellent scoring form with another touchdown and Darrell Hughes kicked two penalties.
The Youth Team led Colwyn Bay by 24-7 at half-time in their North Wales Youth Division One game at Wrexham, but fell away in a windy second-half to lose by 33-40. Michael Powell, John Ireland, Matthew Sawin, Luke Pemberton and Phil Williams bagged a try apiece and John Gormley notched four conversions in a very open game.
Wrexham Thirds travelled to Warrington Thirds and led by 24-17 at the break before the Cheshire side piled on Second Team replacements and took over to win by 42-24. James Bellis and Evan Griffiths claimed a brace of tries apiece and Griffiths also slotted two conversions for good measure.
In Junior Rugby, the successful Wrexham Under 15's side met their match at Widnes and fell to a 3-38 defeat. Skipper Glen Bellamy prevented the whitewash by landing a consolation drop goal
The return of outside-half Richard Lloyd to the Wrexham side which is due to visit Llandudno for a Division Five North basement tussle tomorrow afternoon could provide the inspiration which they need to claim a crucial away victory to move them off the bottom of the table (kick-off at2.30pm).
Former Youth Team flanker Mike Jones, newly returned to the club, has been pressing his claims in the successful Second Team for a senior berth in the Wrexham pack and is likely to be rewarded with a place on the replacements bench. Chris Andrew, who featured well as a late replacement in last week's defeat against league leaders Nant Conwy, will gain another chance to show
his skills on the wing or at full-back.
Llandudno's unexpected 27-22 victory over Rhyl last week gave then a six point advantage over bottom club Wrexham in the league table, but Wrexham have a game in hand over the Seahorses and are entering a period when they will play four of their next five league games at Bryn Estyn Road. A victory at Maesdu Road tomorrow afternoon would certainly provide the spark for a
successful relegation struggle over the next month.
Tomorrow's opponents defeated Wrexham by 13-9 at Bryn Estyn Road this season and also tasted victory at their own ground by 45-24 last season. Wrexham notched four tries and led on three occasions in that memorable game at Maesdu Road but their overall fitness was poor and they ran out of steam to concede four tries in a dramatic closing quarter.
Under their current coach Dave Cheesbrough, Wrexham are much better prepared at this stage of the season and will last the pace against a side which will pose problems for them behind the scrum. Llandudno will try their luck in the forward battle where prop Euros Garmon is a lively campaigner, but they always fancy their chances when attacking the Wrexham threequarter line.
Richard Lloyd was missed last week for his experienced direction and tactical kicking and his return tomorrow, together with the tackling power in the centre provided by moving Kerry Powell from outside-half to his best position, should give the visitors some strength in depth. Skipper John Roberts can be a handful down the right wing and Wrexham can win this game if they believe in their capability to do so.
Wrexham Seconds should win their home game in North East Wales Division One against lowly Abergele to maintain their place at the top ofthe table. The Thirds visit Abergele Seconds for a friendly game while the Youth Team will be in action at Bryn Estyn Road against Colwyn Bay in a North Wales Youth Division One game (k.o.2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis visit Crewe leaving the Under 13's and 14's to play Colwyn Bay at Bryn Estyn Road with the Under 15's, the most successful team, visiting Widnes. For those interested in starting a coaching career in rugby, the WRU Development Officer Marc Roberts will run a preliminary coaching course at Wrexham Rugby Club on Sunday 16th February.
Contact 01978 317689 for further details.
WREXHAM 14 NANT CONWY 20
Wrexham returned to the foot of Division Five North after failing to defeat the league leaders on a day when all of their relegation
battle rivals won crucial games to ease their own worries. Pwllheli, previously bottom of the table, put an end to Ruthin's Championship hopes with a 27-24 shock home victory in which they notched five tries.
At Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham could have won this game after leading on two occasions, but careless play by their young backs handed back the initiative to the visitors and the home side found themselves with too big a mountain to climb in the final stages.
They made an excellent start to the game and seized the lead in the fourth minute when prop Iwan Roberts forced his way over the line after lock Mike Ward had won the ball in a line-out. Outside-half Kerry Powell added the conversion as Wrexham took control with flanker Dave Morris having an outstanding game and scrum-half Paul Edwards sniping well behind the scrum.
Nant, however, dug deep into their reserves and gradually applied pressure in the Wrexham half. When Powell had a relieving kick charged down in the 18th minute, the visitors raced through the gap to create a try for outside-half Peredur Ellis, a forward pass going unnoticed by the referee. Ellis also kicked the conversion which levelled the scores.
Two minutes later, Nant launched a 15 man stampede inside the Wrexham half and cracked the defensive wall to score through centre Gareth Jones. Shell shocked Wrexham did well to recover and gave their long suffering supporters something to cheer about when number eight Dean Griffiths launched a thrust and centre John Roberts finished it off with a try under the posts.
Powell added the conversion to put Wrexham into a 14-12 lead at half-time but Ellis turned the tables when he kicked a penalty ten minutes after the restart. Minutes later, Wrexham full-back James Wrathall was cornered as he attempted a risky dash out of defence and the Nant scrum-half Osian Roberts stole the ball from him before racing away to score anunconverted try.
Coach Dave Cheesbrough piled on replacements in an attempt to rescue the game although Nant were in no mood to concede further scores. Wrexham were presented with an excellent opportunity to win the game when their pack drove to the visitors posts with only 3 minutes remaining, but they failed to deliver the ball to the backs and their last chance was lost.
Wrexham Seconds maintained their position at the top of the North East Wales Division One Championship with a low key 17-7 victory over Rhyl Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road. John Darlington confirmed his excellent form with a brace of tries, Carl Pugh charged down a clearance kick for another score and Darrell Hughes kicked a conversion for the winners.
The Thirds claimed a very special 36-14 victory at Corwen in Division Two, improving their chances of overtaking league leaders
Llangollen and second placed Corwen in the final stages of the competition. The Irishman with the unlikely name of Evan Griffiths claimed a personal tally of 26 points through a try, 3 conversions and 5 penalties while Scott Davies and James Bellis
managed a try apiece.
The scheduled Youth Team game at Bryn Estyn Road was called off when Pwllheli were unable to field a full side and the mini and junior rugby sides didn't have any games on Sunday as they trained instead. 25/01/03 Preview
Boosted by last week's victory at Newtown which rescued them from the bottom of the table in Division Five North, Wrexham face league leaders Nant Conwy at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon determined to maintain their recent improvement in form (kick-off at 2.30pm).
The loss of outside-half Richard Lloyd, who is unavailable for this match, will be a blow for John Roberts and his side, but they should still have enough firepower in the pack and threequarter line to mount a challenge against a well drilled Nant outfit.
Danny Munro, unavailable last Saturday, returns to strengthen the pack and there may be a place on the replacements bench for former Youth Team flanker Mike Jones who has recently returned to the club and played very well for the Seconds in their league victory over Afon Dee last week.
In the threequarters, there are doubts about the fitness of centre Hywel Raymond and winger Peter Dougan who had to be replaced due to injury at Newtown last week. They will have to undergo late fitness tests as will winger Simon Sullivan who has been sidelined by illness.
Wrexham lost by 3-20 at Nant Conwy in November because they failed to capitalise on a number of chances which were presented to them during a good competitive game. They took a 3rd minute lead with a Darrell Hughes penalty and dominated most of the first half without being able to add to their score.
A stern lecture by the home coach resulted in a better performance by Nant in the second-half and they resorted to using the short snappy passing style that helped them win the Division Six North Championship in the previous season. Three tries followed in quick succession but Wrexham still finished the stronger side and should have picked up a couple of scores.
Coached by Dave Cheesbrough, Wrexham have improved their style of play gradually and are competing well with the top three sides in their Division. Nant will be desperate to win at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon as they are locked in a keen battle for the Championship with title holders Llangefni and Ruthin.
Wrexham mustn't let slip their good work of recent weeks and return to the bottom of the table but must take advantage of their weight and height superiority in the pack to limit Nant's possession. This time John Roberts has the strength in his threequarter line to create a few problems for the league leaders and they may tip the balance in this enthralling encounter.
Wrexham Seconds will line up against Rhyl Seconds in a North East Wales Division One encounter at Bryn Estyn Road and will be hoping to improve on the 13-10 success which they recorded at Rhyl last November (k.o. 2.30pm).
The Youth Team will be in action against Pwllheli in North Wales Youth League game at Wrexham tomorrow afternoon while the Thirds will visit Division Two league leaders Corwen where they face a difficult task but are aiming to avenge a 17-21 early season home defeat.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, all age groups will train on Sunday morning in preparation for next week's full range of fixtures against teams from Crewe, Colwyn Bay and Widnes (k.o. 10.30am).
Following successful tours to the United States and Canada in recent years, plans are well advanced for a strong Wrexham squad to visit South Africa for a new tour in May. The tourists have already arranged to play Blades RFC and Retreat RFC, two emerging sides, and will also provide specialist training sessions for their younger players.
Sponsorship Co-ordinator Darrell Hughes is looking for local sponsors to enable the tourists to present 'disadvantaged' South African sides with playing strip and equipment and is currently negotiating with a television company to produce a 'fly on the wall' documentary of the tour.
NEWTOWN 18 WREXHAM 26
Wrexham's winning double over Newtown and Pwllheli's defeat at Llangefni hauled the club off the bottom of the Division Five North table on a day when all of their four sides enjoyed the sweet taste of success.
Led by skipper John Roberts, the sometimes criticised threequarter line played with fluency and conviction while lock Jason Griffiths was a tower of strength in a pack which improved as the game went on. The visitors led by 14-13 at the break, progressed to 26-13 and then withstood a Newtown onslaught in the final stages to claim a crucial victory that could spark a revival.
The visitors took the lead in the 11th minute after full-back James Wrathall joined the line to launch a penetrating move and skipper John Roberts finished it off with a powerful trust which resulted in a fine try. Outside-half Richard Lloyd added the conversion but the home side quickly countered with a try by winger Mike Bellamore, converted by lock Neil Farrington.
Newtown enjoyed the better of the forward exchanges, despite the solid work by Griffiths, and applied bags of pressure before they went into the lead with a penalty by Farrington. More determined work by the home side produced another successful penalty and Wrexham must have felt that yet another game was about to drift away from them.
The visiting backs were still in excellent form, however, and countered just before half-time with a gem of a try by scrum-half Paul Edwards. Lloyd's kicking had been good throughout the first-half and he made no mistake with the conversion to send Wrexham into a 14-13 lead at the break.
Number eight Dean Griffiths came on as a replacement at half-time and inspired his pack to recover from their low key start. The visitors soon dominated possession and centre Paul Mizzi responded with a deserved try in the 51st minute followed by another touchdown by centre Hywel Raymond, converted by Lloyd at the start of the final quarter.
Raymond was forced to depart due to the recurrence of a hamstring injury and winger Peter Dougan, playing his first senior game for nearly two years, also had to leave the field when he was injured again. As Kerry Powell came on as a replacement and the side was reorganised, Newtown seized their opportunity and came back strongly in the closing minutes.
Flanker Gareth Jones powered over for a score which reduced Wrexham's advantage to only eight points and then the home forwards piled on more pressure. Richard Lloyd kicked astutely, however, and, with Kerry Powell tackling superbly at the back, Wrexham were able to ease to a very important third league victory of the season.
Wrexham Seconds completed their second league double of the season and maintained their firm grip on the North East Wales Division One Championship with a hard earned 22-13 success at Afon Dee, who were lying in fourth place in the table prior to the kick-off. Tries came from John Darlington, Mike Jones and Ian Connell who also landed a penalty and two conversions.
The Thirds completed their second league double of the season when they overcame Afon Dee Seconds by 37-13 at Bryn Estyn Road. Skipper Sean Williams opened the scoring with a neat try before Gerry Darbyshire notched a superb brace of scores followed by a touchdown from Paul Hughes. Nicky Clare converted all four tries and added three penalties for good measure.
The fast improving Youth Team enjoyed their first win since October when they defeated Rhyl by 34-21 in a friendly fixture at Bryn Estyn Road. Matthew Sawin and John Ireland grabbed a brace of tries apiece and Danny Seabrook forced his way over for his side's fifth try with John Gormley supplying three conversions and a penalty.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the successful Under 15's side continued their progress with a 26-7 home victory over West Park. Dafydd Rowlands (2), Glen Bellamy and Jamie Mee grabbed tries and Enion Edwards supplied the conversions.
The Under 14's showed tremendous commitment against a crack West Park side at Bryn Estyn Road but still lost by 0-32. At Rhyl, however, the Under 13's whitewashed the home side by 57-0 with tries from Jake Edwards (3), David Blackwell (2), Wyn Edwards (2), Richard Greensmith and Aieran Morris who also kicked 6 conversions.
The Under 11's gained a convincing 31-5 victory at Rhyl, thanks to tries from Dwayne Jones (2), Bren Harrison, Christian Chalk and Drew Wilkins. Dwayne Jones, Ashton Williams and Jack Griffith kicked a conversion apiece.
Tomorrow afternoon's home game against local rivals Mold is a must win situation for Wrexham who are now bottom of Division Five North and are tarting to look more certain candidates for automatic relegation by the end of the season (kick-off at 2.00pm).
As well as an improvement in performance, coach Dave Cheesbrough is hoping that Lady Luck will come to his side's aid following a string of luckless defeats. None of the sides which have beaten Wrexham this term has won convincingly and it would be a sad loss to the Premier North Wales Championship if the Bryn Estyn based outfit were to bow out.
