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Wales have new world champions: The Dragon Round Up

Wales will face Turkey on Monday night, desperate to salvage something from their European Championship qualifying window that left them with nothing but broken glass at the weekend.

Most pundits and former players had talked optimistically about a four-point tally from the two ties – against Armenia on Friday night in Cardiff and then the trip to face the Turks.

But that four-point target is already out of reach following the shock 4-2 defeat to the Armenians which manager Rob Page called a “slap in the face”.

Punch in the guts might have been a better metaphor since it was far more painful than the mere sting of a shock scoreline.

To most – including Page, judged by his pre-match comments – the three points from the home fixture against the Armenians was a banker. Now, the cheque has bounced.

Page signed a four-year contract in September but has come under increasing pressure after a dreadful run of one win in 11 games since qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

“We had a group meeting (on Saturday) and addressed what needed to be said,” Page said ahead of Monday’s crunch qualifier against Turkey in Samsun.

“We’ve put it to bed and full focus is on the challenge here and we’ll all be ready for it.

“What I want is a reaction from the players, and that is in the performance. If they do that the result will take care of itself.

“We’re a team in progression, a team in transition, so we have to remind ourselves where on the journey we are.”

Wales supporters let their anger known at the final whistle on Friday as defeat allied to Turkey’s last-gasp 3-2 win in Latvia left them off two points off the Group D leaders.

Vice-captain Ben Davies has not travelled to Samsun as the Tottenham defender has stayed at home for the birth of his first child.

Kieffer Moore also misses out after being sent off in the closing stages against Armenia.

Wales have new world champions – although it’s a reclaimed crown for dynamic darts duo Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton.

It’s not often Wales can boast they have won a World Cup, but then the nation is not often blessed with not just one, but two of the best competitors in the world in their chosen field.

Their second World Cup pf Darts trophy for Wales was secured with a clinical performance in their 10-2 victory over Scotland’s Gary Anderson and Peter Wright in Frankfurt.

A year ago, Price and Clayton again reached the final, but lost to Australia.

The 2020 champions had beaten Belgium in a nervy 8-7 thriller to reach the title decider against the Scots, who had eliminated German hosts Gabriel Clemens and Martin Schindler to set up the all-British final.

The Iceman Price credited his team-mate for the win, telling Sky Sports: “Honestly I think I struggled a little bit in that game. Jonny was the one to pick our trophy up. He won it for us tonight.

“He was fantastic at scoring, checking out. I was there in between but he was clinical. Fair play to Jonny. What a player, absolute gentleman as well.

“It’s a difficult sport against the best players in the world week-in and week-out and to win by that margin is a little bit flattering. We’re thrilled to win and Jonny carried me tonight, so happy days.”

Another Welsh star who enjoyed a winning weekend was athlete Melissa Courtney-Bryant.

She moved into second place on the Welsh all-time 1500 mete rankings as she clocked a lifetime best of 4 min, 00.45 sec in winning at the Stanislas Meeting in Nancy, France on Sunday.

The 29-year-old cracked the qualifying mark for the British squad for the World Championships this summer for a second time this month.

Courtney-Bryant edged ever closer to Hayley Tullett’s current record Welsh mark of 3.59.95 set at the World Championships in Paris 20 years ago.

Welsh rally star Osian Pryce was unable to taste similar triumph over the weekend, but his 14th place finish at Rally Latvia marked significant progress.

It was only Price’s second FIA European Rally Championship event in a Škoda Fabia Rally2.

“My lack of experience with the Fabia is showing and we’ve been chasing our tails as regards the set up on this event – but we know the pace is there and it’s just a case of unlocking it,” said Pryce.

Some technical tweaks that Pryce made improved the Fabia, as he and co-driver Stéphane Prévot moved from 13th to 11th on day one.

However, some adjustments simply didn’t work and instead made the car more difficult to drive, and on day two Pryce slipped back to finish 14th.

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