NEWPORT Gwent Ladies hockey team geared up for the start of their assault on the South Wales Women’s League next week with a tough weekend of preparation.

The first team finished third in Premier Division 2 last season – missing out on promotion on goal difference – and are determined to do better this year.

Facing Premier 1 team Howardians on Saturday, Gwent enjoyed some good spells of possession in a scoreless first half.

Despite the best efforts of defender Izzy Reid and Izzy Marsh in goal, Howardians finally secured a breakthrough in the second, but Gwent kept pushing forward.

Bethany Poultney could not convert a chance to equalise in the closing minutes, but the game demonstrated that Gwent can compete with Wales’ elite women’s teams.

The second XI faced Whitchurch Saints thirds in their game – Izzy Webb grabbing the only goal.

The firsts and seconds also practised on Sunday and will be looking to start the league strongly on Saturday.

Gwent men’s firsts travelled to Lydney and were immediately under pressure from the home team.

After an early goal, Gwent soon equalised through Matthew Stollery’s midfield run and shot, but their vulnerability to the fast break saw Lydney establish a firm grip on the game by half time.

In the second half, Gwent were able to play higher up the field and dominate possession for longer spells.

Stollery fired in an unstoppable short corner, but Lydney stayed alert to run out 6-2 winners.

In the second team fixture at Cwmbran Stadium, Gwent emerged victorious.

Goals from Richard Hill, Ben Samuel and Steve Boden secured a 3-2 win.

The Under 15s were in action for the first time on Sunday and picked up where they left off last season.

The Gwent boys beat Whitchurch, Pembroke and Carew, and drew 1-1 with Abergavenny, in a round-robin tournament in Haverfordwest. The Gwent girls A team beat Whit-church 5-0, but the B team game finished 2-1 to Whitchurch.