Prop Rob Pierce, who has hardly ever missed a game since being promoted from the Youth Team three years ago, makes his 80th appearance in the front row where he will come up against his former team mate Rob Thatcher who is now a regular Mold First Team player. Otherwise, the pack is likely to be unchanged with Llyr Williams still injured.
Outside-half Richard Lloyd has agreed with Cheesbrough to postpone his retirement from the senior side for several weeks until Wrexham have completed some crucial games that will have a big bearing on their future prospects in Division Five North. He will partner the in-form Paul Edwards at half-back with Hywel Raymond reverting to his preferred position in the centre.
The good news in the Wrexham camp this week is that threequarters Chris Andrew and Peter Dougan came through their comeback game for the Seconds against Flint with flying colours last Saturday and could soon be pressing for places in the First Team squad. The loss of top players like James Plant and Simon Williams has hampered back play so far this season and the return of quality players like Andrew and Dougan will certainly improve Wrexham's prospects.
Wrexham defeated Mold by a record 46-14 margin when they clashed at Bryn Estyn Road last March with Richard Lloyd claiming a full set of scores with a try, a drop goal, 5 conversions and a penalty. They should have won at Mold a few weeks ago, but missed the unavailable Lloyd and had no suitable kicker to add the late conversion that would have overtaken Mold's winning 6-5 scoreline.
As Ruthin demonstrated last week, winning games is all about taking chances when they arise, especially when possession is a rare commodity. Mold defend very well and have a good general at outside-half in former Wrexham and Sale player Jon Aby, but Wrexham possess a good pack that should lay the foundation to a welcome victory if they can raise a suitable gallop.
Wrexham Seconds, now only two points ahead of Flint at the top of North East Wales Division One, take on Denbigh Seconds in an important league game at Bryn Estyn Road. The Thirds visit Llangollen for a top of the table clash in Division Two while the Youth Team have a chance to win only their third game of the season when they entertain Rhyl in a friendly match (k.o.2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Wrexham minis take on teams from Ruthin at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning while the Under 13's to 15's entertain Chester at the same venue (k.o. 10.30am).
RUTHIN 30 WREXHAM 17
Wrexham suffered a dismal start to the New Year when they lost at Ruthin, despite doing most of the pressing, and relegation threatened Pwllheli managed a home draw against Caernarfon to climb off the foot of the Division Five North table, leaving Wrexham in bottom place.
The turning point in this traditional derby game came mid-way through the second-half when the visitors were pounding away at the Ruthin line but spilled the ball giving centre Ron Higgitt the opportunity to hack on several times and score at the other end.
This was compounded two minutes layer by a controversial penalty try award to the home backs after Wrexham lock Jason Griffiths had prevented a trio of Ruthin threequarters from breaking into the visitors 22 by deliberately knocking-on. A try had looked uncertain and the referee should have sin-binned Griffiths and awarded a penalty instead of giving Ruthin seven easy points.
Wrexham started off the game in promising style, driving the Ruthin forwards off the ball and preventing their dangerous backs from creating any worthwhile attacks. Although scrum-half Paul Edwards enjoyed another good game against his former club, Wrexham's passing was so erratic and the forwards turned over possession so regularly that little momentum could be generated.
When Ruthin entered Wrexham's half for the first time in the 29th minute, they won a penalty for an offside infringement and outside-half Rhys Owen converted successfully to put the home side in front. Wrexham outside-half Hywel then had to scamper back to prevent a near score from a kick-ahead before the home pack drove for the line and prop Wayne Williams touched down to extend Ruthin's lead to 8-0.
The visitors finished the half by pounding away at Ruthin's line without reward but they increased their efforts after the break and had a try disallowed when prop Rob Pierce was adjudged to have touched down two inches short of the home line. The pressure was maintained, however, and their reward duly arrived in the 45th minute when skipper John Roberts forced his way over.
Ruthin were quick to respond and increased their advantage three minutes later when smart passing from left to right allowed winger Gethin Hughes to cross in the corner. Undaunted, Wrexham returned to the offensive with replacement outside-half Richard Lloyd driving his forwards downfield with some excellent kicks to touch.
John Roberts was hauled down inches short of the line but a try by the visitors seemed likely until Higgitt came to Ruthin's rescue and scored a breakaway try. The penalty try which followed soon afterwards was a heartbreaker and Ruthin compounded matters in the 69th minute by pinching the ball from a Wrexham line-out and notching a blind-side try by hooker Jonathan Mills.
John Roberts kept a cool head, however, and rallied his players for a final onslaught. This time, pressure produced some points and Paul Edwards scored a superb debut try with a cheeky run down the right hand side before the forwards were rewarded with a deserved try by prop Iwan Roberts who drove over from a tap penalty move. Lloyd added the conversion and Wrexham went in search of more points but the damage had already been done and Ruthin held on to win.
Wrexham Seconds, defending champions in North East Wales Division One, went down to their first league defeat of the season by 21-15 at Flint. A poor first-half performance by the visitors was followed by improved form in the second-half with tries from Peter Dougan and Chris Andrew with a conversion and a penalty by Huw Thomas, but Flint just stole it.
The Seconds defeated Flint Seconds by 22-11 at Bryn Estyn Road to revive their Division Two Championship hopes. Andy Lee sparkled to notch a smart brace of tries and Nick Clare and Anthony Lang managed a try apiece with Neil Route slotting one conversion.
The Youth Team had a bad day at Ruthin, being whitewashed by 67-0 in a one sided contest.
Wrexham start the New Year with a difficult away fixture in Division Five North against Ruthin who have already completed a double over them in cup and league matches this season (kick-off at 2.30 tomorrow afternoon).
Coach Dave Cheesbrough is unlikely to make many changes to the side which dominated the home game against tomorrow's opponents just before Christmas, but which let things slip in the final stages of an action packed game.
Back-row men Llyr Williams and Gareth Noon formed a new mobile second-row partnership in that game and performed very well against a powerful Ruthin eight which included the experienced Paul Threlfall. They will continue in the powerhouse of the pack tomorrow unless regular lock Mike McLeod passes a fitness test this week to show that he has overcome a recent injury.
The introduction of winger Paul Edwards at scrum-half was a surprise move by Cheesbrough that worked very well against Edwards' old club. It released skipper John Roberts to strengthen the back line, providing some added thrust and muscle down the wing. In fact, Roberts crossed the visitors' line but had a try disallowed after he was bundled into touch in-goal.
Edwards will remain at scrum-half tomorrow afternoon, partnering Hywel Raymond who has recently moved from centre to outside-half following the unexpected retirement of Richard Lloyd. Raymond's positional kicking in the previous game at Mold lacked power but his improved form against Ruthin was appreciated by his forwards and helped them to dominate much of the game.
Having won only one of their last eleven games, Wrexham are not expected to win at Cae Ddol tomorrow against a side which is competing well in third position in the Division Five North Championship and reached the quarter-finals of the Scottish Power North Wales Cup Competition with a last minute 29-22 victory over Rhyl last Saturday.
The two previous games between the these old rivals have been well contested, however, with the outcome in doubt until the final stages. Wrexham are not far off the standards that Ruthin have set and can match them if they improve their defensive capabilities and show the determination needed to take their chances when they are offered.
Wrexham Youth Team will travel with the First Team to play Ruthin in a North Wales Youth Division One contest while the Seconds will visit Flint for a top of the table clash in North East Wales Division One where Wrexham are the defending Champions and Flint are in second place.
Wrexham Thirds take on Flint Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road, hoping to avenge a 15-31 defeat in an early season friendly (k.o. 2.30pm). In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis will take part in training sessions at Wrexham on Sunday morning while the junior rugby sides, led by the successful Under 15's, will be fully tested in games at Mold (k.o.10.30am).
Richard Lloyd, who joined Wrexham as a full-back from Mold at the start of the 1996/97 rugby season and became the leading points scorer during 3 of his seasons at the club, has decided to retire from senior rugby to concentrate on his career as a head teacher at a Wrexham school.
His best season was in 1997/98 when he scored 231 points for his side when they were competing in Division Five East of the Welsh National Leagues against clubs like Pontypool United, Brynmawr and Llanhilleth. He played for North Wales, made 165 appearances for Wrexham and was a prominent member of the Northern Counties flagship side which represented North Wales for two seasons in Division Two.
WREXHAM 14 RUTHIN 32
Wrexham dominated much of this game which they desperately needed to win but it was the old story of failure to build on an early lead and they ran out of steam near the end to concede a couple of late tries.
Flanker Mike Ward picked up from the base of the scrum and darted over for Wrexham's first try in the 22nd minute with centre Kerry Powell supplying a fine conversion. Prop Iwan Roberts and full-back James Wrathall were stopped just short of the Ruthin line and skipper John Roberts had a try disallowed before the visitors countered with an unconverted try by winger Lee Jones in
injury time before the break.
Jones popped up again just after the restart to grab his second try of the game and former Wrexham centre Jim Salisbury slotted the conversion. Then Ruthin moved further ahead in the 50th minute when number eight Dean Griffiths was directed towards the sin-bin and full-back Rhys Owen kicked the resultant penalty.
The home side countered with great spirit, however, and flanker Danny Munro was driven over for a try, converted from an acute angle by Powell, that reduced Ruthin's advantage to only one point. Although the visitors then lost lock Paul Threlfall to the sin-bin, Wrexham couldn't capitalise on their numerical advantage and faded as Owen kicked another penalty and lock Gareth Hughes and centre Rob Higgitt added late tries improved by conversions from Owen.
Wrexham Thirds enjoyed a narrow 24-15 victory over Rhyl Thirds at The Waun in a North East Division Two game on Saturday. Malcolm Bostock crashed over from a rolling maul to the visitors first score and then Mark Jones and Andy Lee added further tries with one conversion from Huw Thomas for a 17-5 advantage at half-time.
Rhyl came storming back with a couple of tries to narrow the scores to 15-17 and were then awarded a very kickable penalty. However, their kicker fluffed his attempt and Wrexham drew breath before countering with a late try from a ruck by James Bellis and a final conversion by Thomas.
Rhos moved into the quarter-finals of the Worthington District Cup Competition with a convincing 27-14 home victory over Forgeside from South Wales. Tries came from Chris Williams, Mike Hamer, Daniel Cheesbrough and Simon Hughes while Kelvin Bryan added two conversions and a drop goal. 21/12/02 Preview
Tomorrow's eagerly awaited derby game at Bryn Estyn Road between Wrexham and Ruthin promises to be a Christmas cracker with both sides desperate to secure a win, but for different reasons (kick-off at 2.00pm).
Wrexham have suffered another poor first-half of the season and have only a one try advantage over bottom club Pwllheli at the foot of the Division Five North table. In contrast, Ruthin are playing well in third place but can't afford to lose contact with leaders Nant Conwy who currently hold a six point advantage over them.
Wrexham will be boosted by the return of their top points scorer Richard Lloyd at outside-half, Paul Edwards will be recalled to the threequarter line and Llyr Williams is expected to be drafted into the back-row following two good comeback perfromances.
Dave Morris, who has played only one senior game since joining the club from Mold, enjoyed a storming comeback from injury for the Seconds against Ruthin Seconds last Saturday and may force his way into contention by claiming a place on the bench tomorrow.
Ruthin won the most recent encounter between the two sides by 16-5 at Bryn Estyn Road in November. It was a North Wales Cup first round game that remained in the balance until the visitors used their better handling skills in the threequarters to open up the home defence. Former Wrexham players Rhodri Jones and Jim Salisbury did most of the damage by scoring 11 points between them.
It is a must win situation for Wrexham tomorrow as they need to be victorious in all of their remaining home games to avoid automatic relegation or a play-off game against the team which finishes second in the Division Six North Championship. They possess the power in the pack to thwart Ruthin's Championship ambitions but will have to find something extra in open play to unlock the key to Ruthin's defensive network.
Wrexham Seconds and Thirds will combine to form a veterans side that will visit Manchester to take on the Manchester Hawks in a pre-Christmas celebration game. The Youth Team will be in action at Denbigh in a North Wales Youth Division One league game and should perform well despite being without the services of their skipper Michael Powell who was injured last week.
Following tomorrow's games, Wrexham Rugby Club will hold its Christmas Dance at Bryn Estyn Road to the sounds of "The Cadillac Kings" and "Soul Disco."
Rhos Firsts have an attractive home game against Forgeside from South Wales in the 5th round of the Worthington Cup tomorrow afternoon. Victory would take them into the quarter-finals, their highest showing so far, and would provide them with a tremendous boost for the second-half of the season.
On Saturday 28th December, Wrexham Firsts will visit Vicars Cross for a festive game against Chester 'A' and may try one or two college players in the side.
The Seconds have a home game against Capenhurst from the Wirral while the Thirds visit Rhyl Thirds for a North East Wales Division Two match (k.o.2.00pm). The Mini and Junior Rugby Section resume their programme with training sessions for all age groups at the club on Sunday 29th December (10.30am start).
Wrexham Firsts failed in their quest to find a suitable game from the local fixture pool to fill up a blank date and missed a chance to maintain their level of match fitness for tomorrow's very important home game against Division Five North Championship challengers Ruthin.
The Seconds, however, continued the successful defence of their North East Wales Division Championship with a convincing 23-0 victory, including a hat-trick of tries by flanker Dave Morris, over a very competitive but luckless Ruthin Second XV.
