Club take on Ir­ish coach to help with new chal­lenge

Llanelli Star - - LOCAL RUGBY -

TWO West cham­pi­ons Pen­clawdd are plan­ning for life back in Di­vi­sion One.

Hav­ing come down from One West at the end of last sea­son, the Donks have bounced straight back up by win­ning 17 of their 22 league matches this term to take the ti­tle by three points from near­est challenger­s Pem­broke.

Af­ter bat­tling all sea­son they even­tu­ally sealed it on April 27 with a 53-6 home win over Pon­ty­berem.

Danny James’s hat-trick led the way, while Matt Evans, James Snell, Rob James, Lee Gun­nell, Tom How­ell and Kris­tian Cor­bisiero all dot­ted down. How­ell added four con­ver­sions.

Still buoy­ant, prepa­ra­tions are al­ready un­der­way for pro­moted Pen­clawdd, who have added for­mer Ire­land women’s in­ter­na­tional So­phie Spence to their coach­ing team.

Spence, 32, who will coach the for­wards, has a glit­ter­ing play­ing CV. She won 37 in­ter­na­tional caps and played in two World Cups while was a two-time Six Na­tions win­ner with a Grand Slam and two Triple Crowns to boot.

She was also a mem­ber of the first Ire­land teams to beat Eng­land and the All Blacks while is also a for­mer win­ner of the Guin­ness Rugby Writ­ers of Ire­land Women’s Player of the Year Award.

There is still one more chal­lenge for dou­ble-chas­ing Pen­clawdd this sea­son, though, as they gear up for tomorrow night’s West Wales Bowl Fi­nal against Loughor at Dun­vant RFC, kick-off 7pm.

It will be the third meet­ing be­tween the two clubs this sea­son. The sides drew 13-13 in the league at Pen­clawdd back on Novem­ber 10 with Pen­clawdd then run­ning out 20-10 vic­tors at Loughor in mid-Fe­bru­ary.

In terms of the league, it was very much job done for Pen­clawdd.

Direc­tor of rugby Jonathan Davis said: “We were look­ing to go straight back up.

“Last sea­son there was dis­ap­point­ment when we came down as we felt cir­cum­stances went against us a lit­tle bit to­wards the end of the sea­son and we ended up go­ing down on try count.

“But from the first time we met back up, ev­ery­body has worked tire­lessly to get us back at the first shot.

“We’ve got the chance to do the dou­ble now – and that was our aim at the start of the sea­son.

“We’ve ob­vi­ously done half of it and hope­fully we’ll fin­ish it off on Thurs­day night in what I’m sure will be an­other com­pet­i­tive game with Loughor.”

Davis added: “We know what we’ve got to do next sea­son, we know what our strengths are and we’re con­fi­dent for mid-ta­ble hope­fully. We should add one or two to the squad.

“There are a few lo­cal boys who have been away work­ing or at univer­sity and are com­ing back so that should strengthen us.

“I don’t en­vis­age los­ing many, one or two might fin­ish – like our No. 8 Stephen Ben­nett who is re­tir­ing at the end of the sea­son. We’ve also got a good youth set-up and we’ll have quite a few boys com­ing out of that next sea­son.”

Two West wrapped up last Satur­day with Car­marthen Ath­letic win­ning 32-20 at Mum­bles to make it five bonus-point wins on the bounce to end the sea­son and fin­ish fourth be­hind Pen­clawdd, Pem­broke and Pon­ty­berem.

Wayne Rice, Robbie Thomas, cap­tain Dan Evans and Brad Rod­er­ick scored the tries for Ath­letic at Un­der­hill Park with Rod­er­ick also kick­ing three con­ver­sions and two penal­ties.

Burry Port fin­ished fifth and they wrapped up their cam­paign with a 49-21 home win over Pon­tard­du­lais.

There is just one fix­ture out­stand­ing in One West this Satur­day be­tween Dun­vant and Kid­welly.

Dun­vant, who won 22-20 at Gow­er­ton last Satur­day in their penul­ti­mate match of the sea­son, have pipped Llan­gen­nech for sec­ond place.

Out­side-half Adam Wil­liamsParry scored all of Dun­vant’s points against the Starch as he ran in a try which he con­verted as well as kick­ing five penal­ties.

One West cham­pi­ons Felin­foel were last night sched­uled to visit the Ynysy­dar­ren Ground to face One West Cen­tral win­ners Ystalyfera in the first leg of their play-off to reach the WRU Na­tional Cham­pi­onship. The sec­ond leg is set for Sun­day at Felin­foel.

Danny James cel­e­brates his first-half try as Pen­clawdd se­cured the Two West ti­tle with vic­tory against Pon­ty­berem.

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