COAST JUST EDGE ORIGIN GAME
By Gary Baker at St Peters RFC, Cardiff
ASSISTANT coach Paul Emmanuelli admitted the Wales A selectors will face a major headache to pick a 25-man squad for this season's Home Nations Championships after the first of two Origin Games in the Principality this week.
Wales A take on England Lions in the first of those matches on Sunday July 14 at The Gnoll and, after years of it being a mainly South Wales-based squad for the internationals, Wales Rugby League have now encompassed the North Wales Conference players into the fold, giving a bigger depth of talent to choose from.
The first of the Coast v Country Origin matches, with South Wales Conference teams supplying players to both sides, saw a ding-dong battle that resulted in Man of the Match Rhys Meredith, of Newport Titans, scoring the decisive try, that completed his hat-trick.
It gave the Coast a 36-34 victory having been 18-0 down after the first 14 minutes of the match when Country hooker Martin Luckwell went over for two tries, with Darryl Carter adding the other touchdown.
New Welsh head coach Mike Grady will cast his eye over the North Wales Coast v Country game on Friday, and, after that, the hard work begins to pick a squad from a wealth of talent that have put their hands up for inclusion in the national side.
Emmanuelli said: “It was a superb game and the Country side were a lot stronger up front but when the Coast started to move it and play to their strengths, I thought they were the better side.
“There were a lot of new boys who I have never seen in all the years I have been involved with Wales and a few I know will be in the mix as well so it was all very positive.
“The selection process is a week Thursday (June 6) which will be extremely difficult. There were one or two who gave their apologies for this match and could not come along so they will be in the mix for selection as well.”
There are a possible ten to 15 players from the north who have already been singled-out for possible national selection but Emmanuelli is not underestimating the task that faces them in the opening game against England.
“I was part of the side that got hammered in England and we have the biggest, toughest test to start with so we can only judge it from there. There seems to be a lot more competition for places this year and the signs are very good.
“I thought the two hookers were great today in Martin Luckwell and Rhys who scored a number of tries apiece. From what I have seen today, there are two of everything.”
And all of this is good for the hopes of Wales lifting the Home Nations title again. Emmanuelli added: “I am hopeful we will do well. Mike has a good pedigree and hopefully he can bring what we need.”
Louis Denton and Meredith got the Coast back into the match after the Country opened up a big gap but a try from Torfaen Tigers' Kyle Scrivens seconds before half-time game the Country a 22-8 advantage.
That seemed big enough to hold sway but Joel Knight started the fightback for the Coast from impressive forwardMike Davies and Torfaen's Mikki Witts set up the grand finale that saw Meredith go over for his hat-trick and secure the win for the Coast.
Edited by DugSWRLgan, 28 May 2013 - 11:49 AM.