Conference Previews - 4th August
02nd August 2012, 13:37
North Wales Conference Previews - Play-offs
By Ryan Gould
The North Wales Conference enters the play-off stage, with the Prestatyn and Rhyl Panthers, Conwy Celts, Dee Valley Dragons and Flintshire Falcons qualifying. The four teams will battle it out for the two available places in the final in an attempt to make history as the first champions of the league.
Conwy Celts v Dee Valley Dragons - Colwyn Bay RFC, Saturday at 2pm
The Celts and Dragons have battled it out for second place all year and it was the side from Conwy who secured it, giving them a home tie in the play-offs.
This has the credentials to be a fantastic tie - with the hosts looking for revenge after a drubbing against their opponents earlier in the year, both sides being in fair form, and the main goal of reaching the final.
Conwy Celts have come out of a rough patch - in which they lost of few fixtures and were run close by some of the lower teams - to come into the tie in decent form. The Dragons were also run close by the Flintshire Falcons last weekend, but have put a good string of results together lately.
Both of these clubs have the experience compared to the likes of the Falcons and Raiders, and they will want to reward their hard work over the season with a place in the final, giving them a sniff of glory.
Prestatyn and Rhyl Panthers v Flintshire Falcons - Meadows Playing Fields, Saturday at 3pm
Flintshire Falcons face the dificult task of travelling to the league winners Prestatyn and Rhyl Panthers.
However, coach Matt Pritchard isn't stressing about the task ahead. "We're just aiming to be competitive and we'll try to sneak the game if we can. Once again there's no pressure on us. We've done more than we anticipated already, so we're just looking forward to playing the favourites for the competition" he said.
Pritchard is very proud of the club for reaching this stage. He explained, "To put a club together in three days is a huge achievement alone, but to then compete in every single game since in such a short space of time and to make the play-offs too - that is something else."
"Huge credit goes out to chairman Mark Parry, treasurer and media officer Mike Roberts and assistant Mark Lewin - they have all been brilliant. Also, a huge thanks goes out to the players and supporters that have embraced the game."
They will be hoping to have a strong squad to select from and perhaps cause an upset. They've pushed teams all the way this year, but have come up on the wrong end of the scoreline. This time they will look to go one better.
Prestatyn coach Jonathan Burgess is pleased with how the season has gone so far and wants his side to go all the way. He said: "We'll have a strong side out, so we should make it to the final - we're confident of that. We have a perfect record so far, and I'm really pleased about that."
"We set high standards at the start of the year and we have lived up to that. Some people don't like the way we've played, but it works. We are a physical side who put in a lot of effort. In pre-season we played against sides in the North West who were far more physical. That's the approach we wanted to take, it's worked."
Burgess' side will be near full strength with an exception of the two long-term injuries that they have picked up of late. They will be looking to continue their 100% record into the play-offs - this not considering the postponed and abandoned games.
South Wales Premier Division Previews
By Simon Green
The Valley Cougars and Bridgend Blue Bulls go head to head this Saturday in a match that will decide who joins the Bonymaen Broncos in the Wales Grand Final on Sunday 19th August.
The winner will be guaranteed second spot while the loser will finish third at best and season will be over.
The Cougars will start as favourites as they have home advantage and also picked up a 46-32 victory over the Blue Bulls earlier in the season, but they are not taking anything for granted with Team Manager Clive Batchelor saying “we have been looking forward to this match for some time, it is a massively important game for both teams as winner will guarantee a Final spot and we know they will be as pumped up for it as us. Although we beat the Bulls away we will be taking nothing for granted as they will want revenge and they have lots of very good players”.
The Blue Bulls have named a good mix of youth and experience in there side, teenagers Huw Rosser, Joshua Collins, Josh Miles, Owen Thomas and Owain Williams have all been in good form and have played well alongside the more experienced players such as Gareth David and Gareth Howells.
Bulls Team Manager said “this is the most important game for many years, it’s our tenth anniversary season and we want it to be a good one so a win is vital to us. We were devastated when they beat us at Porthcawl but we were defensively poor that day and had a player sent off in the opening ten minutes. Since then though we have improved, picked up two very big wins over the Titans and got a great draw away to the Broncos We have also improved defensively and there will be no repeat of the indiscipline that cost us previously”.
The Blue Bulls have won the Welsh Conference on six occasions while the Cougars have won the title twice, but whoever wins on Saturday will have a massive task on their hands as the unbeaten Bonymaen Broncos await them in the Final.