A solid defence laid the foundation for the success of Kevin Davies's determined side but it took a very special performance by Morris, freshly returned from injury and a visit to the United States, to provide the scores which led to Ruthin's downfall. He demonstrated his sublime skills as an experienced back-row campaigner and should soon be in contention for a First team place.
Other tries came from the old war horse number eight Carl Turner and centre Kerry Powell who tackled confidently in the centre and took his try well. Winger Ian Connell converted two of Wrexham's five tries and added a penalty.
Wrexham's third string came up against Ruthin Third XV, heavily reinforced with First Team players at Cae Ddol, and suffered an unexpected 41-10 reverse in their Division Two game. Centre James Bellis and number eight Lee Barnes-Roberts grabbed a try apiece for the gallant losers.
Following a gap of over a month, Wrexham Youth Team re-launched their season with a home game against Nant Conwy in the North Wales Youth League Division One. With a much changed side they lost by 0-22 after conceding early tries but they were warmly applauded for a solid second-half performance which will boost their confidence for future matches.
The return from college of lock Alastair Pearce strengthened the home scrum and there were excellent performances from winger James Jess and prop Danny Seabrook who had to take over at outside-half from John Gormley when the young half-back was injured.
In Junior Rugby, the Under 13's visited Ormskirk on Sunday morning and pulled off a deserved 20-8 victory with a good, well controlled performance. Tries were scored by man of the match Jake Edwards (3) and Levi Roberts.
Wrexham Under 14's were in action at Ruthin on Sunday where the home side made light of the terrible conditions to win by 46-7. Wrexham showed a great improvement over the last meeting between the clubs and were rewarded with a superb try by Huw Evans and a Danny Lee conversion. 14/12/02 Preview
On a day when many clubs in this Region are involved in the second round of the Scottish Power North Wales Cup Competition, Wrexham, knocked out in the first round by Ruthin in November, are hoping that the local fixture pool will provide them with a suitable home contest tomorrow afternoon.
They face the prospect of playing high flying Ruthin twice in the Division Five North League Championship over the next four weeks and are keen to try to maintain their match fitness to try to avoid the double reverse which they suffered against the Cae Ddol outfit last season.
With only two league victories out of ten to their credit, Wrexham are in a very precarious position near the foot of the table and could soon be overtaken by bottom club Pwllheli who scored five tries last Saturday in their unexpected 27-18 demolition of Bethesda. If they don't improve soon they will find that a gap will separate them from other relegation threatened clubs like Newtown and Dolgellau who both won last week as they scrambled for safety.
John Roberts and his side need seven wins out of their remaining twelve games to be reasonably sure of continuing in the Division Five North by the end of April and they need at last one victory over their old rivals Ruthin if they are to make any headway. Injuries and unavailability have hampered them so far but this situation may improve in the New Year with the possible return of winger Simon Williams and number eight Jason Munro to the squad.
Wrexham Seconds return to league action tomorrow as Champions of North East Wales Division One with a challenging contest against Ruthin Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road. Ruthin were defeated by 15-12 in the corresponding game at Cae Ddol in September and will be hoping to make amends this time. The Thirds
visit their Ruthin counterparts for a Division Two encounter and the Youth Team visit Nant Conwy for a North Wales Youth League Division One game.
The Mini and Junior Rugby Section will hold their Annual Christmas Party in the clubhouse tomorrow evening and will probably not be early risers for their scheduled visit to Afon Dee Rugby Club for a full session of games on Sunday morning (10.30am). The main club will hold its Christmas Dance at the same venue on Saturday evening 21st December to the sounds of "The Cadillac Kings" and "Soul Disco."
Rhos Firsts entertain Bro Ffestiniog in a second round game of the North Wales Cup Competition at Ponciau tomorrow afternoon (k.o. 2.00pm).
MOLD 6 WREXHAM 5
Wrexham were left in deep trouble, second from bottom of Division Five North, after losing a game that they could have won on a day when all of their closest rivals clinched important victories.
Mold's player coach Jon Aby, a former Wrexham outside-half and centre, visited Bryn Estyn Road last week to run the rule over Wrexham and had obviously then done his homework. Mold employed a solid defensive line and made sure that they used their backs to keep the ball away from the big visiting forwards who wreaked havoc against Newtown last Saturday.
Wrexham won the major share of possession for long periods but laboured to escape from their own half. The absence of outside-half Richard Lloyd left them without a recognised kicker and, although Lloyd's replacement Hywel Raymond tried hard to kick over the defence to give his forwards a foothold in their opponents territory, little impression was made.
Then winger Simon Sullivan, easily Wrexham's best player, inspired his side with a jinking run through a gaggle of defenders in the 30th minute to set the game alive. Flanker Gareth Noon carried on the attack and centre Paul Mizzi was sent clear with only one defender to beat, but he threw out a wild pass which went to ground and an excellent chance was squandered.
Sullivan featured again minutes later when lock Jason Griffiths nearly scored but Aby countered with a series of touch finding kicks to repulse Wrexham's charge and leave the game scoreless at the break.
Mold were quickly on the offensive in the second-half and were lucky to be presented with a simple penalty in front of the posts in the 45th minute after Jason Griffiths was harshly adjudged by the Ammanford based referee Kevin Walters to have strayed offside. Centre Richie Cochrane kicked the conversion to put the home side in the driving seat.
Wrexham tried to get back into the game but lacked a the required cutting edge and fell further behind at the start of the final quarter when Cochrane kicked another penalty and flanker Gareth Noon had to leave the field with an accidental facial injury.
Soon afterwards, however, coach Dave Cheesbrough piled on replacements and Wrexham started to make some headway as the Mold forwards conceded penalties for offside and scrum infringements and Raymond kicked his side downfield. Suddenly, Raymond raced through at pace with the line at his mercy and only one player to beat, only to be felled by a late tackle.
Referee Walters appeared to signal the award of a penalty try but changed his mind quickly. Undeterred, Wrexham mounted a full scale forward onslaught and were rewarded when hooker Danny Munro crashed over for a try to the left of the uprights. Mizzi was called up to kick the match winning conversion but, sadly for the visitors, it was a weak effort and failed to reach the posts in the late afternoon gloom.
Wrexham Seconds survived a late comeback by Chester Thirds to secure a narrow 34-30 victory at Bryn Estyn Road. Ian Sanger notched a brace of scores, Mark Lloyd and Tom Wright claimed a try apiece and Ian Connell converted all four tries plus a couple of penalties for good measure. Chester Veterans defeated
Wrexham Thirds by 47-0 at the same venue while Colwyn Bay were unable to raise a side for their scheduled game against Wrexham Youth Team.
In junior rugby, the Under 15's comprehensively defeated Shrewsbury by 62-12 at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning. Nathan Weeks opened the scoring with a fine try and other scores followed from Daniel Gibbons (3), Glen Bellamy (3) David Rowlands Merfyn Platt (2) and Erion Edwards who also kicked 6 conversions.
The Under 14's also came out on top by 26-14 in their home clash against game Shropshire opponents, thanks to tries by man of the match Huw Evans, Retch Baker, Andy O'Donald and Luke Kavanagh. who also landed 3 conversions. 07/12/02 Preview
Wrexham and Mold, honours even after last season's two tussles in Division Five North, resume battle at Chester Road tomorrow with both sides needing a win to haul themselves clear of the relegation zone (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Flanker Llyr Williams made a try scoring return to the Second XV last week following a long term injury and is expected to provide cover for an unchanged visiting pack tomorrow. Outside-half Richard Lloyd will be unavailable to play against his old club because he has to attend a course in London, but former Youth Team player Kerry Powell is expected to take over from him is he passes a late fitness test.
Mold deservedly won the first of last season's encounters by 23-10 on their home midden, but Wrexham battled well throughout and turned the tables when they emerged victorious at Bryn Estyn Road last March with a record 46-14 scoreline.
Flanker Mike Ward and centre Paul Mizzi grabbed debut tries on that last occasion and John Roberts, now skipper of the Wrexham side, made a big impression at scrum-half. All of these players are in action tomorrow and the visitors are hoping that last week's success against Newtown and recent improved performances under coach Dave Cheesbrough will see them through to a much needed victory.
At Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow, Wrexham Seconds will take on Chester Veterans, the Thirds entertain Chester Thirds and the Youth Team will be in action against Colwyn Bay in a North Wales Youth Division One league game (k.o.2.30pm). In Mini and Junior Rugby, the Wrexham junior sides will entertain teams from Shrewsbury on Sunday morning (k.o.10.30am).
WREXHAM 34 NEWTOWN 10
Wrexham, without a try in three of their four previous games, suddenly found their scoring touch to notch a tally of six tries against a useful Newtown side. Victory moved them off the bottom of the table and delivered a welcome first success to caretaker coach Dave Cheesbrough.
The home pack took charge in the first quarter and opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a pushover try by number eight Dean Griffiths. More pressure in the Newtown 22 produced a try for lock Jason Griffiths before skipper John Roberts danced round the blind side from a line-out to claim Wrexham's third unconverted score.
The visitors just managed to prevent lock Mike McLeod from adding another under the posts before they found some rhythm in the second quarter and made life difficult for the home side with some sniping runs by their former Wrexham scrum-half Tim Jones.
Undaunted, Wrexham piled on the pressure again with an improved performance all round and were rewarded with the best try of the game when winger Simon Sullivan cut across field in support of a driving run by prop Iwan Roberts and wriggled through to score by the posts. Outside-half Richard Lloyd added the extra points to extend his side's lead to 22-0 at the break.
Sullivan cemented a fine performance with an excellent catch under pressure at the start of the second-half but Newtown soon made use of the breeze and exploited a gap in the home defence when their nippy outside-half Gareth Gerrard scored under the posts following a diagonal run from a line-out. Lock Neil Farrington kicked a conversion to reduce the deficit even further.
When Wrexham skipper John Roberts was sent to the sin-bin for a late tackle in the 52nd minute, Wrexham looked to be in deep trouble but they managed to reorganise with Gavin Brace at scrum-half and mounted a desperate rearguard action. Newtown's only reward for a concerted onslaught was a Farrington penalty kicked just before Roberts was allowed back into the fray.
No sooner had Roberts returned than centre Paul Mizzi was yellow carded for illegal use of his arm and it was then that Wrexham discovered their true competitive spirit. They countered with a great run upfield by lock Mike McLeod before Danny Munro finished off the move with an unconverted try.
Newtown sensed that the game was slipping away and threw caution to the wind, only to be punished when Iwan Roberts charged through a tiring defence to grab Wrexham's final try in the last minute with Lloyd sealing a marvellous team performance by adding the conversion.
Wrexham Seconds maintained their grip on the North East Wales Division One Championship with a hard earned 16-0 home victory over early season leaders Mold Seconds. Darrell Hughes gave the victors a 6-0 half-time lead by kicking two penalties before Anthony Lang scored from an overlapping movement and Llyr Williams crashed over from a line-out peel.
Wrexham Thirds were leading by 24-7 at Mold Seconds in a Division Two encounter when visiting prop Stuart Pomeroy suffered a broken leg in a tackle and the game had to be abandoned. It will be replayed in February when Mold Thirds have made the sporting gesture of inviting Pomeroy to be guest of honour at a pre-match function.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis travelled to Sandbach led by the Under 12's who lost the first of their two games by 0-7 but went on to trounce the local side by 17-0 later on. Matthew Bates (2) and Brian Davies notched tries and Phil Davies added a conversion.
Wrexham Under 11's enjoyed a tremendous 26-7 victory, Dwayne Jones (2), Matthew Gale and Ashton Williams scoring tries and Dwayne Jones (2) and Jack Griffiths supplying conversions. The Under 10's 'A' team was defeated by 2-3 on try count but the 'B' team won by 6-5, tries being scored by Jonathan Davies (2), George Griffiths (2), Thomas Lea, Andrew Gale, Ben Lee and Ryan Weeks.
At Under 9 level, Wrexham won their games by 7-0 and 6-1 with tries Ashley Sailsbury (5), Sean Walker (3), Sean Ferrari (2), Russell Jones (2), Benji Hewitt and Nia Williams. The Under 8's saw plenty of action as they played 6 games in total, winning by 3-1 and 5-1, losing by 1-8 and 2-4 and drawing by 3-3 and 5-5. Try scorers were Dave Bowen (5), Edward Evans (5), Jack Williams (2), James Burns (2), Zac Muatt and Edward Evans.
Tribute was paid by friends, fellow players and supporters at Wrexham Rugby Club this week to Dave Smith, a prominent member of Wrexham's North Wales Rugby Youth Championship winning side of 1979 who died suddenly a fortnight ago and whose funeral took place last Friday. Dave worked as an engineer at British Aerospace and always maintained a keen interest in the progress of his old rugby club.
Following eight consecutive defeats which have condemned them to the bottom
of Division Five North, Wrexham must produce their best performance of the season against lowly Newtown at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow if they are to have
any hope of staging a long awaited revival (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Caretaker coach Dave Cheesbrough has a fairly settled squad to choose from and is expected to name an unchanged pack with Jason Griffiths partnering Mike McLeod in the second-row. In the backs, Richard Lloyd is expected to recover from a recent foot strain to reclaim the outside-half berth from Darrell Hughes who acquitted himself well in the team's last game at Nant Conwy.
Wrexham defeated Newtown by 36-5 when they met at Bryn Estyn Road last April, number eight Jason Munro making a big impact with a tally of four tries, three of those coming in a 13 minute spell in the first-half. Newtown never gave up but were unable to recover from such a big early deficit.
