Lee Walker claimed one of the biggest scalps of his 25-year career by knocking world number one Judd Trump out of the 19.com English Open. The Gwent player had tasted victory just once this season before the tournament began, but made it three wins in as many days to set up a last 16 clash with Gary Wilson. In a high quality match, Walker stunned the world champion by taking the opening two frames with breaks of 74 and 67, only for Trump to reply with back-to-back centuries.
Wales are preparing for a huge test of their rugby credentials against France this weekend, but it isn’t just happening in Japan. This is the Wales rugby league team and the tournament is the World Cup Nines, which start in Sydney on Friday – just part of a busy current schedule for the league code, as Graham Thomas reports. Wales and the Rugby World Cup may be fixing much of the nation’s attention at present, but the sport’s other code is working hard to grab some of the limelight. Rugby League in Wales has always faced a challenge to move beyond the shadow of rugby union and this season might be their biggest yet if Warren Gatland’s team go all the way in Japan.
Two snooker veterans upset the form book at the 19.com English Open, leaving them as the only Welshmen left standing as the third round gets underway. Against the odds, Dominic Dale secured a place in the last 32 of a ranking event for only the second time in 23 attempts. The 47-year-old eased through 4-1 against Xu Si – conqueror of Matthew Stevens in round one – to set up a clash against world number 68 Tian Pengfei.
Aaron Ramsey is set to return for Juventus this weekend – less than week after missing Wales’ Euro 2020 qualifier against Croatia because of injury. The Wales midfielder has trained with his Italian club and is in contention to return from a groin injury to face Genoa in Turin on Saturday. That will be a mixed blessing for Wales manager Ryan Giggs, who must now hope Ramsey can sustain fitness until Wales’ decisive final qualifiers in Azerbaijan on November 16 and at home to Hungary three days later.
Ken Owens is backing the strength of shared experience to prove the decisive factor in Wales’ favour when they meet France in Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final. The Wales hooker made his Test debut at the 2011 World Cup and is now one of the most experienced players in the squad that will be bidding for a place in the last four in Oita. Owens was a wide-eyed youngster back then and back-up to current Wales conditioning coach Huw Bennett, but the Scarlets captain has since gone on to pass Bennett’s half century mark of appearances and will earn his 71st Wales cap on Sunday.
The World Cup quarter-final is looming, with Wales firm favourites with the bookies to beat a disjointed, and often disorganised France. Robin Davey doesn’t find any reason to disagree and says it all points to north v south in two epic semi-finals. It’s Le Crunch, with Wales just 80 minutes away from securing a place in the last four of the World Cup, and with it, revenge against France who controversially dumped them out of the 2011 tournament. Wales will go in to Sunday’s quarter-final as favourites, having won all four of their pool games - one of only two sides to achieve that with hosts Japan being the other – whereas, France have again looked anything but convincing.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
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