There’s plenty of action in the Land of the Leek tomorrow and Saturday.
Ian Golden anticipates
Both Torfaen Tigers and Valley Cougars are looking forward to being the opening act in a three-match spectacular that forms Big Welsh Derby day at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park this Saturday.
The day starts at 12.30pm with a Conference League South match between these two local rivals, before Super League Academy side Salford Red Devils give South Wales Scorpions’ under 20s their biggest test yet at 2.30pm. The Big Welsh Derby between South Wales Scorpions and North Wales Crusaders in Kingstone Press League 1 concludes the day at 5pm.
The Cougars have starred in all three of the Scorpions’ Arms Park events but this is the first time that they’ve played for Conference League South points at the famous stadium.
The two head coaches both play for South Wales Scorpions, with Kyle Scrivens in charge of the Cwmbran-based Tigers and Dafydd Hellard the new Cougars coach for 2016.
Hellard said: “Training this week has gone pretty well, I think the lure of playing on the Arms Park has certainly motivated a few players to push themselves hard at training and make my job with selection a lot more difficult. We are building quite nicely this season and there is competition for places in every position, that is something we haven’t had the luxury of in seasons gone by and it can only be a good thing as we go forward.
“The focus for us this week has been on our game plan, we have a confidence about us now that if we do the little things well and each player does they’re own job then we will be there or there abouts come the final whistle.
“However we’re not naive and we respect that Torfaen have some attacking threats in their squad, but I’m sure my guys will be more than up for the challenge come kick off on Saturday.
“I’m sure our loyal supporters will be there in voice and hopefully that will build nicely into the other two fixtures on later in the day. Personally for me the day will give me the opportunity to thank our many supporters and sponsors who have remained loyal to the club over the years and have been a big part of our success both on and off the field. The club still has some remaining tickets for the big Welsh Derby so if anyone wants any, they can get in touch with myself or drop me a message via the valley Cougars Facebook or Twitter pages.”
Kyle Scrivens will be coaching and playing come Saturday and he’s looking forward to his dual role on Saturday.
Torfaen’s last outing was a hard-fought home win over last year’s champions Nottingham Outlaws so he knows that his team have nothing to fear this weekend.
Scrivens said: “The boys are really looking forward to playing against Valley Cougars. It’s always a big match when Torfaen play them and to face them at the Cardiff Arms Park and to be part of a big day in Welsh Rugby League is going to be good. Preparation has gone well and the boys have trained hard this week.
“We are two of the oldest clubs in Wales and every year the games get more and more intense – with the recent transfers of Dan Davies to us from the Cougars, and Jack Watkins the other way sure to add a little more spice to an always fiery encounter.
“The build up to this game has been somewhat different. Dafydd and I joined forces last week and the best of our players formed the East Wales side who successfully beat West Wales down at Stebonheath in Llanelli which was a fantastic venue.
“Playing there last week and following that up with a fixture at Cardiff Arms Park is something that all players are looking forward to. Hopefully both sides can do their part in making the day pretty special.”
Tickets for the whole day cost just £10 for adults, £5 concessions and £1 for juniors. Hospitality tickets are priced at £30 per person or £250 for a table of ten. This ticket includes access to all three matches plus a celebrity dinner featuring the three former Wales and Great Britain stars. They can be bought by going towww.scorpionsrl.com.
In the other Conference League South game this Saturday, West Wales Raiders host Coventry Bears Reserves at Parc Stebonheath (kick-off 2.30pm).
The two sides fought out an 85-point thriller in Coventry in April with the Bears winning by a single point so the Raiders will be hoping to overturn this come Saturday.
Llanelli-based former Great Britain international Paul Prenderville will be attending his first ever Raiders game after presenting trophies at last week’s Origin games.
Prenderville said: “I was thrilled to receive the invitation to come and be a part of this fantastic day, it was great to see so many talented youngsters on show.
“As I have been involved with Rugby League for so many years, it’s fantastic to see it back in my home town of Llanelli. I was a part of the West Wales Sharks who played their home games from New Dock Stars over eight years ago so it’s brilliant to see how much it has moved on within the town.
“I’m really looking forward in supporting the Raiders this season and can’t wait for my first home game as a supporter this Saturday.”