Full-back Gavin Brace and centre Paul Mizzi also scored in that memorable victory which virtually secured Wrexham's future in Division Five North that season, and it would be a marvelous feat if they could find a way to repeat that double act.
Tomorrow, Wrexham will be without the services of the unavailable Munro and will have to find another player who is capable of scoring in such a prolific manner. It will not be an easy task as they have failed to score a try in 3 of their last 4 defeats and, despite improvements in overall play, them seem unable to find a way through the massed defences experienced in modern rugby.
Simon Sullivan, on the left wing, is a player who has posed problems for opponents in recent matches and was inches short of scoring a spectacular try against the Championship leaders Nant Conwy a fortnight ago. Centre Hywel Raymond has the potential to become a high scorer but has failed to cross the try line since his last score in mid October.
Flanker Gareth Noon played for Wrexham Northern Counties during their short spell in Division Two as the North Wales flagship side at the end of the Nineties. A little overweight when he returned from London to rejoin Wrexham in early October, he has improved his fitness over recent weeks and can take on the high scoring role of Munro if provided with a smart service by the line-out jumpers.
Newtown conceded 8 tries when they were crushed by Bethesda in Gwynedd several weeks ago but bounced back to create a bit of a shock in North Wales rugby when they defeated the early season leaders Caernarfon by 25-17 at their Mid Wales ground a fortnight ago. Former Wrexham Northern Counties scrum-half Tim Jones scored one of their tries and will pose a big threat against Wrexham tomorrow.
Provided that second from bottom Pwllheli lose again tomorrow, a victory over Newtown would enable Wrexham to move off the bottom of the table, ready to take on Mold at Chester Road next week. That will be a titanic struggle as Mold have discovered some good form after a poor start to the season and will
be keen to impress on their home ground.
Wrexham Seconds will defend their North East Wales Division One Championship when they take on second placed Mold at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow. Centre John Darlington and number eight Carl Turner have helped the side to overcome persistent injury problems by turning in some sparkling performances of late and can be counted on to go all the way against a fine Mold side which is challenging strongly for the title.
The Thirds have slipped into the mid table in Division Two but are hoping to make up ground on the leaders Corwen and Rhos Seconds by pulling off a victory against Mold Thirds at Chester Road. Wrexham Youth Team have a blank date but are relying on the local fixture pool to provide them with a suitable fixture tomorrow.
The mini and junior rugby teams are training at their Bryn Estyn Road headquarters on Sunday morning, ready to take on teams from Altrincham and Kersal next week. Due to circumstances beyond their control, a "First Aid for Rugby" course organised by Wrexham Rugby club officials and scheduled for Sunday 8th December has been postponed.
It was a blank date for all teams last Saturday as many players and supporters traveled to Cardiff to watch Wales take on the New Zealand All Blacks in the last of this year's autumn international games. Victories over Romania, Fiji and Canada hinted that a victory over an experimental New Zealand side was just possible, despite the poor odds offered by bookmakers.
Wales, who were highly criticised for their lack lustre performance in defeating Romania at Wrexham A.F.C.'s Racecourse Ground on 1st November, performed so well that they went very close to beating the revered All Blacks before defensive mistakes cost them dear in the closing minutes and they lost by 17-43.
Wrexham Rugby Club members have been saddened this week to learn of the death
of long time member Eric Morris following a long illness.
Eric Morris was a Wrexham Rugby Club man through and through, having been the driving force in the back-row of the First Team pack during the Sixties and Seventies. He also played for North Wales with distinction and was a prominent member of the rugby club committee for a number of years including
a two year spell as Vice-Chairman.
He founded the successful local company Lloyd Morris Electrical and became Wrexham's main sponsor in the Nineties, helping them to launch the Wrexham Northern Counties flagship side which represented North Wales in Division Two of the Welsh National Leagues between 1998 and 2000.
His brother Bill left Wrexham to play for Newport and represented Wales against Scotland and France in the Sixties. A minute's silence will be observed in memory of Eric at tomorrow's game at Bryn Estyn Road
With a vast army of North Wales rugby supporters traveling to Cardiff to cheer on new-look Wales in their top international against the New Zealand All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon, only a handful of early kick-off games are likely to go ahead in this Region (kick-off at 2.30pm).
A number of the Wrexham squad members not attending the big game may participate in an inter-club game at Bryn Estyn Road to maintain their level of match fitness. For others it will be a chance to let injuries heal before crucial league games which lie ahead against Newtown and Mold.
Following a bright start to the season when they defeated Pwllheli in their opening Division Five North league game and also accounted for Llanhilleth and Dolgellau in the Principality Welsh Cup Competition, Wrexham have failed to win a game and are now propping up the rest of the Division.
The situation is reminiscent of last season when they reached Christmas with only one win under their belts and then discovered a rich vein of form to escape from the threat of relegation by winning 9 of their 13 remaining league contests. This time, the outlook does not appear to be so promising as a number of key members of the squad are either injured or unavailable for regular combat.
If they can maintain the current improvement in their level of play and secure further wins before Christmas, however, the task to avoid relegation to Division Six North will become much easier. Newtown visit Bryn Estyn Road in a week's time and, despite an unexpected improvement in form shown by the Mid Wales club who have an impressive try scoring tally, Wrexham must win this game to create an early springboard to future successes.
After that, Wrexham will travel to Mold for a full blooded derby encounter, the outcome of which is vital to both clubs. The home club has witnessed a dramatic improvement in form with high scoring victories over Pwllheli and Bethesda following a period of dismal defeats. They have escaped from the relegation zone and will be in no mood to concede ground on their home midden.
Dave Cheesbrough continues to act as caretaker coach at Bryn Estyn Road and his work is producing a gradual improvement in the side which is now more competitive than at the start of the season. Although there is an absence in the squad of a dominant try scorer, the overall level of fitness is improving and what is needed now is a confidence boosting victory.
Wrexham Rugby Club officials have announced that they will running a "First Aid for Rugby" course at their Bryn Estyn Road headquarters on Sunday 8th December between 9.00am and 4.00pm.
NANT CONWY 20 WREXHAM 3
Wrexham hit rock bottom in Division Five North as they crashed to their 7th successive league defeat after surrendering an early lead to the unbeaten league leaders.
The margin of defeat was not as big as feared, however, because Wrexham overcame the late withdrawal of key players like outside-half Richard Lloyd and winger Simon Williams to compete well throughout and finish the stronger side. Only lapses in tactical awareness and some poor passing and control behind the scrum prevented them from running Nant much closer.
Nant Conwy make up for what they may lack in size and quality by their superior fitness and support work, attacking in waves and harrying opponents at every opportunity with a passion which is difficult to match. Wrexham led by 3-0 from the 3rd minute and controlled the game for lengthy periods but they lost their way in the early stages of the second-half and were never able to get back on terms again.
Darrell Hughes, taking over from the injured Richard Lloyd at outside-half, showed composure as he kicked the angled penalty which put Wrexham ahead after winger Simon Sullivan was just inches short of scoring the opening try. The visitors managed to contain a lively side in front of an expectant home crowd with some good work from number eight Dean Griffiths and his pack.
Nant gradually worked their way out of an early stranglehold and leveled the scores in the 22nd minute when outside-half Peredur Ellis kicked a penalty for an offside infringement. Hughes pegged them back with long touch kicks and flanker Gareth Noon provided Wrexham with a stream of possession from the line-out, but poor passing behind the scrum led to the threequarter line being swamped by home defenders.
Only a minute after the start of the second-half, however, Nant prop Glyn Roberts had a try disallowed in the left corner. Not content with that, the stocky player came roaring back a minute later to cross the line again from a scrum and this time the referee had no hesitation in awarding the try which put his side in the driving seat.
Wrexham started to crumble under concerted pressure and gave away a stream of penalties as they handled time and time again in the ruck. When number eight Berwyn Jones took a quick tap penalty on Wrexham's 22 in the 54th minute, he barged his way through two lines of defence to claim a try in the left corner which Ellis converted to put his side more than two scores ahead.
Flanker Mike Ward initiated a brief Wrexham breakout with forwards in support, but there was no sign of the visiting backs and the attack petered out. The home side went in search of another try and were rewarded in the 61st minute when centre Gareth Williams took advantage of a heel against the head by his pack to score in Nant's favourite left corner.
Just when all seemed lost under a probable avalanche of points, Wrexham centre Paul Mizzi joined a fast flowing move by the visitors and nearly scored. There followed a five minute period of pressure on the home line with the big forwards Iwan Roberts, Mike McLeod and Jason Griffiths taking it in turn to charge at the home defence.
The attempts were too predictable, however, and Nant managed to counter each charge until they stole the ball from one of the visiting forwards and broke away to almost score at the other end. Wrexham still came back for more and ended up pounding away at the home line, looking for the deserved try that continued to prove elusive.
Wrexham Seconds and Thirds had their games against Birkenhead Park called off, but the Thirds managed to arrange a last minute replacement game against Rhos Seconds at Bryn Estyn Road and emerged with a creditable 10-10 draw. Alex Crewe put the home side ahead with a fine try before Rhos took over with two unconverted tries, only for James Bellis to level the scores with five minutes of the game remaining.16/11/02 Preview
Wrexham face a near impossible task in their game at Nant Conwy where the current Division Five North leaders have an impressive record and will be going all out to improve on their 3 point advantage at the top of the table (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Llyr Williams may be fit enough to make his long awaited return to the pack after injury and Jason Munro, unavailable last week, will be a potent force in the back-row if he is able to play this time. James Wrathall, who put on a brave performance when full-back Kerry Powell suffered a recurrence of a knee injury last week, should keep his place with Simon Williams returning on the wing.
Prop Rob Pierce tore ankle ligaments in the first minute of the game against Llandudno last week and, despite being a tough campaigner, is expected to rest with Rob Jones taking over his place in the front-row. Skipper John Roberts is continuing his steady progress following a recent hernia operation but is not expected to resume playing until a fortnight's time.
Nant Conwy were automatically promoted to the top level of rugby in North Wales after easily winning the Division Six North Championship last season. This season they simply carried on where they left off and have embarrassed several highly respected sides including Ruthin who were trounced by 38-10 at Llanrwst.
The Conwy Valley side possess a strong aggressive pack which is well led by number eight Bedwyr Jones who is a regular try scorer. Behind the scrum they are well served by outside-half Peredur Ellis, a past tormentor of Wrexham, and they also have pace on the wing in the form of Gareth Williams, another regular try scorer.
Wrexham also possess a strong pack but their ability to score tries has dried up in recent games despite efforts from all concerned to open up opposition defences. Games have become much tighter under caretaker coach Dave Cheesbrough's guidance, however, and there may come a time soon when less mistakes are made in defence and ball control and progress is finally made.
Tomorrow's game demands a gutsy performance from Wrexham if they are to have any hope of upsetting the runaway leaders. They face a very challenging task and may have to wait until Newtown's visit at the end of this month before they can gain some reward for the hard work which they have recently put into their mid-week training sessions.
Wrexham Seconds should claim their 9th victory of the season when they travel to the Wirral to take on Birkenhead Park Thirds. Wrexham Thirds have a home friendly against Park Fourths while the Youth Team will make their first away trip of the season when they visit Widnes for another friendly fixture (k.o.2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the minis travel to West Park in St.Helens on Sunday for a series of games against talented opponents while the juniors will train at Bryn Estyn Road (start at 10.30am).
WREXHAM 9 LLANDUDNO 13
Wrexham's recent improvement in form under caretaker coach Dave Cheesbrough evaporated at their Bryn Estyn Road headquarters where they haven't won all season and let Llandudno overturn a 9-0 half time lead.
Initially under heavy pressure from Wrexham's big forwards, well supported on the wings by Paul Edwards and Simon Sullivan, the visitors struggled in their 22 until the second quarter when they managed to win a share of the ball and realised that the home defence was wafer thin. Despite making numerous mistakes in attack, Llandudno eventually found a way through to win the game.
Outside-half Richard Lloyd put the home side in front with a 5th minute penalty that was kicked in off a post. He wasn't so lucky with a similar kick which struck an upright soon afterwards but converted an easy kick from in front of the posts in the 20th minute to stretch the home lead to 6-0.
Continuous pressure from the home forwards with some good support work from the backs was matched by solid defensive work from the visitors who were well served by former Wrexham forwards Steffan Woodhead and Jimmy Coy, the latter being wheeled out of retirement to plug a gap in the Llandudno second-row.
By the 30th minute, the visitors had managed to escape from a stranglehold in their 22 and were being encouraged by their coach to exploit alarming gaps in Wrexham's defence. Simon Sullivan had to race across the field from his own wing to smother a promising Llandudno attack and Wrexham were lucky to survive a penalty attempt by the visiting full-back Leroy Donnelly.
A neat drop goal by Lloyd increased the home side's lead just before the break but Llandudno were in the ascendancy and their skipper Jon Evans duly rewarded them with a penalty soon after the restart. Lloyd had a chance immediately afterwards to restore Wrexham's nine point advantage but he miss-hit a penalty kick in front of the posts and squandered a good opportunity.
Some of Wrexham's big forwards then incurred the referee's displeasure by failing to release the ball on the ground when tackled and replacement full-back James Wrathall had to pull off a try saving tackle on Donnelly to make up for missed tackles in the Wrexham centre.
The visitors kicked into deep positions to mount a series of attacks and, when they won a line-out in the home 22 in the 56th minute, prop Euros Garmon brushed off several weak tackles to score under the posts. Evans added the conversion to give his side the lead at last and Wrexham completely lost their composure for a 15 minute spell during which lock Jason Griffiths was sent to the sin-bin for persistent infringements.
