It’s semi-final weekend in the Welsh Premier League and Junior Leagues as momentum builds for the Grand Finals in Pontypridd on Sunday 12 August writes Ian Golden.
The Premier League semi-finals this Saturday see Valley Cougars take on Rhondda Outlaws at Treharris RFC and Torfaen Tigers host Cardiff Blue Dragons at Cwmbran RFC; both games kick-off at 2.30pm.
Then this Sunday, at Under 13s level, Cardiff travel to Aber Valley Wolves (kick-off 11am) with Bridgend Blue Bulls waiting for them in the final.
Valley Cougars remain unbeaten in Wales for the last two seasons and are determine to keep that record as they look for their fifth successive Grand Final, having won the competition last year and having reached the final of the former RFL Conference South competition in the previous three seasons.
Cougars’ team manager Liam Price said: “We go into this week’s game against Rhondda Outlaws fully aware that they are the most improved side in the league. There is no doubt in our minds that this will be our toughest challenge in the league so far. Our aim this season was always to retain the trophy we won last year and hopefully with a bit of hard work and determination we can put a performance in on Saturday and make our second successive Welsh final.”
Tigers’ coach Ian Newbury said: “We are looking forward to putting things right following the lacklustre performance last week. Cardiff will be a tough test but one everyone is up for. It’s cup rugby time. There are no second places from now on in.”
Cardiff director Alf Harvey said: “This season was all about stability and getting our brand known in the area. All of the above we have done and to see all of our teams getting into the play-offs is amazing and a testament to the coaches, players and parents commitment. We are proud of all our junior teams and our senior player-coach programme is paying off at this age grade and at Under 15s level.
“For the seniors, we have had all the ability to do well but not put that into a solid performance in the first part of the season. In the latter part we have gelled and found a style we are happy with. We hope we can showcase that brand and move onto the final. I must acknowledge the leadership of our captain Duane Iles who has kept spirits up in the lean part of the season and driven performance through example.”
Aber Valley Wolves general manager Helen Treherne said: “Aber Valley Wolves Under 13s are thrilled to be in the semi-finals this year. The boys have worked hard all season and have really gelled well as a team. With a mixture of hard work, skill, dedication and always a little sprinkling of good luck, they’ll join our Under 15s as Grand Finalists. It’s been a great season for the club so far – we moved to our impressive new ground at Aneurin Park, our 13s are in the semi-final and our 15s are in the Grand Final, so let the great season continue!”
In Betfred League 1 this weekend, West Wales Raiders host Hunslet on Saturday at Stebonheath Park (kick-off 3pm) whilst North Wales Crusaders travel to York City Knights on Sunday.
Saturday 4 August
Welsh Premier League – Valley Cougars v Rhondda Outlaws (The Bullring, Treharris, 2.30pm), Torfaen Tigers v Cardiff Blue Dragons (King’s Head, Cwmbran, 2.30pm)
Betfred League 1 – West Wales Raiders v Hunslet (Stebonheath Park, Llanelli, 3pm)
Sunday 5 August
Welsh Under 13s Semi-Final – Aber Valley Wolves v Cardiff Blue Dragons (Aneurin Park, Caerphilly, 11am)
Betfred League 1 – York City Knights v North Wales Crusaders (Bootham Crescent, York, 3pm)
Saturday 11 August
Betfred League 1 – West Wales Raiders v York City Knights (Stebonheath Park, Llanelli, 3pm)
Sunday 12 August
Welsh Grand Final Day – all matches at Sardis Road, Pontypridd
Under 13s – Bridgend Blue Bulls v Aber Valley Wolves or Cardiff Blue Dragons (10.00am)
Under 15s – Aber Valley Wolves v Cardiff Blue Dragons (11.15am)
Under 17s – Cardiff Blue Dragons v Torfaen Tigers (12.45pm)
Premier League – Valley Cougars or Rhondda Outlaws v Torfaen Tigers or Cardiff Blue Dragons (2.45pm)
Betfred League 1 – North Wales Crusaders v Bradford Bulls (Queensway Stadium, Wrexham, 2.30pm)