This year saw Wales host the Annual Tri-Nations Competition, with Belgium and Switzerland both visiting Dragon Park, Wales’ National Development Centre.
The First game saw Wales pitted against Belgium and in a first half where the players fought against nerves, and some excellent Belgium play found themselves 3 goals down within the first 25 minutes, which also included a Penalty save from Wales’ Goalkeeper Scott Reed. Though the players stuck to their tasks and slowly started to get into the game they ended going into the dressing room at half time 0-3. The Second half started with Wales a lot brighter and quicker in their play and it was not long before the Wales players had the ball in the net, unfortunately only for it to be ruled as offside but it lifted the young player’s confidence levels further. Belgium also reacted strongly to this, and the game started to open out with chances created at both ends, and it was only in the last 10 minutes that, with Wales chasing the game. Belgium were able to find space to play through and cross into the box to finish first time, giving Goalkeeper Luke Burton, making his first appearance in a Welsh Shirt, no chance in the Wales goal. The Final result 0-4.
On the second day of the competition Belgium were back in Dragon Park facing Switzerland for their first game. Again their superiority showed as they were able to create chances against a good Swiss team and although Switzerland were also able to create chances of their own the game finished 2-0 to Belgium who finished with two wins from two.
The Final day of the Tri-Nations finished with Wales Vs Switzerland, with the Swiss fielding a completely new starting 11. Wales having learned from the first game started brightly creating several chances against strong wind, though found themselves against the run of play, go behind early on when a long ball out wide saw Wales’ Goalkeeper come charging out to the touchline only to handle the ball giving a free kick which Switzerland took quickly lofting over the retreating goalkeepers head and into the net. The young players reacted well though and didn’t drop their heads but kept going, and again found their rhythm creating chances and defending solidly. However they were to go in at half down 0-2 as 10 minutes before the whistle with Wales defending solidly Switzerland were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area which was unstoppably drilled just inside the far post. Wales again regrouped and began the second half quicker and brighter and it wasn’t long before some sharp combination play down the right hand sided resulted a crossing opportunity which was controlled well by Jack Vale, who then laid the ball off for Sam Bowen to drive into the roof of the net first time, providing a huge boost for the players and saw them raise their level again. Switzerland also responded well and the game continued with chances created either end with Luke Burton having come on into the Wales Goal early in the second half taking several crosses and Neco Williams fierce shots producing some excellent saves from the Swiss Goalkeeper. Wales had the best of the opportunities late into the game when Isaak Davies found a little space on an angle inside the Swiss Penalty area, only to see his shot hit the side netting, and that proved the last chance with the Final Whistle going and the result 1-2 to Switzerland.
An excellent competition finished with Wales Payers having improved steadily over the two games. The tournament provided lots of examples of things they had done well individually and collectively, ultimately with areas to improve having played against some excellent competition.