A second penalty by Evans stretched the visitors' lead but Wrexham staged a revival in the final quarter to mount pressure in the visitors 22. Centre Paul Mizzi was dispossessed after a powerful surge and replacement prop Rob Jones went closer from a line-out before having the ball stolen from his hands.
Llandudno soaked up the pressure and kicked downfield to set up a marvellous last minute scoring chance for the Pontypridd bound Euros Garmon. The promising Wrathall had other ideas, however, and showed his team mates how to tackle by upending the powerful prop just short of the try line.
With a number of players visiting Cardiff to watch Wales play Fiji in an autumn international game, Wrexham Seconds struggled to raise a strong side but still managed to complete a successful defence of their North East Division One Championship at Abergele. They won by 28-0 with tries by Chris Phillips, John Darlington and Carl Turner while Ian Connell completed the scoresheet with 3 penalties and 2 conversions.
The Thirds had their Division Two game postponed by Abergele Seconds and played Eagle Seconds instead. Despite tries by Ian Bostock, James Bellis and Paul Roberts with a conversion by Bostock, they slumped to a 17-41 home defeat. The Youth Team were also beaten 42-0 at home by league leaders Llangefni.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, Wrexham Under 15's hit top form to whitewash visitors Ellesmere Port by 58-0. There were tries for Daniel Gibbons, Daffyd Rowlands, Glen Bellamy, James Gibney, Eiron Edwards, Jonathon Davies and James Salisbury. The Under 13's visited Ellesmere Port and won their game by 48 - 5 with tries from Gwyn Edwards (3), Jake Edwards, David Blackwell, Josh Stott, Jed Oenhem and Richard Greensmith. Keiran Morris added 4 conversions.
The Under 12's were a little unlucky to lose by 42-14 at West Park where Ashley Dawson and Shaun Strudwick grabbed a try apiece and Nick Davies and Phil Davies added conversions. Wrexham Under 11's more than made up for this reverse with a handsome 59-0 victory at the same venue, birthday boy Jordan
Davies opening the scoring with a smart brace of tries before others from Ashton Williams (2), Ben Harrison, Christian Chalk, Dwayne Jones and Jack Griffiths. Dwayne Jones notched 6 conversions and Ashton Williams added a final one.
The under 10's played two games at West Park, the 'A' team winning the first game by 1-0 thanks to a try by Jonathan Davies and the 'B' team suffering a 1-5 defeat despite a touchdown by Ben Lee. The under 9's gave an improved away performance but were still beaten by 1-0 and 3-1. Shaun Ferrari grabbed their consolation try.
Wrexham Under 8's played 3 games at West Park and got better with every game. Having lost the first game by 1-5, with a try by Ed Evans, they drew the second encounter by 0-0 but then cut loose in the final match, winning by 3-1 with tries from Rhys Williams, Bleddyn Keenan and Zack Muatt.09/11/02 Preview
Wrexham, without a win in their last six matches, have a chance to improve their position in the Division Five North Championship if they can continue their recent improvement in form and defeat Llandudno tomorrow afternoon at Bryn Estyn Road (kick-off at 2.30pm).
They expect to be strengthened by the return from injury of winger Simon Sullivan who enjoyed a successful run out with the Seconds last week. Number eight Jason Munro and his back row partner Gareth Noon will jointly celebrate their 70th appearance for the senior side and should prove to be key players in Wrexham's big effort to claim a long awaited win.
After losing by 45-24 at Llandudno last December, Wrexham won the return encounter at Wrexham by 22-10 in April but had to work very hard for that victory which rescued them from a prolonged threat of relegation. Unusually, all four second-row forwards on the pitch that day scored a try each and Jason Munro added a back-row touchdown for good measure.
Last week's fine performance against a highly fancied Ruthin team confirmed not only that Wrexham are far more organised than they were at the start of the season but also that their fitness has improved as more players have trained and they are now capable of lasting for nearly a full game. They should have just enough power in the pack to defeat Llandudno again.
Wrexham Seconds continue the defense of their North East Wales Division One Championship with a visit to Abergele Firsts who are currently languishing near the foot of the table having lost 3 of their 4 matches. With Carl Pugh running the game at outside-half and Carl Turner encouraging a dominant pack, Wrexham should be able to keep up the pressure on league leaders Mold.
The Youth Team is at home to Llangefni in a North Wales Youth League game while the Thirds entertain Abergele Seconds in a Division Two game which could go either way on recent form. After tomorrow's games, players and supporters will gather in the Bryn Estyn Road clubhouse to sit in front of the big screen and watch Wales take on Fiji at the Millennium Stadium (4.30pm).01/11/02 Report
WALES 40 ROMANIA 3
As expected, Wales were made to work for what eventually became a comfortable victory over an improved Romania side on Friday night at an almost full Racecourse Ground. Outside-half Neil Jenkins returned to the side following a long absence due to injury and duly obliged his experimental team with a personal tally of 20 points, all from his mighty boot.
Wales led by 12-0 at the break with 4 Jenkins penalties, having been a little fortunate to see Romania's usually reliable fly-half Ionut Tofan miss the target with 3 kickable efforts. Saracens centre Tom Shanklin raised expectations with several smart breaks but the North Wales crowd was generally frustrated with a below par performance until the giant Scott Quinnell rumbled over for Wales's first try.
As Romania tired visibly after a solid defensive performance, the gaps appeared and winger Mark Jones scorched in at the left corner for a try that Jenkins improved. Winger Gareth Thomas added another touchdown in the opposite corner before a penalty try in injury time added a little more respectability to the scoreline.
WREXHAM 5 RUTHIN 16
Ruthin's superior skills behind the set scrum made all the difference in a full blooded Scottish Power North Wales Cup derby encounter at Bryn Estyn Road on Saturday, but Wrexham's caretaker coach Dave Cheesbrough could be proud of a solid effort by his charges who all contributed immensely to a thrilling match.
Both teams overcame poor greasy conditions and there was little to choose between them when half-time arrived with Ruthin holding on to a slender 3-0 lead. That came as early as the 9th minute when former Wrexham Northern Counties favourite Rhodri Jones kicked a penalty to punish a home error which occurred when the visiting pack was pounding away in their 22.
Wrexham were well served in the pack by flanker Gareth Noon and the irrepressible number eight Dean Griffiths. Full-back Kerry Powell impressed on several occasions as he joined the threequarter line to set up some dangerous attacks with outside-half Richard Lloyd.
Ruthin, one of the main contenders for this season's Division Five North League Championship, possessed a little more pace in their back line, however, and they outflanked the home cover shortly after the break to extend their lead with a try in the left corner by full-back Stephen Roberts-Jones.
Wrexham looked a bit shaky for a few minutes after that damaging score but roared back with a long touch finding kick by Richard Lloyd and some superb driving by their forwards. When Lloyd elected to kick into the corner after being awarded a 56th minute penalty, Noon rose unchallenged to claim the ball from the line-out and lock Jason Griffiths was driven over for a great try.
The match could have gone either way at that stage, but Ruthin possessed a reliable kicker in Rhodri Jones and duly obliged his hard working forwards by landing a penalty at the start of the final quarter. Once again, the home side stormed back with some organised attacking play but they were finally thwarted by a late try in the corner by former Wrexham centre Jim Salisbury and that set the seal on Ruthin's success.
In a North East Wales Division One Championship game, Wrexham Seconds played very well to claim a 13-10 victory at The Waen over a Rhyl Second XV that included seven First team regulars who had had their game cancelled. Wrexham's points came from a penalty try and a conversion and a penalty by Ian Connell.
In Division Two, Wrexham Thirds were overtaken at the winning post by Corwen who won an exciting match at Bryn Estyn Road by 21-17. Malcolm Bostock, Scott Davies and James Bellis claimed a try apiece and Nicky Clare landed a conversion, but two breakaway tries in a turbulent second-half were enough to earn a victory for the visitors that enabled them to leapfrog Wrexham into second place in the table.
A sell-out crowd of 15,000 is expected at the Racecourse Ground this evening
to watch a slightly experimental Wales side take on Romania in the first of four autumn international matches as Wales prepare for the forthcoming Six
Nations Championship (kick-off at 7.30pm).
Wales coach Steve Hansen has included 6 players from the successful Pontypridd club in his squad of 22 and the crowd will be eagerly awaiting the debut of Pontypridd's 25 year old New Zealand Maori centre Sonny Parker who has completed a residential qualification in Wales and is strongly tipped to make a big impression for his new country.
A nucleus of familiar key players has been included by Hansen in his experimental squad including the world record points scorer Neil Jenkins who will act as a back-up to Llanelli's Stephen Jones at outside-half. Surprisingly, there is no place for Cardiff's Iestyn Harris who was recruited from Rugby League by the Welsh Rugby Union to replace the ageing Jenkins.
Llanelli's Dwayne Peel has taken over the scrum-half berth from Robert Howley who has retired from international rugby but the squad retains familiar names like former Wales captain Scott Quinnell and the North Wales favourite Robin McBryde who can be counted on to make his usual forceful impression in the front row.
Romania are captained by their big number eight Alin Petrache who plays for the Racing club in France along with several other members of his country's squad. Petrache was a highly influential figure in Romania's recent success in booking a place in the 2003 World Cup Competition in Australia with a 67-6 victory over Spain.
Wales humbled Romania by 70-21 when they last met at the Racecourse in August 1997 and there was a time when Romanian rugby was firmly in the doldrums. The 'Oaks' continued to plug away, however, and their recent 17-25 defeat by Italy in Parma and 8-39 loss against Ireland in Limerick show that they are starting to compete well again when confronted by Six Nations teams.
Swansea's Colin Charvis, who assumed the captaincy of Wales on their summer tour of South Africa, will lead his side onto the pitch accompanied by team mascot Adam Williams who plays for the Wrexham Under 10's mini rugby squad. Wales should win comfortably tonight, but improved Romania will give them a solid test before they return to Cardiff to play Fiji next week.
Wrexham will take on their old rivals Ruthin in a Manweb North Wales Cup game at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon with Ruthin being clear favourites to reach the next round after a very successful start to this season's league programme (k.o. 2.30pm).
Dave Cheesbrough has improved a faltering Wrexham side since taking over as temporary coach following the resignation of Ross Roberts a few weeks ago, but he probably needs more time to produce a winning side. Injury problems continue to hamper selection in the backs, but flanker Llyr Williams is expected to return from injury to bolster the pack and top try scorer Jason Munro may be set to make his return at number eight following a couple of games for the Second XV.
Wrexham Seconds continue the defence of their North East Wales Division One Championship with a visit to Rhyl Seconds while Wrexham Thirds have a home game against Corwen who are in second place in Division Two. The Youth Team travel to Bala for a friendly game and will be aiming to complete a notable double after outpointing Bala by 19-17 at home last month.
Rugby club officials were to be seen hard at work this week preparing for Sunday night's Bonfire and Fireworks Extravaganza at their Bryn Estyn Road site. As usual, the popular family event will be served by a fair, amusements, children's entertainment, hot dogs and other refreshments.
Steve Cook, the House and Grounds Officer, confirmed on Wednesday that the gates to the club grounds will open at 6.00pm to enable those attending to avoid any last minute queues. The bonfire will be lit at 6.45pm and a grand fireworks display will follow. Admission is £5 per car.
DOLGELLAU 20 WREXHAM 3
Wrexham were left bitterly disappointed after dominating much of this game and looking set for a second Division Five North league victory before running out of steam in the second-half and conceding 3 late tries.
There were some excellent performances by forwards Iwan Roberts, Mike McLeod, Gareth Noon and Dean Griffiths, together with forceful displays by outside-half Kerry Powell and Simon Williams, but Wrexham lacked the cutting edge needed to turn pressure and effort into match winning points. Fitness deserted them in the second-half as their early commitment took its toll.
All is not gloom and doom, however, as the first green shoots of Dave Cheesbrough's work as a stand-in coach were witnessed and there were signs that some structure is being added to the team's pattern of play. All that is needed is a little more time for players to perfect some new routines and their level of fitness to be improved so that they can last the full distance.
Playing into a stiff breeze, early pressure earned a 3rd minute penalty which scrum-half Richard Lloyd kicked to put the visitors in front. It wasn't long before outside-half Martin Parkes levelled the scores with a similar effort but Wrexham looked impressive as Noon dominated the line-out, McLeod tore into Dolgellau's defensive wall and Simon Williams looked lively in the centre.
The scores were still tied at 3-3 at half-time and Dolgellau looked nothing like the side which challenged strongly for the Championship last season.
Wrexham began well on the resumption of play, ignored a penalty award to opt for the chance of a pushover try, but then suffered the shock of having the ball stolen out of the back of their scrum by the opposing scrum-half.
Following that setback, the pack was then driven back by the lightweight Dolgellau eight and it became obvious that tiredness was setting in after their early labours. The home side sensed that the game was turning and increased their efforts, soon profiting by scoring an unconverted try through centre Mark Atherton who ran through some slack tackles on the right flank.
Confidence oozed through Dolgellau and they soon launched another attack down the right wing before switching it to the left where Wrexham's cover had disappeared. Centre Jonathan ran in to score the home side's second try and then rubbed salt in the visitors wounds by adding another touchdown under the posts in the last minute. Parkes managed the final conversion.
