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It ain’t over, till it’s Drover: The Dragon Round Up

Super Cooperman

Welsh managers in the Premier League are always an endangered species, but Steve Cooper’s exploits at the weekend means they will not become extinct.

Former Swansea City man Cooper – from Pontypridd – earned arguably the biggest result of his career with Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal.

It was a win that guaranteed Forest’s status in the top flight for another year after a difficult first season following their shock promotion 12 months ago.

“This allows us to continue to build and that is what I am focused on,” said Cooper afterwards.

“This club is so special and everything needs to be at a really high level. This allows us to continue to grow and to be the club we want to be.

“I am proud to work here. There is something unique about this club that captures the imagination with the history and the atmosphere.”

The Flying Ferret

Welsh darts star Jonny Clayton appears to have hit form at exactly the right moment following his triumph in the Players Championship 12.

The Ferret crushed Josh Rock, 8-5, in the final in Leicester to make it the fifth time he has lifted that particular trophy.

With a looming showdown against fellow Welshman Gerwyn Price scheduled for Thursday in the Cazoo Premier League Darts Play-Offs at the O2 Arena in London, Clayton’s confidence-booster could not have been better timed.

“I’m playing Gerwyn Price, arguably the best player in the world, on Thursday night, so I need the practice,” said the pontiff of Pontyberem.

“I’ll admit I’m the laziest practicer at home, so I needed this and it keeps me sharp for next week.

“I’m playing okay again and I’ve got a smile on my face. Hopefully it gives me that confidence to pick up the trophy for a second time.”


Geraint Thomas lost the leader’s pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia, but the Welsh rider remains the coolest dude in the peleton.

That’s because the overall lead went to Frenchman Bruno Amirail, who Thomas’s teammates at Ineos Grenadiers reckon they’ll eat for breakfast during the week-long sequence of stages in the Alps.

Thomas is only one minute and eight seconds behind, a gap they could even close in one stage if Amirail can’t handle the pace set by the Grenadiers.

Thomas sounded like a Bond villain, stroking a white cat when he said: “It’s a waiting game at the moment but with three mountain finishes in the final week, including the final TT, a hell of a lot can happen.

“I’m content to wait for now. Hopefully, we can do something.

“To be honest, I came into the Giro hoping to limit my losses in the first two weeks, hoping to have good, good legs at the end. To be in front of the main rivals is certainly a nice bonus.”

Lab Experiment

They were other Welsh competitors playing the long game, too.

Glamorgan could have gone for a risky victory with a declaration against Sussex in their LV= Insurance County Championship Division Two match.

But they decided, instead, to grind Sussex into the dust and pick up seven bonus points in a drawn game after batting for two solid days.

The Welsh county compiled a massive total of 737 – the highest second-innings score made in England, and the second highest total ever made by the county

Three players hit centuries – Marnus Labuschagne (138), Kiran Carlson (192) and Michael Neser (123).

It was a fond farewell by Labuschagne before he leaves sunny Cardiff and heads off to join his fellow Australians who are soon arriving to play England in the Ashes.

Fast bowler Neser also looks set to get the call from the Aussies, but at least Labuschagne sounds as if his love affair with Glamorgan will be rekindled.

Asked if he plans to return to Glamorgan next season, the No.1-rated batsman in the world said: “I love the people I’m playing with and that’s what keeps me coming back to the county.

“I don’t want to say any definites, but I love coming back here, my family love it so it’s the county I’ve always played for and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Likely Ladd

Hayley Ladd scored a breathtaking goal for Manchester United Women that set them on their way to a 2-1 derby win over Manchester City Women.

It meant that Welsh international Ladd could yet still end up with a Women’s Super League title winner’s medal as United’s battle with Chelsea continues.

Chelsea – with Wales captain Sophie Ingle in their ranks – are still in the box seat, but the destiny of the title is going down to the final round of games.

It ain’t over, till it’s Drover

Llandovery were underdogs to beat Cardiff and lift the Indigo Premiership final at the Arms Park – but the Drovers made it look easy.

They thoroughly deserved their 24-8 triumph against a Cardiff side who had finished ahead of them in the regular season.

Two tries from scrum-half Lee Rees sent them on their way and Rees said: “I am so proud of the boys, it was an unbelievable performance.

“We had a fast start and we caught Cardiff a bit cold. But we just kept coming and were relentless. I am not surprised with the way we then defended because we dug in and just wanted it more than they did.

“I have been at this club since 2009 and it has always been a goal of mine to win this trophy and become champions. We have played 24 games to win this – and we have won most of them, so it feels like a nice reward.”

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