The Raiders will be working with Communities First this Friday and will be a part of a family fun day and an open Rugby League day, at which people can chat to find out more about the club.
WELSH CONFERENCE PREVIEWS
In the Welsh Conference, Aber Valley Wolves open their season with a home game with Cardiff City RL who currently top the table after their draw against Raiders reserves in their first outing and a win over Bridgend Blue Bulls for the first time in Cardiff RL’s history two weeks ago.
This match will be played at Senghenydd RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).
Aber Valley beat Cardiff in the semi-final of the Welsh Conference last season thanks to a last second try and conversion and Cardiff coach Ben Thomas knows how tough it will be again despite having a very good start to their campaign.
Thomas said: “The boys can’t wait for the first away game of the season at Sengehenydd where we know we’ll face a tough Aber Valley Wolves side. We’ll be looking to better the result from last season’s last-play defeat. We’ve made improvements in each game to date this season and we’ll be looking to continue the trend on Saturday.”
Bridgend are looking to bounce back from our first defeat in Wales for nearly two years when they host new club Blaenau Gwent Sharks to Pyle RFC (kick-off 2pm).
Blue Bulls team manager Steve Smith said: “We’ve had a positive response in training and new faces have come in. We are looking forward to welcoming the Blaenau Gwent Sharks to Pyle and we’re hoping for an enjoyable game.”
Sharks captain Andrew Prouse added: “We’re looking forward to playing our first-ever game. We know how tough it’ll be against last year’s champions but it’ll be a good test and then we’ll see how we’ll go in our first home game on June 11th when we take on Aber Valley Wolves at Tredegar RFC.”
As well as the senior sides from South and North Wales meeting in the Big Welsh Derby at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday, an exciting junior encounter between the two regions is also going to be taking place this weekend.
On Sunday, at The Old Pant Brickworks, Penycae, Wrexham (kick-off 2pm), South Wales and North Wales will be meeting at Under 16s level, with Welsh international places up for grabs.
Last year, in the same fixture in Wrexham, South Wales won 30-10.
The South Wales side will be selected from players who competed in last week’s West v East encounter at Parc Stebonheath where the East won 54-24, while the North side will be selected from players involved with the ever growing North Wales Crusaders community set-up, run by Wales Rugby League, which complemented the good work that continues to be done in South Wales.
North Wales development manager Allen Jones says that his players can’t wait for the opportunity to showcase their talents and hopefully impress the Welsh bosses.
He said: “We have a thriving junior and youth set-up at North Wales Crusaders, which represents the whole of North Wales. We now run sides at Under 8s, 10s, 13s, 14s, 15s, 16s and 18s and it’s these 16s who will be taking to the field on Sunday.
“They’re not just Wrexham-based boys, they come from quite a wide area of North Wales to train on a Thursday evening. We’re looking forward to it. The boys can’t wait to showing the Welsh selectors how well they can do, especially when under the pump.
“I know that there will be a big crowd for the game at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday watching the Scorpions and Crusaders play in League 1 and it would also be good to see a large support the next day for this Big Welsh Derby of our own.”
Wales Rugby League Under 16s team manager Peter Tiffin added: “This game has been staged to make sure that everyone gains an opportunity to impress the Wales Under 16s staff. West played East last week and now it’s North Wales’ turn.”
Admission at The Old Pant Brickworks, Penycae, Wrexham, is free of charge for all.
Saturday 4 June 2016
CONFERENCE LEAGUE SOUTH
Nottingham Outlaws v London Chargers
Valley Cougars v Torfaen Tigers
West Wales Raiders v Coventry Bears
WELSH CONFERENCE SOUTH
Aber Valley Wolves v Cardiff City RL
Bridgend Blue Bulls v Blaenau Gwent Sharks
Sunday 5 June 2016
North Wales v South Wales
West Wales Raiders v Cardiff City RL Juniors
Blaenau Gwent Sharks v Rhondda Outlaws
Aber Valley Wolves v Torfaen Tigers
Bridgend Blue Bulls v SW Rabbitohs
Cardiff City RL v DC Wildcats
Aber Valley Wolves v Torfaen Tigers