Wrexham Seconds resumed the defence of their North East Wales Division One Championship with a last gasp 27-20 victory over Afon Dee at Bryn Estyn Road, causing a near riot. Carl Turner scrambled over for the winning try in the last minute and other touchdowns came from Mark Glasson, Jason Munro and Carl Pugh. Ian Connell kicked a penalty and two conversions.
The Thirds made up lost ground in the Division Two Championship with a fine 20-10 success at Afon Dee Seconds. James Bellis, Alistair Hough and Nicky Clare crossed for a try apiece while man of the match Michael Powell added a penalty to Clare's earlier conversion.19/10/02_Preview
Unsettled Wrexham visit West Wales tomorrow afternoon to take on the high flying Division Five West club Hendy in a Principality Welsh Cup second round game that should test their credentials to the full (kick-off at 2.30pm).
With nine squad members still nursing injuries, a late selection will be made but it should include Mike McLeod in the second-row and Dean Griffiths at number eight as the big power players who may upset Hendy in the forward exchanges. Centre Hywel Rowland is nursing a hamstring injury from last week's league defeat and may be replaced by switching Simon Williams from the wing.
This is the fifth consecutive away tie for an unlucky but determined Wrexham side which reached this stage of the competition by defeating the Division Four side Llanhilleth by 17-3 and their Division Five North rivals Dolgellau by 40-27.
Hendy's results have been consistently good and they will approach tomorrow's game with extra confidence following their 60-0 whitewash of Loughor last Saturday. Last week's rain has softened up the previously hard pitches in South Wales, however, and the big Wrexham pack may find the extra purchase which they have been denied in recent games to exploit their strengths.
Their form in cup competition has been far better than that in their league campaign and they will aim for a continuation of it tomorrow to claim their third cup win this season, and then hope for a long overdue lucrative home draw against a famous First Division club.
Wrexham Youth Team start their North Wales Youth Division One league season with a game against Ruthin at Bryn Estyn Road and have a useful half-back pairing in Michael Powell and John Gormley. The Seconds entertain Ellesmere Port Seconds while Wrexham Thirds resume their North East Wales Division Two campaign with a visit to Rhos Seconds (k.o. 2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior rugby, the minis have a chance to prove themselves against Mold opposition at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning. The Under 13's and the Under 15's have training sessions but the Under 14's have a challenging game against Newtown at Wrexham (k.o.10.30am).
Wrexham centre Hywel Raymond and Rhos number eight Mike Hamer have been selected to join the full North Wales squad which will take on a Welsh Districts XV at Bethesda on Sunday 27th October. Their inclusion comes as a direct result of their performances for the local Rhinos side, coached by Wrexham's Dave Cheesbrough, in the North Wales Provincial Championship.
The game at Bethesda is intended as a warm-up for the North Wales side prior to their forthcoming match against mighty Newport and the start of their defense of the Welsh County Championship which they won in style last season (k.o. 2.30pm).
Tickets for the forthcoming Wales v. Romania rugby international at the
Racecourse Ground on Friday 1st November went on sale on Monday and are selling briskly. Wrexham Under 10's player Adam Williams has received the
exciting news that he been nominated by his club to be the Welsh Team mascot and will walk out with the star studded team prior to the start of the match.
Young readers have an exciting chance to win two pairs of tickets for the game by entering the competition in Chum's Corner on page 6 of the Wrexham Leader. Tickets are also available from the ticket hotline on 01978 352536 and 01978 262129, by personal application at the ticket office at The Racecourse on Wrexham Road or by postal application including a stamped self addressed envelope.
WREXHAM 22 RHYL 28
Wrexham's lack lustre defeat at the hands of a run-of-the-mill Rhyl outfit proved to be the last straw for coach Ross Roberts who saved his side from relegation last season but decided that his efforts to produce a winning side this term were falling flat.
"I've tried everything to make things work better but what we did in training wasn't being carried out on the pitch. I've got a lot of pride and a great love for the club but I can't take it any further as things are present," he confided on Sunday.
To be fair, this dedicated player coach who had 371 senior appearances under his belt, was let down by a group of his players who failed to attend his regular training sessions. It was a problem which afflicted his predecessor Rob Thomas and led to a lack of cohesion in the side when they tried to operate as a team on match days.
This season's First Team squad has more talented players in it than last year and the team performed well against visitors Rhyl for much of the first-half, taking a deserved 12-3 lead. Then their overall lack of fitness started to show on a fast surface and Rhyl managed to clip their advantage to 15-11 at the break before pulling clear with a couple of tries early in the second-half.
A sparkling try by centre Hywel Raymond, flowing through at an angle from a smart break by the inventive winger Simon Williams, put Wrexham ahead in the 10th minute and outside-half Richard Lloyd added the conversion from in front of the posts. Although recent signing Paul Edwards looked out of his depth at full-back, Simon Sullivan looked competent on the other wing and the Wrexham machine appeared to tick over in good order.
Although Rhyl's top notch kicker Erik Lloyd replied with a penalty almost immediately, former Chester player Andy Smith claimed an excellent line-out catch to send prop Rob Pierce through the visitors defence for a fine try at the start of the second quarter. Richard Lloyd's attempted conversion from the touchline fell way off target and he also squandered several penalty
Number eight Dean Griffiths and centre Paul Mizzi broke through and looked certain try scorers during this hectic period but were pulled back by the referee because of earlier forward infringements. After 30 minutes, however, the home side started to run of out of steam and Rhyl countered with another penalty by Erik Lloyd and a simple try by hooker Christian Badhams.
Richard Lloyd replied with a well executed penalty just before the break, but the lead changed hands soon afterwards when centre John Davies scored under the posts after completing a run from the half-way line through a sea of flailing defenders. Erik Lloyd supplied the extra points and then converted a 60th minute try by replacement lock Lee Williams, defence again proving a weak point for a lack lustre Wrexham side.
In a final flurry, however, Wrexham recovered enough to carve an opening which skipper John Roberts exploited perfectly to score under the posts, Richard Lloyd converting. They conceded a penalty to Erik Lloyd on the restart, ignored a similar award at the other end soon afterwards and were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try when Rhyl collapsed a scrum on their line.
Another forward onslaught followed and lock Iwan Roberts charged over the line by the posts but was cruelly denied when the ball slipped out of his hand as he stretched to touch it down. Rhyl claimed the victory on this occasion but they will be given a tougher game next time if Wrexham can get their house in order and play like a team for the full 80 minutes.
The Seconds certainly met their Waterloo at Blundellsands on Merseyside, going down to a superb Waterloo Second XV by 0-72. The Thirds recorded an excellent 15-5 victory over Denbigh Thirds at Craig Road, however, Mike Blackwell and James Bellis grabbing a try apiece with John Gormley slotting a conversion and a penalty.
In Mini Rugby, Philip Davies scored Wrexham's only try and Ed Lewis was voted man of the match for the under 12's who went down by 1-4 at home to Abergele. Ashton Willams grabbed an early try to put the Under 11's ahead against Abergele Under 12's who came back to win by 3-1.
The Under 9's played two games against strong opponents at Mold, the 'A' side just losing the main encounter by 4-5 despite a brace of tries apiece by Thomas Wyn-Lloyd and Shaun Ferrari. The 'B' team played well but succumbed by 1-5, their score coming from a touchdown by Thomas Lloyd.
In Mini Rugby, Ashley Dawson notched a hat-trick of tries for the Under 12's who played well but were beaten by 56-35 at Widnes. Other scores came from James Williams and Phil Davies who converted all five of their tries. The Under 11's played two games at the same venue, losing 0-5 and 1-5 to a well drilled side. Ashton Williams grabbed their only try.
The Under 10's also had their work cut out against Widnes, losing their first game by 1-4 despite a try from Jonathan Davies before being whitewashed by 10-0 in their second contest. The Under 9's had better luck, drawing by 1-1 before narrowly losing their second game by 2-3. Ashley Sailsbury (2) and Shaun Ferrari went over for tries.
The Under 8's performed best of all, drawing their games by 4-4 and 5-5. Try scorers were Harry Cartwright (3), Jacob Lee (3), Ben Gregory, Edward Evans and David Bowen. At junior level, the Under 14's thrashed visitors Stockport by 45-5 with tries from Huw Evans (4), Andy O'Donald, Paul Hughes and Luke Evans who slotted 5 conversions.
Wrexham Under 13's outplayed visitors Crewe by 62-5, thanks to touchdowns from Gwyn James (5), Jack Evans (2), Jake Edwards (2), and Owen Willington. 12/10/02 Preview
Wrexham's comprehensive victory over Pwllheli in their opening league game of the season seems to be an age away as coach Ross Roberts calls for a vastly improved performance to arrest a rapid slide down the table with a victory over Rhyl at Bryn Estyn Road tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
The return to home ground following a month spent on the road in cup and league competition should give Wrexham the boost that they need to perform well. There is also the prospect that Jason Munro, their top try scorer of last season, will return from self imposed exile to inspire his pack which has yet to hit top form.
Simon Williams, whose return to First XV duty was delayed last week, will take his place in the squad this Saturday and will give Ross Roberts the extra options that he needs to produce a winning threequarter line. Richard Lloyd and John Roberts, who resumed their half-back partnership after a long break at Llangefni last week, have been retained for tomorrow's encounter.
Former champions Rhyl won by 33-12 on their visit to Bryn Estyn Road last November but slipped away from title contention after Christmas and were defeated by 22-15 when Wrexham travelled to The Waen in March. John Roberts switched from centre to scrum-half and was an inspiration for the visitors on that day, scoring a try and helping forwards Richard Williams, Ian Sanger and Llyr Williams claim additional scores.
Wrexham will have to watch out for Rhyl scrum-half Steve Hargreaves who scored in both games last year and even managed a brace of tries against new Championship leaders Caernarfon who completed a 33-19 success at Rhyl last Saturday. They will also have to ensure that they limit the number of mistakes that they make as outside-half Erik Lloyd will punish them with his famous boot if they transgress.
Wrexham Seconds take on the St.Helens based side Ruskin Park in a non-league fixture at Bryn Estyn Road and the Thirds entertain Runcorn Seconds at the same venue. The Youth Team are looking for a friendly fixture before they start their North Wales Youth League programme in earnest next week with the visit of Ruthin to Wrexham (k.o.2.30pm).
Youth Team coach Kevin Powell and his assistant Ian Gormley are keen to attract new players to strengthen their squad for their new challenge in North Wales Division One. They are seeking players in the 16 to 18 age group and will extend a warm welcome to those interested in joining the team at their training sessions which are held every Thursday evening at 7.00pm.
In Mini and Junior Rugby, the mini rugby sides will visit Widnes for games in all age groups on Sunday morning. The Under 13's and Under 15's entertain Crewe at Bryn Estyn Road while the Under 14's will travel to the famous railway town for their game (k.o.10.30am).
On one of those rare occasions when the full Welsh international rugby squad is permitted to play in the North of the Principality, Wales will take on Romania in an Autumn international at The Racecourse Ground on Friday evening 1st November (k.o.7.30pm).
On Monday afternoon, the North Wales Director of Rugby Austin Thomas was keen to emphasise the importance of the occasion when he said, "We have established the tradition of a great crowd and a great atmosphere at The Racecourse and want to maintain that by asking as many people as possible to come along and support their national team, even if they are not normally very interested in rugby."
Tickets will be made available from the Wrexham AFC Hotline from Monday 14th October using credit card facilities. Prices range from £20 for a prime seat in the stand to £1 for a person under the age of 16 on the terrace. The Hotline numbers are 01978 352536 and 01978 262129.
LLANGEFNI 36 WREXHAM 24
Wrexham slipped to their third defeat in four Division Five North outings after they conceded 29 points without reply in a poor first-half display and then ran out of time as they came storming back in the final quarter.
Coach Ross Roberts was obviously disappointed with this latest reverse but said, " Another ten minutes at the end and we would have won. Llangefni were clearly exhausted and were just hanging on."
Llangefni's back-row trio delivered a dynamic first-half display, thanks in part to some lenient refereeing. Number eight Emlyn Bown grabbed a smart brace of tries and flankers Will Bown and Alex Morrison weighed in with a try apiece while outside-half Vince Kiernan rifled 3 conversions before dropping a neat goal to put the home side out of sight before half-time.
For their part, Wrexham defended well at times and tried to unleash their dangerous backs through some spirited work by the half-backs Richard Lloyd and John Roberts, working together for the first time this season. In the centre, Hywel Raymond looked very sharp alongside Paul Mizzi, but last passes failed to find their mark and scoring opportunities were missed.
All that Wrexham had to show for their efforts in the first-half was a try by hooker Danny Munro. However, they improved after the break when number eight Gareth Noon replaced the injured Llyr Williams and the pack started to dominate proceedings despite a darting touchdown by Llangefni's winger Ioan Davies, converted by Kiernan.
Noon worked his way over for a welcome try, converted by Lloyd, before prop Iwan Roberts took over as this season's top try scorer by adding a deserved touchdown. More heavy pressure resulted in a score for replacement lock Jason Griffiths and Lloyd added the extra points.
Wrexham's late surge proved to be too late in the day, however, and Llangefni were greatly relieved to put a bad start to their season behind them when the final whistle was blown with the visitors camping on their line and about to add another score.
Wrexham Seconds, with a sprinkling of players from local clubs in their side, represented North East Wales in a first round game in the Howells District Cup Competition. Despite an early try by Wrexham winger Andy Lee, the South Walians had too much pace behind their pack for the home side and ran out convincing 41-13 winners. Rhos number eight Mike Hamer claimed a second try for the home side and Wrexham full-back Ian Connell added a penalty.
