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Welsh Potting Machine Mark Williams Is Still Winning Pots

Admit it. You’d written him off, hadn’t you?

Or, maybe you were still a believer, a holder of the faith.

Either way, it doesn’t seem to make much difference to him. He might sometimes look as if the world and its worries are on his shoulders, but when a cue is stuck in his hands, and the lights go on above that green baize, then the young pretenders had better beware.

The Welsh Potting Machine is still in operation.

Mark Williams admitted he thought his trophy-winning days were behind him before he lifted the British Open title on Sunday.

The Welsh legend rolled back the years to finally see off Mark Selby’s spirited fightback and take the trophy with a 10-7 victory in Cheltenham.

At 48, Williams, a three-time world champion, is the second oldest winner of a ranking title – his first having come in 1996.

“I’m going to keep going until I can’t play any more,” said Williams.

“How long I can keep going at this level, I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to see where I am going to be at 50. I’m only 49 in six months’ time, so I’m not far away and I’ve just won a tournament.

“So, who knows. Let’s just enjoy the ride while I’m still going.”

Williams’ win means he is second only to Ray Reardon when it comes to winning titles in the later part of his career. Reardon is the oldest, winning the Professional Players Tournament at the age of 50 in 1982.

“It was unbelievable towards the end, and both of us were feeling the nerves a bit – how I managed to win that last frame, I don’t know,” added Williams.

“I never expected I could still get to finals at 48 and to win, playing someone like Mark Selby, what can I say? These things don’t come along too often at my age, so I am just going to enjoy this one.”

Selby paid tribute to Williams’ efforts.

“He played amazing. I can’t remember him missing too many long balls – when he was at his peak he was doing that all the time and he sort of rolled back the years today,” Selby said.

That may just have been the Welsh sporting highlight of the weekend, although there were plenty of successes elsewhere.

Take Cardiff City, for instance.

Last season, they were in peril. This year, they’ve got Erol.

Approval of the Turkish boss Erol Bulut went up another notch at the weekend when Cardiff won their fourth successive match in the Championship.

It was enough to lift the club into the top six in the table and leave Bulut expressing his own delight at the team’s current form.

“Perfect” was his description of the four-match winning streak that now includes a 2-0 home victory over Rotherham.

“The last four [league] games, it’s going really well,” said Bulut.

“But we can’t stop. We have to continue to work hard.

“I have said before, everything has to come together. It’s not easy to build something so quickly and we still have to work.”

The only dark cloud on the Bluebirds’ horizon at present are the injury worries around Aaron Ramsey.

The Wales captain has a knee problem and Bulut confirmed that tests have shown Ramsey has suffered a ruptured tendon – meaning there will be no quick return to action for a player who has already been ruled out for three weeks.

It was a pretty decent weekend for both Welsh clubs in the Championship, since Swansea City made it back-to-back victories with an emphatic 3-0 win at Millwall.

After a winless seven-match stretch in charge, Duff seems to have hit the bottom and started floating back upwards as his team collected all three points in south London with goals from Jamal Lowe, Matt Grimes and Mykola Kukharevych.

The Swans are still only 19th in the table, but it’s a measure of their recent progress that despite that early string of poor results, their goal difference is now in the positive columns and stands at +1.

“It’s probably the best result of my Swansea tenure so far – 3-0 away from home at a tough place to come,” said Duff.

But neither Wrexham nor Newport County were able to pick up a win.

Wrexham were indebted to veteran striker Steve Fletcher for the late goal which secured a 3-3 draw and a point at home to Crewe.

The Dragons were trailing 3-2 when Fletcher struck in 95th minute for a home side reduced to 10 men from the 36th minute after the red card shown to winger Ryan Bennett.

Wrexham’s matches certainly don’t lack drama at present, but manager Phil Parkinson would probably settle for a couple of quiet, low-key 1-0 victories for a team who the week before were beaten 5-0 by Stockport County.

“It was a day of immense character shown by the lads,” said Parkinson.

“We questioned everything last week, but we answered a lot of those questions. In the second half I thought we were the better team. We had some great chances.”

Newport’s inconsistent opening to the season continued as they lost 2-1 at Salford City.

They moved back down to 19th in the table, five points behind Wrexham, who are ninth.

It was a weekend of rest for the Wales men’s rugby team – but hard-earned reward for Wales Women.

Warren Gatland’s squad spent their time conserving energy ahead of their final Pool C match at the Rugby World Cup, against Georgia on Saturday.

But Ioan Cunningham’s players were out on the pitch, busy hammering the USA, 38-18, in Colwyn Bay.

As preparation for the upcoming inaugural WXV1 tournament to be held in New Zealand this autumn, it was pretty impressive stuff and certainly met with the approval of head coach Cunningham.

“Territory was really important for us, and we dominated there. I thought our forwards were excellent and I am just pleased we won today as we build toward WXV,” he said.

Gatland has now named his team for that match against Georgia, where Wales require only a point in Nantes to guarantee finishing top of Pool C.

Dewi Lake will captain the side at hooker and starts his second match of the tournament, while fellow joint-skipper Jac Morgan takes a break.

Tommy Reffel replaces Morgan at openside flanker, Gareth Anscombe stays at No.10 after replacing Dan Biggar early on against Australia, and Rio Dyer comes on to the wing in place of Josh Adams.

In all, there are six changes to the side that beat Australia with Dyer, Tomos Williams, Dafydd Jenkins and Reffell all starting.

Wales are set to meet either Argentina or Japan in the quarter-final, with those countries preparing for an eliminator 24 hours after Wales play.

Dragons wing Dyer said: “Every game won’t be perfect, but there are things we can get better at. It is about not letting the foot off the gas and see how far we can push ourselves.

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