Club take on Irish coach to help with new challenge
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.