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That was Grainger’s biggest takeaway: The Dragon Round Up

Wales have never reached the finals of a major women’s football tournament, but manager Gemma Grainger believes they will feel right at home when they do.

That was Grainger’s biggest takeaway from her team’s trip to the USA and the international they played in San Jose on Sunday night.

The USA are off to the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in a fortnight, where they will defend their trophy as champions and tournament favourites.

It’s in that context that Grainger felt satisfied with Wales’ 2-0 defeat to the Americans in a friendly. They held out the Americans until late on, when rising star Trinity Rodman – the 21-year-old daughter of former NBA basketball legend Dennis Rodman – scored twice.

But as preparation for next season’s Euro 2025 qualification campaign, Grainger felt the trip to California was a success.

“For us as a team, this couldn’t have been a better game for us,” she said.

“The depth is something we’ve been striving for. We’re focused on qualifying for a major tournament and this felt like playing at a major tournament.”

Trinity Rodman scored in the 76th minute and again in the 88th, as the Americans finally capitalised on their many offensive chances in their a final friendly  warm-up for the Women’s World Cup.

Back in Wales, Swansea City began their pre-season schedule with a behind-closed-doors 2-0 victory at home to Haverfordwest County.

The JD Cymru Premier League visitors provided stubborn resistance to the Swans, but the victory was duly achieved with goals from last season’s leading scorer, Joel Piroe, and Josh Thomas.

Cardiff City also played over the weekend – another game with no fans – as they drew 1-1 on Friday at home to Cambridge United.

Callum Robinson put the hosts in front in the second half, only for Cambridge to equalise in stoppage time through Gassan Ahadme.

The notable Welsh rugby achievement of the weekend was earned by the Wales U20 squad in South Africa.

A team that was whitewashed in last season’s Six Nations have bounced back and underlined that recovery with an impressive six-try 40-21 victory over Georgia at the weekend.

The victory means Wales have qualified for a fifth-place shoot-out against Australia, which if they win would give them their best finish at this tournament since they were runners-up in 2013.

Skippered by Ryan Woodman, a Dragons star of the future, Wales produced their most effective and disciplined performance so far.

Head coach Mark Jones said: “We’re so excited to be playing Australia. We wanted to be in the top four, but we deserve to be in this fifth-place play-off final. 

“Now it is a case of how well we recover and what we learn from the game against Georgia. What a great opportunity to go into a big game against one of the best rugby nations in the world.”

Wales will meet the Aussies on Friday, so have a few days to patch themselves up after a bruising clash against the tough-tackling Georgians.

As Wales look forward to their battle against the Aussies, the senior squad are also thinking about their own clash against the Wallabies at the September World Cup.

Warren Gatland’s players have continued their training camp in Fiesch in Switzerland.

Wales’ head conditioning coach, Huw Bennett says:  “Coming to Fiesch is definitely a highlight of our pre-season.

“It’s something we’ve planned for a long time and we’ve had a good block of training so far.

“It’s our third time coming to Fiesch for an altitude camp. It’s a method of ‘live high, train low’, so we live at altitude at 2,400 metres up.

“Up there you get the natural adaptations of living at altitude, like increased hemoglobin mass and better transport of oxygen around the body. By training low, it means you don’t compromise on the intensity of your training.”

“There are other benefits as well and we feel it works very well.”

Jeremiah Azu has been shattering other sprinter’s dreams for a while, but now he’s smashing records, too.

The 22-year-old broke Christian Malcolm’s 100 metre Welsh record – set in 2001, the year Azu was born – on day one of the UK Athletics Championships on Saturday.

Thunderstorms had been forecast for Manchester, but it was Azu and new British record-holder Zharnel Hughes who provided the lightening on the track in the shadow of the Etihad Stadium.

The pair literally went face to face in the final stages of their semi-final which saw Hughes just edge the win in 10.06, but it was Azu’s time of 10.08 which broke the Welsh record of 10.11.

And Malcolm was there amongst the cheering crowds along the home straight to see his record fall.

In fact, the former Great Britain star and Welsh sprinting legend had predicted Azu would be the man to better his mark when the young Cardiff athlete won the UK title at the same stadium 12 months ago.

Welsh Athletics chief executive James Williams said: “It was an amazing run to break the record and nice to see previous record holder Christian Malcolm going straight to Jez’s family to congratulate them. What a class act.”

Azu later ran 10.28 to finish fourth in the final won by Hughes, in monsoon conditions.

Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Warner took gold in Sunday’s 5km walk final.

It was a Welsh one-two in the event, with Azu’s Cardiff Athletics team-mate Bethan Davies taking silver.

In the shot put, another Welsh athlete took gold with Adele Nicoll proving her progress, while there was bronze for Melissa Courtney Bryant in the 1500m.

Wales beat Scotland 56-52 in their final warm-up match before they leave for the Netball World Cup in South Africa.

Welsh Feathers led 30-25 at half-time and kept their noses in front, despite Scottish Thistles having the better of a tight second-half at Cardiff’s House of Sport.

Welsh Feathers begin their campaign against South Africa in on 28 July, before facing Jamaica and Sri Lanka in Group C.

Elizabeth Popova marked her first Rhythmic British Championships as a senior gymnast with a five-medal haul in Telford.

The Welsh Commonwealth games star took bronze in the senior all-around competition on Saturday, scoring 103.950 overall across her four pieces of apparatus, which included 27.500 with the hoop, 27.700 with ball, 26.050 with clubs and 22.700 with the ribbon.

Then, returning on Sunday, she went even better to add two golds and two silvers in the apparatus finals.

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