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Wales Deaf put a smile back on the nations’ rugby fans with a 21 points to 9 victory over England Deaf at a windswept Sardis Road.
Meeting for ninth time, Wales were looking to build on last year’s victory in Coventry and record an eighth victory against England.
Playing with the strong wind at their backs, England went into an early lead after 2 minutes with a penalty by centre Craig Orrick as Wales were penalised for handling in a ruck.
From the kick off, Wales went on the attack and following some good approach work, the English midfield were penalised for off-side. Dunvant outside half Richard Lewis levelled the scores with a penalty from 22 metres.
A scything 30 metre touchline break by Wales full back Nigel Francis resulted in a further penalty to Wales as English defenders were penalised for not rolling away at the tackle. Struggling with the gusty wind, Lewis put the kick narrowly to the right of the posts.
On 14 minutes, Wales stretched their lead to 8 – 3 with a blistering break by Francis who tore through the English defence and crash over for a well taken try.
The physical England forwards put together some good phases of play in the tight, however the lighter Welsh pack competed well in the scrums. On 20 minutes, England narrowed the lead to 8 – 6 with a penalty from 35 metres by centre Orrick as Wales were penalised for handling in a ruck.
As England started to enjoy more possession, Wales were penalised for not retiring 10 metres at a penalty and from the resulting kick, centre Orrick put England ahead by 8 – 9 from 40 metres.
From the kick off, Wales pressed into the England twenty two. As the Welsh forwards inched their way forward, a key moment in the game occurred on 35 minutes when the referee sent England centre Orrick from the field of play for punching. Outside half Lewis kicked the resulting penalty from in front of the posts to put Wales ahead by 11 – 9 at the break.
With England down to 14 players, Wales enjoyed more of the possession at the beginning of the second half. On 55 minutes, dynamic Carmarthen Athletic number 8 Gareth Bennett crashed over in the corner to extend Wales’ lead to 16 – 9. Outside half Lewis narrowly missed the conversion from far out on the touchline.
Pacey Tonmawr centre Gareth John was influential in further Wales attacks however sound defence from England combined with difficult handling conditions thwarted further scores.
As the game moved into the final quarter, outside half Lewis was just off target with a long range penalty. On 70 minutes and as England’s resolute defence began to tire, debutant scrum half Kieron John pounced on a loose clearance to scamper over in the corner to seal a hard fought 21 – 9 victory for Wales.