The Youth Team defeated visitors Bala by 19-17 in a friendly fixture, despite being two players short throughout due to injuries and unavailability. John Ireland was in magnificent form as he contributed two first-half tries, Adam Jones claimed another touchdown and John Gormley slotted two conversions.
Wrexham Thirds looked very impressive as they despatched Whitchurch Fourths by 55-5 at Bryn Estyn Road. Hooker Gareth Perrin recovered from a morning car accident to score 5 tries, James Bellis grabbed a smart brace and Andy Smith and Darren Hough claimed a try apiece. Nick Clare added 5 conversions. 05/10/02 Preview
Club Captain John Roberts and centre Simon Williams return from suspension to bolster the Wrexham back line for their visit to league champions Llangefni tomorrow afternoon (kick-off at 2.30pm).
The pack appears to be at full strength with Llyr Williams returning from injury to take his place in the back-row and former Wrexham Northern Counties utility forward Gareth Noon returning from a spell working in London to rejoin the squad.
Llangefni overwhelmed Wrexham by 41-14 on their home midden last September but coach Ross Roberts learnt from that experience and shackled the Llangefni nippy backs to win the following encounter at Bryn Estyn Road by 24-19 in January.
Both sides have won only one league game this season and are under pressure from their supporters to produce another victory. Wrexham have the firepower in the pack to win a wealth of possession but, on the prevailing hard grounds of early Autumn, Llangefni could make their pace in the backs tell if given the opportunity.
As Champions of North East Wales Division One, Wrexham Seconds will represent their region in a District Counties Cup first round game against Mid Glamorgan at Bryn Estyn Road this afternoon. Centre Andy Lee and lock Alex Crewe should make an impact in the Wrexham side which has yet to progress further than the opening round in this competition (k.o.2.30pm)..
Wrexham Thirds face Whitchurch Fourths in a cross border friendly at Bryn Estyn Road and the Youth Team are hoping to arrange a fixture with Welshpool or Bala to improve their style of play before they open their North Wales Youth League programme with a home game against Ruthin in a fortnight's time.
Wrexham Firsts have been drawn away against Hendy from Division Five West in a Principality Welsh Cup game to be played on Saturday 19th October. It is their fifth consecutive away draw in this competition in two seasons. They have, however, received a home draw against Ruthin in the first round of the Scottish Power North Wales Cup competition to be played by 2nd November.
Gareth Lewis, a former prop forward and a local schoolmaster, took over from Peter Evans as Chairman of Wrexham Rugby Club at the Annual General Meeting on Monday evening. Evans held the seat for three years and will continue to support the club in a lesser capacity.
Eric Stansfield, President of the club for the last 12 years, retired from his post at the meeting and a successor will be elected by the new committee. He was warmly applauded by those attending the meeting for his outstanding conduct during his long period of service and was thanked for his support by the outgoing chairman Peter Evans.
The only other change in the team of officials who are running the club is the election of Nerys Hughes as Membership Secretary. She will take on the challenging task of increasing membership at the club at a time when many clubs are experiencing difficulty in retaining members.
CAERNARFON 45 WREXHAM 24
It was almost a case of deja vu for Wrexham as they took a weakened side to Caernarfon for an important Division Five North league game and then lost their key player at scrum-half, Huw Thomas, with a serious knee injury before being handicapped when prop Geraint Davies was shown a red card for an alleged stamping offence.
With no threequarter replacements available, coach Ross Roberts had to take off his tracksuit and plug a gap while Gavin Brace moved from full-back to scrum-half and turned in a fine performance. Wrexham coped with their problems quite well and finished the stronger of the two sides but Caernarfon were able to profit from mistakes and score on the breakaway.
Flanker Dylan Jones put the home side in front in the 9th minute when he powered over near the posts and outside-half Kelvin Morris slotted a neat conversion. Wrexham worked their way back, recovered from the loss of Thomas and then narrowed the gap when number eight Dean Griffiths claimed a pushover try.
They battled hard to gain the upper hand but received a setback when Morris landed a penalty and then converted a try by lock Alun Mark to give Caernarfon a 17-5 lead at half-time. Outside-half Carl Pugh worked hard to release his threequarters after the break but interception tries by winger Elfyn Lloyd and centre Carl Russell left the visitors with a mountain to climb.
The dismissal of Davies in the early stages of the second-half resulted the departure of Ross Roberts to allow Gareth Perrin to be introduced as a front row replacement. Strangely, Wrexham started to play better at this stage and gave the home side something to think about when Brace popped over from a scrum and Pugh added a fine conversion.
Although full-back Jonathan Newell grabbed another try for the Gwynedd club at the start of the final quarter and Morris converted again, Wrexham looked the more determined side and proved it by adding tries through centre Paul Mizzi and lock Iwan Roberts with Pugh claiming another conversion.
Lloyd's late try added extra gloss to Caernarfon's fourth successive victory over the East Walians who dropped down to seventh place in the league table. Coach Ross Roberts was obviously disappointed with the result but was not too despondent as he knows that his side will soon be boosted by the return from
suspension and unavailability of top players like John Roberts, Simon Williams and Jason Munro.
Wrexham Seconds didn't play well at Whitchurch but still managed to demolish the local Third Team by 43-12 with tries by Chris Andrew (2), Andy Lee, Andy Perrin, Alex Crewe, Carl Turner, and Dave Morris, newly returned from Mold. Darrell Hughes managed 4 conversions.
Wrexham Under 19's played well at times in their first game of the season but went down by 8-46 to a full strength Widnes side after losing prop Danny Seabrook with an ankle injury. Lock Phil Williams finished off a sparkling move to grab Wrexham's try and outside-half John Gormley added a penalty. 28/09/02 Preview
Fresh from their exciting Welsh Cup victory at Dolgellau, Wrexham visit Caernarfon for a Division Five North contest tomorrow afternoon, grimly determined to avenge a rare hat-trick of defeats by the Gwynedd club last season (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Scrum-half Huw Thomas, who played a very important part in Wrexham's opening league success at Pwllheli and notched 20 points against Dolgellau last Saturday, hopes to make his final appearance tomorrow before he heads south to start a Sports Management course and play for the Gloucester Rugby Academy.
Outside-half Richard Lloyd missed Wrexham's last game due to a foot injury but coach Ross Roberts expects him to pass a late fitness test to take over the reins from Carl Pugh who deputised at half-back so ably last week.
Having strengthened his squad recently by signing suitable new recruits in full-back Paul Edwards, prop Geraint Davies and centre Hywel Raymond, Roberts is starting to enjoy his selection meetings at last. Next week he will be able to slot his suspended club captain John Roberts into the side and his only major headache will then be to find a goal kicker to replace the departing Huw Thomas.
Wrexham's last visit to Caernarfon ended in an ignominious 0-61 defeat after Wrexham were forced to field a weakened team and soon lost prop Iwan Roberts for throwing a retaliatory punch in a bad tempered game. The visitors are much stronger and better prepared this time and should avenge that shock defeat if they maintain their composure and play to their strengths.
Wrexham Seconds visit Whitchurch Thirds for a friendly cross-border encounter while the Youth Team will take centre stage at Bryn Estyn Road in their first game of the season against Widnes Colts. The Thirds have a blank fixture date but have asked Fixture Secretary Paul Roberts to find a suitable game for them (k.o 2.30pm).
In Mini and Junior Rugby, all teams can look forward to training sessions at Wrexham Rugby Club on Sunday morning (k.o. 10.30am).
The main club's Annual General Meeting, delayed until the sale of the former
steward's house on the site had been completed, will take place at the newly repainted clubhouse on Monday 30th September at 7.30pm. Members will be asked
to endorse the annual accounts and appoint new officers of the club, the major change being the replacement of Club Chairman Peter Evans who will
stand down after 3 years in the hot seat to concentrate on other club activities.
Club members are continuing to work hard to complete the refurbishment of parts of the club, new entrance doors have been donated and fitted by Aspec Windows of Wrexham and the First Team pitch floodlights, out of action for most of last season, are being repaired and improved so that evening games can be played once again at the site.
DOLGELLAU 27 WREXHAM 40
Superior forward power and improved pace in the threequarter line helped Wrexham to secure a hard earned victory at Dolgellau that earned them a place in round two of the Principality Welsh Cup Competition for the second year in succession.
Both sides claimed five tries in a pulsating match but, while Dolgellau's full-back Tim Redman endured a poor day with his goal kicking, the visitors possessed a match winner in scrum-half Huw Thomas who notched a personal tally of 25 points with a try, 4 conversions and 4 penalties.
Dolgellau caught Wrexham napping early in the game and used a tap penalty move to launch their big lock Rhodri Llwyd over the line for their opening try. That seemed to act as a wake-up call to the visitors who hit top gear at the start of the second quarter and levelled the scores with a power driving try by lock Iwan Roberts.
Thomas added the conversion to put Wrexham ahead who then went into overdrive as their backs combined with their forwards to score 2 smart tries in a 15 minute spell. New centre Hywel Raymond scythed through to grab a debut try before Thomas dummied over from the base of a scrum.
Thomas converted both tries and added two penalties before Wrexham turned around with a handsome 27-5 lead at the break, anticipating further scores against a despairing home side. But the Dolgellau coach's half-time team talk must have been good because they were the ones who came out firing on all cylinders in the second-half.
Winger Bennett Richards swept through for a try in the corner almost immediately after the restart and then number eight Dylan Llewellyn, hooker Geraint Evans and scrum-half Rob Atherton added further scores with Redman managing to find the target with one of his conversion attempts.
In between, Thomas notched a penalty for Wrexham but they were in a precarious position leading by 30-27 when coach Ross Roberts sent on powerful replacements in flanker Carl Turner and lock Ian Sanger. The vastly experienced Turner steadied the rocking ship while Sanger generated fresh power in the set-scrum.
It was that man Iwan Thomas, however, who put the issue beyond doubt with a try deep in the final quarter, Thomas adding the extra points and then landing a late penalty. This was Wrexham's first victory at Dolgellau for 6 years and was a marvelous way to come back from the previous week's home defeat at the hands of Bethesda.
Wrexham Seconds emerged with a 31-29 victory to preserve their unbeaten run in North East Wales Division One at Denbigh but the home side had only themselves to blame for missing a last minute conversion in front of the posts that would have levelled the scores.
Gareth Hughes hit top form to claim his first ever hat trick of tries for the winners while Gareth Partington and Scott Davies added a try apiece with Ian Connell supplying 3 conversions.
The Thirds threatened early on but were eventually defeated 5-29 by a powerful Llangollen side at Bryn Estyn Road in a Division Two encounter, James Bellis notching Wrexham's only try in the second-half. 07/09/02 Preview
The Division Five North League Championship starts tomorrow afternoon and Wrexham face a challenging start to their quest for the title with a visit to former title holders Pwllheli (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Club Coach Ross Roberts returned from holiday this week to receive the good news that the gifted 19 year old Huw Thomas is available to play at scrum-half until the end of this month when he starts a university course. It helps to overcome the tricky problem of trying to find a suitable replacement for captain in waiting John Roberts who is suspended until October.
Full-back Stuart Van Wyke is nursing a thigh injury and is definitely out of tomorrow's line-up but most of the players who scrapped hard for Wrexham's cup win in South Wales last week are available. Number eight Dean Griffiths and flanker Carl Turner also come into the squad.
Last season's game at Pwllheli resulted in an emphatic 39-0 victory for the home side but that concealed a Wrexham performance that was good in the first-half but failed to yield any points due to poor finishing. The Seasiders led by 5-0 at half-time but then capitalised on injuries to Wrexham forwards Dean Griffiths and Llyr Williams to finish on a high note.
It was all change in the return fixture which Wrexham won by 20-0 at Bryn Estyn Road despite having to play for most of the game with a depleted side following centre Paul Mizzi's controversial sending off. Faced with relegation worries at that time, Wrexham adopted a never-say-die attitude and won the game with tries by tries by their big forwards, Jason Munro, Iwan Roberts and Mike McLeod.
Although top try scorer Munro in unlikely to be available to play tomorrow, Roberts and McLeod will impose their substantial physical presence on Pwllheli and may open up the way for their half-backs Richard Lloyd and Huw Thomas to create match winning scores. New winger Simon Sullivan impressed on his debut last week and has the potential to become a top try grabber.
Wrexham lost at Pwllheli last season because they failed to capitalise on their chances. This time, they must contain Pwllheli's excellent full-back Ben Cowper and ensure they match their approach work with finishing of the highest order.
Wrexham Seconds start the defence of their North East Wales Division One Championship with a visit to Ruthin Seconds who finished third in the league last season and defeated Wrexham by 22-10 in the corresponding game at Cae Ddol. The Thirds have a home game against Ruthin Thirds and hope to improve
on the 10-10 draw which resulted when the two sides met at Bryn Estyn Road last April (k.o.3.00pm).
The Mini and Junior Rugby Section have organised a series of training sessions for all age groups from 7 to 14 at Bryn Estyn Road on Sunday morning (10.00am). They will make final preparations for new week's opening games against Crewe and Sandbach.
LLANHILLETH 6 WREXHAM 17
Wrexham started off their season the hard way by overcoming a 0-6 deficit at Llanhilleth in a Welsh Cup preliminary round and then going on to subdue the Fourth Division side who had no answer to the visitors' rampant forwards.
