Source: WRU

The Welsh Derby

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Gwalia Lightning v Brython Thunder

New Year’s Day 2024 Rodney Parade, Newport

The third and last match of the Round One of the Celtic Challenge showed each nation was choosing its own path. The Welsh version formed part of a double-header, with the Dragons and Scarlets performing later on the same pitch.

Team Selections:

Gwalia Lightning included three full internationals; Brython Thunder several more (asterisked below).

It was good to see a few PWR clubs happy to release players for this game, and to see Natalia John back in service after missing the WXV1 through injury. Rebecca Deflippo was making a return from a much longer absence.

The Game

Conditions were what you might have guessed, dark clouds adding generous liquid to the contest throughout.

It took Gwalia barely three minutes to make their mark. A great thrust from a line-out by Jenni Scoble led to a try for Kate Williams. 5-0

Then an all too familiar sequence: Gwalia failed to clear a kick through by Lowri Williams at the first opportunity; they lost control as they tried to exit, committed an infringement and Meg Davies tapped and went straight for the line. 5-5

The first scrum was a triumph for Gwalia. It led to a deadly kick through by Carys Hughes that Catherine Richards accepted all on her own. 10-5

Inside the first quarter hour Gwalia were in for their third offering, another to Richards as Brython’s defences were dismantled a shade too easily. All the conversions had been from a wide angle, but Nel Metcalfe’s third attempt was fine. 17-5

Hannah Bluck was unfortunate to suffer an injury that caused an early replacement.

Handling became a lottery, so it was little surprise that the only remaining score was a penalty by Metcalfe before the break.

Brython’s realignments were slow and unproductive; too many forwards waiting around rather than ensuring quick repossession. So when prop Chloe Thomas Bradley did receive the ball, she was on the end of a short attacking line, and lost the ball forward as she was helped into touch.

With the game moving to a close, Brython won a penalty in front. Bravely they tapped and went, but another promising move fell foul of the bar of soap they were playing with. They finished hard, driving at the line, but the blue-shirted defence remained firm.

Ioan Cunningham was watching on, but it will have been tricky for him to distinguish between avoidable mistakes and the inevitable ones caused by the unfriendly conditions.

Result: Gwalia Lightning 20 Brython Thunder 5 Player of the Match: Sian Jones


Gwalia Lightning:

15 *Nel Metcalfe, 14 Katie Thicker, 13 Kelsie Webster, 12 Rebecca Deflippo, 11 Catherine Richards, 10 Carys Hughes, 9 Sian Jones; 1* Abbey Constable, 2 Molly Reardon, 3 Jenni Scoble, 4 Paige Jones, 5 *Bryonie King (captain), 6 Katie Jenkins, 7 *Kate Williams, 8 Gwennan Hopkins.

Bench: 16 Mica Evans, 17 Sophie Waugh, 18 Lowri Williams, 19 Maisie Davies, 20. Sydney Mead, 21 Kierra Deeks, 22 Molly Anderson-Thomas, 23 Kate Davies.

Brython Thunder:

15 Lowri Williams, 14 Danai Mugabe, 13 *Meg Webb, 12 *Hannah Bluck, 11 Eleanor Hing, 10 *Niamh Terry, 9 *Meg Davies; 1 Chloe Thomas Bradley, 2 Rosie Carr, 3 Katie Carr, 4 *Natalia John, 5 Charlie Mundy, 6 Finley Jones, 7 *Alex Callender (captain), 8 Sioned Harries

Bench: 16 Rhian Thomas, 17 Madi Johns, 18 Cadi Lois Davies, 19 Katie Mackay, 20 Georgia Morgan, 21 Seren Singleton, 22 Mollie Wilkinson, 23 Ellie May Troman
*capped players


Now comes the exciting turn of events; hard fought derbies turning into International contests. It’s still impossible to tell how results may pan out. Coaches have had a brief chance to analyse how their squad members have performed, but the crux of the matter is still to be decided.

Now let’s imagine the RFU putting out two similar teams, no contracted players allowed. Who would feature? Once you’ve listed your first 100 names, you must reduce them to 46.

First Round Results:

Edinburgh 28 Glasgow Warriors 12
Clovers 15 Wolfhounds 21
Gwalia Lightning 20 Brython Thunder 5

Next round:

Saturday January 6, Edinburgh Rugby v Wolfhounds, Hive Stadium Edinburgh. 2pm
Saturday January 6, Clovers v Brython Thunder, Energia Park Dublin, 2.30pm
Sunday January 7, Gwalia Lightning v Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff Arms Park, 1.30pm

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