It was a triumph for a Wrexham side which relied on its massive strength in the pack but was also well served by a backline which refused to buckle when tested. Richard Lloyd returned from a holiday in America to lead the side at outside-half and Gloucester bound student Huw Thomas slotted in neatly alongside as he filled the vacant scrum-half berth.
The visitors set off at a canter with their big forwards Mike McLeod and Rob Pierce impressing as they drove into the Llanhilleth defence. Continuous pressure produced an early penalty attempt for Thomas but the usually
reliable kicker missed the target narrowly.
When a second penalty fell wide of the uprights, Wrexham seemed to lose their momentum for a short period and Llanhilleth took advantage by increasing their effort in the forward exchanges. In the 21st minute it was the home side's turn to be awarded a penalty and their outside-half Shane Jones duly obliged by slotting a successful kick from the half-way line.
In a hectic period, flanker Mike Ward pulled off a wonderful try saving tackle to deny the South Walians before Jones landed a second penalty to give Llanhilleth a 6-0 lead. Wrexham also had their moments with flanker Ian
Sanger being bundled into touch a couple of metres short following a good line-out move.
Lloyd's team talk at the break seemed to have the desired effect for Wrexham soon started to dominate proceedings in the second-half. Ward ruled the line-out and Thomas broke smartly from a scrum only to be hauled down near the home line.
A huge shove by the visiting pack in the 61st minute led to a penalty try for them and Huw Thomas made no mistake in adding the conversion that put the North Walians in front. Lloyd followed up by landing a smart drop goal and McLeod soon ploughed over the home line, only to have his 'try' disallowed for making a double movement.
Further pressure on the Fourth Division side produced dividends when Ward claimed a line-out and Lloyd orchestrated a dummy switch move which gave replacement winger Anthony Lang enough room to slice through the home defence and score a marvellous try under the posts. Thomas added the simple conversion and Wrexham looked home and dry.
Llanhilleth had other ideas, however, and countered with some late pressure that forced the visitors to defend. With hooker Danny Munro in great tackling form, they did this superbly and denied their opponents at every turn to wrap up a tremendous opening victory that should boost them in their forthcoming North Wales League programme.
Oswestry called off their scheduled friendly game at Bryn Estyn Road leaving Wrexham Seconds without a match, but the Thirds made a great start to their North East Wales Division Two league campaign with a sparkling 22-3 victory over a competitive Rhyl Third XV at Wrexham.
Tries came from Mark Lloyd, Scott Davies and Andy Lee while Michael Powell enjoyed a successful day with the boot by kicking two conversions and a penalty. Full-back John Gormley and lock Paul Parbury looked impressive for the victors.
Having to travel to the heart of the South Wales Valleys for a cup match in a highly charged atmosphere can't be regarded as an easy start to the season, but that is what Wrexham must do tomorrow when they play Llanhilleth in a preliminary round of the Welsh Cup Competition (kick-off at 2.30pm).
Club Coach Ross Roberts is on holiday but assistant coach Graham Williams has worked hard with the players in pre-season training and will take charge of the squad. Top try scorer Jason Munro, a key player in the pack, is unavailable for several weeks but the team's other top ball carrier Iwan Roberts has completed a short suspension and is eligible to play in the back-row.
Williams has delayed team selection while players check on their availability to make the long trip to the South, but new recruit Simon Sullivan is expected to play in the threequarter line after making an impressive debut at full-back in the Wrexham side which competed at the Hoylake Tens Competition last Saturday.
The pack should be strong enough to take on Llanhilleth's Division Four unit with Rob Jones, Danny Munro and Rob Pierce set to form a very powerful front-row. Mike McLeod and Ian Sanger are the likely candidates to fill the second-row berths and Mike Ward, Carl Turner and Llyr Williams are 3 of 6 players who could make up a strong and effective back-row.
In the backs, former skipper Richard Lloyd may play at outside-half if he recovers sufficiently from a long flight from Chicago this week. Londoner Paul Mizzi will provide strength in the centre and will probably partner Stuart Van Wyke with Gavin Brace claiming the full-back position.
The main headache for Graham Williams will be trying to find a scrum-half to replace former skipper Robbie James who has returned to his old club Crewe and Nantwich. John Roberts replaced James when he was injured in the second-half of last season, but Roberts is currently suspended and will have to wait until the beginning of October before he can play again.
Players like Lloyd, McLeod, Turner and Llyr Williams have competed against Llanhilleth before and will be aware of their style of play. The last time that the clubs met was in the 1997/98 season when they were competing for the Division Five East Championship and Wrexham managed to complete a notable
double of victories.
Llanhilleth possessed a strong pack on both occasions but Wrexham managed to wear them down in the forward exchanges before releasing their nippy threequarters who scored the match winning tries. In the following season, Wrexham were fast tracked into Division Two as the North Wales Flagship Side and lost sight of their old adversaries who have since been promoted to Division Four East.
The Gwent side will undoubtedly start as favourites to win tomorrow's encounter but will meet a Wrexham side which has belief in itself, finished strongly in Division Five North last season when it also enjoyed a successful start to its' Principality Welsh Cup campaign. Powerful Kidwelly were beaten by 15-9 in the season opener and Old Penarthians were beaten by 17-16 on their home midden before Builth Wells from Division Three put a stop to the North Walians' charge with a 43-0 whitewash.
Having suffered a poor disciplinary record last season, Wrexham will need to exercise great self control in the charged atmosphere of a cup match on a faraway pitch. Provided that their first choice pack is available to play, Wrexham should be able to replicate their outstanding form of last Spring and perhaps bring home the spoils to get their season off to an inspired start.
Wrexham Seconds, led once again by Kevin Davies, open their season with a friendly game against Oswestry Firsts at Bryn Estyn Road. On an adjacent rugby pitch, Wrexham Thirds take on Rhyl Thirds in a North East Wales Division Two league game that skipper Sean Williams will be very keen to win (k.o.3.00pm).
On Sunday morning, the Wrexham Mini and Junior Section will launch their new season with training sessions for all of their teams. They provide rugby games for youngsters, both male and female, between the ages of 7 and 15 and start their sessions at 10.00am at Bryn Estyn Road.
The Wrexham First Team squad performed very well at the Hoylake Tens Competition last Saturday, winning three of their four Group C games but failing to reach the semi-finals as the highest scoring runner-up by a small points difference. It was a good workout for most members of the squad, however, and fitness levels looked encouraging for the beginning of a new season.
Dean Griffiths put Wrexham in front against Bowdon in their first group game but the Manchester side soon countered with a converted try to snatch the lead. It remained this way until good work from the forwards helped Griffiths to claim a match winning try in the last minute.
The Welshmen moved up a gear in their second game against the Yorkshire based Roundhedgians and eased to a 17-7 victory with tries by Ian Sanger, James Wrathall and John Davies who also kicked a conversion.
In their next game they whitewashed a plucky Runcorn side by 33-0, their tries coming from Griffiths, Llyr Williams, Davies, Owen Thomas and the exciting 19 year old newcomer Simon Sullivan who added a conversion to his debut try. Hooker Gareth Perrin demonstrated his kicking prowess as a front-row player by adding another conversion.
In their final group game, Wrexham came up against a slick unbeaten Caldy side and were defeated by 12-0 despite dominating much of the play. Breakaway tries proved to be their downfall and the Manchester side Didsbury edged them out of the competition as the highest scoring runners-up, but the Wrexham players left Hoylake happy in the knowledge that they had played well in this warm up to the new season and are primed to take on Llanhilleth in tomorrow's opening game.
With only one week to go before the start of the season, the Wrexham First Team squad will test their competitive edge tomorrow when they make the short journey to the Wirral Peninsula to represent North Wales in a new Rugby Tens Tournament (kick-off at 12.30pm).
Although several of his top players are on holiday or otherwise unavailable, coach Ross Roberts is taking a taking a powerful squad of 15 players to the tournament including last season's top try scorer Jason Munro, the experienced lock Alex Crewe and young outside-half Kerry Powell who has moved up from the Youth Team.
How Roberts' team copes with the fast flowing game of ten-a-side rugby remains to be seen as Wrexham have never entered this type of competition before, but it should prove to be ideal preparation for next week's opening game of the season at Llanhilleth in South Wales.
Most of the clubs competing for the tournament trophy tomorrow afternoon are from the Wirral including hosts Hoylake, Anselmians, Preston and Port Sunlight, but several are Manchester based including Altrincham and Kersal and Didsbury.
Registration of clubs takes place at 11.30am and the main tournament commences at 12.30pm. It continues throughout the Bank Holiday afternoon and reaches its climax with the main final at 6.00pm. Afterwards there will be a barbecue and disco for the players and supporters at Hoylake's Carr Lane headquarters.
Under newly introduced regulations, players from all teams at Wrexham will have to be officially registered with the Welsh Rugby Union by Saturday 31st August. Fixture Secretary Paul Roberts has announced that a registration evening has been arranged at the clubhouse on Tuesday evening 27th August between 7.00pm to 8.30pm so that players can comply with the new regulations and receive minimum cover in the event of a serious injury.
Wrexham First Team's practice game at Manchester last Saturday suffered an embarrassing cancellation when a third of the squad declared themselves unavailable at a late stage. Coach Ross Roberts found himself facing the prospect of taking on a very strong Manchester side with less than a full team and had to call off what should have been a useful workout for his squad.
However, the weekend Rugby Summer School at Bryn Estyn Road for boys and girls in the 7 to 10 age groups proved to be a tremendous success with over 50 youngsters enjoying the fun. The warm conditions were ideal and helped the organisers to teach new skills to beginners and add to the sporting skills of the more experienced course members.
The course was rounded off by a mini rugby tournament on Sunday afternoon and the local Welsh Rugby Union Development Officer Marc Roberts was on hand to present certificates and training rugby balls to all of those taking part.
The thriving Mini and Junior Rugby Section have announced that they will
launch their season on Sunday 1st September with two weeks of training sessions followed by their opening games against Crewe
andSandbach in mid September.
Former Club Captain Richard Lloyd has been improving his coaching techniques and enjoying a holiday in America as a guest of Chicago side Lincoln Park, who Wrexham played on a club tour several years ago. He returns to Wales next week and is expected to join the First Team squad for their Division Five North league programme which kicks off at Pwllheli on Saturday 7th September.
Wrexham's hopes of making a big impact in the North Wales League this season were given a major boost when Welsh international lock Steve Moore arrived at the club on Tuesday evening to help coach the squad for the new season.
Moore, born in Wrexham and a key player in the town side before he moved to Swansea, has moved back into the North West after spells with Cardiff and Narbonne in France. He has joined the Lancashire side Orrell who have just been promoted to Division One of the English League but has obtained permission from his new employers to develop his coaching skills at Wrexham.
"I enjoyed all of my time at Wrexham through the minis and juniors to the Youth Team and then the seniors, and now I want to put something back into the club," explained Steve at a well attended training session on Tuesday evening.
Moore gained his first full international cap when he played against Canada on Wales's highly successful 1997 North American Tour. He followed this by being selected as the first choice lock for the Welsh side which
comprehensively defeated Romania under Coach Kevin Bowring at Wrexham's Racecourse in the same year.
He didn't fare so well at the top international level when Graham Henry took over from Bowring but still managed one more full cap and has also achieved 10 'A' caps so far. Steve and his brother Andy, who has just completed a move from Swansea to Bridgend, became only the 28th set of brothers to play for Wales.
Wrexham Coach Ross Roberts is very excited at the inclusion of Moore in his team of coaches. "Steve's offer to help the club is much appreciated and I'm confident that his presence and vast experience will not only improve the skills of existing players but will also attract new players to the club," enthused Roberts.
Training takes place every Tuesday and Thursday evening at 7.00pm but the demands of playing for Orrell dictate that Moore will be available on Tuesday sessions only. If his appearance this week, when training attendances were doubled, is anything to go by, Wrexham's rugby players should be in much better shape this season than their in last campaign.
It was announced by club officials on Tuesday that Newport, who finished as runners-up behind Llanelli in the Welsh/Scottish League last May, will base their summer training camp at Wrexham next week. They plan to stay at the Wynnstay Hotel from Sunday evening until Wednesday and will use Wrexham's Bryn Estyn Road site as their training base.
For those rugby followers who want a chance to see some of Newport's top international players in action, morning sessions will start after breakfast and finish at 11.30am. Times of afternoon sessions will vary and the squad will combine their rugby training with visits to Wrexham's Waterworld centre as part of their overall fitness development programme.
Coach Ross Roberts is finalising plans to take a squad of 30 players to Manchester next weekend for a series of practice games against the Lancashire club's powerful second string. The Wirral side Hoylake was due to visit Wrexham for trial games on the following Saturday 24th August but that event has now been rescheduled and Roberts and his squad will now visit Hoylake on that weekend to compete in a 10's Tournament.
The Wrexham Mini and Junior Rugby Section officials were also working hard this week to prepare for a two day Rugby Summer School which will be held at their Bryn Estyn Road site next weekend 17th and 18th August between 10.00am and 4.00pm.
The summer school has been organised in conjunction with the County's WRU Rugby Development Officer Marc Roberts to help boys and girls between the ages of 7 to 10 to learn new skills or to add to the sporting skills which they already possess. The highlight of the weekend will be a mini tournament of the final day with certificates being presented to all those attending.
It should prove to be a lot of fun for the youngsters and the standard fee for the two day course is £8 per person with seven year olds being admitted for half-price. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 100 and the people to contact for more information are Marc Roberts on 01978 317689 or Neil Sissons on 01978 357990.
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